The world of freelancing is amazing isn't it? With the click of a few buttons and some keyboard bashing, we're connected, creating magic and telling stories through meaningful branding & design.
But this world isn't something I ever looked into until I was living in Europe, needed money to fund further travels and an opportunity came up to brand a family business. “Woah” I remember thinking… “I just did a full brand & website from my living room in the French Alps, for my dad and brother, living back home in New Zealand!
Boom, an idea was born, just like that!
Let me walk you through the exact steps I took to blast off into this wonderful world. And remember…it didn’t happen quickly, not at all, but the steps below got me going, got my work out there and if you follow along blow, will help you too.
These could come from old university projects (most of mine initially were), personal projects, or pieces of work from any past job as a designer. Where ever they’re coming from, think of a way to showcase these in the most effective way. For me, I used (and still use) a mix between product mockups and layouts of logos/brand marks on coloured backgrounds. In my opinion, mockups are suuuuuch a great way to show off and showcase your work, allowing your people & dream clients to see your work in “real-life” circumstances.
Favourite website to buy product mockups? ——> MOYO STUDIO
Hint: tailor your portfolio pieces towards your dream client 😍
So what does this mean? Gather your best work that speaks directly to them! For me, this was (and still is) boutique style, feminine branding, because this is the work I dream of doing! Sure, I still included a variety of work in the early stages to show off my skills, but mostly these portfolio pieces were targeted towards my dream people. And guys guess what?! The beauty of putting together your best portfolio pieces is that, if you don’t have enough, MAKE UP YOUR OWN! Write your dream brief, create it, then use it in your portfolio! Personal projects are a fab way to draw in those dream proposals.
Amazingly, there are now so many platforms out there to host your portfolio. And no, you don’t just have to choose one!
When I first started, Leah Sylvia Creative didn’t have the budget for a website platform of it’s own. Instead I utilised the travel blog my partner and I were growing, and placed my Graphic Design services on this. Why I didn’t start Instagram back then too? Well, I don’t know, so word of advice, start this too!
So once I’d decided on my portfolio platform, the building of it all began. Now whatever you choose, remember that it’s going to take some time to master the platform, understand how it works, how to upload your portfolio pieces, add captions and write about yourself as a designer + your experience etc.
Here’s what step 03 looked like for Leah Sylvia Creative back in 2016: I made a looooong skinny graphic on Indesign (see the original portfolio graphic HERE), with a grid like layout, full of different portfolio images (sort of like an instagram feed). I added this to FREE AND ADDICTED - the travel blog my partner and I were already writing and boom, I was set up. It wasn’t perfect. As you can see, it wasn’t overly pretty, it was cluttered, there were no write ups on any of the projects, about their concepts or how they came to be, but it was enough…PROGRESS > PERFECTION
Once you’ve built your portfolio - it’s time to get it the hell out there!!! Promote it EVERYWHERE and don’t be afraid to show the world your work. You’ve studied and worked hard to be the creative you are right?! RIGHT?! So be proud of your work and back yourself. In NZ we’re generally afraid to speak up about our achievements in fear of tall poppy syndrome. Well…I say screw that! Use social media, friends, family and every tool available to leverage exposure to help your business grow. Your hard work and dreams deserve to be heard!
So I was out there doing it in the big wide world. I’d done my first freelance project for my dad and brother’s biz and just knew, if I could successfully pull it off once, then surely I could do it again and again. But I remember the doubts creeping in… “Where on earth do I find and book clients?!” So I’ll let you in on a little secret, here’s a few places that helped me in those early days:
(I’ll write a more in-depth guide to this in the future as well team):