When I was starting out as a freelancer, one of my biggest struggles was putting together my portfolio.
It’s very difficult to showcase your work when you have no experience in the first place… and this basically becomes a question of which came first, the chicken or the egg?
But guess what, even if you have zero experience whether as a writer or a virtual assistant, it’s totally possible to come up with a way to showcase your skills and talent.
You know what I did a few years back?
I set up my very own website!
Unlike social media, having your own website gives you far more flexibility and control over the type of content you want to publish. If you add in an email list to the mix, then you have better control of who gets to read updates from you (but that’s a discussion for another post).
Plus, having your own domain + self-hosted blog/website exudes more professionalism, right? Who doesn’t want to be taken seriously as a service provider, after all?
Now, if you’re wanting to build your own website, here are some of the most important things you need to include ESPECIALLY IF YOU RUN A SERVICE-BASED BUSINESS:
1) Home Page
The great thing about service-based businesses is that you don’t necessarily have to launch a 5-page website with a blog to get started. In fact, all you really need is a one-pager that tells your visitor exactly who you are and what you do. Some prospective clients will probably want to get more information from you before wanting to contact you but otherwise, the selling part of the business is usually done by hopping on a call or corresponding via email.
Should you decide to spruce up your home page, try doing an upside-down website. That is, put the most important thing above the fold: be it a call-to-action to book a call with you or sign up for something. Make sure to add in a headline (and an optional tagline) that announces exactly who you are and what you do in just one line, much like an elevator pitch. You want to make sure that the first 3 seconds that they spend on your website is used well.
The rest of your content such as your social proof and testimonials, services/categories or a visual site map, an About You section, Contact, blog, and other stuff can follow afterwards.
Your upside-down homepage can showcase 3-6 major service categories that you offer – for example: copywriting, funnel strategy, Facebook ads.
Then, you can create separate pages for each of these services and showcase the different offers and bundles that you have. If you don’t have a lot of services to list down, you can have them all in one page but if you have several bundles and the page gets too long, then feel free to have them in separate pages.
You can either only accept clients that will work with you based on the bundles/packages that you have or allow them some flexibility by adding or taking out a part of the entire package. The latter may mean having to tweak your proposal (and rate) a bit with each client.
They say that social proof works – and I know this firsthand because several clients of mine got convinced to work with me because of testimonials and referrals.
If you or your work has been featured in huge sites, don’t be shy in adding it to your website. You deserve it!
If you’ve already worked with other clients before – paid or unpaid – then make sure to ask for feedback that you can put on your website. If you haven’t gotten any client as a freelancer, try asking from your former managers, supervisors or other direct superiors from your 9-to-5 or from your internship. As in your resume, adding a family member or close relative probably wouldn’t count! 😉
Thing is, if you don’t decide to put together a website, all you really need is a page with your contact details.
Personally, when I do my networking and reach out in Facebook, I rarely give out my website (sometimes they do find it with a few seconds of stalking my profile). I just introduce myself and what I do, usually tweaked based on what they are looking for, and then I give out my scheduling link or directly to my proposal.
I’ve had clients who work with me even without hopping on a call but about 70% of them want to speak with me and meet me first.
Nice to have: A coach I look up to shared that it might be worth adding a number that potential clients can contact you through. If you can secure a US phone and connect it to WhatsApp, that would be a nifty feature!
Have you ever searched for something or someone and find yourself checking out what their story is?
In freelancing, making genuine connections is just as important. Sometimes, people want to get to know you better first through your story because that also gives them an idea on your background, your expertise, as well as your values. For many, it is very important that another person’s values align with those that they believe in, in order for any partnership to move forward.
Of course, you don’t have to share all the nitty-gritty of your life story from birth to present. Focus on the most important ones, particularly those that highlight your lowest moment, your Aha moment, and then your hero moment. Then you shift the story to focus on them because ultimately, they don’t want to hear about you – they want to hear their story through you.
6) FAQ Section
This is actually an optional section but important nevertheless, especially if you have certain requirements for a person to work with you or if you just get asked the same question over and over again.
These things may include:
- your process and how you work
- what services you provide and DON’T provide, in general
- your refund and cancellation policy
- other important questions related to the services that you offer (eg how many revisions can the client get if you wrote a sales page copy?)
There are many differing opinions when it comes to publishing rates in freelancer websites including:
- it’s hard to provide a good estimate for your services as it’s mostly dependent on the scope of work
- your prices can turn off many of your potential clients and you’ve already pushed them away before you’ve had the chance to convince them that investing in your services will be worth it
- on the other hand, providing a starting point (eg. copywriting services, rates start at $800) helps weed out clients who are just otherwise shopping around – you keep them from hopping on a call which saves both of your time since they will never sign a contract with you anyway
Should you publish your rates?
The choice is ultimately up to you on how you package/present your offers.
In some cases, potential clients may ask for a portfolio of your previous work.
For example, they might want to see previous sales pages / logos / websites you have designed or written as it helps them get a feel of your style and quality of work. Some service providers have a signature style in their work that may not jive with the brand of the potential client.
You might also want to showcase a case study in your website if you have clients whose results improved due to your services. For example, you might want to see conversion rates for opt-ins or sales.
Many times, testimonials from previous clients will suffice especially for those types of work that are hard to see (eg. general VA services, management, etc).
BONUS 1: OPT-IN FORM
While this particular website is not yet optimized for the clients whom I provide services to, it does already have an opt-in form for those who want to follow the same path as I’ve taken as a service provider.
Building your own list helps you attract potential clients further and, once optimized, it may even help you bring in sales on autopilot.
BONUS 2: BLOG
While no longer a requirement, adding a blog in your website provides two major advantages:
- you get to showcase your expertise through the content that you write (adding video or audio also helps diversify and reach different types of audience, too), and
- you get to improve your website’s SEO because there are more pages that Google can index and thus, it makes you more visible to your target market.
Which One Are You Tackling First?
Whew! That was one long list.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to do them all at once. Start at the very beginning and then work your way to the bottom.
Best of luck!