How to Create a Killer Portfolio Website

by Dec 22, 2017

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Website Must-Haves

I once did a competition where I opened my calendar and took calls from 15 creative freelancers.

Many were incredibly talented writers & designers failing to make good money, even though there is so much work out there right now for talented people!

Inevitably, I looked at their portfolio websites & social media profiles and could tell why they weren’t getting work.

These individuals were great artists, but their websites were such a mess that people would just bounce once they arrived. Their “portfolios” were doing a disservice to their great work – usually because they fail to say what it is that they actually do with any clarity or completely lack personality or professionalism – leaving it up to the reader to figure out how to hire them and what for.

Just a few tweaks could take a bad website to good, and a good one to killer.

And you NEED a killer website. Here are the top must-haves for any freelancer or creative’s website:

  1. A clear headline and call-to-action above the fold.
    You have three seconds to capture someone’s attention with your website. Within three seconds of someone landing on the page, you want them to know your value. You want to share what it is that you do, and for who, in the first frame of your site before any scrolling. This will keep relevant visitors hooked, and get them looking deeper. Include clear call-to-action that is easy, and dumb-simple. Something like “Click here to schedule a call,” that will leave your visitor with no questions about what happens next
  2. Mobile & speed optimization.
    You need to be able to load your site, read it, interact with it on a mobile device, and it needs to load quickly across all devices, no excuses. If I can’t load your website quickly on your desktop and smartphone, you’re losing business.
  3. Design with your audience in mind.
    You’ve done the research and you know what your audience is like. You’re aware of their interests, their needs, and their habits. Design to these! If your audience is mostly feminine women looking to deepen their coding skills, don’t design a site that might not appeal to them. Keep your design light, and your language clear. Design something that you know they’ll enjoy seeing.
  4. Good branding.
    This doesn’t mean dropping thousands on an identity package, but it does mean taking time to think about how your brand comes across on all online platforms. Branding includes messaging and personality, so be consistent in what you call your company and your services and how you use social media. Visually, good branding can be as simple as having an easy-to-read logo, sticking to two to three brand colors and using the same number of fonts (max). Keep it simple, include plenty of whitespace, and just keep improving as you go.
  5. A blog with a variety of content.
    At the beginning you probably won’t have this, but that can’t be an excuse not to launch. Write three to five solid blog posts to get yourself started, and just build from there. This will help you with SEO, as well as building credibility.
  6. Personality!
    A website is absolutely a sales tool, and one of the most important to have in your arsenal. But that doesn’t mean it should be all about sales. Make it about yourself, your value, and the services you provide. Don’t be afraid to show your personality, so that visitors know a bit about the person behind the screen.
  7. Credibility & Expertise
    This goes along with a good brand, but you’ll want to use all the tricks you can to add credibility. Have you worked for some amazing companies before? Put their logos on your home page! Do you have stunning recommendations on LinkedIn? Add testimonials tooting your own horn. Have articles published in major publications? Add that press to your site. The more credibility and expertise you exude, the more likely someone is to want to work with you.

Five steps to get you started:

  1. Register a domain.
    Pick your URL and you can use a variety of online tools to see if it’s available. Different domain registrars have different benefits, so see what works best for you
  2. Get yourself a logo.
    You can create it yourself if you’re a designer, but make sure to keep it simple! You can also use 99designs or a similar platform to crowdsource a design on the cheap
  3. Find a webhost.
    Siteground is what I use for WordPress hosting, and I’m super happy with them. Divi by Elegant themes is a great template builder (what this blog is built with). If you’re less technical, you might consider Squarespace, Weebly, Wix or even Lead Pages.
  4. Write your content.
    You don’t need too much here, just five basic sections: Home, About, Services, Blog and Contact. Just those sections and you have functional content that could bring you business. Note: It’s better to have a single page with all of these sections on it than making me click through each!
  5. If you need help doing any of the above, hire someone!
    You can use Upwork, Fivvvr, ClickUp, 99designs, and many more

You can get a basic site up and running in about a day, trust me.

Just stay focused, keep it simple and you’ll be well on your way.

Need help marketing your business? Get my step-by-step guide here.

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Hi, I’m Kate

Hey, I’m Kate! I’m a designer, digital nomad and founder of Six Figure Freelancers – I love to help talented tech pros start businesses.

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