How to Create a Freelance Portfolio When You Have Zero Clients?
Team Fueler

23 Aug, 2022

How to Create a Freelance Portfolio When You Have Zero Clients?

Let’s talk about something aggravating today…

Hint: It’s a problem most freelancers face when they’re starting out.

It’s the terrifying dilemma I like to call the Portfolio Paradox, and it sounds something like this:

“I want to start earning, but I can’t find clients without a portfolio, and I can’t make a portfolio until I have clients!”

Sound familiar?

This blog post is for you :)

Today we’ll be talking about 5 ways by which you can build an AMAZING freelance portfolio…even if you have ZERO clients and experience!

So let’s dive right in.

The way to build a beginner portfolio that blows any prospect’s socks off is through a concept we call permissionless projects.

A permissionless project is any work you can do without prior experience. You don’t need to have a resume or sign a contract to do these projects -they’re, quite literally, permissionless.

(examples coming up in a minute)...

Here’s how permissionless projects help you level up:

  1. You can use them as proof of work.
  2. You learn and gain valuable experience.
  3. You get to network and collaborate with people. 

Sounds good?

Here are 5 ways to build solid proof of work with the concept of permissionless projects:

Look back at your work

“I’m just starting out and I have ZERO experience. How do I build an amazing portfolio?” 

First things first, your portfolio doesn’t have to be amazing right off the bat. It just needs to be a good representation of your skills.

And EVERYONE has some experience and skill…it might not be in the field you want to work in, but it still adds up to something.

You might have written an essay in college that won you a competition, or designed a poster for your college fest that everyone loved!

An example from my own journey: Writing poems in school helped me be more creative while writing copy, and a working knowledge of design helped me visualize my content better.

So although they might seem silly, these mini-projects teach us skills that can be carried forward to different niches.

So do a round-up of cool stuff you’ve done over the years and add them to your freelance arsenal :)

Mock projects

Listen up…2022 is not the year to wait for clients, but to start building stuff you’re passionate about.

Love writing? Write a mock sales copy for Gary Vee’s upcoming ebook.

Want more design clients? Create a mock Instagram post for Zomato and put it up online.

Collection of Project Ideas

Collection of Project Ideas

Check out this collection of 500+ proof of work ideas around Design, Copywriting, Community Management, Development, Marketing, Content Writing, Product Management (Coming Soon), Web3 (Coming Soon), etc.

The internet works in magical ways and there are always people looking to team up with talented people.

I’ve personally reached out to many founders with a review+feedback of their website copy (something that takes me <1 hour to do) and been hired to work with them on the spot!

So believe me when I say this - many clients on this magical island don’t care if you’ve worked with the coolest companies out there -they just want to see how good you are at what you do.

And mock projects are a great way to show exactly that!

Guest-blogging

Guest blogging has dozens of golden benefits for newbie freelancers…the no.#1 is the ability to showcase expertise with a lesser time commitment. 

What’s more, it helps you gather an audience for your work, establish credibility, and build relationships with people in your industry -with almost no hassle!

Wanna dig deeper? This post will teach you EVERYTHING you need to get started with guest blogging

P.S. You can write blogs about anything from copywriting to cooking, and if you find yourself enjoying the process -you can even start your own blog or start publishing content on your own channels!

And that brings us to the next point…

Build a social media presence

Building a great social media presence is one of those asymmetric bets you can take that have an unlimited upside and almost no downsides.

From your favorite YouTubers who got picked up to work in mainstream movies to LinkedIn creators making 6-figures with their brand -the power of publishing online is obviously no joke. 

Starting your own journey on a social media channel doesn’t have to be difficult either -don’t think about building a brand or a huge audience for your work (at least not initially).

You don’t have to be an expert or teach what you do. You don’t need to post the most click-worthy content or chase a thousand likes.

 The aim, in the beginning, is to build credibility -to have some body of work or content that proves you know your stuff. 

You can post anything from stories, new skills you’re learning, your thoughts on something in your industry, or even just curate content of other creators you like (don’t forget to give them credits!)

Join a course

A GOOD course is sooooo much more than just learning a skill. It’s means to practise and perfect while also gathering solid feedback from peers and mentors. 

Cohort-based courses that consist of application-based learning or hands-on challenges are great to build proof of work and finding peers and mentors in your niche.

 A few examples of great courses I’ve come across are Alex Cattoni's copywriting course and the 10kdesigners cohort run by Abhinav Chikara.

So do your research, invest in ONE practical course related to the skill you want to learn and make the most of it!

Remember, putting in work once often has great ROI in the longer run, so don’t shy away from the reps!

I hope this post gave you some confidence to crush it as a newbie freelancer.

Also, thank you for reading till the end, I’d love to hear from you…

Let me know which of these ways you’ll be trying out first!

Until next time, cheers!

#1 Freelance Portfolio Tool

#1 Freelance Portfolio Tool

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Special thanks to Agrima for covering this blog.

A bit about Agrima,

Agrima is a Copywriter, helping B2C businesses with copy that converts and content that communicates.

Connect with her, on Twitter & LinkedIn

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