You have a lot of talent, quality designs saved in your hard disk, you are good, nice and cheap, but you do not have clients. Something is going wrong. It is time to rethink your marketing strategy. Here I leave you some suggestions for your first professional portfolio.
First of all, you have to publish your website. For this, have a look to the tutorial How to publish your first website
60-70% of my visitors leave SOSFactory before 30 seconds, so one have to be direct. Inside your contents be sure you have a link to your portfolio and another link to your contact site.
Don´t use the typical welcome pages or the kind of pages which offers the option between Flash or Html. They suppose an big mistake….. Its all about SPEED!!
Website navigation system
When you are beginning, it´s nearly miraculous that your clients visit your website, low budget clients, who have already visited a large number of pages before. Don´t complicate them things.
When you become more popular you can allow the luxury of being creative, now you need a functional place:
- The best is the typical horizontal navigation bar, situated on the top right of the logo.
- Don´t use to many categories in your navigation bar; only the essentials to sale your product.
- Design the space for making it possible that the client get in the important sites with as few clicks as possible.
I would use something like this: Introduction-Portfolio-FAQ-Contact. According your growth you can add pages where you describe your philosophy, your services…
Portfolio navigation system
If you follow on the statistic section of your website, you will see that in every link list, the most visitated are the first ones.
That`s why you should give priority to those you want to sale:
- If you want to sale logos, put them at the first place.
- Put the areas where you have more quality at the beginning, so you will preserve the visitors attention.
- Place the cheapest services at the first place. If you have a modest portfolio, I would start with logos and banners, selling websites will be more difficult.
- Beware about uncertain categories in your portfolio, better put “logos” than “corporate identity”
Don´t put too many categories, no more than five. For example: logos-icons-banners-webdesign.
At the beginning, you have a small number of works to expose, use your imagination. Display works you have done just for fun, those you have made for your friends, parents, imaginated clients… All´s fair to show what you are able to do.
When you get orders substitute the work designs with less quality, select your samples getting the viewpoint of your client. A good form to see which designs is easy to market, just ask the client for the design of your portfolio which most he likes.
If you really don´t have anything to show, stop reading and back to the work.
Specialists or generalists?
There are two trends, some people think that it is better to going with one design style or to specialize in one work, the others say that is better to be versatile.
I think freelance designers should be very good in some areas and decent in all the areas we are able to. If you are good designing mascots, work in your logotypes, maybe you sell some only because of your brilliant mascots.
In terms of style, we are freelance, we do not need a lot of clients, we look for a type of client, the one who asks us to do what we know and like to do…I would post for those you prefer to do.
Caution! We have to be realists, at the beginning the important thing is to work, it doesn´t care in what field.
Do we sale packages or do we give quote per order?
When you are breaking in this business, the clients do not abound, that is the reason why sailing your services in packages is very good. It´s like if you go to a shopping center for a particular product but finally you simply buy things because you see them or why they are cheap.
We have a small amount of clients, so we try they buy different products, offer them different services grouped in packages (for example: logos-banners-webdesign).
Do we put the prices or not?
My recommendation is that you put the prices but in extended intervals, so you leave a marge to negociate. When you have a good customer base you can take them down, although there is a big dispute over this.
Advantages for put the prices:
- You are cheap, for a lot of clients this is an added value.
– It´s a form to break with clients who do not interess you. You are one single person and you have to do a lot of things.
Disadventages for put the prices:
- You have less margen to negociate.
– You can also loose clients with high budget (but do not worry, those clients will come later).
– You are cheap, so you seem to be cheap, they consider you less valuable.
Testimonials , yes or not?
If you are beginning, it is recommended to have a site with testimonials of previous clients, in my opinion it gives the impression of “cheap”… that is what we are. Over the time better use clients lists.
Flash? no, THANKS
As simpler your website, the better it is, don´t do with Flash what you can do with Html, you will save loading time and bandwidth, problems with the Flash Player, search engines will rank your better….do not bore the visitor with interminable animations. Use the Flash with moderation.
The use of Flah for the whole Web is recommended in the case you want to sale websites done with Flash.
English is a must. Translate you website in all the languages you want to, but in english is essential. If your english is not so good, hire someone to translate for you, if your portfolio is small and your texts have little updates, it will not cost so much.
Here you can read more about the requisites to start freelancing
Do not use an elaborated language to make it sound more professional, use a simple, direct but effective language, do not put texts to decorate, but to communicate. There is nothing worse than reading elaborated phrases with no sense.
Here I leave you a link to a very good article about how to write for web
With or without blog?
A blog improves your professional image, if you offer quality content you will become an authority in this area and also maximize the social side of your business. The problem is that a quality blog needs lot of time.
My recommendation is that you focuse on your portfolio, when you have a strong portfolio then a blog doesnt hurt. What I recommend to you is to have it in different places, so nothing can disstract the client.
Promotion, promotion and promotion
If you do not promote yourself, you dont exist. Once you have your portfolio do not stop promoving, here I leave you a post to How to get clients being a freelance designer