Have you noticed some people kill it without a portfolio?
In fact, I’ve met design firms doing millions of dollars in client work with nothing more than ”coming soon” on their website.
They get something that most people don’t.
I used to spend hours and hours working on my portfolio without seeing a dime in results.
Then, in 2012, I got fired.
That’s when I decided to take my design business full-time. My professional life became about one thing: getting clients.
And that’s when I realized it. My portfolio was a huge time-suck.
After all, most of my “competition” had similar work. Similar quality. Similar types of projects.
How could clients even tell me apart?
What would happen if I got rid of my portfolio?
This forced me to put my focus on my communication skills.
What if a potential client wanted to see my work and asked me for a sample?
“I could send them a pdf, I guess.”
This change in strategy, I later found out, was the true deciding factor in client-success. It lead me to craft an offer specifically designed for people I wanted to help.
So, when I sat down with clients, I avoided broad terms other freelancers used to describe their work. Instead of saying “I do great design,” I talked about “conversion rate optimization.”
Having laser focus allowed me to ask myself if what I was doing was winning me clients. It was yes or no.
This meant my energy and time was spent on the most important thing to my business: making money.
… It also allowed me to see what areas were a total waste of time. Things that weren’t directly helping me generate revenue were killed… this included; twitter, facebook, blogging, dribbble, reading emails and more.
Later I put together a script using the offer I had developed and sent it out to dozens of companies throughout the six months.
I used one job board for most of the work I got, but used a bunch of others too, even sites like craigslist, and freelance switch.
The main idea was to use one pitch and find as many people who could benefit from my offer as possible. It felt so much better than sitting and just posting stuff on twitter or dribbble.
I stopped letting the success of my business depend on outside forces like others contacting me.
Because of this, I was able to track where my efforts were getting the biggest return.
Before too long I knew approximately how many leads I had to email in order to land a client.
I even created a folder in my inbox for tracking all of this. Whenever a lead would email me back even if just to let me know they were going with another designer, I would put them in a special folder — a pool of leads to follow up with in the future.
That folder quickly became my most valued source for new work. I’d simply wait a while and then ask them how their project turned out. No portfolio required.
Just building a relationship over time through helpfulness.
In the end, constantly updating my portfolio, tweeting, and posting dribbble shots, with no strategy in place may have felt like work, but it was just huge distraction.
To be a successful freelancer I needed to focus on one thing, getting more clients.
Do you know exactly how many emails you need to send to land a new client? How confident would you be if you did?
Better yet, how much money would you make if you could find that number of clients any time you wanted? That’s exactly what I’d like to dive into next.