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How to Create a Winning Creative Portfolio

As a skilled freelancer looking to highlight your unique talents and market your services online, compiling a robust creative portfolio is the best way to show the world what you’re capable of and win new clients. 

In today’s digital landscape, it’s never been easier to get eyeballs on your work and connect with clients, no matter where in the world either you or your client are located. Over the past year, innumerable companies have placed an enhanced focus on updating their digital strategies. Adapting to a new world oriented primarily around ecommerce and streamed content, these companies have correspondingly sought out freelancers—especially creative freelancers skilled in audio and video, voice acting, graphic design, translation, writing and editing, and programming—to help realize their vision. 

The majority of the freelance workforce has migrated online, turning to creative services marketplaces like Voices. We offer a platform on which to build an online presence, get exposed to new opportunities, and form ongoing relationships with diverse and brand-name clients. 

The explosion of new opportunities for remote freelancers has made it even more imperative to make your skills known in an organized and strategic manner. There’s no better way to achieve this than by assembling the strongest creative portfolio possible. Plus, since this can all be accomplished digitally, there’s nothing stopping you from getting started and beefing up your creative portfolio right now.

When you add portfolio samples to your Voices talent profile, clients will be able to discover your profile via search and privately invite you to a job. This is a great way to land new work because it means you are being handpicked by the client based on what they can see (or hear) in your portfolio. Portfolio samples also help to match subscribing members with the sort of jobs that are best-suited to their skills.

Stick to these creative portfolio best practices and you’ll end up with a collection of work that demonstrates what you do best, while exuding a professionalism that will attract better and bigger job opportunities your way: 

Showcase your strongest work

If you’re putting your creative portfolio together for the first time and you’re not sure what to include, understand that the portfolio you provide may be the main thing a client sees or hears before deciding on the freelancer they will hire for the job. You can’t expect a client to be familiar with your other work, or to spend hours perusing the web to read all about your experience and accomplishments. 

What you include in your portfolio is what the client sees. For this reason, you should make sure to include your best work. When it comes to samples in voice over, audio production, and music, make sure the files you upload are of the highest quality possible. There’s nothing like poor audio quality to instantly deter a prospective client from hiring you to work on their project’s audio, so it won’t hurt to keep this tip top of mind. 

Another great reason to upload a range of your best and most representative portfolio samples is because you will have the opportunity to respond to job postings with one of the samples featured on your profile.

With that being said, it is also important to dive in and get started as soon as you can. If you’re just beginning, don’t fret too much about how many pieces you include in your creative portfolio. Start with what you have. As you grow in your skills and career, you’ll want  to update your portfolio with newer and more representative samples—in fact, we encourage it.

The order that you present your work in matters

When a busy client is searching for talent to hire, time is of the essence. A client may only listen to or look at the first few portfolio pieces you provide. This is why you should always open with your strongest piece—whether it’s the song that best demonstrates your vocal capabilities, or the most complex translation work that you completely knocked out of the park for a global ad campaign. 

You may also want to ensure that the top portfolio samples displayed on your profile directly reflect the category of work that you get hired to do the most. Don’t hold back from spotlighting where your strong suits lie and the distinct niche that you thrive in!

On Voices, you have the ability to customize the order your portfolio items appear in. You can showcase five items per page, so make sure those five are among your most impressive. 

When you’re aiming to demonstrate your skills in audio production, music, or translation, clients would often first like to see individual samples of projects that you have completed or played a part in.

For other service offerings, such as voice over, it can be a best practice to provide potential clients with an overview of your expertise before presenting specialized pieces that are more genre- or industry-specific. If your priority is to provide clients with a snapshot of your range, you may even opt to showcase a series of excerpts of your strongest pieces all as part of one audio file, which is typically known as a demo reel

Include any work you have done with high-profile or brand-name clients

If you’re at the point in your career where you’ve gained experience working with brand names or impressive clients that most will recognize, highlighting those connections can go a long way toward helping your portfolio stand out. The more exposure your work has received and the higher the visibility of the projects you’ve worked on, the more clients will see that you’re equipped to take on a job for them.

It’s important to note that it is not uncommon for clients to request that talent sign a non-disclosure agreement that forbids them from publicizing their involvement on a particular project. However, even if you don’t have permission to republish an individual project as part of your creative portfolio, you may still be able to list the client you worked with in your profile’s Client List section. At the end of the day, make sure to only include work in your creative portfolio after you have gotten authorization from the client to do so. 

Regularly update your creative portfolio

As a general rule, it’s a good idea for your creative portfolio to consist of more recent work while avoiding anything that could be perceived as outdated. In our fast-paced world, it’s best to keep your portfolio fresh by regularly updating it with new content that exhibits all the recent work you’re doing and the new clients you’re taking on. We advise adding new samples to your portfolio approximately every two to three months, or at least once per year.

Everybody’s career path transforms over time, and so do industry standards. The human voice changes over the years, so a demo from a few decades ago will inaccurately reflect a voice actor’s current vocal qualities. 

In the categories of music and translation, it is worth recognizing that musical genres go in and out of style, and cultural and linguistic norms are constantly evolving. Because of this, it is sometimes considered a best practice to refrain from including work in your creative portfolio that is more than five years old. 

You can always take this on a case-by-case basis. If there is work that you are immensely proud of that really illustrates your abilities, we don’t think it’s wrong to include it in your portfolio. There are also many aspects of skills such as translation, audio production, and sound design that don’t change much over time, making them evergreen pieces of content that will always have a rightful place in your creative portfolio. When in doubt, all you need to do is provide a brief explanation about why you felt compelled to include a particular piece of work. 

When you’re first starting out, you may worry that you’re lacking in portfolio samples that show off your work with distinguished clients, but don’t let that stop you from being creative and creating your own portfolio pieces! If you’re a budding voice actor, for example, you’re more than welcome to turn to our library of sample scripts to record a voice over read that aligns with the industry you’re hoping to break into. As you begin to book more work on Voices, you can then update your portfolio with your new samples. 

Provide context for each piece of work

If you simply present an assemblage of different pieces to a client, they may have trouble understanding how each piece factors into your greater experience as a creative freelancer. So, it’s smart to include a brief overview attached to each portfolio sample, in which you outline: the client you did the work for, a description of the assignment, your role on the project, and the project’s main objectives. Clients will be able to access these details by clicking the title of each sample.

Above all else, be sure to convey how the creative elements you were responsible for were ultimately used by the client. If a client is in search of an audio editor to work on a commercial spot, they’ll want to hear samples that match that category of work, with details about how you contributed to the project at large.

It can also be a beneficial strategy to expand on the unique accomplishments you realized with each project if that will help the client better understand your work. Perhaps that means including some metrics about how much traffic you drove to a site, or how many listens a podcast or other audio project achieved.

For services such as translation, you can expand on any linguistic or cultural nuances that you addressed during the translation, as well as specify the industry the translation falls under. 

On your Voices talent profile, you can easily enter all of these details into the description field of your portfolio samples. You are also able to add tags to your portfolio samples, which boosts your discoverability to clients on search and helps match you with jobs best suited to your unique skills.

Tagging your portfolio samples provides our search engine with that much more context to match you with the right jobs for your strengths. When your samples are properly tagged, your responses will also appear higher in the list of responses that a client sees when you apply for a job. Even if you aren’t awarded a particular job, that enhanced exposure means that a client may Favorite your profile and return to you when another opportunity comes along. 

Customize your portfolio to highlight different skill sets

Don’t be afraid to create multiple versions of your creative portfolio based on the client it is being sent to and the platform where it is being hosted. For example, Voices is a marketplace that specializes in connecting creative talent in voice over, audio production, music, and translation with clients in a range of industries

On your Voices profile, you will have the opportunity to upload portfolio samples for each skill you offer. For example, if you offer voice over, then you ought to upload a set of your best voice over samples. If you are also skilled in audio editing, then you will have the opportunity to upload a separate set of samples that showcase your audio editing skills.

When clients visit your profile, they will be able to view all the skills you offer. When they click on and alternate between the views of each skill, your profile will automatically populate the portfolio samples that are relevant to that skill.

It’s best to strategically showcase the work that most aligns with the type of jobs that you want to be hired for. Make sure that your portfolio pieces are relevant and industry-specific. 

Exhibit your singular style

At the end of the day, what will really make you stand out is your distinct style and individual experience. Don’t worry about being generic with your portfolio contents. Include a range of items that demonstrate what makes your creative approach special as well as the X factor you bring to everything you do. 

Win Clients With a Measured Creative Portfolio

By following the creative portfolio best practices featured in this post, you’ll be equipped to broadcast your talents to the world and show off your strongest work to clients who are on the lookout for creative talent with your unique capabilities. 

To get access to a pool of remote job opportunities and begin building your own online portfolio, subscribe to a Voices membership and upload a range of creative work that captures exactly what you can accomplish as a skilled freelancer.

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