Different ways you can start building your portfolio as a Brand + Web Designer
We’ve all been there, struggling to get clients because you don’t have any work to show them but HOW are you supposed to show them past work if you haven’t had any clients?! 🤔 It’s one of those very frustrating things that many brand and web designers have gone through, but you have to start somewhere right? It’s happened to me before and it sucks, I want to share with you how you can avoid losing a client because you didn’t have any work to show them. I’ll be sharing some tips on how you can start expanding your portfolio now in order to gain experience and start landing clients quicker!
1. Mockup Projects
What is a mockup project you ask? Mockup projects are real-life client scenarios for you to start gaining experience and build your design portfolio. You can either make up a name of a company to get started, look for some sample mockup projects on Pinterest, or simply use your imagination! The whole situation is made up all you have to do is design something in order to add it to your portfolio. Just like a real-life client you should conduct analytical and creative research using a creative brief. You should also create a secret Pinterest board to use for inspiration to create your moodboard. Pssst…. you can also use moodboards as part of your work to showcase in your portfolio! Next is designing logo concepts in black and white, make sure you create a couple of logo concepts for you to choose from. Next up is creating a color palette, I would suggest creating at least 3 color palette options and pick which one you like best. Now this is the fun part, start designing the final color logo concepts and once that’s done you should create a full branding style board. It sounds easy in scripture, but it might take you some time to create mockup projects. Treat them like real clients that way when you do get clients you’ll know what the process is like and how serious you should take them! Creating mockup projects will not only allow you to gain valuable experience but having these mockup projects on your portfolio will be great to show your potential clients. Shhh. I promise that this secret will be kept between you and I, they don’t have to know they are mockups 🤫.
2. Doing complimentary work
When you’re just starting out as a designer it might be hard to gain paid clients because you don’t have much experience but what I’ve learned is that doing some complimentary work can be extremely beneficial. Not only will you gain invaluable experience, but you will know how you should carry your web and brand design process, who you like to work with and so much more. Treat it like if it were a paid client, don’t allow the fact that it’s “free” deter you from doing amazing work. By doing complimentary work I’ve also learned what type of clients I like working with and which ones raise red flags, making me run the other way. Where should you be looking for clients who you could offer complimentary work for? I would suggest asking family and friends first (make sure they’re a fit) and one of the best ways you can find some of your ideal clients is by joining Facebook groups that fit with your target audience. Some of my favorites are Bucketlist Bombshells Tribe, The Intentional Entrepreneur, and Savvy Business Owners. By offering complimentary work you can choose who you want to work with, this allows you to you choose your ideal clients. Word to the wise, don’t allow these clients to take advantage of you, be strict with your process and make it clear that you have a process that they too have to respect. I say this from experience, I’ve personally had issues with some clients I did complimentary work for where I felt like they weren’t taking me seriously because it was “free” work. A lot of people don’t realize the hard work and time investment that goes into the web design process or brand design. Show the clients you’re doing complimentary work for that you need to be taken seriously and show them the incredible work that you’re able to give them. Although you’re doing free work, it’s important to take these clients seriously because they can provide you with referrals and amazing reviews that you could show potential clients!
3. Lowering your package prices
I would strongly suggest to only do this a few times. Maybe for 3 clients tops. Lowering your prices will allow you to gain clients quicker hence allow you to build your portfolio quicker as well. I do want to say, don’t allow yourself to keep these low prices, as you gain experience you’re allowed to increase your prices to at least the market standard depending on your experience. I’m not an expert on how much you should be charging but really, ask yourself what the value of your work is worth. I added lowering your prices as the last resort because I don’t want you to undervalue your work. But there are some benefits from lowering your prices; one you do get client experience and you have something to add to your portfolio plus a review, which is great! Two, you aren’t doing work for free which means you’re getting paid something! I would say that’s a win-win.
There you have it! I hope these tips help you gain an amazing portfolio and invaluable experience. One tip I want you to remember is that once you finish the work with a client whether it was complimentary or because you lowered your prices a tab bit, don’t forget to ask for a review! Reviews are gold to potential clients, they will read through all of them, trust me!