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How to Create a Portfolio With No Clients




Having a portfolio is arguably the most important aspect when starting your own business or side hustle. One of the first things people look at going to your website is the work you’ve done and who you’ve worked with. It’s easy to have a portfolio if you’ve been in business for a long time, but what about when you’re first starting out? How do I show my clients that i’m legitimate without having a portfolio?

When I first started doing freelance I was working in the Commercial Real Estate industry so that was where a lot of my connections were in. While I liked the clientele, that industry wasn’t something I wanted to stay in, so when I was trying to work with new clients I only had work in that industry. One day I realized that I needed to make a portfolio that attracted the clients I wanted.

For me, this was a game changer for my business. By curating a portfolio of exactly the clients I wanted to work with, I actually started attracting those clients. The clients I wanted started approaching me, it gave me the confidence to reach out to potential clients and ultimately helped me become a better designer.

Below are some things that I did to start creating a portfolio for my future clients.

Ask your friends

If you’re a creative looking to start a business, you probably have one or two other friends that are doing the same thing. Offer to make their logo or take their photos for their website and social media. Even though they’re your friend, treat the process as if they’re a true paying client. This will give you an idea of the process that you’d like to work with and a chance to add something to you portfolio.  

Make something up

Who’s your ideal client? What’s his/her name? What’s their business? Answer these questions to yourself and then create this person’s brand. Design a logo for this person’s business and add it to your portfolio. It doesn’t matter that this person isn’t real and they don’t have a legitimate business, you still made your logo and chances are the next person that hires you is because they like your aesthetic.


Like I said before, if you’re in creative circles you definitely know someone in need of your service. Offer a trade! Say you’re a photographer and someone is a graphic designer. Offer to take photos for their brand in exchange for a logo design. I would suggest offering this to someone that you’ve met at a networking event (you’re going to those right?) because they might have a different group of referrals for you and open up the doors to paying clients.

I think what’s really important to remember in starting a business from scratch is that people aren’t going to come to you. You have to put yourself out there for future clients to meet you and gain trust in you. If you don’t have anything to show for the work you’ve done, it’s going to be difficult for them to want to hire you. By creating a portfolio you believe in, can help identify the client you’re going after, as well as, have them trust your work. 

I hope this helps you in ways that you create a portfolio that is designed to attract the clients that you want.



November 15, 2017