At oDesk headquarters in Menlo Park, California, every Tuesday is a WFHT. This Tuesday, let's talk about that pesky but all-important issue of how you prove yourself worthy of that next freelance gig. How do you present yourself to your next client? How will they see your work?
Accept that paper resumes and leather portfolios are becoming dinosaurs in the freelance world. If you are a freelance writer -- be it technical, copy or white papers -- chances are, you're accustomed to presenting your work on paper. Photographer or graphic designer? You may be used to glossy images couched in leather and clear plastic. The thing is, when your business moves to the online world, you -- just like a web developer or software engineer -- will need to start showing your work online. The option of walking in for a sit-down interview is no longer on the table. All you have is e-mail and the internet. Get used to it.
Get your work online as soon as possible. Whether you choose to build a portfolio on a freelance site, like oDesk, or build your own web site, it's important to put your previous work on the internet. If you are a web developer this will be easy. Create your own site, with links to sites you've made. Not so tech savvy? Enlist a friend or trade services with another freelancer. Find a way. But you can always utilize a blog. With free blog options like WordPress and Blogger, there's no excuse. Anyone can create an online showcase for their skills or job history.
Protect your work and make your site simple. So, you want to put your work online, but you're worried about idea theft and plagiarism? Be savvy. Writers, don't include full articles (unless it was published on line, in which case, just link). Instead, offer half of each piece, with a note to e-mail you for the entire thing. Photographers, graphic designers, etc., always "watermark" your work. However, besides protection, the best thing you can do for yourself is to keep your site or blog reader-friendly. Nothing too fancy. Plenty of white space, no splashy fonts. It should be as easy to navigate as a physical portfolio is to flip through.
WFHT Recommended Reading
"Build a Killer Online Portfolio in 9 Easy Steps" from Freelance Switch
"Freelance Writer Online Portfolio" from About.com Freelance Writing
"How a Blog Can Help Your Photography Business" from Freelance Switch
"Redesign Your Portfolio Site: 4 Tips ... " from Freelance Folder
"Creating a Successful Online Portfolio" from Smashing Magazine
Much like a divorced marriage counselor, my ability to dish out advice is not an indicator of my ability to implement it. However, having worked from home for over a decade, I've learned what works and what just creates more work.