How to Create Compelling Content for Your Portfolio Site


We web designers are often great at helping our clients develop a winning content strategy. But our own websites? That can be a different story.

Quite often, we’re so focused on helping others that our own sites suffer. That can have a negative impact on your business. Without compelling content of your own, it can be difficult to win over new clientele.

It’s not so difficult, however, to spruce up the content on your site. All it takes is setting aside some time to do the work.

So, clear an hour or two from your busy schedule and follow these tips for creating great content.

Note that our focus here won’t be on listing your projects or styling them in some unique way. Rather, we’ll look at the other areas of a designer’s site that are often neglected. Yet, they’re just as important.

Tell Your Own Unique Story

Sometimes, it can feel like if you’ve seen one designer’s site, you’ve seen them all. So many of us tend to follow the same formula. But prospective clients want to know what separates you from the competition.

Therefore, it’s important to make yourself stand out. To do so, take advantage of your company’s most unique asset: You.

While other designers may have similar skills, they haven’t had the same experiences. They also don’t have your character traits or your signature style.

So, instead of settling for generic “marketing speak”, show the world who you are. Talk about your passions and how they inspire your work. Share why you love your job and what led you to become a business owner. Use imagery and colors that reflect your personality. Post a photo of your family or a favorite pet.

For some of us, it can be difficult to market ourselves in this way. In my case, it took a while to become comfortable with putting myself out there as a “brand”. But it can be an incredibly effective way to reach your audience.

The key is to show your human side. After all, you’re not just a robot writing code all day. In essence, anyone can do that. By allowing people to share in your journey, you’re making a more personal connection. In turn, this provides visitors with a more positive vibe than a standard corporate website.

A fountain pen writing on lined paper.

Position Yourself as an Expert

Of course, sharing your love of video games alone won’t have clients beating down your door. You also need to demonstrate that you know what you’re doing.

Again, it’s best to avoid generalized skill descriptions. For instance, those ever-present graphs that tell the world you’re 50% proficient in CSS won’t help your prospects. If anything, they’re a major turn-off: Why would anyone want to hire a web designer who doesn’t fully understand CSS? It sends the entirely wrong signal.

Instead of simply listing your strengths, it’s wise to do something a bit more creative. Having your own company blog, for example, can be a terrific way to showcase what you know.

Indeed, it’s hard to find the time to write entries (my own experience confirms it). But there’s no need to pressure yourself. Even if you can only write a few posts per year, that still counts as original content. And, they may just bring in some new visitors via search engines and social media.

As for subject matter, write about what you know and the experiences you’ve had. Maybe you just learned something exciting at a conference. Or perhaps you recently helped a client improve their online sales.

You don’t have to go incredibly in-depth or get too technical. Something short and to-the-point is often the better way to go and can be quite effective.

Books on a library table.

Honesty in Service

One of the more disappointing events in a web designer’s life is opening an email from a prospective client, only to find that they’re looking for something you don’t offer. The sound of cash registers ringing quickly turns to those horns of despair from the Price is Right.

While you might not be able to fully rid yourself of such emails, you can lessen them quite a bit. Surely, you’ll want to list the services you provide somewhere on your site. But it might also be worthwhile to point out any specific services that you don’t offer, as well.

It may sound like an unusual step – and it is. However, showing that honesty in what you are and aren’t willing to do serves two purposes. First, it helps to avoid any mutual wasting of time. Second, it positions you as someone who is truthful and trustworthy.

As a personal example, I like to mention the fact that I don’t generally take on the maintenance of sites that were built by someone else. It’s not a situation that I feel comfortable with and I state it upfront. This has not only cut down on the number of those types of requests I receive, it has also started some conversations that led to redesigning a site for a new client.

Sometimes it feels like honesty is sorely missing in our society. By providing it, you’re increasing your chances of forming a great relationship with your clients.

Provide a More Genuine Experience

Put yourself in a client’s shoes. Who would you trust more? A web designer who shares their knowledge and invites you to learn more about who they are? Or what about someone who just throws tired slogans and meaningless buzzwords at you?

It stands to reason that people are more likely to work with someone who is genuine. A great website is an investment, after all. If you’re going to spend your hard-earned money, you’d want someone you can trust and that has the experience to do the job right.

These are the qualities that need to come through in your portfolio website. Show visitors who you are and give them a reason to become clients.

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