With the average website conversion rate at 2.35%, showcasing your work isn’t enough to book new clients.
To sign new paying customers as a creative, freelancer, or photographer, your portfolio website must achieve several key goals: convey authority, expertise, and relevance to your target demographic.
In this article, we’re going to explain how you can design a portfolio website that:
- Shows you understand your audience
- Demonstrates your experience and expertise
- Encourages website visitors toward profitable action
We’ll take a deep dive into the components of a successful portfolio website, discussing common mistakes and how to avoid them. We’ll also share seven high-converting portfolio website templates you can steal and edit according to your unique service or business.
Thanks to our friends at Bloom.io for sponsoring this blog post!
The Strategy Behind a Portfolio Website Template
Many freelancers fail to achieve a high-converting portfolio website because they spend too much time searching for templates and website builders to create a website that is “modern,” “edgy,” or “cool.”
Their thought process might be as follows:
- If I showcase my work, clients will contact me if they like it.
- My personal website portfolio must be great for me to charge higher rates and attract ideal clients.
- Other influencers in my space do it this way, so I should do something similar.
However, this approach does not mean that they will get more clients, as in many cases, they fail to communicate directly with their target demographic because their portfolio website is too generic. As the saying goes:
Knowing who you’re targeting on your website and who you want your portfolio to please is essential in creating an effective, high-converting portfolio website.
With this in mind, a better way to approach portfolio website design is to start from scratch and ask yourself:
- “Who are the customers I’m trying to target?”
- “What do they want to see?”
- “How can I demonstrate my experience in this niche to that particular individual?”
Once you answer these questions, think about another one:
“What’s the best website template that will get me more ____ clients?” (fill in the blank with your target demographic).
This is because your website portfolio as a whole speaks much louder than any single example of client work in your portfolio. Your clients will subconsciously assume that you’ll create something similar to your personal website portfolio template for them.
That said, the best portfolio websites are not “overly designed”.
They’re branded, yes.
But they guide the user through their questions and answer them before they have time to think of them.
For example, minimalist theme templates often have higher conversion and sign-up rates than heavily designed portfolios because they’re easier for the reader to engage with:
4 Key Steps to Building a High-Converting Website
1. Position Your Portfolio Website
Positioning your portfolio website is how you present it to a viewer. It’s how they perceive your service, whether it’s relevant for their needs, and how it compares to your competitors.
This is the most important factor when creating a high-converting portfolio website. It’s also the hardest to master, as positioning comes from a combination of copy, design, images and branding.
Here are some examples of weak positioning:
- We aim to empower users and simplify their everyday lives
- We build beautiful designs for impactful brands
- We create images of moments that matter
The reason these are weak, is because every single competitor could easily say the same thing. There is no niche, no differentiation, and it sounds generic.
Key points to keep in mind when positioning your service are:
- Is it differentiated?
- Is it believable?
- Is it clear?
2. Make the Website Actions Simple
The Call to Action (CTA) is the action you want your website visitor to take - it’s the whole point of your portfolio website.
Perhaps you want them to enter their email, start a live chat, fill out a form, or book a call - each of these are separate and individual CTA’s, which all need careful consideration.
Unfortunately, most creatives use a portfolio website template with a CTA button that says something like:
- “Let’s Work Together”
- “Contact Us”
- “Start a Project”
Followed by a blank contact form or a simple redirect to create an email.
This approach makes your clients do way too much work. Many employers are new to hiring freelancers and aren’t sure where to start. You need to guide them by the hand and tell them precisely what you want them to do.
For example, if your goal is to capture new leads on your website, your lead capture form could ask:
- How can I partner with you to help you reach your goals?
- Do you have a budget in mind?
- My rates start at $XXX. Are you okay with this?
- When are you looking to start?
- Anything else you’d like me to know?
3. Add Vivid Testimonials in Your Portfolio Template Design
A PowerReview report showed that, basically, 100% of customers read reviews when they shop online. (The actual number in the report was “over 99.9%). Your portfolio website must have testimonials from satisfied customers, explaining how you worked, and what your deliverables were like.
Unfortunately, smart shoppers also know that reviews are very easy to fake, which impinges on your high-converting website’s authority.
Unless you add testimonials from platforms requiring a purchase, most of your clients will assume that your website testimonials are fake.
You can avoid this by embedding reviews from third-party platforms into your website.
To make an impact, you need to include detailed testimonials that showcase how you helped your clients achieve their goals.
For example, instead of just saying, “John was great to work with,” include a testimonial that says, “Thanks to John’s expertise, we were able to increase our sales by 20% in just three months.”
By including vivid testimonials like this in your portfolio template design, you’ll show potential clients exactly what you can do for them and increase the chances that they’ll book you for their next project.
Even better, try to get video testimonials. Video testimonials bring a texture and authenticity to your portfolio website that is impossible to imitate without them. Seeing real, satisfied customers talking about their positive experience hiring you is one of the best conversion-optimization steps you can take. Consider platforms such as WideWail to capture and share video testimonials.
4. Selectively Choose Client Work for Your Website Portfolio
When selecting the projects you’d like to showcase, choose the kind of work you want to book.
This, again, comes down to knowing who you’re targeting and what they want to see from someone they’re willing to hire.
This is important because the number one question your potential clients will have is whether you’re the right fit for them.
Most creatives think that displaying logos from big clients will make them appear more valuable, but this isn’t true. Many clients will think that you’re not the right fit for them.
Instead, share your best work with your most relevant clients.
Using Portfolio Website Templates
It’s challenging to design a high-converting website.
So difficult, in fact, that website design and conversion rate optimization is a lucrative freelancer job.
It’s time-consuming, takes technical knowledge, and, in reality, it’s difficult to get right.
That’s why website builder tools and portfolio website templates, such as Bloom.io’s, are fantastic options for non-technical freelancers, creatives, and photographers who want a strong online presence but don’t have the time or resources to build one themselves.
But again, choosing a website builder can be difficult. You need one that addresses the needs of a modern creative business and is also easy to manage and update.
When considering a website builder or a platform to get your portfolio website template, consider the following:
Portfolio website template options
You need to consider the platforms’ diversity of pre-built templates designed specifically for your needs. Each creative, photographer or freelancer has a unique offering and niche, and your portfolio website must reflect that.
User interface and ease of use
You’re using a website builder to speed up the process and avoid learning how to actually build a website.
So, look for features such as pre-built sections, AI writer tools, and drag-and-drop functionality that can help you assemble your website like LEGOs.
When working with a template directory, you want to have a wide range of website types because you’ll never know what kind of work you may be hired for.
- Portfolio Website Templates - Showcase your work and offer your services.
- Landing/Sales Pages - This page type is essential for running ads. You need the positioning and the offer to be exactly what was advertised.
- Ecommerce - build an online store, connect to Stripe, and sell online with no platform transaction fees.
- Memberships - launch a membership platform with paying users and a gated experience.
- Blogging - Find templates and build a blog in seconds with a fully integrated CMS.
Build and manage multiple sites
You might find that once you’ve built one site, you need more - either of the same type, or different. Especially if you build websites for clients, you need a website builder with diverse templates where you can manage everything in one place.
Either way, your website builder should offer you the freedom to duplicate, edit and manage sites you’ve previously worked on, saving you and your clients hours of work on new projects.
Server and hosting
Stability, speed, uptime, and SEO optimization of your chosen template and website builder tool are crucial factors that will impact your customer’s perception of you and your brand. Not only will potential clients leave your website, but your organic ranking and ad effectiveness will drastically be affected.
Price of the service
Price is an obvious consideration, and for a comprehensive platform that offers each of the above features, you’ll often find yourself paying well above $50 per month.
Your portfolio website is often the first impression your clients will have of you. This means it must be good. It must be clean. It must be relevant, and above all, it must give your target customer what they’re looking for.
By focusing on the right website portfolio template, positioning your website portfolio, making the CTA easy and appealing, adding vivid testimonials, and selectively choosing client work, you can increase your chances of booking more clients.
Using a website builder or a portfolio website template, such as those offered by Bloom.io, will greatly improve the functionality and effectiveness of your website. Bloom.io is the leading all-in-one client management platform for creatives which offers all of these features, plus many more, for only $13/mo.■