When you’re a freelancer, your portfolio is one of your most important marketing tools. A good portfolio demonstrates your skill and expertise in your field, provides social proof by highlighting the clients you’ve worked with, and helps you get found online by prospective clients.
To get the most marketing mileage from your portfolio, you need to make it as easy as possible for your prospects to see it. These days, that means creating a video version of your online or print portfolio.
Do you really need a video version of your portfolio? If you work in a visual industry—architecture, design, entertainment, or any of the performing or fine arts, then the answer is a definite yes.
But freelancers in any industry can benefit from a video presentation of their work. Why?
Is a Basic Online Portfolio No Longer Enough?
If your site traffic, inquiries, or conversions are flat or dropping, a video portfolio may help correct the problem, especially if your competitors have video portfolios or if your target clients are millennials, the age group that watches the most online videos.
Even if your traffic and conversions are in good shape and your competitors don’t have videos (yet), you may want to start producing a video portfolio now anyway, because video is not going away, especially on social media. By 2021, Cisco projects that 80% of all web traffic will be video.
Because video is the medium many people prefer, it’s a good idea to give your prospects the option to watch rather than read or click through a gallery, especially because it’s so much easier to watch videos on a phone than it is to navigate through links and slides.
If your work is complex or nuanced, video can be a great way to show and tell, through narration or captions (most Facebook users watch videos with the sound muted), so prospects understand everything that goes into your work.
Adding a video portfolio may also help your site perform better in search results, especially if your portfolio is text-heavy (for instance, if you’re a writer or researcher). Google was already factoring video into search rankings before this month’s integration of Lens into searches to find and deliver more visual results.
How to Convert Your Freelance Portfolio Into Video
There are many ways to create your video portfolio, based on the portfolio materials you already have, your time, and your budget.
1. Still images plus background music
You can repurpose high-resolution still images of your work to create a slide-show style video. This is how the architecture school faculty at the KMITL college in Thailand produced their architectural project portfolio:
2. Stop motion for works of art and still images
You can use physical versions of your work, like drawings or architectural models, to create a stop-motion video portfolio like this illustrator has done with prints and sketchbooks:
3. Create a page-turner
If you have a hardbound portfolio book or sketchbook, you can use that to tell a video story. All you need is your book, background music or narration, and you can let viewers page through your portfolio along with you, like this shoe designer’s sketchbook video:
4. Go multimedia
Makeup artist Chenese Bean used still photos, a local news feature clip, and video of her work to build her wedding makeup portfolio video:
How to Put Together Your Video Portfolio
You’ll need a few things to create your video portfolio:
- A script or notes on how you want your video to look. Even the most straightforward portfolio will be easier to produce if you have a plan before you set up and shoot.
- A camera and a tripod if you’ll be shooting objects like artworks. Your phone’s camera should work fine. An inexpensive tripod is a must to avoid camera shake.
- Decent lighting. If you’re shooting a physical book, art pieces, or other objects, set up where there’s natural light if at all possible.
- Your video clips (using your tripod and good lighting) and any screenshots of your work that you want to use.
- Background music that you’re permitted to use. Creative Commons has lots of royalty-free music options.
- A stop-motion app if you want to go that route. There are many out there that are free or cost just a few dollars. Look for one that can create MP4 files, because that’s the preferred format for YouTube and most social media platforms. You can import your still images or shoot with these apps.
- A video file conversion tool. If your stop-motion app can’t create MP4 files, or if you have video from different sources that you want to include, look for an online video file converter that can move everything into MP4 format.
- Video editing software. Not into stop motion? There are some amazing apps you can use to edit your video on your phone. Magisto and Adobe Premiere Clip are two of the most popular and easiest to use. Both allow you to add still images, music, and captions to create a professional looking video.
- A YouTube (or other video-sharing) account. Yes, you can host your video portfolio directly on your site, but it will slow down your site and may not play properly for all your visitors. You’re better off uploading your videos to YouTube or Vimeo and then embedding them on your site with a video gallery plugin.
- A video gallery plugin for your website. This type of plugin will let you display a one video or a whole gallery on your WordPress site without slowing things down. YouTube Embed Plugin is the most popular free option. The pro version of the popular EnviraGallery plugin supports video embedding in addition to still image galleries.
Where to Share Your Video Portfolio
Besides your YouTube account and your website, you can share your video portfolio—or snippets of it—on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter. Do you need to post on all of these platforms? Nope, just the ones where you find your best clients and where prospects like your clients hang out.
You can also include product videos in your prospecting emails and email newsletters. If you go this route, be sure to code those emails properly. Not all email clients automatically load video, and you don’t want your recipients to just see blank space where your video should appear.
Building a video portfolio is an investment of time and effort that can pay you back in the form of a stronger personal brand, more inquiries from prospective clients, and more conversions.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.