Creating your web design portfolio

Before anyone will take you seriously as a web designer you need to develop credibility. You will gain credibility through your own website and your portfolio of work.

You might be thinking well that is a chicken and egg situation, how can I have a portfolio without first gaining customers? Well you can create a viable portfolio quite easily albeit you will need to invest
some time and a little money in the process.

Your first step will be creating your own network of sites.  Not only will this prepare you better for the dealing with customers it will show you have some understanding of the internet and what can be achieved. Before you enter into designing for others you need to gain some experience working for yourself. This will give you confidence
and help you realize your abilities, potential and current limitations.

what you will need
– a good webhost
– some PLR products..

If you are not prepared to invest $8 on each sites domain name then register .tk domains instead, they are free.

Find a webhost that includes Fantastico in its Control Panel. Choose a webhost that does not limit, or gives you a large number of databases. Using Fantastico you can install all manner of applications in minutes. Most of these applications only require you to create a header and footer file to brand the application as your own. Or even
more simply still, replace a logo or header graphic and tweak a settings file.

In a day you could have a forum site, an online shop selling ebooks, and your own blog. Now you can show clients that your able to install, configure and work with a variety of applications.

The next thing to do is acquire some products with resale rights, ideally PLR (Private Label Rights). These usually come in the form of software, ebooks, reports or templates and they are sold to you with the understanding you may change/alter or amend the product add to it and sell or give it away.

It isn’t terribly important what they are, as you will not be looking to make any great profits from selling these products, its simply a means to developing your network of sites, illustrate your capabilities whilst providing you with some vital real world experience. You will use these products to create at least 3 sites.

1) An oscommerce store with multiple products (you can use Fantastico)

2) A one page website with simple paypal buynow button

3) A squeeze page site – where people opt-in to a newsletter

I would suggest if you have products related to web design then you may make a few useful contacts. More importantly those 3 sites illustrate further your ability to create opt-in newsletters, ecommerce stores, and simple one page sale sites.

You should be able to create the designs and customizations for all of those sites in a day or two. Now you have the slightly harder job of creating your own first site. You would probably be best of suing for your own site, whatever application you intend to use for your end users. So that may be dreamweaver and flatfile HTML or you could use
Joomla, Sitemaker, WordPress or something else. Whatever it is make it and make sure it looks good and works properly.

Now you are ready to try and acquire some ‘true’ real world experience. Talk to friends, colleagues and family. Ask at your synagogue, church or mosque if anyone is looking for a new website. Offer to do the first couple of websites for free in exchange for an advert on their site, a testimonial about your work and hopefully some word of mouth promotion. You already have a portfolio of half a dozen sites you have done for yourself to illustrate your capabilities. As these are people you know personally you can be completely upfront and honest about the fact you are just starting out.

The other people you can approach are local charities, schools and organisations. Think about your niche, is their a particular group of individuals or business that you want to target? It would be worth finding a complementary charity or organization to create a website for. Want to target the music industry, find a few local bands and
aspiring singers. Looking to target the hospitality trade approach your local publican or restaurateur.

With that done you may have invested a coupe of weeks or a couple of months, it will be time well spent if you are serious about becoming a web designer. It will give you a good initial grounding and you now have a solid foundation to move on from and start to seek work

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