So you've decided to take up freelancing as a career option. There's one small problem keeping you from providing a valuable service to clients.

Your portfolio doesn't present any samples of your work, so potential clients have no idea what you can do.

How would you handle this situation? Getting around is a little tricky. You need this work to convince others to hire you, but without it, nobody will hire you, which means you don't have the work to convince others to hire you. This is a chicken and egg situation.

There are several things you can do to build up a portfolio even if you don't have any clients, even though it can be challenging to gain traction this way.

Check out these five methods for building up your business portfolio without having clients:

Providing pro bono services

Pro bono work is an excellent way to build your portfolio. The idea is that you offer to do some free work for a charitable organization. Whatever your skills are, whether you are a copywriter, a marketer, or even a graphic designer, you can use them to provide services.

If you offer free work in exchange for being able to use the project in your portfolio, you'll be able to build up a reputation without doing anything special. Charities or non-profits, in particular, will greatly benefit from your skillset.

You will not only find businesses loving it when you work for good causes in your local area, but charities are often extremely grateful for the assistance and are more than happy to let you include it in your portfolios. 

Providing discounts

When it comes to portfolio bills, offering a discount is a good idea. You may find that some small businesses will not be able to afford your regular rate, but may be able to take advantage of a discount. It allows you to build a portfolio while still earning a bit of money.

Additionally, working with a smaller firm gives you a chance to test your processes on a real-world basis. It's an opportunity to improve all parts of your business, whether it's creating an invoice or communicating with clients.

Your clients will be pretty happy with the discount, and they might even refer and recommend you to their friends. No matter how big or small your portfolio, getting a referral from a small business that you've worked with is a great way to begin opening doors.

Getting referrals

It is a good idea to speak to your friends and family members if any of them can provide you with a referral. There are many benefits to getting referred for a product, and it isn't particularly difficult to do.

In addition to tips and tricks, many friends and family can point you in the right direction for opportunities to develop a portfolio.

Typically, your friends and family will be happy to provide you with the necessary tools to get in touch with your potential clients, and they may also be willing to help you with your marketing efforts. Building a portfolio with them is not difficult even if you do pro bono work for them.

Building a Network

You can build a portfolio through networking because it allows you to meet other talented people and at the same time, produce work that can be used as a starting point for a portfolio.

It’s recommended to reach out to other professionals who specialize in something a little different since you can share resources with each other. You might be asked by a marketer to provide them with content in exchange for one of their campaigns. In order to leverage a portfolio successfully, you have to come up with a quid pro quo agreement.

The main benefit of networking is that it offers the opportunity to develop potentially lifelong relationships, leading to future collaborations. A new friend you made through networking could be a business partner in ten years.


If you are having trouble building your portfolios through actual clients, you might want to set up some examples for yourself. You are in no way prohibited from creating some sample pieces of content or images to show what you can do.

It gives you the opportunity to brush up on your skills, and you don't need to have any clients available to do it. Creating your own portfolio is easy. In order to attract clients, you will want to create a number of products that showcase your talents in a thorough manner.

Also, self-creating allows you some degree of freedom in your activities. It is possible to build products that show off a particular aspect of you.

In conclusion

Hopefully, you now understand that you don't always need clients to create content and build a portfolio. So long as you are creative and take advantage of the natural avenues available to you, it shouldn't be a huge issue.

You can think of a portfolio as just a collection of works that demonstrate your particular skill set and qualifications. Paying clients are not required to provide this service, and the issue of needing them is resolved. The bottom line is if you are willing to put the time into it, building a portfolio is not difficult at all. Once you have it, you can begin attracting and reaching out to clients, putting you on the road to success.

Also Check: 5 Steps to Scale and Grow Your Consulting Business.

There are quite a few freelancers who end up working for free when they get an opportunity from a company and they trust them simply because of their name and reputation. No matter how much a company tells you, do not trust them when it comes to payments. The vast majority of fraudsters request free samples or work on a demo project from the first-time freelancer, then use these samples and never pay the freelancer. Many fraudsters take advantage of freelancers just starting out by using this method and some are even proud of it by calling it a hack to create free work. This type of fraud can be avoided by collecting an advance by means of a digital escrow platform. 

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