The main problem designers face while beginning their careers is to find a client without having a portfolio to show. It’s hard to find a client to trust you to design him something without having any quality previous work to show him that you can make it. Here you will see and learn many ways that you can find to create a good quality portfolio without having that first client.

Creating a portfolio without a client doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do any work. This is not going to be easy and quick; this will take a lot of work and time but it all pays off at the end.

Be Organized

Organization is the key for saving time and being more productive. If you willing to put time and effort to work on creating a portfolio that can set your freelancing career you will have to organize your self and make a schedule in order to be able to produce more. Organize your work space and set working hours, that’s the only way you going to get yourself to produce something. For more time and organization tips read: How To Find Time For… Everything!

Be Organized

Work for Yourself

Work on personal projects that can further help promote your work. Designing something for yourself will be your first task, the good thing about working for yourself is that you have total freedom on the design but remember that is very important to set deadlines based on the time you have to work the same way you would if the work was for a client.

Work for yourself

Design Wallpapers

Start working on a set of wallpapers, 3 to 5 wallpapers based on a theme, also make sure to transform them into iphone wallpapers as well. When you done creating your portfolio this will help promote your work.

Wallpapers by Pablo Alfieri

Design Posters

Designing Posters and printing them can give you an extra edge to your portfolio and give a future client the feeling that you have good knowlegde of what you doing both in designing and printing. The same way you worked on a set of wallpapers work on a set of posters based on a theme, that can help you create a series of posters related to each other which can be a rich set on your portfolio. In the future you can giveaway a couple prints of your posters to help promote your work.

Typography Posters by Stefano Joker Lionetti

Design a Calendar

Designing a nice and creative calendar can show a lot of your creativity and print solutions, this is a chance to make something inovative to show your future clients what you capable of creating. In the future you can giveaway a couple calendars and also promote your work.

Design a Picture Book

Select a few of your own photos and make a nice picture book, mix it with some good typography and have a one of a kind piece in your portfolio. This can also bring the interest of your friends and family to getting one too, it all ads up on your portfolio.

Composition and Content by Andre' Wright Jr

Design for Contests

Designing for good contest can put a nice piece on your portfolio and also carry a name to it. Such designs contests like HugoCreate give you the opportunity to work on your own for a big brand. You don't have to win the contest, just by making a good piece to later display on your portfolio is already a win.

Hugo Create work by goshaptichka

Collab Work

Do a collab work with other designers that are in the same situation as yours. It's a great way to expand your work and learn more about working in group. Look for people that are hungry for work just as much as you are and invite them for a private project, trade ideas and built a design concept, at the end it's all going to your portfolio.

Collab work from Matt W. Moore and Magomed Dovjenko

Brand Yourself

Now that you already got some decent and creative pieces on your portfolio it's time to move on and get your self a nice logo and a website, that's another way to improve your portfolio within your own work. Every client that goes in your website will analyze it as well as your portfolio because it's also part of it. Here is a great article on The Art of Branding Yourself and Your Freelancing Business

Brand yourself

Design a Logo

Your first identity client can be you, design a nice logo for yourself to show as reference on your portfolio. Make sure to read Vital Tips For Effective Logo Design

Logo for his own studio by Hoang Rabbit

Design a Website

Designing your own website can be a challenge but at the end it you can say you did, get help from web designers if you need. There is a lot of services that convert PSD to HTML in case coding is a problem. Remember to stay away from templates in order to remain original.

Design a Business Card

Now that you got a nice portfolio with a website to display them, it's always good to have a nice business car that you can give away everywhere you go, remember that the business card will represent you and your work when you not there. Here are some great samples and good finish options to print it: 5 Finishing Options to Print a Business Card

Each worker got their own business card at ID Branding

Conclusion

If you follow through you will get the experience of designing different projects for different medias and learn a lot on your own with your own mistakes. Building a portfolio on your own without clients is very difficult, very difficult to stay focus on something that doesn't pay off right the way. Make sure to set deadlines to every project and work on it as if it was worth a million dollars, it all pays off in the end. Now all you need is a client, with a nice portfolio it will be like a lot easier than before.

Success

"Everybody makes mistakes at first; and if a painter never learns what his mistakes are he will never correct them. Therefore test your work; and if you have made mistakes correct them; and don't make the same mistakes again." Leonardo Da Vinci
Good Luck!

About the author of this post

My name is Paulo Canabarro, I'm a passionate freelance web designer paulocanabarro.com and enthusiastic blogger here at abduzeedo. Catch me designing Wordpress Themes. Say hello on twitter @paul0v2.