Building a portfolio is a waste of time, sweat, and money because you don't have to have a portfolio to sell high-value WordPress sites to your clients. In this training session, we're talking about why you don't need a portfolio and what you should be doing to attract your ideal clients. This one is all about working smarter, not harder.
Graphic Designers Need Portfolios – You Don't (even if you are a graphic designer)
If you are accepting projects for prices way below what you want to be charging, this training session is going to save you a ton of time and money. Here's the thing: WordPress development is NOT like graphic design, business identity, or photography. If you are in the business of selling graphical or visual services like business cards, logos, business identity branding, portraits, or video production you need a portfolio to build trust with your clients and to show that you are capable of delivering what they are looking for. Even if you are in the business of selling “web design” then a portfolio is necessary so you can show people what you're capable of producing with the hope that your client will be thinking, “Yeah, I want that too!”
But we DoubleStackers are not selling any of those things. Let me say that again… We are not SELLING any of those things. Every single one of those services is covered, but that's not what we are selling. In other words, obviously, keep doing those things – providing those services – but stop selling those service and start selling results-oriented business solutions. Your solutions may include exercising many of these skills, but those skills are the stepping stones to get to the actual solutions your clients are looking for. Let's dive in and see exactly what that looks like.
The truth is your clients don't care very much about you and they really don't care about your other clients. They are looking for help. In other words, they have a problem and they are looking for someone to help solve it. The only reason they care about you is because you might be able to provide the solution they are looking for. Obviously, I am talking in terms of business. On a personal level, people care about other people but we're talking about getting clients. And, in this context, the reason they are looking to hire someone is because they have a need that they can't resolve on their own.
So, with that being understood, why does it make sense to talk about you and your other clients? You should absolutely be talking about them!
Why Do Designers and Photographers Need Portfolios?
Designers and photographers need portfolios because if someone is shopping around for graphic design work then the portfolio is the outcome. The deliverable, the goal, the reason your client hires you is that they want to have a logo like the ones you've made for other clients. Or they want to get pictures that look like the ones you took before.
The import point is that for us DoubleStackers, the presentation of a website is NOT the outcome we are selling. The way a website looks is not where the value is. We are focussed on results. Yes, of course, the presentation matters. I literally just got an email from Google saying that “mobile first indexing” is now enabled for one of my sites. So, making sure your client's site look great on mobile devices is a huge deal. But it's NOT a huge deal because it looks cool. It's a huge deal because that is how you get better search engine rankings. It's a huge deal because a ton of people are on mobile devices and they need to have a good experience. It's a huge deal because this drives more customers to your client's business – both online and offline.
Does that make sense? Designers and photographers are selling cool designs. We're not selling cool designs. We're selling the results that come from having a website with a cool design that renders site properly on a variety of devices. We're selling the results, not the design.
Portfolios Emphasize The Wrong Message
Another reason why emphasizing a portfolio is hurting your business is focuses on a narrative that you're client doesn't care about. Your portfolio makes two basic points. First, it shows what you can do. Second, it showcases your other clients. The problem is your client doesn't really care about either of those two points. The only reason they care about those things is because that's all most people give them. So, they have to try to connect the dots on their own. They look at what you can do. They see who you have worked with before. Then they try to put the puzzle together on their own to see if that means you will be able to help them with what they need.
Why not cut to the chase. Stop with all the fluff and go straight to what your client really needs. In other words, connect the dots for them by offering the business solution they are looking for. Stop talking about yourself and your other clients and answer your client's central question which is, “What's in it for me?”
A Real Life Example
I spent a lot of time windsurfing. I'd go out on the Potomac River or down to the Outer Banks in North Carolina and it was both awesome and frustrating. It was awesome because windsurfing is so much fun. But it was frustrating because I was seeing other people flying around having way more success than I was having. My biggest problem was I didn't know how to water start. Every time I fell, to restart I was standing on this wobbly surfboard tugging on an uphaul line trying to pull the sail out of the water. This was super tiring. It also took forever compared to the other guys who could leverage the wind to lift themselves out of the water. I was basically fighting the wind and wearing myself out.
So, there I was, struggling with all of this and a kind soul sailed over and offered to help. He said, “Let me show you how to get up and sailing a lot faster.” So, I said, “Before you do that, can you please show me a list of other people you have taught how to windsurf? I'd like to see your portfolio before we work together.”
NO, I DIDN'T!!! I said, “AWESOME! Thank you!!!”
He told me to point my board upwind. He showed me where to put my front foot and how to kick with my back foot. He showed my how to rake the sail a bit forward. And literally within about 2 minutes – maybe less – I learned how to water start. It was the exact thing I needed help with and I totally didn't care if it was the first time he had ever taught someone how to do it or if he had been a windsurfing instructor for 20 years. I didn't care at all because I just wanted to get the outcome – the result – he offered when he showed up.
What You Really Need
Rather than focussing on a portfolio, what you really need to focus on is your offer. Does your offer deliver the results your clients are looking for or are you selling stepping stones? Another very important point is that your clients are not just looking for a flash in the pan. They are looking for ongoing results. So, construct your offer in a way that enables you to continue working with your clients on an ongoing basis. This is how you establish long-term, high-value relationships that will stabilize your business with reliable recurring revenue – and not just with WordPress hosting and maintenance plans.
- If you want help developing your offer…
- If you want help putting together business development packages that enable you to deliver ongoing results for your clients…
- If you are interested in learning how to offer high-value services that command premium rates…
…then let's talk about it. Schedule a free 45-minute consultation with me and we'll dive into your business and how you can transform your business and your mindset so you can start earning what you're really worth while serving your clients more deeply and better than ever before.