How to Create an Impressive Portfolio From Scratch – Even If You’ve Got ZERO Professional Experience

If you’re an aspiring creative professional and looking for work, but you’ve got absolutely no experience, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

You actually don’t need any professional experience at all.

No, I haven’t lost the plot. I’m dead serious. You don’t need a bit of “on-the-job” experience to land well-paying projects with prestigious clients – right from the get-go.

None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an aspiring copywriter, graphic designer, web designer, information publisher, photographer, travel writer, or whatever else you choose to do.

All you’ve got to do is learn how to put together an impressive portfolio – or “book” as it’s known in the industry – and learn effective ways to get it in front of prospective clients … and you can land jobs with today’s largest, most prestigious companies.

Yes … it will take some work on your part to pull this off. Unfortunately, there’s no “magic pill.” But I promise you – you can make it happen.

And here’s the fun part: When it comes to putting together your portfolio, you’re limited only by your imagination. What’s more … you can get started in the next few minutes.

Here’s how …

Turn Your Personal Belongings
Into “Solid Portfolio Gold”

First off, what can you include in your portfolio?


That’s right. It can be the most seemingly random thing you can think of. As long as it solves a problem in the marketplace and has value in the eyes of your prospects, you can use it in your portfolio with great success.

Go ahead and take a look around your home. Pretty much anything you see, you can use.

For example:

  • A GPS mobile phone
  • An imported teak coffee table
  • A microwave oven
  • An LCD television
  • A mountain bike
  • A bottle of organic shampoo
  • “Tripod,” your three-legged rescue mutt

Here are some ideas to get your portfolio started:

  • FREELANCE COPYWRITER: Write a full-page space ad promoting your mobile phone carrier’s GPS service … or a sales letter for a mountain bike vacation you dream up from scratch … or a catalog ad for the organic shampoo you swear by …
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Design a four-color ad selling your imported teak coffee table … or a poster encouraging donations to the local humane society where you found your loving three-legged pooch … or a glossy brochure that showcases your microwave oven …
  • INFORMATION PUBLISHER: Write an e-book on LCD television maintenance … or a special report on why you should use all-natural, organic shampoos, soaps, and other household items … or a hardcover book on the world’s best places for couples to go mountain biking …
  • FREELANCE TRAVEL WRITER: Write an article on mountain biking in the Adirondacks … or how to adopt rescue dogs in Central America and bring them back safely … or how to find bargains in Southeast Asia and sell them back home for fun and profit …
  • FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER: Take photos of everyday household objects and sell them to a stock photography agency. This alone is a HUGE opportunity for photographers … and you don’t even have to leave home to do it …

Yes … some of these ideas may seem a little unusual. But here’s where a tremendous opportunity for you lies.

You see, when you do a great job taking any ol’ household item and making it sparkle with your own hard work and creative genius, it will really impress your prospective clients.

Here’s another thing to keep in mind …

When you’re creating your own portfolio from scratch, make sure you know what’s working in the market right now, just to keep you on the right track. For example, if you’re going to design a space ad for an LCD television, take a little time to study existing space ads for televisions … and then use them as inspiration.

You’ll also want to have a few people you trust take a look at your portfolio samples before you show them to prospective clients. Ask for honest feedback. And then make any necessary changes until your samples are as good as they can possibly be.

After all, you don’t want to show prospective clients subpar work! If you’re a writer, you can put your writing sample through a “peer review.” If you’re a designer or photographer, just try to get the best feedback you can from people whose opinion you trust.

Finally, you’ll need to put it all together. If you’re going to showcase your samples offline, invest in a quality portfolio book. The key here is not to “skimp.” Invest the money. This is, after all, your livelihood we’re talking about here! If you type “portfolio book” in Google, you can shop around for something you like.

And if you’re going to showcase your portfolio online (highly recommended), make sure you do it right. If necessary, hire a web designer to do it for you. If you don’t know any web designers, consider placing an ad on

And then, once your portfolio is done and dusted, you’re ready to start showing it off to prospective clients – and start landing work right away – even if you’re still a “newbie.”

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Published: December 10, 2008

7 Responses to “Create an Impressive Portfolio From Scratch”

  1. This is excellent Jason. I thought I was a little weird when I was using Bob Bly's pencil idea on a coffee cup when sitting in a restaurant. But now I see I'm just one of the crowd. Thanks!


  2. Great article!!


  3. This article was so helpful I just had to comment! I have been in the work world for seven years now, and though I have writing skills never even thought I could possibly be a writer. I wrote a couple advertisements for a few dollars and found out I still had it, but NEEDED A PORTFOLIO!! Thank you sooooo much for such AMAZING and helpful information. You are a God send Jason.

    Guest (Esau)

  4. Hey, Thanks a lot for this article. It got me thinking in the right direction. I am trying for a marketing position that basically is a design and promotion gig. I knew I needed something to put in the board members' hands, but was a little lost. This sparks my brain to do two things. Create mini portfolios that are components of the whole. The whole portfolio can be viewed online. Reasons of limited funds are for the mini portfolios. However, it does allow interaction between the prospects as they look-through and pass the minis around... like... "Check out the one with the red hat in that one," prospect says to one of the others... That's not bad..

    Guest (Syndjynn Sobriquetian)

  5. I've done a lot of this in my "daily writing." Now I just need to polish them up and put them in my portfolio.

    Thanks for the ideas.


  6. Thanks for this!

    Guest (shei)

  7. hey,

    so i am currently struggling to build my prtfolio, i have a keen eye for fine art.
    to be honest i see art every where i go.

    how can i start from scratch to build my portfolio?

    i am very interested, in going to university, but without a porfolio im useless.

    please tell me an easy way??

    Guest (Roxanne )

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