9 Ways To Increase Your Freelance Portfolio Value In A Down Economy

You’re a freelancer, and you have a portfolio of work. You’re good at what you do. But how good could your portfolio be if it were better? How many more clients would come knocking on your door if your design had the right look and feel? How many dollars and cents are being left on the table because of an outdated website that doesn’t show off all of your skills?

If this sounds familiar, don’t worry you’re not alone. And in fact, there are several ways for any freelancer to improve their portfolio value in a down economy.

The Freelance Economy Is Moving Towards A Less Labor-Intensive Future

The freelance economy is moving towards a less labor-intensive future. As the nature of work changes, freelancers are facing a new reality.

As the freelance economy grows, more people will be working on their own and relying on their skill set to make money. Freelancers face many challenges that full-time employees do not, including finding clients and maintaining business relationships; 

Building your portfolio; marketing yourself as an expert in your industry; securing insurance coverage; paying taxes appropriately; understanding how to pay yourself appropriately (and not getting caught underpaying yourself).

In this article, I’ll explore 10 ways you can increase your value as a freelancer so you can earn more money while doing what you love!

1. You Need To Be Able To Defend Your Price

So, you need to be able to defend your price. If someone asks you why they should pay so much for your work, what are the reasons? If someone is willing to pay less than what you charge, explain why that’s not fair.

It’s about more than just the money your time is valuable too! Keep track of all the hours spent on projects and make sure that number comes out to something reasonable. If it doesn’t, then maybe it’s time for some serious self-evaluation as far as how much value you’re really adding or subtracting from each project.

If you’re undercharging and don’t feel comfortable raising up your prices because of a large workload or other factors outside of your control then it might be time for some changes in how much attention you give each client/project so that spending an extra hour doing research on one project doesn’t mean losing out on two more clients who may have been willing to pay higher rates but couldn’t afford them given their current workloads (or lack thereof).

2. Know Your Worth And Then Add Tax

You need to know your worth, and then add tax.

Overvaluing your services is one of the biggest mistakes freelancers make. It’s also one of the easiest ways to lose clients since you become “too expensive” for them.

Undervaluing yourself is just as bad as overvaluing yourself: you’re undercutting all other freelancers in your field and making yourself look like an amateur with no confidence in your abilities or experience.

Either way, it’s a bad idea because this impacts how much revenue you’re going to bring in at the end of each quarter (or year).

3. You Must Keep The Money Coming In

“The best thing you can do is keep the money coming in,” says Steve, a graphic designer and the founder of the Freelance Weekly. “Get a second job.”

“What’s your second job?” I asked him.

“My second job is creating designs for other people that they can sell on Etsy,” he said. “I also have a Tumblr blog where I post my best design work so that more people will hire me.”

And then he went on from there with his third job and fourth jobs and fifth jobs and sixth jobs and seventh jobs until it got to somewhere around the tenth or eleventh jobs before we stopped counting because we were getting tired of writing down all those words:

4. Keep Marketing But Have A Focus On Clients That Value Your Work

It’s essential to keep marketing yourself, even in a down economy. But this doesn’t mean you should market to anyone and everyone who will listen; remember, the more of your time you spend on low-value projects, the less time you’ll have for high-paying ones. 

Don’t waste your efforts on clients who won’t value what you do or would rather pay someone else to do it for them! 

Instead, carefully consider which types of projects are in demand right now and target those areas with your direct marketing efforts (see our article on choosing freelance niche markets). 

This way, when a prospective client says “I need someone like YOU,” they’re talking about YOUR particular skillset not just something close enough that they can squeeze into their budget thanks solely because it’s cheap labor from an inexperienced freelancer willing to work at below-market rates!

If possible (and ethical), ask for referrals from existing clients when negotiating payment terms for future work this is particularly effective if there’s some overlap between their industry and yours since this shows potential employers how much business has been generated from past projects together. 

And don’t forget: no matter how busy things get during downtimes like these (or even if they aren’t!), always be sure that all materials related throughout every step of each job cycle stay focused entirely upon attracting prospective new ones rather than encouraging repeat business among existing ones.”

5. Steer Clear Of The Barter System, But Be Flexible If It Works For All Parties Involved In The Transaction

Bartering is a hot topic in the freelance community these days. A lot of us are trying to get more work and make more money, but let’s be honest: The market isn’t exactly booming at this point. If you’re working with a client who can’t pay upfront or pay much at all, then bartering might be an option worth considering.

However, I’m going to tell you right now that it is not a sustainable option for most freelancers because the old “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” method works only if both parties benefit equally from the arrangement. 

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try it it just means that if things aren’t working out as they should be, then renegotiate or walk away (and maybe write an article on how not to do business with each other).

6. Know When To Walk Away From A Client And A Project

As a freelancer, you have the freedom to pick and choose your clients. This is what makes freelancing so attractive: it gives you the ability to work for people who are respectful of your time, pay your bills on time, and align with what you do best. 

If any of these things don’t happen within a client relationship, then it’s time to walk away from the project or client altogether.

Some examples could include: if they don’t respect your working hours; if they don’t pay on time; or if they ask for work that doesn’t fit in with their budget constraints (and yet still expect an amazing product). These can all be signs that this isn’t going to work out long term so why stick around?

7. Rely On Your Network, And Build New Ones When Necessary

Your contacts are the lifeblood of your business. They can help you close deals, find work, and get good press. If you don’t have a strong network yet, start making connections now and keep those relationships strong. 

Make sure that you stay in touch with people who are willing to refer clients to you and provide valuable advice when needed; do this by sending birthday cards or simply saying hello every now and again if it’s not too much trouble for either one of you.

If the contact is someone who works in an industry related to yours (or might be able to recommend clients), make sure that they’re aware of what types of projects interest you and which ones don’t; 

If they’re looking for freelance help with something outside their usual scope but think it could be interesting for someone else like yourself because there might be some overlap between their interests/needs vs yours then let them know about those too!

8. Be Ready, Willing, And Able To Help Others Out If They Need It, Even If You Don’t Get Anything In Return

The best way to help others is by doing it without expecting anything in return because then you’re not really helping anyone.

That’s what you say when someone asks, “What can I do to help people?”

You’re basically saying: How about nothing?

For example, if your neighbor has a car and they need some work done on their brake pads or something like that, don’t say “I’ll fix them for free.” Instead just say: “I’ll take a look at them.” Then maybe decide whether or not you want to do it. No strings attached!

If somebody needs advice on how to deal with some difficult situation that happened at work or home or whatever and they ask for your input (which is usually code for “please tell me what I’m doing wrong”). 

Tell them exactly what happened from your point of view as an objective outsider who isn’t involved in the problem even if they already know all this stuff already because they’ve talked about it before with other people. 

The more specific details and personal information included in their story will be helpful because then other people won’t think those things are weird when hearing those particular details again later (or reading them here).

9. Getting Freelance Work Can Be Challenging, But Don’t Let It Break You

In a down economy, it can be difficult to find freelance work. That doesn’t mean it’s hopeless, though! If you’re having trouble getting enough freelance jobs to keep your business going, there are ways around that problem. 

The key is not giving up on yourself or your dreams and this means continuing to work hard despite the challenges of finding work.

The truth is that being a freelancer will always involve some amount of struggle. There will be days where things are easy and days where things are hard; 

There will always be new challenges as you grow in your business and as the industry changes around you; but if you stick with it long enough, eventually good days will come again (usually when we least expect them).


It’s important to remember that your portfolio is a reflection of who you are as a designer, and it’s not meant to be perfect. It should be an honest representation of your work, ideas, and personality putting your best foot forward without trying too hard.

If you’re looking for inspiration from other freelancers in different fields, check out our profiles on LinkedIn. You might find yourself surrounded by people who are working in similar fields or even have experience as freelancers themselves!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some Tips For Finding Freelance Work?

Get your name out there. When you’re just starting out, it’s all about getting your name and face into the network. Join groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms where you can meet other freelancers like yourself and ask them if they know of any opportunities to get started.

Practice makes perfect! The more experience you have under your belt, the better work will become available to hire you as a freelancer – so keep honing those skills!

What Is The Best Way To Get Started As A Freelancer?

1) Start small with less pressure on yourself; 

2) Take pride in what works well for others but don’t copy them entirely (so avoid telling me “I only use Word because I’m too lazy”; 

3) Try something new every day until something clicks within 30 days;

4) Don’t compare yourself against others because everyone has their own strengths/weaknesses; 

5) Don’t stress over getting clients right away because time passing slowly means nothing compared to how much money I make now at my current job/business venture/etc.”

What Kind Of Work Should I Be Doing?

Good question! It’s all about the client. If you can find a niche in your area that has a little wiggle room and is willing to pay a premium for good work, you’ll do well. 

Not only will you be able to charge more for your work (and therefore increase your freelance portfolio value), but it will also be easier for you to find clients because there are fewer people competing with each other for this type of business. 

In addition, there are many companies who have been hit hard by the recession and who may not have enough money right now on hand to hire someone full-time at their current salary rate but they still need help! 

This creates an opportunity for freelance writers like yourself: offering them something they can afford while still getting great service from an experienced writer like yourself

What Is A Portfolio?

A freelancer’s portfolio is an organized collection of your work samples, which shows prospective clients what you can do and how well you do it. It’s an important tool when trying to land new clients because it lets them see your best work without having to hire you for individual projects.

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