Starting a Web Design Business With No Portfolio

You are a budding web designer, fresh out of college, and you don’t have a job to show prospective clients.

It’s possible to start a web design business without a portfolio.

Businesses don’t want to hire a designer if they don’t see strong work examples Business owners want to know that their money is well spent. How can you not have any clients?

Talk about frustrating.

You are in the right place. We will show you how to start a web design business without a portfolio.

There is a way to start a web design business.

There is more than one way to start a web design business. If you think outside the box and put in a little bit of creativity, you will land the first client in no time website design company. It will be easy to build a portfolio from there.

Here’s some ideas to get you started:

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Showcase school projects

You can show prospective clients examples of your work if you studied web design. Even if the projects are older, a little amateur, or not a fully functioning example, they are a great resource to draw on. You can identify your best work by scrolling through your archives.

If you are pursuing this as a career, chances are you have a parallel skill set.

You can reuse graphic design, coding and writing examples to give your clients an idea of your expertise. You went from starting a web design business with no portfolio to having a limited portfolio you can use.

Do work for family and friends

Every business needs a website. Someone in your circle needs help.

Ask your family and friends if you can practice your skills on them. Someone will accept the offer.

Since this is a favor and a trial-run, it is important to set clear expectations. Tell the truth about your experience and capabilities. Clear boundaries about the scope of work are a must. Updating your cousin’s website for the next 10 years is not something you want to do.


It’s just as much about who you know as it is about what you know. The first thing you need to do is reach out to your network.

Put it out on social media that you are starting a web design business. Let your friends and family know so they can help you.

The advantage to this approach is that the people who know you already know how good you can be. If your network trusts you and your work, they can recommend you.

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Create mock websites that show your capabilities

There is no rule that says portfolio projects should be from actual clients. It is possible to build a few websites out of your own head when you are starting your web design business.

You can either create fake brands from your interests or work with companies that you would love to work with. It is important to include examples of your best ideas, navigation, strategies and design.

Work for free

You need the real thing to make sure your work is top-notch. As a last resort, you can reach out to small businesses in your area and offer them work for free or at a discounted rate.

Say hello. I am starting a new business and I need to build my portfolio. I have noticed that your website is a little dated, maybe they don’t have one. Would you allow me to take a look at redesigning it?

It is important to set clear expectations in a situation like this. It is important to treat the project the same as a paying customer. The whole exercise has been a waste of time if you need to deliver quality work.

Tips on starting your web design business portfolio

It is difficult to start a web design business without a portfolio. You will need a killer portfolio full of work examples to really grow your empire.

How to get started on your portfolio

It may seem obvious, but the first thing you need to do is perfect your brand. If you can’t make a beautiful site for yourself, why would you do it for someone else? It is necessary for you to invest time and money first.

If you want to get started, check out these top themes.

When starting a web design business with no portfolio, it is a good idea to enter contests.

Even if you don’t win, you can still be featured on the website and earn cash prizes. You will get some great portfolio pieces if nothing else.

What to include in your web design portfolio

All of your skills need to be highlighted in your portfolio. You need to have examples of gorgeous design in your signature style, but also things like navigation, magazines, e-commerce, and even mundane things like contact pages if they are a highlight.

Companies need more than just a logo. They need to know you can tell a story and deliver something at the same time.

You should have information in your portfolio. Tell your sales leads a bit about yourself and the project you are showcasing.

If you have a client sitting across a table from you, explain the design points that you would use. It’s also a huge value-add.

Think about your portfolio from a prospective client’s perspective. They need to see what you can do. Make sure it is there.

What not to include in your portfolio

It is tempting to put everything in your portfolio when you are just starting out. Keep in mind the end goal A portfolio is a way to show your best work.

Quality is usually better than quantity when starting a web design business. The extra space can be used to give more information about your projects.

It is time to edit after you have compiled everything. There are a few things that you shouldn’t include in your web design portfolio.

It is best to leave out a project if you are unsure about it. Business owners probably won’t be impressed if you can’t convince yourself that it’s worth it.

When you are done building and self-editing, be sure to give your portfolio to a few trusted contacts and ask them to review it. One pair of eyeballs is always a good thing, and they will almost certainly have ideas that you haven’t thought of that will better demonstrate your skills.


It is even more difficult to start a web design business without a portfolio. Without samples, you are asking clients to take a huge leap of faith, trusting that you are the right fit for their business.

It may take awhile to land the kind of clients that you want to work with. When you know the value you are adding to a business, it can be frustrating to be low-balling your work.

It is important to realize that this time is for you.

You should treat your projects like a branding opportunity. Your growing collection of evidence that you are the kind of web designer larger brands want to work with comes from every portfolio piece.

What are you waiting on?

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