How To Make A Graphic Design Portfolio With No Experience? 5 Tips To Land Your Dream Job

Brian Bojan Dordevic
About The Author

Brian Decoded

President at Alpha Efficiency

Join me at the forefront of web design and digital marketing innovation. I am obsessed with web design, business philosophy and marketing performance.
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Do you want to become a professional designer but don’t know how to make a graphic design portfolio with no experience? Don’t despair; we all have been there before.

Your portfolio is a powerful tool that can open the doors to your dream jobs – or close them shut. While good portfolios impress clients and land jobs, a low-quality portfolio can make you seem unprofessional and unprepared to take the job.

But how can you build a professional portfolio if you still don’t have any experience? At my Chicago web design agency, I have reviewed hundreds of designers’ portfolios and know what hiring managers are looking for.

In this article, I will teach you how to create a professional-looking portfolio that helps you land your dream job. You will learn the best ways to acquire real-life graphic design experience to set off your career.

Table of Contents:
How to make a graphic design portfolio with no experience

How a Professional Graphic Designer Portfolio Can Help You Set Off Your Career

As an aspiring graphic designer, you should know that your portfolio will be your most valuable tool when it comes to acquiring new clients. Resumes are crucial too, but for this niche, exhibiting your graphic design work is even more important.

Hiring managers seek more than a description of your web design skills and previous design jobs; they want to have a direct look at them before they consider you a candidate.  All designers, from freelancers to creative agencies, need a medium to display their previous projects and showcase their skills during the application process. A graphic design portfolio website is the most effective way to do that.

Since we live in a highly digitalized culture, having an online portfolio makes the most sense. It will enable potential clients to connect with your work from anywhere, at any time. So the first step on how to become a freelance web designer is to set up your professional portfolio.

5 Things To Do Before Making A Graphic Design Portfolio With No Experience

Now you know the importance of crafting a good online portfolio. But how to make a graphic design portfolio with no experience? Where should you start?

There are several ways to gain work experience, even before you land your first professional job. These are some interesting ways to start building your work history and add value to your portfolio:

Define Your Career Goals And Ideal Client

Defining career goals before making a graphic design portfolio

Before you start looking for opportunities to gain web design experience, you must take a moment to outline your career goals. Think about what project you would enjoy working on so that you can define who your ideal client is.

Maybe you like working on minimalist and clean designs, so luxury website design is the way to go. Or perhaps you prefer to work on tech designs and innovative projects, making tech-savvy brands a better fit.

If you still don’t have your niche figured out, you can take a look at the rising graphic design trends for 2024. All those styles and trends are in high demand right now and will be in the near future, so will be sure to land some clients by adding them to your graphic design repertoire.

Once you know what services you are interested in offering, you will have a better idea of your target audience, and you can start building your portfolio accordingly.

Gain Real-Life Experience: Try Landing A Professional Internship

One of the best ways to gain design experience is by looking for an internship. That opportunity will give you the chance to gain real-life experience and work with actual clients.

Regardless if you consider a paid or unpaid internship, the knowgdlege you will gain will be priceless. You will learn how to operate in a workplace environment, face design-related challenges, and solve problems that may arise. And what’s best: you will work on projects you can add to your resume and graphic design portfolio.

Remember how I talked about defining your ideal client in the previous point? Try looking for companies that are aligned with your design goals. That way, you ensure to gain experience in design projects that help you land your dream design job.

Consider Volunteer Work or Reaching Out To Local Businesses

Another good option is signing up for a volunteer position. Same as with unpaid internships, you won’t get paid but gain invaluable real-life experience that will help you take off your design career.

Many charities and non-profit organizations lack the resources to hire professional graphic designers. Those companies often look for entry-level designers to help them with their projects in exchange for work experience. Consider asking local charities, social clubs, or non-profits if you can volunteer your time and design skills.

You can also reach out to local businesses and offer them your services. They could need a social media branding redesign, or you can suggest updating their logo to one of the 2024 logo trends.

At this stage, any experience is welcomed, but again, try to aim at jobs you are interested in so you can build a killer portfolio that will land you your dream clients.

All Experience Is Appreciated: Reach Out To Family And Friends

Let’s not forget the power of your personal network. You can gain some work experience while helping out a family member or a friend.

Is one of your relatives starting a new business? Does a friend have a social media business profile? You can reach out to your personal network and see if anyone could benefit from your services.

From designing their business cards, updating their social media handles, or creating a website from scratch, all that is valuable experience you can use on your first graphic designer portfolio.

Work On A Personal Project – Or Create a Faux Client

I will share a little secret with you – you don’t need to wait for a client to request a project you love; you can just make one up. Working on a project just out of passion is another excellent way to display your talents and show your commitment to your design career.

If you are struggling to find a design opportunity that fits your design style, you can create a personal project. This is the perfect way to work on something that showcases your abilities and aesthetics and speaks to your ideal clients.

Creating a portfolio out of projects you are passionate about will help you land jobs and clients you enjoy working for.

Time To Assemble Your First Graphic Design Portfolio – 4 Easy Steps Guide

4 steps to creating a graphic design portfolio with no experience

Once you have gained enough work experience from internships, volunteer gigs, or working on personal projects, it is time to display that talent.

How to make a graphic design portfolio with no experience? It’s the same process as building graphic design portfolios for seasoned designers. Your portfolio must always look polished and professional and speak your personal style.

1. Choose A Website Builder

Website builders are the most straightforward way to create an online portfolio. They are ideal if you don’t have any web development or coding experience; you can easily build a fully functional portfolio.

There is a wide range of free and paid portfolio website builders you can choose from. I advise you to seek these features when selecting one:

  • User-friendly interface: Look for a platform tailored to users with all skill levels, especially if you don’t count on any web development knowledge. An intuitive, drag-and-drop interface can help streamline the process and save you time.
  • Portfolio templates: Choose a website builder that offers templates specifically designed for graphic designers’ portfolios.
  • Customizable templates: Besides having a rich portfolio template library, ensure you can customize the templates to fit your needs. Customizable templates give you the flexibility that guarantees your professional portfolio reflects your unique style.

2. Select A Portfolio Template and Customize It

Once you select a website builder and finish up the setup instructions, head to the templates library. When going through the portfolio templates, consider your style and work preferences and choose the one that better reflects that.

You can begin with a free minimalist portfolio template or purchase a more comprehensive templated design. It’s fundamental you pick a template that resonates with your type of work, so you can attract and land the right clients.

What should you look for in a designer portfolio template? A solid portfolio template should have a clean design, plenty of page layout options, and stylistic details, such as different typography, grid layouts for images, and page transitions.

After choosing your template, make sure to customize it to meet your branding and unique graphic design projects and ideas. For instance, if you aim to work with modern and clean brands, use a minimalist color palette for your portfolio. Customize all design elements – colors, text, fonts, layouts, and animations, until you have your ideal portfolio design.

3. Add Your Design Projects

Now it’s time to add your graphic design projects to your portfolio design. Take all the work you’ve done through volunteer work, school projects, or any relevant experience and put it in your portfolio.

Ensure to use only high-quality images and videos to give a good first impression and come across as professional.

4. Write A Compelling Profile and Project Descriptions

Once you add your projects, the work is far from over; you still have one crucial step to take. You must write clear and engaging descriptions for each of your projects.

While a graphic designer portfolio is mostly a visual tool, including short stories about your projects enables viewers to better understand your work. Keep the description simple and concise; write about the project’s objectives, the client, the tools and skills you used to create the product, and any other relevant information.

Don’t forget to also put together a brief bio. Your portfolio is the perfect place to expand your resume information and let potential clients know who you are, what sets you apart from other designers, and why they should choose you.

Your Turn – Build Your First Graphic Designer Portfolio

If you want to become a professional graphic designer, having a strong portfolio is crucial. It gives clients the opportunity to know your work and skills better and see if your services are a fit for their projects.

Wondering how to make a graphic design portfolio with no experience? Use the tips from my guide to gain graphic design work experience you can use to build a solid online portfolio. Once you craft a portfolio that authentically showcases your work and unique design style, you are one step closer to a successful career as a designer.

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