How to Build Your Social Media Portfolio with Ideal Clients (When You Have No Prior Experience)

When I decided that I was going to offer social media management services to other business owners, I didn’t have any experience to share with potential clients other than the five or six months I’d managed an Instagram account for a previous employer and my own personal Instagram account. 

And I know that a lot of people will start out that way. 

I hear it all the time--- “how am I supposed to get my first client when everyone wants to see a portfolio, or a resume, or case studies of previous clients?”…

This is a legitimate concern… because many businesses who are looking for people like you to outsource their social media to want to see proof of prior work. 

But don’t worry-- there are things you can do to ensure you DO have that experience to share with them, and in this video I share what that those things are.

If this a business that you’re serious about pursuing, then you may have to hustle for a little while in order to build up your portfolio first. 

Those few months of real-life experience that I’d had under my belt at the time I went freelance was 100% unpaid. 

Of course, I was being paid a salary to do my full time job, but managing the Instagram account was something I was doing in my spare time!

I was bringing product home and shooting it in various locations, managing the community, sending weekly reports to the home office marketing team. All of those things I was doing were all outside my normal 9-5 job description. 

I could have gotten mad at the fact that I wasn’t being compensated, but I loved it so much and had a lot of fun doing it-- it never occurred to me to be upset.

Now I just consider it sort of an unpaid internship. 

It was real on the job experience & training with a legitimate marketing team that has proven to be invaluable in the long run! 

So-- if you need some experience before you can sign on those dream clients, go out & get it. 

Sure, you may have to offer your services for free for a little while-- but keep in mind that money isn’t the only way to gain value! 

If those experiences help you to land ideal clients, that time spent becomes priceless! 

Plus, working pro bono on a temporary basis with ideal clients could become a more long-term situation or at the very least provide you with a nice testimonial (and something to show your next client lead!) 

If you don’t want to work for free, you can also offer a lower cost option for a preliminary period of time. Sort of like giving your client a trial run to see what they think.

In this scenario you can still be compensated for some of your time, but you can also consider the work more for the experience, as a resume builder. 

My point is, we all have to start somewhere. 

Don’t let the fear of not having “enough” ideal clients under your belt keep you taking the first step & building the business you really want. 

I knew a social media manager who wanted to offer content creation for product-based businesses but they didn’t have any examples… so-- they MADE EXAMPLES. They partnered up with a photographer on a fun test shoot with styling, props and products like the types of brands they wanted to work with. 

Mock it up.

Build a strategy for someone for free & have them use it in exchange for sending back a testimonial when they totally nail it.

Run someone’s campaign as a “test run” and make sure you kill it, so you can have the data to show your next paying client what you’re able to do. 

Prove you know what you’re doing (and get more confident while you’re at it)!

Everything gets so much easier once you’ve done the things you’re trying to convince others to hire you for and when you have those case studies and portfolio to prove it-- so, get out there, get creative, and make that happen! 


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