How to Get a Web Design Job When You Don’t Have a Portfolio

This is the catch-22 every new web developer faces.

You’re not coding for your health. You desperately want to do this for a living. The freedom, the peace of mind, the control.

Feels like it’s right at your fingertips.

But, how do you get people to hire you (whether freelance or regular ‘ol corporate gig) when you’re just starting and don’t have a portfolio?

Pull a Da Vinci.

When you think of Leonardo Da Vinci, what do you think of? There’s a good chance one of the things you think of is what’s called the Vitruvian Man. It’s that anatomical sketch of a man with two poses superimposed over each other:

Do you know what that is?

It was a sketch in his notebook. It now sits in a museum in Italy and is known as one of his iconic works.

Renaissance painters did this all the time.

It’s called a “study”… and many of these studies now sit in museums all over the world and are some of their more well-known works.

It’s also part of how they got work in their time.

Imagine some 15th century king or queen who wanted a painting of themselves and is out looking for the best artist. And, they see something like this and the depth of understanding Da Vinci or one of the others had about proportions and all that.

Think they might be convinced?

Do you know that despite the fact Da Vinci is known for being one of the most active artists of his time… he only painted about 20 paintings in his lifetime?

Much of what he’s known for are his studies and sketches.

So, how does this help you?

You do NOT need a portfolio filled with projects you did for clients!

Say this over and over until it clicks.

In fact, when you’re first starting how the hell would you have that? Sure, you could do free work for people.

But, fair warning: that’s dangerous.

When people don’t have to pay for your time, they’re much more likely to use it like it’s going out of style.

Avoid that hell and just do a few studies.

Create websites for nobody.

Just to put in your portfolio.

Of course, make them relevant to the services you’ll be offering… but nothing says your portfolio has to be only filled with projects for clients.

Those are better…

But, it’s not necessary.

Show people what you can do. Give them a taste of your skillset. And you can do this starting right now. You don’t have to wait on anybody.

If you’re starting out and struggling with this, there’s literally ZERO reason not to do this. Having a portfolio of “studies” is 100 times better than have no portfolio at all. Then, over time, replace your studies with actual client projects.

And you’re off to the races.

Now, if you’re wondering…

This is one of the things I’m going to be covering in-depth this month inside an exclusive course I’m releasing on Patreon.

It’s all about getting hired on Upwork.

And you can only get access to it when you become a supporting listener of the John Morris Show on Patreon.

Plus access to all my source code, priority access to our weekly Q&A and more.

Become supporting listener here to make sure you don’t miss it:

Do you want more freelance clients?

I’ll show you what I learned over the last 15 years to grind out (from absolute scratch) a backlog of new clients wanting to hire you. Who your best client prospect are, what services you should be offering them, where to find them and more. Just enter your email address in the box below and let’s get started:

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John Morris


I’m a 15-year veteran of freelance web development. I’ve worked with bestselling authors and average Joe’s next door. These days, I focus on helping other freelancers build their freelance business and their lifestyles.

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