Building a Creative Portfolio When You Have No Experience

by Feb 13, 2017

Depending on the creative industry you’re trying to get into, creating a portfolio when you don’t have any paid experience may seem nigh impossible. Whether you want to be a writer, designer, or pretty much any sort of creative specialist, having a portfolio is important. Not all employers may ask for examples of your work, but many do, so having a collection of samples ready is a smart move. But what happens when you don’t have any examples to show? Well here are a few bits of advice to help you out!

Get experience where you can

Landing a creative job while you’re studying can be hard, and it may take a while before you can start taking on paid gigs in conjunction with your studies, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. There are many online work experiences available (saving you travel time), or you can submit your work via student publications to help build your portfolio.

Internships are also a great way to start developing your work outside of the classroom. Read through to the end to find out how we can help!

Read more: Creating an Awesome Portfolio

Practice by yourself

After a quick Google search, it’s easy to find a number of writing, design or other creative work prompts. If you can’t find anyone to do work for, this is a great way to practice your skills! Choose a couple of short projects, and create your own interpretations of the task.

Or, if you can’t find any prompts that strike your fancy, choose a few companies that you like and create something for them! If you’re into design, create some mock website redesigns or try your hand at restyling their logo. Creating a bunch of different forms of collateral for specific companies is a great way to show how you can add your own style to different tasks.

Going freelance?

If there are any companies or causes you feel really passionate for, don’t be afraid to approach them and ask if you can do some work for them. Maybe there’s a local café you love whose website isn’t looking so good – offering to help them out will not only help you build your portfolio if they accept, but can also be a great networking opportunity.

Read more: Is Freelancing the Way of the Future?

Friends and family are also great sources to utilise! If you know anyone who has their own business, blog, or side project reach out and offer to do some work for them. Even if they’re not in an industry you’d ideally want to work in, taking on these type of jobs are good ways for you to show your versatility. Doing this sort of freelance work is a great way to practice tackling different briefs, in a relatively low-stress environment.

And if you are thinking of doing freelance work, don’t sell yourself short. If you’ve built up a portfolio from work you’ve practised yourself, or experience you’ve gained from friends, family or internships, you’re more than entitled to charge for your work. Another quick Google search can give you an idea of what sort of rates to charge, and whether you’ll need an ABN.

Do your research

There are a tonne of amazing articles online that can help you figure out how you should start building your portfolio. Here are a few to get you started:

Read more: Internships: When You Need Experience To Get Experience

If you’re struggling to gain work experience, apply for the ‘944680: Entering Professional Life’ subject! This elective, course credited subject is a great way to gain real life experience and increase your employability. Applications close 5th March 2017, so check if you’re eligible and apply today!

Featured image courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo

By Mia Casey

By Mia Casey


Mia is a Sydney-based copywriter and content creator, who ran the UTS Careers Blog for five years since its conception in 2016.
Her freelance work focuses on branding development and helping companies create a cohesive identity narrative tailored for each of their platforms.
She enjoys piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.