As a web designer, your portfolio is an excellent tool for demonstrating your skills and finding new jobs. You will undoubtedly be up against millions of other web designers, so you’ll need to stand out. A great portfolio highlights your abilities and previous work and gives prospective clients a sense of what to anticipate when working with you.

Finding new work, though, could be difficult if you’re starting and don’t have any experience yet. The good news is that although you need a portfolio to secure clients, you don’t need any clients to start building one.

Yes, you read that correctly!

You can develop an impressive portfolio that draws in your prospective clients even if you are yet to gain prior design experience. Keep reading to find out how.

How to Build a Design Portfolio with Zero Clients

1. Participating In Design Contests

Participating in design challenges is an easy way to develop a solid website design portfolio. It can be helpful whether you have clients or not. And if you win the design competition, it shows future clients that you’re the most skilled web designer in the room, and they will want to hire you. Taking on design challenges also helps you develop your skills. You can find these web design competitions on websites like 99designs and Design Crowd.

2. Work On Personal Projects

Taking on personal projects is similar to competing in contests; the only difference is you’re challenging yourself. Have you ever come up with a novel idea for a website? Then start working on the project right away and display it in your portfolio when you’re done. You don’t have to wait till a client asks you to before you do. If you eventually get a client, this is so you don’t have to convince them of your skills because your project is proof of it. Additionally, you’re not necessarily required to finish them. You can include even failed projects in your portfolio.

3. Redesign Existing Websites

When most clients contact you, they ask you to create a website similar to an existing one. You can get ahead of them, redesign some popular existing websites, and showcase them in your portfolio. Your ability to create a clone of a professional website from scratch shows expertise. Additionally, suppose you are planning to offer clients website cloning services; all you need to build a solid portfolio is to display your previously cloned website projects.

4. Build Websites for Family and Friends

Your friends, family, and everyone in your network are potential clients. Hence, you can offer to build free websites for them at no cost, which you can later include in your portfolio.

If your friend or family member runs an offline business, such as a restaurant, you might offer to build a website for them to establish an online presence.

5. Draw Ideas from Others

You’re not the only web designer who wants a solid portfolio yet has no clients. Thus, you can get inspiration from others. You can meet thousands of new and experienced web designers with varying portfolios on Dribble, a social networking platform for designers. You can examine their portfolios and try to replicate the content in your portfolio.


As a beginner web designer, you shouldn’t let the lack of clients discourage you. Using the strategies discussed in this article, you can still develop a powerful design portfolio with zero clients. Once you start landing clients, you can update your portfolio with your best client work.