If you're a freelancer, or just self-employed, you may be tempted to only use client-requested projects in your portfolio. After all, that's work you were paid to do. However, personal projects reflect your own passions and work sensibilities, and may showcase your skills better to potential clients.
Image from markusspiske.
You already know it's important to set aside time for your passion projects, but they're essential to a good, complete portfolio. 99u gives an example of how this can also attract potential clients:
If you're selling yourself as a creator, then you need to actually create content — not just fulfil assignments. Veteran photographer Tim Tadder knows this, which is why he self-funds a few of his own shoots every year. Tadder looks at them as marketing tools, a way to experiment with his own concepts and give companies more ideas about why they should hire him. Brands certainly notice. "The more personal projects I do, the better my year looks," says Tadder.
Think about the projects you've had in the back of your mind and pick a few to make a priority this year, in between your paid assignments. By adding a little of your own touch to your portfolio, you'll make sure you don't just get more of the same work, and attract clients who really like the things you're passionate about — not just the work you've been paid to do so far.