How to create a contractor portfolio in 3 easy steps

A portfolio is a powerful tool for showcasing your work and instilling homeowner trust — as they say, seeing is believing!
 A contractor shows a homeowner something on his tablet.

A recent survey of homeowners found that 69% want to renovate their homes.* Make sure your company is making the most of the opportunities in the home improvement market by investing a little time in creating this basic marketing tool. A portfolio can help you win over homeowners, and it’s not hard to put one together.

Here’s how to get started with a contractor portfolio.

1. Pick a format

A portfolio should both showcase your best work and highlight key qualifications. While it can include a variety of items, the most important one is photos. So, it's important to select a visual format — consider the following:

Your website: Updating your site with recent projects keeps it looking fresh and can help potential customers find you when they’re searching the internet. A “blog” section can often be added relatively easily to an existing website, and you don’t have to write a novel when explaining a project — focus on photos and short descriptions that share key details.

Social media: An account on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn will allow you to share your work in a place where your potential customers can easily find you. The drawback is that developing an active presence on social media is an ongoing commitment — it’s one with big potential payoff, but it’s a commitment nonetheless. If you don’t have the time or resources to devote to social media, check out our next suggestion.

A PDF: Use PowerPoint software or a similar program to create a presentation that can be saved as a PDF document. This type of software makes it easy to create a professional looking piece — you don’t have to be a graphic designer! A PDF portfolio is a great item to include in follow-up emails after a customer visit, and it’s simple to update over time.

Bottom line: Choose a format that you can take on today. It’s kind of like saving money: Better to start today doing what you can than to wait until circumstances are just right. Create a portfolio that’s easy for you to create, maintain, and share right now.

2. Curate the right content

You not only want homeowners to feel confident that you’re the right company for the job, you also want to get them excited about realizing their home improvement dreams. To do that, your portfolio should feature content that demonstrates the quality of your work, shows the scope of your capabilities, and underscores your credibility. Here’s how to do that:

Impactful photos

It’s not just about pretty pictures. It’s also about pictures that tell a story your customers are eager to hear.

  • Before and after pictures are a great way to tell a project story. If your customers are asking for black windows, take photos that show the transformation from white windows to black. Take these photos from the same angle to make the change easy to see, and try to capture both vertical and horizontal photos of each since different platforms might favor one over the other. For example, Instagram favors vertical photos but your website might favor horizontal.
  • Don’t overlook the value of photos (or video!) taken during the middle of the project. Process photos and videos demonstrate your skill and show the care your team takes when inside a customer’s home — a clean work site also makes for a better backdrop. If you post these photos or videos on social media, use profile tags to increase visibility. For example, it can be a good idea to tag the profiles of other pros working on the project, dealers, and manufacturers. Psst … The company featured in the video below tagged us when they posted on Instagram. We loved their video so much that we asked their permission to share it on our own social media channels.
  • Remember to get permission from the homeowner, especially if you plan to post on social media or your website. Take steps to protect the homeowner’s privacy, like making sure they don’t appear in the background of photos and keeping their personal information out of view (think address next to a front door).

Ideal projects

Take a strategic approach to selecting projects for your portfolio.

  • Focus on the projects you want more of. For example, if your company specializes in window and door replacement, focus on those types of projects. On the other hand, if you’ve just completed a one-off project in an area where you’d like to expand your business, make sure to include it.
  • Consider the home (size, style, etc.) and project type before adding it to your portfolio. Is this where your ideal customer lives? Is this project one they’re asking for? You want to focus on speaking to this ideal customer. If your customers are consistently moving from bay to picture windows, or windows with grilles to windows without grilles — show them these projects. Psst … Want to understand more about identifying your ideal customer, check out How to get quality leads and grow them.
A before image showing a three-season porch under construction and an after image of the porch with new windows, walls, and ceilings.
Consider the kind of projects that would appeal to your ideal customer and feature those prominently in your portfolio.

Your credentials

Instill homeowner trust by citing outside credentials, such as the following:

  • Customer testimonials: Find satisfied customers who might be willing to share a quote by sending them a survey after a project or even an email with a simple question for them to answer. Then sprinkle these bits of praise throughout your portfolio — it's not bragging, it’s good business.
  • Credentials and accreditations: Let people know your company is licensed and insured. If you’re an Andersen Certified Contractor, that affiliation should also be noted.
  • Awards: Have you been recognized by the local business bureau or been named a “reader’s choice” winner in a local publication? Note these accolades and include logos where possible.

Bottom line: A winning portfolio will help your customers visualize what’s possible by focusing on the right kinds of projects and convince them to hire your company by showcasing your skills and qualifications.

3. Update often

Remember, your portfolio is a living document that should evolve along with your business. Here are a few tips to make sure you keep it looking fresh and professional:

  • Schedule regular updates: If you choose to treat your company’s Instagram or other social media account as your portfolio, this will be natural. If you create a PDF, set a calendar reminder to update it every 6 to 12 months.
  • Make a plan for capturing photos: Integrate photos and any related permissions into your process. For example, the person responsible for initial visits always captures the before pictures, and the after pictures are taken during the final walk-through.
  • Create a space for photo storage: Make sure photos don’t just languish on your team members’ phones. Create an easy-to-access place where photos can be stored permanently so they’re always accessible, even if an employee leaves the company.
  • Create a system for generating testimonials: Maybe you start sending surveys after projects finish, maybe you interview customers during final walk-throughs, maybe you track down people who have left positive online reviews. Any of the above could work, just make sure you’re continuing to collect feedback that could be used in your portfolio and elsewhere.

Bottom line: Continuing to gather images and credentials will not only strengthen your portfolio, it will also strengthen your overall marketing efforts since these details can also be shared on your website, social media, and in other promotional materials.

Up next: Dig into more tips about growing your business or start generating more leads through our Certified Contractor program.