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How to Prepare for the FX Portfolio Showcase

The Freelance Exchange’s annual Portfolio Showcase is coming up on November 9th. Are you ready??

FX puts on this signature B2B trade show to give you, the freelancers, a prime opportunity to get yourself and your work in front of the very people who are looking for you, including ad agencies, design shops, large corporations, small businesses, non-profits, and more.

For those looking for freelance talent, it’s a one-stop shop. They can find the one freelancer they need or put together an entire virtual agency. The possibilities are endless!

When / Where / What

First, the logistics:

Wednesday, November 9th

  • 3 – 5 p.m. Exhibitor Setup
  • 5 – 8 p.m. Portfolio Show/Open House, appetizers & drinks 
  • 8 – 8:30 p.m. Teardown
  • The Guild (in the Crossroads), 1621 Locust St., Kansas City, MO

Portfolio displays and tables are to be set up prior to the doors opening at 5 p.m. We recommend allowing ample time to set up … and go around and meet your fellow FX members and view their portfolios!

A bar will be on hand for purchasing beverages throughout the event, and appetizers will be available (for free).

Best Practices for the Best Exhibits

You’ll choose either 3 or 6 feet of a 6-foot table (or sponsor for a 9-foot table) covered with a black tablecloth. You can customize your display as much or as little as you want. For examples of table displays from past Showcases, look at pictures (see albums) on our Facebook page.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Think visually. The more visually appealing the display, the better chances of results.
  • Don’t just think flat table display. Utilize vertical and get crafty! That said, don’t get too ambitious and have a huge display that blocks your – or your neighbor’s! – view. Also, no floor displays are allowed.
  • Showcase your brand. Have your logo prominently on display, use signage, and bring plenty of business cards. Consider brochures, sample books, giveaways, raffle prizes, promotional items, etc.
  • Have an array of work available to view: Different mediums, industries, one-off projects, complete campaigns, etc.
    Not a creative type and no portfolio to show? No problem! Consider having testimonials, case studies, and more available. Use this opportunity as a meet-and-greet to share your services.
  • Be organized. Use a flipbook, brochure stand, or any other piece that will help accomplish this goal. Laptops and monitors are commonplace as well.
  • Need electricity?

If you didn’t note that when you signed up, your table may not be near an outlet. Let us know ASAP: [email protected]. Otherwise, plan to bring an extension cord; we’ll see what we can do.

Be Prepared

Aside from getting your portfolio and table display ready, there are a few things you can do to prepare, such as:

  • Determine your Unique Selling Point (USP). Figure out what makes you unique/different/better, and highlight that.
  • Write up your elevator speech. And practice it so it comes across naturally.
  • Bring a note pad and pen. Use this to take notes of what you spoke about and with whom so you can remember when you follow up.
  • See the big picture. Figure out how you can best communicate value to your prospects. Remember, you are not just a writer, designer, etc. You are part of this amazing collective in which you can partner with others on projects, form a virtual agency, and refer other members who may be perfect for a job.
  • Don’t just hand out your card. Have a conversation. Engage with your visitors! And get any prospect’s card as well.
  • Prepare for all types of questions. You may be asked about your capabilities, availability, and rates. While you get to determine how you want to answer these questions, FX suggests – in particular – you deflect any questions about your rate. Communicate your value, and ask for the opportunity to put together a formal project estimate instead.
  • Don’t be surprised. While we target heavily those looking to hire freelancers in our promotional efforts, we can’t prevent others (i.e., vendors, other freelancers, students) from coming to the trade show. We recommend greeting every visitor and engaging them in conversation up front to determine how much time you’d like to spend with them.
  • And, after the event? Follow up. Follow up. Follow up! Don’t miss out on a great opportunity. Make yourself memorable and begin a great relationship with your best prospects. Connect on LinkedIn, follow on other social media channels, send articles, emails, invitations for a coffee meeting, etc. (But not too much or too often. You don’t want to be a pest!)

Keep in mind, results may vary. Some years may generate some amazing hot leads. Others not so much. But it’s all about brand awareness and recognition. Meeting your peers. Getting referred and offering referrals. And who knows? You may end up with an amazing project years down the road from someone you met at this year’s show! So do your best to have a successful show, and keep the hope alive!

What You Can Do to Help

We promote this event far and wide through the use of email, web, social media, PR, outreach, and more. See more about our efforts in the FAQs section on the event page on our website.

Please help us spread the word and invite your contacts as well! Forward emails, share on social media, and help us get the word out.

Questions about the event? Contact Special Events Director Kate Bradshaw at [email protected].

FX October Luncheon

October 28 @ 11:30 am 1:00 pm

How to Win at the Portfolio Showcase

About this event:

With the FX of KC Portfolio Showcase right around the corner, FX founder and freelance rockstar Julie Cortés will provide tips and techniques to put your best foot forward to ensure you get noticed and remembered. Pictures of past events will be shared for inspiration. Be sure to bring your questions!

Members and nonmembers are welcome.

Networking starts at 11:30 a.m. with the presentation at noon. We will be located at Lula Southern Cookhouse on the second floor. Buffet-style lunch includes biscuits, house salad, fried chicken, London Broil steak, mashed potatoes with gumbo gravy, green beans, and a beverage. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available. For virtual attendees, the presentation starts at noon via Zoom. The virtual luncheon will not include a networking portion.

Contact [email protected] with any dietary needs or questions about the luncheon.

Note: To accommodate varying comfort levels of the pandemic, we’ll be offering side-by-side and spaced-apart seating. If you would prefer to be at a table spread out, please indicate that with your order or notify [email protected]

To participate in the in-person luncheon, you must RSVP by Tuesday, October 25.

In Person – Members: $25 / Guests: $35
Virtual – Members: FREE / Guests: $10

Be sure to register in advance on Eventbrite in order to gain access to the Zoom link.

Questions? Contact [email protected]

Disclaimer: You understand that by attending this in-person event hosted by The Freelance Exchange of Kansas City that you’re doing so voluntarily and that it could result in illness, personal injury, or death. If any such event does occur, you agree not to hold The Freelance Exchange liable and not sue the organization, its board members, members, or sponsors.

About the speaker:

Copywriter by day. Freelance Rockstar by night. Julie Cortés lives, breathes, teaches, speaks, and coaches on all things freelance. She’s run her own business for nearly 25 years, is the founder of The Freelance Exchange of KC, and created a much-needed college-level course, Freelancing 101, for the world-renowned KC Art Institute, where she teaches as an adjunct professor. Awarded dozens of times over for her work, leadership, volunteerism, and community involvement, she’s regularly sought out for media interviews, coaching, and speaking engagements. Julie is loving life and living out her passion for helping creative freelancers succeed.

Lula Southern Cookhouse

1617 Main Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64108 United States
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‘Seize the Day’ is the Mantra of Freelance Graphic Design Members

Freelance graphic designers are a fearless bunch!

That theme came through loud and clear from the graphic design members of The Freelance Exchange of Kansas City who responded to our email questionnaire.

They overcame the doubt, ditched the hesitancy, and jumped headlong into the world of freelancing.

For instance, Linda Waterborg wrote that she had wanted to go out on her own for years, “but I was scared and always found a reason to stay in a 9-to-5 job.” She added, “I kept trying, and learning, and failing, and trying again, and growing.” Then, one day, she realized she had all the right skills and building blocks in place to make the move.

The biggest lesson for Waterborg as a freelance graphic designer was to keep pushing outside her comfort zone, something Holly Hempfling embraced as well in describing the best piece of career advice she has received: “Lean into fear! If it feels terrifying, you should probably go for it.”

It’s cool how these sentiments transcend our specialties. Many of us can identify with that feeling of being on the edge of the high dive with our careers — wondering if we should leap into the unknown waters of freelancing. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the approximately 265,000 graphic designers employed in the U.S in 2021, about one in five was self-employed.

Who among us, for instance, has not had some version of the experience related by Annie Monfort, a freelance graphic designer? She wrote that her tipping point came when “the certainty of staying in a job where I was bored, became scarier than the uncertainty of figuring out everything you need to know to support yourself.”

Tolerating the unknowns and discomforts of freelancing, she wrote, “is honestly one of the most valuable lessons for all aspects of life.”

Freelancing also provides a greater promise that we will love what we do for work, a sentiment underscored by Jake Edmisten and Jen Rarey. Their comments apply well beyond those who work as freelance graphic designers.

For Edmisten, that realization came in the form of advice from someone he used to work with, who stressed the importance of pursuing passion projects. That former co-worker, Edmisten wrote, “told me that I needed to make time for myself, because I wouldn’t find the jobs that I want by doing the work I didn’t want.”

Rarey has learned that investing your time and talents into work that has meaning allows you to “always be passionate about what you’re creating.” Be bold, she urged, and “see challenges as the opportunities that they are, and learn from every experience so you can keep evolving and fine-tuning your skills.”

One other lesson that came from our freelance graphic designers is that there is no one tried and true path into the career you love.

Will Mackey, for instance, discovered his interest in art as a 5-year-old. “Then I just kept working at it for years,” he wrote.

But Erin Albright did not really think of herself as an artist, even when she loved designing pages for her high school yearbook. So in the end, she wrote, “I took a windy path and am self-taught/taught by many amazing designers that I’ve worked with along the way.”

The FX of KC is for Freelancers, Contractors, Consultants and whatever else you call yourself. There’s a place for you here! Want to learn more about FX of KC

FX October Coffee Meetup

October 13 @ 8:30 am 10:00 am

October Coffee Meetup

It is pumpkin spice latte time again! Come out and grab one (or whatever your favorite brew happens to be) with fun folks. We will spend time outside, weather permitting, catching up and networking. Look for the FX of KC banner when you arrive. We cannot wait to see you!

Fairway Creamery
5938 Mission Road
Fairway KS 66205

Have questions? Contact [email protected].

October 13, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

FX September Luncheon

September 30 @ 11:30 am 1:00 pm

Creating a Referral-Worthy Customer Journey

About this event:
We all want more clients, right? But how do we get more clients? The best way to find more clients is through a referral from a colleague or a past client. Join FX and Elaine Jardon to learn about building automated systems that don’t feel automated, what works best for you as a business owner, and why you are the irreplaceable element in your client relationship management system.

Members: Free / Guests: $10. Be sure to register in advance on Eventbrite in order to gain access to the Zoom link.

Questions? Contact [email protected].

About the speaker:

Inefficiencies make Elaine Jardon itchy. Even though she can’t consistently solve The New York Times crossword beyond Tuesday, she uses her business operations know-how to create sanity-saving systems so you can impress your clients without breaking a sweat. Her specialty: dismantling that wreath of Post-its around your monitor.


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