How I built a portfolio from scratch in a new field (less than a year)

In this article, I will my experience and insights on building a portfolio in a completely new field from scratch in less than a year.  
I started Pod Mahal, a podcast and video editing business, after working in the fitness coaching industry for 10 years. Through podcasting, I landed my dream internship and eventually my dream job at a startup. Building a portfolio of guests and examples from my podcasting and coaching experiences allowed me to showcase my expertise and attract opportunities.
I joined platforms like Fiverr and Upwork to offer my services and gradually increased my rates as I gained more clients and positive reviews. The reviews and edited clips from my projects became valuable assets that I incorporated into my website and proposals, helping me close more deals.
You can leverage platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, and others specific to various fields to build a portfolio and gain experience. 
I suggests that regardless of the field or niche, there are similar platforms available where individuals can gather leads, match with clients, and build you portfolios.


Hey, Misbah here, and this is a really special episode to me because I’m very fascinated with being able to develop skills from scratch, being able to switch fields, reinvent yourself. And I’ve done plenty of that and I failed honestly in, in a lot of those. But in a few of them I succeeded. And I wanted to share the most fresh one that I think is like current.
So I can document this a little bit. And there’s been enough time where I can look back on it and go, wow, this is really, this worked out. So the focus of today’s episode is gonna be what I learned from building a portfolio in a completely new field from scratch. And how I did this in less than a year.
Honestly, it took about less than three months to really start seeing the effects, but. I’m reporting on this at a point where I would say in another two months it’ll be a year, so I would say 10 months later. You know what I’m noticing from this, before we dive in, if this is your first time listening, by the way, the big question that I love to answer on this podcast and really explore in each of these episodes in some way is how do we as underdogs build our own table?
How do we create a portfolio of bingeable content that reaches the right people, not millions, but the right people, and how do we do it in a way where we’re staying true to ourselves? That’s the question that I hope to answer in these episodes. So yeah, my name is Ms. Hawk and this is the Habit Chess podcast, the context that I wanna give you for today’s episode.
Is when I started Pod Mahal. Pod Mahal is a podcast and video editing business that I started in September of 2020. I had hit the 10 year mark in my fitness coaching career. I had done personal training, group training, and then eventually Olympic weightlifting coaching, CrossFit coaching, and then really where I wanted to end up was remote coaching, being able to write programs for clients, so specializing in designing workouts.
And I got to do that for a roster of over 70 clients. I got to work at a startup that specialized in this and really absorb high level stuff that I still probably the, that soaks in with me and I use today. But why that’s important is because podcasting was the thing that helped me land my dream internship.
And that happened with the person I met on episode 15 of my very first show. And then on episode 19 was when I. Met the person that hired me and gave me my dream job at this startup. And none of this would be possible without the portfolio I had built through my podcast, right? Just people I had on. And it was like eventually other people were asking me to be on that were my dream guests in this niche.
And so I learned a lot about that portfolio effect there. And then when I was working at the startup, I obviously got to build a portfolio. Again, I already had one from training clients, group training, all that good stuff. But like remote coaching, specifically in that niche, getting to build up a portfolio of like over 70 clients where you’re like, these are testimonials, these are examples.
These are stories of people I have worked with. And that was, I would say my second. That was my real. First shot at seeing, oh, okay, this is how I document a lot of these stories. So that was my first
 experience of, okay, this is the power of building a portfolio. And then I would say in September of 2020, I had basically stopped doing that first podcast that I was doing and I was bummed about that just cuz of time I was.
Delivering the clients that I had and I was also, I co-created, co-produced and recorded, like co-hosted the first 120 ish or so episodes of the Look Good Move Wall podcast. That was the show that I helped the show where I learned like what I was capable of and how I had undermined it this whole time cuz people were asking me for free, like after that, oh, how do I start this?
What equipment do I need? I saw many other really big shows get started as a result of me recommending this or that because I was just like the guy who seemed obsessed with podcasting and I was. And so in September of 2020, I left and I wanted to start a company where I could focus on this and I could really like, so in September of 2020, I left that dream job.
I had clocked in three years, and I remember that was a. Point where I need something new every three years or a new challenge. And the challenge that still had not been fulfilled for me was doing my own thing, building my own table. And I had done it in the context of what I needed from being a 20 year old in my early twenties or whatever.
But being able to really take another shot of building something of my own and how I wanna do it and. That leads me to basically the podcasting world, right? I had plenty of examples of in the podcasting world what I was, what I had done, right? But at the same time, I was trying to expand that portfolio and specialize in video editing.
That’s where I felt like an imposter, even though I had been doing that for since 2016. In some capacity. I wasn’t amazing at it, but I was doing it as a necessity because some of the podcasting clients, I had needed video and I needed video for my podcast. And so I just learned it and then I decided, okay, you know what?
I’m gonna get, I better at this. I’m gonna focus on this because clearly like people need this clips were a whole new thing at this point where I was like, okay, everybody’s asking me for clips. I’m providing them. It was only like it was a full package that I was doing right for a lot of my clients where it was like, okay, I did the podcast, I did the full video version, and I did maybe two clips.
So August, 2022, just shy of two years of starting my business, I realized, okay, I gotta go harder on this video editing thing. Like people are asking me to do it like locally too, right? I’m getting asked like my barber and people who I’m like, okay, I’m not an expert in this, but like I’m getting asked to do it right.
So I decided to go back to Fiber and start revamp the fiber profile. I had dabbled with it, didn’t really see it through when I did the first time, but this time I was like, okay, you know what? Let me go ahead and tweak my profile. Put some of these gigs up at least. Cuz to me it was like a Craigslist. I was like, okay, this is free advertising.
Like they’ll push my gig to people need this and maybe there is somebody out there like maybe this time I should actually, I. Test an offer on Fiverr. Even if I’m not gonna make a lot of money, let me just see. Can I get somebody to buy video editing services from me who doesn’t know me? And from scratch, right?
That whole opportunity of getting access to the warm audience who’s already there to purchase. Similar to Upwork. I also did the same thing with Upwork. Now August, 2022, I put $5 per clip, right? That was like my absolute lowest that I could start till start building a profile. And somebody bought 20 clips from me, and it was in the middle of like when I was moving, right?
So this was wild to, I was like literally just so focused on trying to deliver this. I didn’t have internet. At some point I had to go, Ugh. It was just such a wild mess. But I got the job done. And then immediately was like, all right, let me move it up to $10. And then it was also like I didn’t get a review and that person couldn’t afford the $10.
So it was like, all right, thanks for still being a part of my portfolio. Then it was like, boom. Got somebody who could do 10 bucks. Boom. Then I was like, all right, 15. It just kept going and going, and one project at a time. I will say that Fiverr really took off more than Upwork, cuz Upwork, you have to be more active.
I did get one of my very first like really awesome corporate clients who had like over, I really, I got Fiverr really took off for me because those projects compounded, people saw the reviews that were getting left. And one of the ways that I just requested, I was like, Hey, if you could leave a review with your honest experience, cuz you can’t say, Hey, leave me a five star review.
That will get you like banned. Hey, can you leave a review with your honest experience helping somebody who’s on the fence about working with me? So that was really a way where it was like, what would you say to somebody about who’s on the fence? And I got really awesome specific reviews that were really nice and it showed, it felt like it was heartwarming every single time.
It was so validating, even if it was for $10, $5, whatever at the time. And then obviously got more amazing as I got to charge $50 per clip. For example. And then at the same time, like just the other day, I ha I upped my consulting rates the same way, right? Where it’s like people started requesting too much and then it was like, all right, to taper this down, I’m just gonna raise the prices.
And then still some people would buy. So this was like really starting to build up not just a portfolio within Fiverr, right? But at the same time, I was realizing, oh my gosh, like a lot of these people want longer term work from me and this, they like what I’m doing. I literally did not have to tweak the offer that I made, like on my five gig or whatever, like ma, like if I did tweak anything, it was like, Hey, please, before you place an order, make sure to reach out to me.
Cuz I didn’t like the idea of customers, like just people I didn’t know. Buying my stuff. I don’t know. There was just something weird to it that I know that’s awesome, but I wanted control of who I got to work with and I wanted to know what’s the scope of this thing, can I deliver on it? And I would also give custom offers.
That was the other thing, like really give custom offers per project if it was gonna take more time and all that. Anyways, I learned so much, iterated, so much all up until now, but still you realize, wow. Those reviews on Fiverr because they work there. I basically was able to, I had the actual review that they had given me, and then I had the clips that I had actually edited for them, obviously.
So I started putting it on my website on a portfolio page, and not just the website, but what I did was typically when I was closing clients, oh hey, can you send me an email with all this stuff? I’ll think about it. So you send them an email. That’s basically a proposal. And at the bottom of the proposal, it would be like, here’s what clients have to say.
Here’s some reviews. And it would be like, I would put like 15 quotes and examples, right? Of, okay, here are 15 different clients I worked with who are all maybe expressing the similar fears that you had. And I cannot understate how that helped me close so many deals, right? It’s that. Help me show, like I have volume, I have access to dozens and dozens of data points and clients versus just getting to work at one company under one brand and being highly specialized in one thing.
I realized like that portfolio build, it was so much work, by the way, like to do this, I would say like a lot of work on Fiverr, right? To get it to this point, but at the same time it was like easy because it’s still only nine months later, 10 months later, right now. Same thing happened with Upwork, but like I just didn’t put as much work into Upwork.
I closed a client, we got like 250,000 plus followers or whatever on LinkedIn, and that’s like their main platform. LinkedIn and I do their podcast. I do a clip and teaser clip on LinkedIn and Instagram reels for them. And it’s basically like this very corporate client that I was like, oh my gosh, this is another sector that I can now I use that as an example to close.
A lot of deals with other corporate clients. So anyways, my point in all of this is I undervalued the ability to go to a fiverr or Upwork or places where all these people are already congregating the you wanna work with just to begin getting your feet wet in the thing, right? And getting to build an actual portfolio of experience.
And this actually, I thought at first I’m like, oh, this maybe only applies to like tech people, creative people, all the gigs that you see on Fiverr and Upwork.. But it really doesn’t because I was watching this movie called Missing the Other Day, and they were using like in the movie to solve a crime to TaskRabbit, and then in the Columbia version it was like, go Ninja, or something like that.
And it showed me, I was like, okay. There is a form of Fiverr and Upwork in every field, in every niche now, you know what I mean? Like basically a service that generate, like gathers all of these leads together in one place and then allows you to match up with different talent, right? So you think about TaskRabbit, you have the same thing when you wanna hire somebody to hang up your tv, to do paint a room.
To clean, right? And you have the same review system where you can see the reviews and you can build a profile just on there. And the fee is, yes, you do pay 20% or 10%, 30 per whatever it is for each but platform. But usually 20%. But it’s, think about it, that’s such a cheap fee that you’d have to pay more in advertising if you wanted to go that route To acquire customers, like 20% is not that bad.
To get this portfolio experience for life. So in the short term, I realize whether you’re in a blue collar field or you are some doing something creative, like the best way to build a portfolio from scratch is to start testing your offers in hooks with some of these platforms. So if you wanna. Paint. You wanna do that as like a, a gig and you wanna build a whole thing around painting, then make sure that you sign up for TaskRabbit and the other platforms that allow you to, like, there’s a new one that I downloaded the other day, I forget what it’s called, but it’s a, it’s another form of TaskRabbit, right?
And so you make sure that you’re linked up on all of those and your first 3, 5, 10. 25 clients like now I have over 70 some, 72 reviews or whatever on Fiverr. And they’re all of people that are complete strangers I’ve never met. They’re not my family or anybody like that, right? It’s like pure strangers and I’m really proud of that.
Pure strangers that actually gave me honest opinion on what they thought of my work and paid for it. That’s the biggest validator with some of this stuff. So if you’re a handyman or whatever and you wanna, you go on TaskRabbit. 
You acquire 3, 10, 15, 25 reviews clients, and you make sure you repurpose that part cuz that is your work.
You get to hold onto that for life and you make sure that you build independent. Assets, which is typically a website that’s the easiest place, is build a website where a simple website, Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress, build a website where you have a portfolio page of these projects and you can later expand on top of these reviews, right, that are like what you got to do for them and tell a little bit more context on each one, like the result you produced.
But at first, the bare minimum is just getting the quote. Maybe if there’s a picture or video or something associated with it, great. But getting the quote up there. And the name, first name at least of the client, if you can. And being able to be like, build that. Now, if you’re a handyman and you put your thing on TaskRabbit and nobody bites, right?
Cause that happened to me on Fiverr. That’s why I didn’t work on Fiverr for so long. And then I, when I came back to it in that August of 2022, I put up that gig and it started working like almost immediately, right? And I was like, whoa. And then I started like the compounding effect of that. So if you signify to those algorithms on that platform that you’re a good, you’re a good worker for them, basically they will send you more, like they will hook you up.
That is what’s really beautiful about them and these companies, TaskRabbit a Fiverr, they’re putting millions and millions of dollars into marketing for the customers you want already. That’s what’s cool, right? So you get access to that for just 20% basically, or whatever their fees are. You get access to a lifetime portfolio that you can start to build on and bridge on an independent asset.
I hope this was useful in helping you start to think about how to build a portfolio. I know it seems so outta reach, like when you’re, I work with new trainers all the time, or new remote coaches all the time, and they’re in a similar position to where I was, where it’s, oh, why should you get into this?
Like, why should somebody listen to you? There’s no justifiable thing that you can maybe articulate. Like I, I’ve been in that position so many times. But really then what I realized is it’s the work. It’s like a handyman could be really insecure about their work, but if they show me pictures or some examples of what they’ve done, I really like it.
I don’t care. I want that. I want them. Or a barber, same exact thing, right? So I realized, okay, it’s about the work focus on doing really good work that helps me get the next gig and then the next one, and then the next one, and then the next one. And when you do that 50. Times like that really begins to compound in a lot of wild ways where you have a massive advantage now, like I mentioned, of volume, like I have access to data in the cybersecurity world and podcasting space, right?
Like how that does data in the classic car channel world data in the exterminator. World data in the barbering world, data in the, like a show for dads, right? All sorts of stuff where you’re like, okay, it’s not just fitness. That’s where it started for me. But I got to very quickly expand and yeah, my pitch was when I didn’t have more than mostly fitness type of clients for my video editing, it was mostly fitness related.
Right? And then it’s all of a sudden now you, I get to. Talk about the classic car channels. I get to talk about the corporate podcasts and clips I get to work on. I get to talk about the cybersecurity stuff. So the power of this portfolio is wild because it takes a lot of work to build it up, up front.
But I’ll share another example of a gig, which is a consulting gig that I added shortly after when I saw that the video editing one was working. I was like, okay, let me do, and the video editing one was for short form clips, so that’s working really well. So I’m like, let me add the consulting one. Then that starts to work as well, but it’s not nowhere near as well as the other one.
And I think it was just, I didn’t pull much effort into the whole, I created it quickly. I didn’t revisit it and revamp it as well as I could have, but it still worked enough. And so I was like, okay, cool. And then again, I kept upping my prices to where I was like, I don’t want people to automatically book stuff here with me.
I want them to reach out beforehand. So, And I upped it to 150 bucks. And I remember at one point I had to back it down right when nobody was really biting and I brought it back down to 50 or something like that. And remember that one when I first started it was like probably five, about 10 bucks or something ridiculous like that.
But. Then immediately when I had one to three reviews or something, I would jack it up to 50 bucks. Or it was like the first session you could get like a group coupon for 20 or something. And then it was like more expensive, like a normal rate, obviously, per hour. And everybody understood that, which was, I was surprised by like, of course you charge more than $15 or whatever for this.
So anyways, jacked it back up to $150 and literally, I land this risk analyst who is very established in their field and wants me to help them start a podcast and all this stuff, and they paid 150 bucks per session for three sessions. And that closed so easily where I just made $450 minus 20%, right?
That fiber will take whatever, but it’s like now I got access to that story. I got access to that client, I got access to you bet your ass, I’m gonna go get more cybersecurity clients. And this was actually the second cybersecurity client that I got. So I used the story of the first one that I got. To, and it was actually in that exact same gig, but they didn’t actually see it all the way through.
And I use that story to help just like motivate and close the deal and establish rapport and all that stuff with this second client. So portfolio effects still applied when in conversation, when I’m talking to the cybersecurity client and getting to use some of the learnings from that first one that I worked with, right.
So anyways, I know this was a bit of a longer episode, but I felt like I needed to take some time to even break it down to understand it for myself, cuz I know there’s more that I can share with you here that would be useful, but I wanna keep it focused on. How I built a portfolio from scratch in a new field.
Even though I was making money editing podcasts and video podcasts and stuff like editing, short form clips was technically a new field. Like people, it was a new audience, right? New demographic in a way. It required new skill sets and it required new proof that I could do what I was saying I wanted to do.
That was really cool, and I hope you are able to take this in whatever craft you have and do. At least put yourself out there on those platforms because you never know what it can lead to and spend the time to refine and test. So don’t just sit there waiting for months and you’re like, oh, nobody came.
It’s not working. It’s like, why isn’t it working? Tweak what you need to and if it really have to then work for free. So you have at least a couple examples you can display in your portfolio. When you are adding a gig, for example, on a five or something, and you have to show some examples of something you’ve done, and a great way to do that is do something for free, right?
Like people do this all the time in the photography world where it’s like, you’ll show how you would edit or take a photo for Nike, right? And this Nike shoe or something, and it’s, Nike didn’t hire you to do that, but you can still use that as a portfolio piece because you decided to use that. Show that as how you would deliver this quality of work for that client.
So that happens all the time. Spec work, there really is such amazing access to build a side hustle, a completely different niche nobody would expect you to, and to turn that into a full-time career. And look, it’s not ideal to just be using Fiverr forever. The only source, it actually makes you just as vulnerable because you’re relying on one platform for everything, right.
And so that’s where being on the different ones and then being able to build a portfolio that then eventually not just gets you off cuz you wanna stay on, but makes you independent of that, where you don’t really need that. Like I actually don’t need. My Fiverr, but it’s really nice that I keep getting reviews, keep getting projects and the benefits of it being up there.
But a lot of my deals now are off of Fiverr that are closed. And anyways, I hope this was useful. I know this was long, but make sure to hit me up. If you have any questions. I would love to hear from you and check out the links in the description below for more free tools to help you build your own table and help you build your own portfolio from scratch.
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