Your Portfolio Needs to be Updated, Doesn’t it?

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Your Portfolio Needs to be Updated, Doesn’t it?

Quick question: When was the last time you updated your portfolio? It’s hard to think back that far isn’t it? This is a problem that dogs many creatives. We’re too busy cranking out great work to bother grabbing some of it for others to see. Well, consider this your inspiration to wrangle together all your best stuff and show the world what you’re capable of (hell, I might get inspired by it, too!). Here are a few tips to get you going:

  1. First, get it in your head that you need to always be thinking whether or not what you’re working on is “portfolio-worthy.” Create a folder and drop JPGs or PDFs to use or just to remind you.
  2. Now, you wouldn’t be months (or, ahem, years) behind on your update if you followed tip one. So tip two is to go through your client files. Go through each and see what jobs you were really fond of and might make a good addition.
  3. Don’t be afraid to “fake it.” Did the client make a decision you didn’t really agree with? Skip back a version and show that. Unless it’s something that’s instantly recognizable, you’re the only one who’s going to know. It’s better to receive praise on your work than constantly having to explain how the client made some odd choices.
  4. As with nearly all creative pursuits, less is more. We don’t need to see an example of every type of work you’ve ever done, just a nice assortment of the good stuff. Don’t bother adding in milquetoast postcards, a bad political cartoon, or ugly, artsy shots simply to prove you have experience with them. A good portfolio will stand on its own.
  5. Work on your online portfolio first. You can fit a lot more on your web site than your book. Use it as a first step in whittling down what you think is the best stuff.
  6. Get a simple portfolio. Yes, that book you made for your senior thesis made of barbed wire and 2x4s is really eye catching, but if you can’t easily swap pages out, it’s essentially useless. Find one with 11×14” or 11×17” pages. That way you can print off new work as you do it and just slip it right in there.
  7. Lastly, have a pocket for examples of folding pieces. It’s much better to have a client physically engaging with a project rather than trying to explain how that book actually folds. If you have a few extras, leave one behind with a business card!

Remember, as a creative your portfolio is your livelihood. Good ones get work. Bad ones get overlooked. Hopefully, this is the “kick in the pants” you need to get yours into shape.

Photo by schoschie. CC BY.

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