Where can I see samples of your work?
If your answer to this question sounds something like this:
Well, I designed a site you can view at this link. Here’s another link to an article I wrote, if you scroll down to the bottom. Oh, and I’ve attached a couple of PDFs of illustrations I made…
Then you need some portfolio help.
You don’t want to send potential clients on a wild chase all over the world wide web to track down samples of your work – that’s your job. Having a solid, centralized body of your best work at the ready is imperative in the competitive world of creative freelancing. Here are some tips for developing an online creative portfolio that might land you your next gig.
When asked what they look for in a potential hire’s portfolio, nearly every agency uses the same two words: Simple. Straightforward. They want to view your work easily, without any fluff or extra clicks or annoying gimmicks.
There’s an interesting tension here because, of course, you also want your name to stand out above the rest. But the most memorable portfolios are the ones that create a positive user experience – meaning an excellent body of work that’s cleanly laid out and easily navigable.
Show your best work.
It might sound like common sense, but many creatives feel an urge to pack a portfolio as full as possible, to demonstrate experience or a diverse body of work. Those qualities are important, but the number-one credential any agency or potential employer is going to look at is the excellence of your work. And if you’ve crammed in an old college project, or an article from before you really developed your voice, it’s going to reduce the overall quality of your portfolio.
Designers, get a writer to help you.
There’s more text in a visual portfolio than you’d first imagine – descriptions of your projects, a bio, and a tagline, at least. And while you’re not expected to be the next Tolstoy, you do need your writing to be as clean, precise, and fresh as your images.
The editor of Design Shack puts it this way: “It’s not the end of the world if you dangle a participle or end a sentence with a preposition, just make sure that a reasonably intelligent person can read your sentences without wondering how you managed to graduate from high school.”
Writers, get a designer to help you.
Likewise, there are design elements to consider in a writer’s portfolio – the layout of your resume, how to arrange clips on a page, and what images, if any, should accompany your text. Even though potential employers are more interested in your actual work, you want to make as good an impression as possible via design as well.
A well-organized and visually pleasing portfolio is like a bonus testament to the kind of writing others can expect from you – clear-cut and enjoyable.
Add client testimonials.
Every time you finish a job, ask your client to write a 2-3 sentence testimonial about your work, mentioning your performance, efficiency, and creativity. You can compile these on a section of your “About Me” page of your portfolio to give potential clients a snapshot of your history of success.
Use an online portfolio builder.
Ready to get started? There are plenty of portfolio management systems online, many with free subscriptions and templates to get you started. Here are some good ones:
- Portfoliobox is a top site for designers, visual artists, and illustrators, offering different styles and templates based on the kind of visual work you want to showcase.
- Wordpress or Squarespace are great options if you’d like to implement interactive elements or have more experience building websites.
- Crevado, also for visual creatives, has easy drag-and-drop features and lots of privacy controls, so you can show your work to select audiences.
- Contently is free and simple, and works well for both designers and writers.
- me is probably the best portfolio site for freelance writers who have published clips across the web and want to organize everything in a central location.
Happy portfolio designing!
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