Graduation Season: Building a strong online portfolio

Graduation Season: Building a strong online portfolio

With thousands graduating from universities across the country getting your foot inside the door of a studio is getting harder and harder. If you choose to freelance in your chosen discipline your online folio is without a doubt one of the most important marketing tools to secure you enough work to pay the bills. But with so many doing the same, how do you make sure potential clients notice and engage with your portfolio? Here are a few tips for when you’re building your online folio.

1. Only Your Best

Display your strongest pieces of work. Your folio space is a snapshot of your abilities, not a collection of your experiments.

2. Strong Thumbnails

The homepage of your folio is often a collection of thumbnails. Make sure the cropped images show off the strongest elements of the work. A good thumbnail reveals enough of a project to intrigue the user to go deeper into the project, without displaying the whole project in the first place. Crop carefully.

3. Describe your work briefly but precisely

Good descriptions are sometimes as important as the work itself. Help the viewer understand the process of the project in as few words as possible. If you are a print designer, giving details of paper stocks, weights and print processes help communicate that you know what you are doing.

4. Be clear who you are

If you are setting up a studio or organisation make it clear in your online space. If you are freelancing, be open and proud about it. This will help manage your clients expectations.

5. Photograph your work well

Flat jpegs or scans of your sketchbook may be helpful for communicating ideas to clients quickly, but a well photographed folio gives an extra element. Invest in (or hire) a decent camera and lens, then build yourself a make shift photography studio somewhere in the house. Set up a couple of bright white lights and take the time to photograph your work well or team up with a professional photographer somehow (you can start by looking at the Collective).

5. Don’t list your ALL your skills

This may be a pet hate of mine, but too many designers spend the first 500 words describing every process they have ever heard of as their skill set. Your work should communicate your skills. If it doesn’t then they simply aren’t your skills. Anyone can be taught how to use software, but few people can be taught to create with it.

6. Use a Platform

Most creative’s don’t have any web skills, and that’s okay. Just don’t try and create a website from scratch if that’s the case. It won’t be any good, and will it won’t present your work in its strongest light. Use existing platforms like Cargo Collective, Behance or even apply to join the Creative Arts Network Collective. You can use these folio spaces as your main website and benefit from being part of an online creative community without having to worry about layouts, SEO and hosting charges.


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