Portfolio Tips for the Procrastinating Creative

Do you write and create all day long for clients but don’t put the same care and attention to your own portfolio? Do you know that many companies will not even consider a candidate for a creative job without a portfolio? Don’t sweat it, one thing at a time. You got this.  

What do you actually do?  

The first step is to take some time to think about your work – past, present, and future. This process will also help you organize how you will present your projects.

Ask yourself:  

1.     In which industries do I have experience? (e.g. pharmaceuticals, beauty, technology)  

2.     What kind of work did I do? (e.g., long-form editorial, short-form blogs, email marketing, advertising, product descriptions, video, social media).  

3.     Where is most of my experience? 

4.    What kind of work would I like to do in the future?  

What do you WANT to do?  

Of the work you’ve done, what has engaged you the most?  

What would you like to do more of? Less of?  

What work are you proud of?  

How can you organize your portfolio and present your work, bringing some of the relevant experience to the forefront?  

Setting up your portfolio 

Get a URL. The most professional way to present your portfolio is to set up your own website with a personal URL (first name, last name).   

Get a portfolio website. Not a web designer? The web design is done for you with many portfolio websites and they may even provide a name-specific URL. Find one that works for your style and budget but be sure it looks sharp and professional. Many of Planet Interactive's recruiters use Adobe Portfolio for their portfolios because it’s easy to update, looks great, and is integrated with Behance. There are so many options out there so do a search and see what works for you. 

NO ADS. Pay for it if you have to - don’t do anything with ads.  

Quality check your portfolio site. Check the website on multiple browsers (Safari, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) and multiple platforms (mobile, desktop, tablet, etc.) for compatibility. Turn OFF popup blockers when checking – we've seen some designers surprised that there were ads on their portfolio when we were looking. Not cool.  

Make sure it looks good. Remember, hiring managers look at your portfolio for its aesthetic as well as the content. 

No ads.  Did we mention that already? Unless you’re an advertising designer – and then it should only be the ads you designed.  

What do you put in your portfolio? 

About Me. A short bio or introductory paragraph is essential. Here you should briefly describe what you do, what industries you work in, what kind of end products you create. You can even end with a little personal note (“… obsessed with vintage shopping, cappuccinos, and gaming.”) You are writing your own pitch. Try writing this in the third – not first – person. Bribe your copywriting friends if you have to. Keep it short, sweet, and simple.  

Organized content. Create a menu or table of contents that categorizes your experience by type of content. For example, blogs, emails, product descriptions, advertising, video, featured stories, etc. The first 2 questions we visited will tell you what to put in here. Don’t overthink it, just put the best work in first and go from there.  

Contact Information. A contact page with a link to social media (e.g. LinkedIn, Instagram). 

Resume. A downloadable PDF with recent experience is my favorite thing.  

Managing your portfolio 

Keep your portfolio up to date.  Very few hiring managers want to see your work from over 10 years ago, so keep us updated with current work.  

Capture your work! Keep a document where you can drop links to your work immediately. Also, create a folder for screenshots of mobile friendly work, advertising, emails, videos, and social media. The key is to capture the content as you work on it so you don’t lose it. Put aside time on a regular basis to document your recent work. When you have time, you can update your portfolio.  

Explain how you did what you did. Sometimes a screenshot doesn’t tell the whole story. Add copy to your examples describing your role. Did you design the ad? Write the copy? Work with a team for video production?  Where you the videographer or script writer?  

Bonus: Be results oriented. What were the results for high profile campaigns? You can grab screenshots of positive social media comments replying to the work. Get creative but DOCUMENT your journey.  

Putting together a great portfolio takes work. The good news is that you have the skills to do this! You do it every day for your clients. Now, do it for yourself. Create a portfolio that showcases your work in the way it deserves and live your best life.  

Written by
Anissa Bryant
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