We recently got a really great survey response that read, “I’ve fallen into a niche and can’t get out. Actually I love the niche I’m in, but I want to diversify. I believe I have potential clients who pick another designers because they don’t see their websites represented in my portfolio.”
Kory here! I can definitely relate to this struggle. For the longest time, my portfolio featured a lot really feminine projects aka ones with lots of pinks and script fonts, and I longed to do design work that was more modern and “sophisticated” (whatever that means). The problem was that my portfolio kept attracting more people who wanted similar feminine designs. Luckily, I’ve been able to slowly diversify the aesthetic of the work I create, so today, I wanted to share a few things you can do to when curating your portfolio so you can get more of the types of projects you actually want.
Share only your best work
This should be totally obvious to everyone, but your portfolio should only have work that you are really proud of and show off your best projects. Don’t show off work that you aren’t 100% proud of because it’ll attract clients who want that type of work, which you probably won’t enjoy doing. I’d much rather see a portfolio with 3-4 really stellar projects than 10-15 so-so projects.
You know what’s your best work, but if you don’t, don’t hesitate to reach out to a peer to get help curating what you should keep and what you should get rid of. You’re welcome to ask for a portfolio buddy in our Facebook group where both of you can help give feedback on your projects so you’re only showing your best stuff.
Include project details
This might be surprising, but a lot of designers make the mistake of not showing any project details. In fact, I’ve been to so many websites where the designer only shows off this little tiny graphic of a logo or website mockup and nothing else. If I’m looking at that, how am I supposed to know exactly what you did for that project?
Instead of just sharing those tiny graphics, link to a project page where you share things like:
- What the client was looking for
- Who their target market is
- What you did for them
- The tangible results your design has gotten for them
- A testimonial
That may seem like a lot, but remember, people are only going to bother reading if they’re considering hiring you. However, if it’s feeling like the content is getting a little long, split up some of it into a whole case study that you can link to on the project page.
Diversity in your work depends on where you are
A lot of designers are curious about how much diversity they should have in the projects they include in their portfolio, and it really depends. There are two different approaches: you can add all of the different types of projects you do (logos, websites, editorial, packaging, etc) or you can only show of a few types of projects (logos and websites only).
The approach you take here really depends on where you are in your career. If you’re just getting started, it’s better to keep things diverse. This will help show off your expertise in design, and it’ll give you a better chance to land a variety of projects. However, if you’ve been designing for several years and have a few things you know you enjoy doing, consider only adding one or two types of projects. This will keep you from getting inquiries for things you don’t care about doing, and it’ll help you become known for your specific type(s) of design projects.
Update it regularly
We talked about this in EP 012, but so many designers have issues with their portfolio simply because they aren’t updating it with new work regularly. Just take a second and look at your own portfolio. See that most recent project? How recently was it completed?
I’m definitely guilty of this too, but it’s important to add this task to your schedule. Krista likes to add new projects soon after they wrap up so she knows exactly what she wants to say and share in the project details. However, if you’re too busy for that, at least make it a point to check your portfolio every other month to add new work and get rid of anything that isn’t the best representation of what you want to be doing
- Share large images not just small computer mockups so we can actually see your beautiful design work
- If you do web design, link to the live site.. as long as your client is actually still using your design
- Don’t make people hunt for your portfolio because they just aren’t going to, which means you may lose clients
- Upload your most recent projects to your portfolio
- Get rid of any work that isn’t your best and doesn’t represent the work you want to be doing more of
- Add a recurring task to your calendar to keep your portfolio updated