5 Ways to Showcase Your Freelance Graphic Design Work
Image: Flickr, COD Newsroom
When it comes to finding clients, creative professionals live by the adage, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Designers face a unique challenge: finding the best way to show employers or clients a comprehensive portfolio without overwhelming them with massive files and years worth of work.
In the past, designers used a traditional print portfolio, the purpose of which was to showcase projects that defined the designer’s brand. Since no one wanted to haul around a huge, bulky book, this type of portfolio typically focused on quality, not quantity. Today, however, designers have digital options for presenting their creative capabilities that can showcase a more complete scope of their work.
Below are a few ways to showcase your designs.
1. Start with the sites you use every day
Make sure you are leveraging the sites and resources you visit regularly — and turn them into a way to showcase your work, if possible. For example, designer Rachael King created a Pinterest board called “the living resume .” It’s an ongoing collection of the notable and unique things she’s done in her career, including side gigs and other projects.
King says that planning is essential when it comes to using Pinterest to promote your design work. “Think about what you want the board as a whole to look like, and decide on the order in which you want to display each item. Make sure your list is complete before starting, because you can’t rearrange or drag and drop pins after the fact (yet).”
In addition, King recommends keeping an updated resume or contact info within the first few pins, so anyone looking at your board will be able to get in touch quickly if they like what you’re all about. To do this, save your resume as a .jpg file and upload it. (Notice how King’s is linked to her LinkedIn page .)
2. Create a custom hashtag to leverage on social media
When graphic designer David Mas was looking for a job, he wanted to use a social platform to stand out from the crowd — and ultimately decided Instagram would be an appropriate platform that provided the speed, immediacy and creativity he was looking for.
In addition to using Instagram to showcase his work. Mas added the hashtag #InstagramVitae to support his efforts. The strategy helped him land a job with one of the premier sports companies in Spain.
3. Use a free website builder
If coding isn’t your strong suit, you can create a website using services like Wix.com or other user-friendly online portfolio builders that offer templates and hosting services — some of these are free to use, and others require a one-time or monthly fee.
Website builders can be an excellent option for freelancers or individuals doing creative work part-time; they’re also a viable option for professionals whose creative expertise isn’t necessarily web-dependent (painters, photographers, etc.).
The Wix blog offers helpful tips and resources including articles on creating easy site navigation. optimizing video and images and maintenance tips. (The information is relevant for anyone with a website, not just Wix users.)
4. Design your own website
If you’re a rockstar designer and know how to code, show it off. The decision to build your own website from scratch versus using a website builder is based upon several factors: Having the skills to design the site, the overall simplicity or complexity of the design, the time commitment to implement and maintain the site, and cost. It might also be an option to design a portion of the site yourself and contract out other pieces.
Whether you use a website builder or design your own, you’ll want to think about marketing your site in order to effectively show off your work.
Alberto Sosa is a freelance designer from Argentina. Since most of his clients are U.S.-based, he has just one chance to capture their attention — and he utilizes an email marketing strategy to accomplish this.
Sosa’s philosophy is to focus on two-clicks within his email marketing efforts. “I must persuade prospective clients to make just two clicks: The first to open my email — so the subject line has to pique interest and feel organic (as opposed to spammy). The second click is the hardest one — the link to my online portfolio. In just 30 seconds, I must tell a nice story,” says Sosa.
5. Mobile apps such as Minimal Folio, Morpholio and Behance
Minimal Folio ($2.99 for iPad) is an app that allows you to easily present images and videos. One of the useful features about the app is that it’s unbranded — so the focus isn’t on the app itself, but on your portfolio work. It also syncs easily with Dropbox. An app like Minimal Folio is a handy option if you find yourself saying, “I don’t have my portfolio with me, but I can come back later. “
Morpholio (free for iOS) not only offers the ability to create a portfolio, but also the ability to share and discuss work. The portfolio feature allows for flexibility; changing covers, titles, images, etc. is simple. Your portfolio can be shared via email or on social networks. The app also gives users the ability to participate in public or private forums, within which people can discuss projects and receive critiques of their work.
Behance is both an online platform and an app (free for iOS and Android ). It provides an all-in-one solution for creative professionals to organize their work. Behance promotes itself as a platform that brings together talent and work opportunities. The platform also syncs with ProSite. a customizable portfolio site builder. This platform can be a great option for professionals looking for a one-stop solution: You can create a portfolio, promote it and connect with other creatives. It can also mean, however, that marketing your online portfolio among thousands is a challenge.
Demonstrating ingenuity in the creative arts is important — but there can also be a point when your efforts may go too far. Showcasing your design portfolio in an edgy, avant-garde way — such as custom wrapped around a box or turned into a piece of jewelry — is definitely eye-catching. But remember, the goal is to get the job and impress clients without asking them to spend too much time deciphering your creative efforts. Always ask yourself, “Does the piece enhance my brand, or take away from it?”
Additionally, it’s key to showcase your work in a way that’s easy for clients or employers to use. A DVD or flash drive might be great for storing some types of data, but might sometimes be too much of a hassle for employers to access. Realistically speaking, it’s always best to have access to your work in multiple places and to promote your brand in many locations.
How do you display your creative work or portfolio digitally? Tell us about the resources you use in the comments.
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