August 1, 2021

7 tips to create an awesome portfolio

Kei Maye
Portfolios! The opportunity to put your best work (and foot) forward. Inspiring potential clients to learn more about what you do and get you on board for a project. Anyone can put a portfolio together, bung in a load of designs and call it a day - but if you want clients to take you seriously, you're going to need to take the time to curate something that stands out. Here are 7 tips to help you get those portfolios armoured up.

Let people know how you think.

Clearly showing your process and how you approach projects will help prospective clients build a picture and get a feel for how you work. How do you process ideas? How do you organise? Take the client on a journey from initial concept to final result.

It shows that you think about how the design works and solves a problem instead of solely focusing on how it looks.

It also shows you probably know what the hell you're doing, which helps to build trust.

Provide context

As well as sharing the process and outcomes, it could also be beneficial to provide context.

What was the desired outcome of each project? What was the brief you were provided with at the start?

This offers a degree of transparency; you're giving potential clients the opportunity to see how you've approached and interpreted the objectives and the brief itself.

Show your work in action

Clearly demonstrate how your end results function. How do they look while in use?

Use photographs or mock-up templates to demonstrate the different ways your design meets its intended purpose.

Click here for a list of free mockup resources.

This will also help to build a picture as it provides some sort of visual reference, showing how your work looks in practice.

What's your flavour?

If your portfolio is 'busy' with no clear sense of direction, this may make it hard for people to place you.

If there is any confusion about what it is you do, or whether you can do a particular thing to a high standard - this will it make it super tempting for viewers to just click away.

Showcase work that ties in with the kind of projects you are genuinely interested in. What areas would you like to hone in on?

Have a good look at your body of work. Are there any pieces that doesn't tie in with the type of projects you want to secure in the future? If so - you might want to get rid of them.

Quality over quantity

Take another look at your body of work. This time, identify the projects that you feel don't represent you in the absolute best light.

This will require you to be brutally honest with yourself - you may have to seek feedback from other pairs of eyes to help out with this.

We all have those projects. You know which ones I mean! The ones you look back at and think...'what the hell was I ever thinking?!'

This is expected as you continue to blossom and sharpen your tools. Skim it right on down. It's far better to display 6 solid & consistent pieces of work over 20 random pieces that are comme ci comme ca at best.

Be clear about your who & why

Why do you do what you do? Who are you trying to help and why do you want to help them? Instead of writing a generic about section with no personality, think about how you can connect with the person who may be reading that paragraph. What is it about your design services that separates you from others?

This shows that it's coming from a place of actual care for the cause and that you're not just 'doing it because you can.'

Build that rapport with potential clients from the start.

Make it easy for people

Potential clients or end users shouldn't be left feeling confused about how to get in touch or follow things up with you. Make it easy for them to message you or enquire. It may be helpful to provide both a contact form and an e-mail address. You may even want to think about setting up some sort of scheduling software (like Calendly) to enable clients to book 10 minute taster calls with you (if you so choose) - whatever you decide, make it easy.