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5 Things You Must Include in Your Creative Portfolio

by Ryan Robinson
featured, freelancing, money & life, photo & video

5 Things You Must Include in Your Creative Portfolio on CreativeLive

A crowded industry is tough. It’s difficult to get the best clients, and can be even more challenging to establish a foothold as a strong new competitor with your product or service.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, freelancer, or you’re looking for new career opportunities, having a cutting edge online portfolio is essential to standing out from the crowd.

You know you’re too talented to expect a single sheet of a resume to capture all of your awesomeness.

How do you expect potential clients, customers, and employers to be blown away by the incredible photos you’ve taken, campaigns you ran, website you designed, or app you built, without checking it out for themselves?

Whether you’re pursuing work as a photographer, writer, designer, or developer, one thing’s for sure…

The key to a knockout first impression—is a powerful portfolio that showcases your successes.

In order to maximize your odds of standing out from your peers, you need an impressive digital portfolio that can highlight your skills and accomplishments. It’ll help you to land that dream job, get higher paying clients, or book a speaking gig at a prestigious conference.

That being said, creating a stand out portfolio is easier than you might think. There are many tools you can use to help generate a high quality, creative portfolios quickly. Including Format and SquareSpace, two of my personal favorite easy-to-use portfolio solutions (if you don’t want to go down the WordPress route).

Digital Portfolio Must Haves

1. Who You Are.
There’s no question about it, you need a descriptive internet presence. Tell your story. Feel free to share things like how you came to love web design, or your first experience with taking photos at a young age. Make the information relatable and personable.

It’s important to let your personality shine through: helping people relate to you is a huge step in getting them to hire you instead of someone else.

You can get started crafting that powerful bio right now with these helpful writing prompts from writing guru Alexandra Franzen.

2. What You Do.
Naturally, you want to very clearly articulate what exactly it is you do. There is nothing worse than having a prospective employer or client land on your site and walk away with no clue what it is you do.

Don’t be afraid to embrace your title, and own your strengths! Try and take this a step further by explaining how you work. Do you start with a discovery phase and ask clients to complete a user persona for who their target customers are? Let future clients know what it will be like to work with you.

Note: Be sure to have a solid grasp on your pricing and project rates before you start accepting freelance work.

5 Things You Must Include in Your Creative Portfolio Skillcrush Creativelive

3. Examples of Your Work.
How better to sell yourself than by showcasing the results you’ve delivered for clients or employers in the past? What you have already done is the best predictor of what you can do in the future for prospective clients. Show off your best work, explain what kind of work you’re passionate about, and most importantly, what kind of work you’re most proud of. On my portfolio site, I make it a point to highlight my most popular blog post, which highlights the 101 best business ideas that you can start while working full-time.

Keep in mind that if you’re wanting to pursue a specific type of work, you need to make sure that’s exactly what you highlight in your portfolio. Including only the type of work, ideally the kind of projects that emphasizes your strengths and what you’re looking to do more of, rather than all of your work, will help you target and stand out to the right clients and opportunities. If you still need to discover your strengths and further build upon them, get started with this skill assessment for entrepreneurs.

In addition to showcasing your work, you could also choose to include your resume, with all your skills and past experiences packaged nicely and readily available right on your site.

4. Easy to Navigate Format.
Make sure your overall portfolio design is easy to navigate and straight-forward. You want your work to take the spotlight on your site, not your flashy, color changing navigation bar. If it could potentially steal the focus from your work, save the idea for another purpose. Site viewers don’t want to hunt for where to go next, and if they have to, you risk them leaving the page.

And don’t over complicate things by trying to be clever and naming your projects or pages something obscure that might fly right over visitors’ heads. Remember that some of your clients or employers might not be industry insiders, so you’ll need to make sure someone outside of your field can easily understand and navigate the page. Keep things simple, clear, and focused.

5. How to Get in Touch With You.
What do you want viewers to do after they check out your stunning work? Contact you and offer you an interview or freelance job, of course! Make it easy for site visitors to get in touch with you. If you make them work hard to figure out how to get in touch, it’s highly likely that they won’t.

Clear calls to action are vital to the success of your portfolio as a tool to aid in your job hunt. There’s nothing wrong with a simple and clear “Hire Me” or “Get in Touch”. You can do this easily by incorporating a contact form on your site, by listing your email address, or even asking for visitors to get in touch with you via your social media accounts.

Your creative portfolio can make or break any opportunity, so it’s important to put some effort and thought into crafting a stand-out digital presence to house your portfolio.

So for a quick recap, all the best portfolios are masters of the following:

– They reinforce your personal brand and allow your personality to shine through

– The content is focused and displays the kind of work you want to pursue

– They showcase your best work and leave viewers wanting more

– They’re easy to navigate and position your work in the spotlight

– They contain a clear call to action that inspires viewers to follow up

This post was originally inspired by the 5 Things Your Tech Portfolio Must Include, on the Skillcrush Blog.

Need some help getting your creative portfolio website up and running? Check out our class on Creating a Knockout Design Portfolio or take a peek at some of the amazing creative portfolios on Format.

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Ryan Robinson

Content marketing consultant to the world’s top experts and growing startups. Online educator at ryrob.com where I share business advice and teach entrepreneurs how to start a side business. Check out my post on the best business ideas, read about how I validated a business idea in just 30 days, and get content marketing help at Pro Content Marketer.