I’m in the midst of updating my portfolio functionality, and I thought it would be a perfect time to go over some best practices. When I am working with clients, the portfolio has been somewhat of a struggle for them. At face value, portfolios are examples of your previous work – what you have done and with whom. But, it can be something more. A portfolio is a marketing tool, a page view, a client resource, and a “spam” filter. It can be a valuable marketing tool for your business if you build it in such a way.
Identify the Purpose of Your Portfolio
If you are a frequent reader of this blog or any entrepreneurship/design blog, you might be sick of hearing – “identify your purpose”, but it is an essential step in creating a substantial portfolio for your brand and subsequently also the most frequently neglected step. The purpose of your portfolio should extend beyond “I want people to buy my services”. Your objective should identify a target audience as well as the type of work you wish to do in the future. For example, the purpose of my portfolio is two-fold:
- Highlight featured projects that reflect the quality, breadth, and scope of work that I want to do in the future
- Showcase the breadth of branding and web design projects I’ve completed for creative entrepreneurs and content creators
Determine Your Type of Entries
When clients are planning their portfolio, I ask two questions – do you have 3-5 images per entry? Can you write 300 words per entry? A portfolio that lacks content is a poor user experience. If a portfolio displays with low-quality content, the potential client feels unsatisfied with your past work. If you only have one image per project, you might consider incorporating a slideshow or gallery of images that are not clickable. I call this a “static portfolio”, as it is more of a static page. However, if you have significant content you want to include with each entry, then a dynamic portfolio is a better fit. There are one-way approach to your portfolio; it depends on what is best for your brand and business.
Organization is Part of Presentation
For some people, organizing your portfolio is very easy. One service = one portfolio. If you offer multiple services, you want to categorize your portfolio entries to reflect those services. For example, my blog shop packages provide a certain level of customization, and I’ve included these entries in the portfolio so that potential customers can see how a blog shop theme can be customized. However, custom work is separated from these entries, because they reflect a higher level of service. I also realize that my potential client might search for a “blog designer” over “web designer,” so I’ve separated web and blog design. Showcasing featured projects first are one of the functionality features that I am adding to my site over the next few weeks.
Just like your blog post graphics, your portfolio should consistently display your work. Even though each project is different and reflects more of the clients’ style preferences than your own, how you present each entry is a reflection of your branding. I use the same template and flow for most of my projects. With my newer entries, I am adding mockups to the presentation. These mockups align with the type of projects I want to do in the future while still retaining my preference.
Blogging & Brand Collaborations
The most efficient way for bloggers to showcase brand collaborations is by correctly categorizing those posts. Adding a category such as “Sponsored” or “Collaboration,” any post where you work with a brand would be assigned this category. With most themes, you can add text and images to your category descriptions. Instead of having a static page, with crafted messaging and images, you can link to your sponsored category page as a way for brands to view your past engagements.
Portfolio & Client Work on the Blog
Most people include their client work in their blog and client portfolio. Until recently, I also presented my work both places. However, I was running into a situation with duplicate content and a blog purpose that was slightly unclear. Most of my blog readers come for tutorials. While I try to include helpful information about the client process in the feature, I discovered that my readers could care less about client work from my reader survey. As a result, I decided to keep my client work in the portfolio, promoting additions as I would blog posts. This practice is completely up to you, but I’ve found it has helped me streamline my brand.
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