How to Get More Design Clients with Your Portfolio as a Beginner
Your portfolio is the gateway between you and potential clients. This means that your design portfolio is an important asset that you have control over, when marketing yourself. Some designers seem to have an over-flowing amount of work, while others continue to grind, day-to-day, struggling to find their next source of work. Why is this? One reasons could be your portfolio. We’ll go over a few important aspects of your portfolio that could help you maintain a more steady stream of jobs:
Have a Unified Brand
Your personal brand is the first impression that many visitors will judge you on when they land on your site. Having a complete web presence, will make you look more in-tune with the industry and professional. If you don’t have a unified theme or brand, you’re going to seem all over the place. Planning your design portfolio is an important step in building a solid foundation for your career.
Showcase ONLY Your Best Work
This can be difficult for design students because you’re just starting out and want to showcase everything you’ve done up to this point. Try to refrain from doing this! It will only hurt you in the long run. Only display the work you are 100% proud of and that you feel is your absolute best work. If you have a couple of high-quality projects, mixed in with mediocre design work, clients or employers might be unsure of the quality of work they might receive.
If you have no work yet, use whatever you have – side projects, fake projects, etc. Remember that the work in your design portfolio should be changing as you grow and learn as a designer.
Market & Promote Yourself
You might be the greatest student designer the world has ever seen, but if no one can find you, they won’t know you exist! Use Twitter and Dribbble to network and market yourself. Meet other designers and make connections. This is important because lots of designers are always looking for people to pass design work onto. Dribbble is also a great site for scouts to check out your talent. Once you start forming a good connection network, you’ll find that more projects will automatically start coming to you, rather than you frantically searching and begging for work.
Have a Speciality
Being a jack-of-all-trades is something that I’ve always been against. If you have a speciality, you’ll stand out. Simple! If you spread your skills too thin, you won’t be able to gain the attention away from other designers. This doesn’t mean to solely focus on one discipline. For example, I’m a designer – and specialize in this area – but, I can also code and have interest in other design areas such as mobile, typography and marketing. Focus your area in one or two areas, but keep your eye on parallel disciplines to keep sharp.
Tailor Your Content
Your design portfolio should always have a goal. What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want to get more clients for freelancing? Do you want to land a job at an agency? This will have an impact on the way you tailor your content for your target audience. For example, portfolios that are dedicated for clients should take the “what’s in it for me approach,” while portfolios for jobs should truly highlight your work and your personality/design process.
Always Get Better
Web design is a profession that is in constant motion. We’ve always preached here at Student’s Guide, to stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest of what’s happening in the industry. If your portfolio seems dated, it will have an affect on the quality and type of clients you will work with. Updating your skills every once and while will help you move onto bigger and better projects as you progress in your career.
Building an effective portfolio can be trial-and-error. Taking into account some of these tips will help you build a system where you won’t have to be chasing down clients, instead, they’ll be waiting at your door without you having to lift a finger.