Sunday, April 17, 2011

How to Create a Professional Writing or Artistic Portfolio

by Eric Engel -

Up for a job interview? Trying to win over a prospect? Want to show potential clients that you have what it takes as a freelancer?

Pages stapled together (or pieces taped into a leather bound book) won't cut it. Your portfolio says everything about you as an artist. You can't afford to let it look like a hack's job. And the binding says just as much about you as the work itself.

Your Portfolio Should Tell the Story of You

A portfolio should speak for itself. You won't always be there to comment on the work. You may have to leave your portfolio with someone so they can spend more time examining it. In some cases (such as with out-of-town prospects), you may have to mail it to them before they'll even see you.

How to Organize Your Portfolio

Organize your portfolio in some sort of categorical sequence...and each category should have a title page. Most writers and artists prefer to start with 'College Work'. If you have no college work to show, then jump right into the industry or type of creative work. But make sure to include the title for that industry.

You can separate the title page for each category, by trimming a quarter of inch off the rest of the pages. Then (if you have a printer that will print on the edges) print the title on the edge of each title page in your portfolio.

With so many technological advances, there's no reason to glue pieces of your work to the pages. If it's an electronic publication, simply cut and paste into whatever software you're using to print it out (more about software later). If you want to show the printed work, scan it and paste it in as a graphic.

The printed pages from your computer are easier to manage, won't fall out, and easier for your prospects to page through. The last thing you want your prospects to worry about is losing scraps of paper that fall out while they're trying to get a good look at your work. If you don't have a color printer, save everything to a file and find a local print shop that will do the work for you. It's an added expense, but it's well worth the money.

What Kind of Software to Use

The software you use largely depends on what kind of software you can afford (and your ability to learn software). If you're a computer graphic designer, then you probably already know what to use. For writers, Microsoft Word will work...but it would be easier to make a really outstanding portfolio with Microsoft Publisher. Publisher would make it easier to use graphics, colors, and text windows.

Adobe InDesign is great for a multi-page document, and you can easily import work from other programs. It also gives you more control over the sizes of what you import. So your portfolio can have extended pages for the titles. Adobe products are generally more expensive and harder to learn. Corel has several more affordable options.

The Final Portfolio Touches

Whether you're a writer or an artist, the little details will mean a lot to your prospects. Again, using a standard 8 ½ x 11 booklet will make it easier for the prospects to look through your portfolio. It also makes it easier to mail your portfolio to and from prospects.

It's permissible to include an electronic version of your portfolio (either online or by CD), but prospects still need a hard copy to look at. Even for animated graphics, using screen shots arranged in a timeline will impress them more than directing them to a website.