If you are any type of creator — an artist, writer, designer, musician, marketer, etc. — you know the importance of maintaining an online portfolio. Prospective clients want to see your work, and maintaining a robust online presence can help build your profile and establish a solid career. And the better your portfolio, the more likely that others will share your work as well.
All too often, though, artists complain that their portfolios aren’t getting much attention. There are plenty of reasons that this could be the case. Sometimes, it’s a lack of promotion that keeps your portfolio from grabbing attention — you aren’t using social media, blogging, or engaging in any sort of marketing that will drive traffic. Sometimes, it’s the site design itself, and it’s too cluttered or poorly organized for visitors to find anything. And sometimes, it’s the content; you don’t show visitors what makes you unique or display your personal brand effectively.
However, more often than not, what keeps visitors from checking out your portfolio — and then returning and telling others about it — is that it feels stale. Creating an online portfolio requires more than just posting your favorite or best work and leaving it there. You need to approach your portfolio as an ongoing project, keeping it fresh and relevant. Otherwise, you risk your site being viewed as little more than more “noise” cluttering the Internet.
4 Tricks for Maintaining Your Portfolio
Keeping your portfolio up-to-date doesn’t mean that you have to add something new every week, or every single project that you complete. Otherwise, you run the risk of overwhelming the audience, or even worse, diluting your brand.
So how can you keep your portfolio up-to-date?
1. Review Your Work Every Few Months
Every creator understands the feeling of cringing when faced with their earliest work. It’s expected that as your skills develop and improve, so will the quality of your work. Not to mention trends come and go, and the work that was “Wow!” even a year ago can appear hopelessly outdated today. Therefore, the most obvious solution to keeping your portfolio fresh is to commit to reviewing it on a regular basis, to add new work and move or remove the old. Remember that just because something isn’t necessarily reflective of current trends doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have value in your portfolio. It just probably shouldn’t be front and center.
2. Create New Work
A common problem among artists is that they don’t actually have new, paid work for their portfolios, and thus are forced to use older work. If it’s been a while since you’ve worked on a project, don’t let your portfolio suffer. Look for ways that you can create new work specifically to showcase your talents for example, offer pro bono services to a nonprofit or startup, or develop “spec” work to show what you’re capable of. Remember, your portfolio should showcase the type of work that you want to do in the future, so if you don’t have any now, create some.
3. Add Details
Keeping your portfolio fresh doesn’t mean just focusing on work samples alone. You can update the site by adding more information as well. Keep in mind that Google actually looks for fresh content in searches, so adding some additional optimized content to your portfolio can help your search results. Share the backstory of the work, add testimonials, provide some insight into the creative process — essentially, build your brand by giving visitors a glimpse into you and what you’re hoping to accomplish.
Particularly when you showcase Web design and development, there’s always a temptation to add all sorts of bells and whistles to your portfolio to show off what you can do. The trend in online portfolios, though, is to keep them simple. Your work should take center stage, not the music playing in the background, the cool plug-ins that add effects, etc. Not only do they distract from your work, they can bog down navigation and frustrate users. Keeping it simple also means limiting how much work you show off. If you are a photographer, do you need to display hundreds of photos in every category? Or will a few exceptional shots show off your talents? Don’t overwhelm users. If they want to see more, they will ask.
By treating your online portfolio as a marketing tool instead of just something else to check off the to-do list, you’ll drive more traffic and get better results. Keep your portfolio up-to-date and fresh, and it will help build your profile, and your business.