How to Build a Graphic Design Portfolio That Will Blow Your Clients Away

12 August 2019

How to Build a Graphic Design Portfolio That Will Blow Your Clients Away

Want to build an amazing graphic design portfolio?

A designers portfolio is a major tool that is used by many clients when choosing to hire a graphic designer. It is a great means that helps promote a graphic designer and also a great piece for potential clients to access the style and creative skills of graphic designers before hiring them. Overall a portfolio is one of the most important tools for graphic designers.

Want to push your portfolio to the front of the ever-growing crowd? You must know what to include and what to leave out. Here’s how to build a graphic design portfolio that will blow your clients away.

Include the good stuff

The only thing to include in your graphic design portfolio is your best work. If you want your portfolio to succeed, it must include shining samples of your work—and only those showcase items.

It also means you should include examples of the wide variety of skills and abilities. Now, depending on where you are in your career, the portfolio might be short and sweet, one page of exceptional items that make you proud.

Even later in your career, you can’t expect someone to page through dozens of pages. Instead, it’s your opportunity to reduce your collection to a few pages of your proudest work. Sorting out your very best stuff is your own education in what’s right and wrong about your work.
It’s here that you may need some feedback. You don’t need dynamite on each page. Some of your best work might be quiet, subdued, and classic. Each page doesn’t need to be heated. Rather, the pages should show the range of your talent and experience. So, the best portfolio might include everything from a circus poster to a business card. It makes sense, then, to run your graphic design portfolio past a friend or a designer peer.

Skip questionable work

There’s no room in your portfolio for weak work. If you or a peer have a question about the quality or relevance of the work, it has no place in the portfolio. If you are not a thousand percent enthusiastic about the sample, you must set it aside.

You should not include anything needing an explanation or justification. This doesn’t mean the work is wasted or trash. It might work well in a portfolio put together for another presentation. But, if the sample isn’t right for this occasion or client, you must ditch that sample.
Every graphic designer loses an occasional battle with a client in order to keep them happy and fit their vision. This is nothing to lose sleep over. But, when it comes to your portfolio, there’s only room for your best work.

You must limit the pages and samples. For example, if you are only presenting logos or business cards, you shouldn’t include everything you have done. If you have designed fifty items, only pick the best five.

Perhaps, your choices reflect a range of geometrics, color palettes, textures, or styles. That is, you want to avoid too much of a good thing if it creates an impression of sameness, lack of sophistication, or inflexibility.

Perhaps, the client is looking for specific products, colors, typography, or imagery. Then, you would assemble samples that emphasize those skills. Still, you want to present enough variety to give the client the power to choose.

And, perhaps, some of your work is the product of teams and collaboration. You should not include any samples that are not 100 percent your own because you may not be able to deliver the selection without that team input.

Make the format count

In this world of digital marketing and global reach, you are not likely to present your portfolio in a binder with samples in plastic page protectors. Rather, you must format the portfolio for the Internet. It will take some time well spent to do some research into the website you plant to host your portfolio.

You need the platform allowing and helping you to create a profile online where you will upload your sample work. The platform must have the power to display images powerfully and vividly. It must transmit color richly, capture detail fully, and display clearly.

If it is to convey an aesthetically pleasing image, it must permit sizing options. For example, if you are pitching your logo designs, you might prefer a gallery-style display. If you are a photographer, however, you may show your work on full screen. And, if your work represents a range of talents, you might break it into mini-portfolios.

Tell your story

People love stories. Well-told stories engage and sustain interest. So, you should think of your portfolio as telling a story. It should have a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. Arrange your strongest points in the introduction and conclusion. It’s a question of balance.

If you overload the front of the story with too much good stuff, you risk losing the client’s interest if the work tapers off. Likewise, if you load the conclusion of your story, you tire the reader with expectations. Hopefully, the quality of the work will speak for itself, but when it needs naming or explaining, you must keep the captions brief and clear, sincere and self-confident.

If you choose to include longer narratives, like an About or Bio, keep them on-topic and avoid rambling thoughts. Clients don’t need to know everything about you to decide about hiring you. Clients can always contact you to ask questions if they have them. So, you’ll want your contact information to be easy to find, thorough and up-to-date.

Get social

It’s important to remember the portfolio is only one part of your online presence as a graphic designer. So, it should include your social media links. Social media can be a great way to build your brand and introduce a necessary human element to convince a client to hire you. You must choose and cultivate a presence on those social media streams that connect and interact with your portfolio. All social media platforms are not created equal. For instance, LinkedIn is a place to build networks, Facebook links families and friends, Twitter is not a visual platform, and so on. Instagram and Pinterest may serve your needs better.

When you settle on a social media platform, you can regularly post your latest achievement, a work in progress, or a design package. Of course, you also can use social media to show who you are as a person. If you’re involved with any causes or have volunteered pro-bono work, you should talk that up. With creative content, you can interest people in your background, education, and training.

People are curious. But, if you use social media to promote your personality as the context for your talent, you must develop content copy directly related to the product and experience. The social media platform is no place for your political opinion, client disputes, or cute family pictures. It’s no place to share your personal likes and dislikes.

You should create a presence on several social channels for different reasons. For instance, you can have an account on Facebook in your own name for chatting with friends and relatives. But, you can open an additional account in your business name or identity where you limit all postings to your talent-related information. You can post images of your work, positive outcomes with clients, and articles about your skills and talents. You can, then, backlink to these postings when you comment on other channels.

Remember: it’s alive!

You must remember a portfolio cannot be static and stagnant. In fact, it must be a living dynamic entity that grows as you do. You must constantly tighten your portfolio, remove the waste and filler, and add more relevant, updated content. And, you must update it as your skills improve and your focus changes.

As you gain more experience, update your portfolio to reflect the kind of work you are doing currently and the work you want to do. If you truly love designing landing pages and would enjoy designing them every day, make those the cornerstone of your portfolio. You can present yourself as an expert art director or hiring manager. You want to present yourself and your business as the one prospective clients cannot pass up for their next job.

Your portfolio should feel fresh, human, and carefully curated. If executed well, your portfolio will provide potential clients or employers with a strong sense of you as a person and a professional. Executed well, the portfolio will provide a context that lets your work truly shine.

When your ready to build your portfolio and attract clients from all over the world, you just sign up as a designer on Hexi Design and get started right away!