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I Hate Seeing Good Creatives Make These Same 4 Portfolio Mistakes

3 min read

I'm Jeremy Carson, a Creative Director working in the advertising and design industries for over 15 years. I believe bringing data and creativity together lets us speak to people in a way we never could before, making it more relevant and personal.
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I did round two of my portfolio review post recently, and just as many people needed some input on their books.

About 150 different portfolios got my brutally honest feedback. But in addition to the 7 things that everyone does wrong, I noticed a few quick things I kept saying over an over.

So here are some quick fixes for your portfolio you should do today:



1) Include Your Title and Name

It seems like this goes without saying. But lots of creatives (designers and art directors, mainly), have a cool logo at the top of their site, but leave off a name.

Awesome, I don't know your name, but I think that duck holding a briefcase is badass.

Also, put your title front and center. Your real title, which does not mean "Creative Thinker" or "Idea Genie." Art Director, Copywriter, Designer, etc. When a creative director or recruiter is looking through multiple portfolios to hire people, they want to know what it is they're looking at right now. Make it easy for them.

2) Cut Down The Amount of Work

Only show what you're proud of.

Lots of creatives feel like they need to represent every single thing they've ever done. Not true. Your portfolio should be the prime choice cuts of work from your career. If you have years of experience, people reviewing your work will assume that there's more, but that this is your best.

True, when you're early in your career, you probably think you need to just have as much in there as possible. Well, you're not wrong. But if any of those pieces don't represent you in a good light, don't include them. And if you need more to show off your skills, make some more work by taking the Ad-A-Day Challenge.

3) Don't Date Your Work

Along with the idea that you should only include the work you're most proud of, remember that those pieces may not be the most recent. I have projects in my portfolio I did years ago, but they're still front and center, because they represent me pretty damn well.

However, you don't know they were made so long ago, because I don't have a big date or year right there next to it. Why do you think I'd care that the top three projects were done this year? That just makes me think you order your portfolio chronologically, not by what best shows off your skills.

4) Make It Easy To Contact You

You don't need a contact form. Seriously. They're only there if you need to have a specifically formatted email coming to you.

Just make your email address easy to find and prominent somwhere on your website. That means not a tiny mail icon I have to search for. Use the actual email address text.

Bonus: Don't Try to Design Your Site, If You Can't Design

This is a little more complex, but it's important. Keep your site simple. If you're not a web designer, I don't care if your portfolio is super edgy and innovative. I just want to see your work.

And for those that don't design at all, there are so many services out there that can make your site look good for you. Hell, even designers and art directors can use places like squarespace.com or cargocollective.com to assemble your work in simple, but elegant way.

A Bad Portfolio Hides Good Work

I hope in the next round, you all read this first. Do yourself a favor, and do my Command+C/Command+V hotkeys a favor: don't make me repeat myself.

I want you to have a successful portfolio. So, take a few minutes, do the fixes up top, and take one step closer to having a kickass book.

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this, say hello @thejeremycarson. LinkedIn Instagram

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