Why update my portfolio if I don't even like my work?
by Tobias van Schneider
I hear it often when I talk with designers about their portfolio: “Yeah, I know I need to update my website. I plan to build something better when I have better work to put in it.”
The idea being: My work’s not worth the investment yet. Why spend precious time on my portfolio when I should spend it getting better at my craft?
Most of these designers will settle for a free template, plug their work into it and call it done. They launch their site and it stays like that for the next several years. They know they need to update it, but they keep telling themselves they will when they have more work worth sharing. The level of effort matches their level of confidence.
I get it. We always say your portfolio should feature the work you’re most proud of, but what if you’re not proud of any of it yet? That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a great portfolio.
Investing in your portfolio is worth it no matter your skill, experience or confidence level. Here's why.
A beautiful portfolio immediately elevates your work
Presentation means everything. If your site is nicely designed – which is easy to achieve with a tool like Semplice or Carbonmade – it makes you, your taste and your work look better too.
Throughout my design career, I’ve been handed some pretty terrible visual assets. Due to branding or a client restraint, I have to work with photography, a logo or a visual that doesn’t meet my standards. I take the assets and I make my presentation or website, whatever it is, and the client is always surprised. They’ve never seen their logo look so good.
Good design can make not-so-good design better. Call it cheating, if you want. I call it smart.
Momentum builds – but it has to start somewhere
I’ve seen mediocre work presented in a beautifully designed portfolio. Nearly every time, the quality of the work soon catches up. Why?
Investing in your website is a commitment. Once you’ve put time, money or effort into anything, you’ll care about it more. It’s the same reason we value that sweater we spent good money on. We work hard for that money and spend it carefully, so we’ve added value to the sweater by spending on it. It costs more so it means more.
Putting effort into your portfolio assigns more value to the work you’ve done, and the work you’re going to do. And the more value we give our work, the better it is.
Opportunities don’t always wait for when you’re ready
It usually happens this way:
You’re getting coffee at your favorite coffee shop and you run into an old coworker.
Come to find out, she’s the creative director at a company you’ve always dreamed of working for. Turns out, they’re hiring entry level positions. You can’t believe your luck. You say you’d love to be considered.
“Well fantastic,” she says. “I can look at your work right now. How do I find your website?”
You stutter something about sending it to her later. You go home and frantically update your site – or you’re so overwhelmed and unhappy with your current one, you give up on the job entirely and hope your friend will forget you talked.
Imagine that dream opportunity lands on your lap and all you need to do is send a link. You know your work isn’t the best out there, but at least you’re proud of your website. And if a company sees your potential and takes a chance on you, your work will soon get even better.