A colleague complained to me the other day that he feels he is talented enough to get lucrative design jobs, if only he had the portfolio to back his work up.
It's the chicken and the egg conundrum, he said — what comes first: a great portfolio or great clients to fill that portfolio? The obvious answer is “portfolio,” but building a great portfolio can be tedious, especially if you're not getting paid to do it. But the investment is necessary, and in the long run the work is minimal. In just 100 days, you can have 100 samples in your portfolio, which will be more than enough to prove your talent and experience.
- Start by choosing a niche. Listen to me on this: You might think you can get more jobs by being a jack of all trades, but you'll only dilute your value. Yes, there are plenty of fish in the sea, but you can't possibly catch them all so why try? You don't tightline if you're fishing for perch. If you're a graphic designer, you might choose to specialize in print brand identity, web design, billboards or something else entirely. We'll assume you're choosing logos.
- For the next 100 days, create a new logo every day. You don't have to go through the motions of actual client conceptualization, sketches, drafts, comps, options, etc. A good-looking first draft will do.
- For at least some of your logos, you can draw inspiration from existing high-profile company logos. Pretend like you're doing a redesign for, say, Microsoft, Adidas or Calvin Klein, then just place the words “Designed On Spec” to indicate that you were not actually hired by the company but have created potential (speculative) options you would present to them if you were hired. This can lend an air of prestige and credibility, even though Bill Gates hasn't cut you any checks lately.
Follow these steps, and in just a little more than three months you'll have an impressive 100-logo deep portfolio primed to win work. Image CC license Flickr.