Question every starting Web Designer has to face, is how does he want to market himself and how to build your portfolio. Since money are what will keep you alive while doing your business, you have to thing about these questions really hard. They are important and they have to be answered.
Let’s talk first about your portfolio … People across industry have different opinion on how many pieces should you show in your portfolio, some say about six and other goes over twelve – my opinion is from six to nine. However, fact that everyone agrees on is to show only your best and highest quality pieces. In short, go for quality not quantity. As starting out, you will probably not have much to show, but to try to use everything just to fill the space. Even with a little focus on picking up only pieces which will show your skills in the best light. Good thing to do here is to ask some friend or, better option, to ask some stranger. The less that person knows you, the less kind and more honest he or she will be. Definitely don’t ask any members of your family. They would praise any crap just because you made it.
You can also leverage options of the modern world and ask some professional in web industry over social media or mail. You might hear some hard critic, but that is nothing to feel bad about. Critic should be hard and you should take it like a chance to fix your weaknesses and grow up. Another reason is that you had courage to go and ask professional so be proud about yourself.
No matter how many pieces you will choose, you must have portfolio. Web Designer without portfolio sounds a bit weird, right? You should also keep your portfolio up-to-date and care about it. Why? Many Designers agree that most of their projects came from two channels – referrals and portfolio. Your portfolio will be your base, it will be place you will show to your clients.
Today, there are services like Dribbble and Behance, which offers you to create portfolio and show your works. Many big companies use these services to look for professionals to hire. If you decide to create an account on these services, I still suggest you to have your own portfolio – your own website with your name or brand as domain name. Having your own website will put your into better light and will look more professional.
Generalist or specialist
Another difficult question to answer is if you should be a generalist or rather to specialize on some niche. Both approaches have their pros and cons and can be good ways for you to choose.
By finding some niche and specializing yourself on this particular market you will probably reduce the number of people you can do business with or, from time to time, you might have to work with someone else due to lack of skills on your side to cover all clients requirements. On the other hand, by focusing on special skill or market you can actually make more money, if you find market segment with better paid jobs. Specializing yourself can also be better choice if you are just starting and your skills are not that advanced. Specialization can mean for example creating only some kinds of designs (flat, minimal, clean etc.), focusing on building business or personal websites, creating only mockups and layouts in software like Photoshop, Illustrator or Fireworks, creating WordPress themes, converting HTML websites to WordPress, doing only front-end or only back-end and other available options.
By choosing to become a generalist you will cover wider market and more people and so you can make more money (not necessarily). For beginner, this choice can be little bit harder and bring you couple of challenges because you will have to expand your knowledge. However, this will be paid off in the future by bigger of projects you can take. As generalist you can also hire other people to work for you and your only duty will be dealing with clients and overseeing the work your employees. Why not to convert this into your own small Design agency?
Both options, specialist and generalist, also offer you chance to be speaker, teacher or consultant and find another to follow your passion.
Portfolio is the most important thing to be successful in this business. Your portfolio should include only the best and highest quality works. When it comes to amount, it is better to aim for less and better. Good number of showcases is between six and nine. People don’t want to spend hours by watching your work. They will give you only couple of seconds, so serve the best. Don’t show something just to fill blank space. This way, your portfolio will serve you as business card.
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