Lots to do this year!

Portfolio (in)Sanity: part 1

Q: There are so many outlets for sharing your portfolio. You have your main website, possibly a portfolio site, social media and your actual print/tablet portfolio.Should I keep all of the sites cohesive, from using the same images to updating them at the same time?

Choosing the right images for your portfolios could be the most important thing you do with your marketing. That’s a lot of pressure, and for good reason — creatives often view multiple artists’ work every day. If they don’t see good work right away, they’ll move on to the next artist who shows the right spark.

The good news: you now have multiple outlets to share your work, which expands your reach to potential clients. This also allows you to show work that isn’t traditionally something you’d show in your main portfolio.

The bad news: it takes time to update!

One way of reducing the drudgery: make a recurring calendar item that reminds you to update your portfolio. That way you won’t forget, plus you can take care of everything at once, with all of your source files out at the same time. I use Apple’s iCal and find the email reminders to be most effective at catching my attention, even at the most hectic of times.

Just for fun, I’ve created an iCal calendar for you to use — which includes the recurring reminders to update your portfolios. Download it here, and you can import it into iCal or your calendar software of choice. Now you have no excuse for forgetting your portfolio updates!

Another time saver: after you’ve completed each shoot or creative project, choose your top 5-10 favorite images. Throw them into a “Portfolio” folder on your computer so that you’ll have a quick way to see your best work when you next update your portfolio.

On a side note: in some months, you may not have a lot to add to your sites, and that’s okay. Don’t always force yourself to put up new work if it’s not up to scratch. I’d rather you wait until the next cycle than put up mediocre work that detracts from your better images.

However, if you find you don’t have good work to share on a regular basis, that’s probably a reality check to remind you that you need to do more portfolio shoots—or at least that you need to up the quality of whatever you’ve been shooting.

So let’s begin! As a guide, we’ll go through each of the portfolio types and figure out what’s appropriate for each medium.

Updating your Main Website

To be clear, we’re talking about the website that’s probably on your business card – like Imaphotographer.com for example (that URL’s up for grabs, in case you wondered).


What images should you share?

You can show your main specialty or three, plus a gallery or two of “personal” work.

If your specialties are very different, you may wish to consider a second website with a different brand. Here’s an example of how that can work.

This also applies to small, local clients, who may want to see a lot more specialties than clients playing on a national scale who just want to see whether you’re the right Automotive photographer.

Share links to your other portfolio sites, as well, in case clients want to engage with you in those spaces or could possibly see another side of your talents there. The hypothetical exception: you may not want to have your Corporate Photography site link to your Fine Art Nude site. Plus, some photographers are (often rightfully) hesitant to link to their Wedding site from their Commercial portfolio site.


How frequently should you update your website?

The answer is: as often as you can bear. I recommend updating your website at least once a quarter, if not each month — because hopefully you have new work to share! Plus, it’s nice to have new work up when you share your next email or print promo with a client. It gives them reason to return to your site: knowing that you have a lot of quality work to check out.

These updates don’t always have to be a complete re-edit of your site, either. Maybe you mix a few new images into an existing gallery, add them to a “Latest Work” gallery, or even add a new “Personal” or “Essay” gallery — to highlight a newly-completed project. Aside from this, major overhauls of your website should probably be once or twice a year.

And this is just the beginning of your portfolio strategy, read part 2 here.

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