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You Can Learn Something Neat From A Portfolio Delete

September 21, 2016

What’s a portfolio delete, you ask? It’s a work sample you’ve deleted from your portfolio.

My “regular” portfolio is a separate album on my Facebook Page. But I also have the equivalent of a portfolio on my LinkedIn profile: work samples. I limit both portfolios to 20 pieces.

blank vertical space, 16 pixels highWhy delete a work sample?BlankVertSpace.8pixels

Maybe it was too weak. Maybe you decided it was sending the wrong signal about what kind of work you’re looking for. Maybe you tried to include too many pieces in your portfolio, and no one wants to wade thru it all.

Usually though, I suspect it’s because some pieces are old. That was the case with me recently. I deleted 6 work samples, and replaced them with newer work.BlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixelsBlankVertSpace.4pixels

I like to think I learn a little something every time I do an illustration. Here’s a quick look at my 6 portfolio deletes and what I learned from each.BlankVertSpace.8pixels

BlankVertSpace.8pixels1. A Christmas card for RBC Dain (financial advisors) in Manchester, NH. They sent it to all their clients.

Lessons: Infographics can be funny and entertaining. They can even become part of one’s brand. (RBC’s client reports use lots of pie charts and bar graphs to convey complex financial information.)

Also: infographics work best when you narrow their focus– it’s a mistake to try to cram too much information into them.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

Pie chart Christmas card design for RBC Dain shoeing glad tidings cheer peace prosperity happy new year fruitcake eggnog

blank vertical space, 32 pixels high2. A header image for my Twitter profile page.

Lessons: Use hi-res images and do the necessary research: most headers require specific dimensions. Headers display differently on different devices, and certain areas may get overlaid. Do a search for tutorials. Use a template, if one is available.

Also: Any project is a chance to demonstrate your expertise. (I wrote a how-to post after creating my header.) Header images are part of your brand. A fuzzy incoherent image creates a very poor impression.Twitter header image showing guy sleeping in tottering house balanced on mountain top with moon stars night sky edge of miraculous Henry Miller quote3. For The Partner Channel Magazine. The author began by asking this question: How do you get inside of people’s heads to get them to buy from you? The buzzwords refer to Robert Cialdini‘s 6 psychological triggers that influence the way people buy and behave.

Lessons: Every assignment is a chance to expand your skill set. I created this image in Photoshop. Previous to this assignment, I had never applied text to a path. I learned how to do it to create the effect you see below. It was also my first exposure to “sales triggers.” Learning about them give me a better grasp of marketing techniques.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high
Salesman trying to figure out way into subject's brain peering through little trapdoor in skull ready to use psychological triggers to make sale

blank vertical space, 32 pixels high4. An editorial illustration for an article about the state of Connecticut mandating recycling for all types of batteries. That’s Governor Dan Malloy as the Energizer Bunny, leading the parade. You can read more about the assignment here.

Lesson: I had fun with this assignment, but for me, it’s a reminder that you can’t do better than the market you serve. This was one of 5 illustration assignments for a particular client. They all required a lot of research, a lot of time, and I had very little artistic freedom. (The editor usually had a very specific idea in mind– this particular drawing
was the lone exception.)

All for very little pay.

My fault entirely. A painful lesson, and, I think, one every freelancer makes at some point. You cannot– you simply cannot– undervalue your work by accepting assignments which pay less than your work is worth. By doing so, you will attract similar clients– and be trapped in a vicious cycle. You cannot get the clients you want, if you accept work from clients you do not want.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high
Connecticut governor Dan Malloy dressed as Energizer Bunny leading parade of dead batteries to recycling center

blank vertical space, 32 pixels high5. A header image for a guest post I wrote, which you can read here.

Lessons: Every freelance creative has to be a businessperson. You have to embrace that side of it, because– unless you’re a superstar with an agent and/or clients constantly beating on your door– you have to market yourself. You have to be proactive about pitching projects and seeking new clients.

What does being proactive mean? Writing the guest post forced me to think the matter thru, to identify specific steps. That’s an invaluable lesson for anyone.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
Freelance 101 two guys wearing turbans one staring at Aladdin style lamp waiting for something to happen other guy rubbing many different lamps being proactive trying to find the magic genie of wealth success

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highblank vertical space, 16 pixels high6. Originally created as a birthday tribute, then recycled for a post about using illustrated quotes to  boost your brand.

Lessons: Never miss an opportunity to “repurpose” your work. (I’m recycling Mickey here yet again.) Content marketing and social media aren’t new. Spillane was practicing both a long time ago. (His first bestseller was published in 1947.)

Most importantly: Being a “starving artist” is a conceit. Creatives need to be merchandisers. The whole idea is to actually make a living doing what you like to do.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
Mickey Spillane caricature quote merchandiser not just writer stays in every avenue early social media marketing pioneerblank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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Do you have a portfolio? How do you decide what to put in it?

Do you do your own marketing? How do you promote your services?

Have you ever learned a vital lesson from an assignment? Care to share it?

Hope you’ll leave a comment.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

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I also invite you to get updates. Take me up on it!! => click the Get Updates button in the sidebar below the Portfolio Thumbnails, or click + Follow in the blog menu bar!! 😊blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
footer for all future blog posts showing picture of blog author Mark Armstrong, along with short bio and contact informationblank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 32 pixels high

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