How to enhance your design portfolio with text.

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If an image speaks a thousand words – that’s probably too much talking and not enough telling.  If you are a designer or an illustrator there are endless online platforms to showcase your work and to earn new clients. This post is not about choosing what to show, it is about writing about what you show.

Why you need some text beside your work

  • Never assume that viewers will not look for a caption. If they are interested they will.
  • I am no expert in search engine optimisation but jpegs are more easily found when well associated with (key)words.
  • Not everyone is visually proficient and literate – you are the expert not your potential clients.
  • Images sell better with a good story.
  • When you are in a presentation or meeting talking about your work, the process of writing the caption will inspire the way you speak. One of my clients whose first language is not English uses the text of her portfolio as a prompt when presenting to English clients.

What’s a good story?

A mix of what you put in the work and what the client or user got out of it and how you came to work together.

How many words?

Rarely a thousand… Your portfolio should hold no more than three long stories, many short ones and a healthy number of medium stories. Your long story should never be the full story, save this one for your face to face meetings with inquisitive clients or journalist.

How to inspire the writer in you?
Writing about yourself or your own work is the most difficult thing. Good news is that every designer has a story for every single piece they do. So find your written voice and turn it into a copy that helps you selling your service or products.

Answer some of the questions below to make the story interesting:

  • Who was it for?
  • What was the client need or problem?
  • Why did they come to you?
  • What were the restrictions or limitations?
  • How did you overcome them?
  • What did you enjoy whilst doing the work?
  • What did the client got out of it?
  • Did it win some awards?

Other more specific questions:

  • Why does client X keeps buying from you? – In case you have repeat clients.
  • What do you enjoy doing most? – There must be somewhere you say about what your dream job is, no-one will know otherwise.

And finally…

Get help! Ask people around you to proof read, accept tweaks and hunt for the copywriter amongst your friends, colleagues and relatives. And keep doing it, it will get easier.

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