So here’s one major problem a beginning designer is faced with: what do I put in my portfolio if I don’t have projects yet; but then again, how can I get clients without a portfolio? When you look at it closely, though, it’s not really a problem. You can have projects to work on and include in your portfolio and you can also have clients to start with.
■ What clients? You can always start with yourself. Why not create a logo for your design business, and while you’re at it, design your business cards, letterhead and website too. You can even create a brochure, print ad or poster advertising your services.
■ Someone (or more) from your family can also be your client. Maybe a relative has a small business you could do some designs for. Offer him your services. Advise him to act like a regular client and be critical if need be. This way, you get a taste of working with a real life client who will not always agree with you.
■ You have 543 friends on your Facebook account, 436 followers on Twitter. Why not tell everyone that you are offering your design services (for free, cheap, pay what you can, whatever) to the first five people who contacts you. Even if you have less friends or followers, someone is likely to be interested.
■ Another thing, go around your neighborhood and talk with friends, small business owners, churches and charities and offer them your services. In doing this, you could even learn some communication and social skills which will help you get clients to hire you later on.
■ These projects should keep you busy for the next few weeks. If you feel you need more in your portfolio, it doesn’t hurt to create some personal/fictional projects. They can even be tutorial projects. You can of course include your student projects too. These kinds of projects, although they may not have been for real clients, demonstrate your skills in drawing, illustration, photo manipulation, etc., and your proficiency in design software. However, I believe it’s just fair to put a note that these are personal or student projects.
As we improve our skills and gain “real” clients, let’s not forget to update our portfolio to reflect our strengths more and the kind of projects we are aiming for.
How about you, what portfolio projects did you start with?