Marketing and portfolios

It may be stating the obvious, but if you make creative work and want to get clients to employ you, the best way of marketing your work is to show it.

There are many ways of showing your work (or getting people to hear it/feel it/taste it) but first you need presentable examples of your work. It’s surprising how often this basic requirement is a stumbling block for creatives. Once a job is done and delivered it’s too easy to start thinking about the next job and forget to document and archive the work.

So rule number one: make sure you have polished, presentable examples of your work. If it’s a performance or installation, film and edit it immediately. Don’t let the raw footage gather dust on a shelf – it’s not doing you any good there. Then make streaming videos and upload it to your website. If it’s artwork, photograph it being used, and make sure the photos are print-quality. Don’t lose that valuable magazine coverage because your images are low resolution. At the very least they need to be uploaded to your website.

“There is no excuse for not having a website.”

Your website is your first, and sometimes only, shop window for attracting clients. There are dozens of web packages and no shortage of enthusiastic web programmers who will build a site for you quickly and cheaply. And until you get that site, you should be uploading your work to one of the numerous user-driven media sites (such as Flickr for photos or Youtube and Revver for videos).

Rule number two is:

“Never apologise for your work.”

When you hand someone your demo, portfolio or the URL to your site never say “We made this one on a mate’s 8 track because we couldn’t afford a decent studio and the sax player had a bad cold that day so it’s not as good as we wanted it to be.” Or “I really wanted to film this in Iceland but the client wouldn’t pay so we did it in Battersea”. Or “We told the client it would look terrible if it was in fluorescent pink – and we were right!”

“If the work isn’t good, don’t show it – and if the work is good, don’t apologise for it.”

And if you haven’t got any good work to show, make some. There’s nothing wrong with showing work you’d really like to make (if there was, most architects would have nothing to show for the first 10-15 years of their careers). Make the work you aspire to make – or at least 3D computer visualisations of it. If you want to make commercials, then draw storyboards and if you can scrounge the facilities, an animatic or even a demo film. If you really want to make the work, find a way.

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