There are no hard and fast rules for creating your résumé, each one is unique to the individual, highlighting their particular talents and skills, while showcasing previous work as it pertains to the job they want. In the same vein, your portfolio is very much the same. There are, however, many different ways to get the most out of your visual résumé. We will review several key points to success, in order to further improve your chances of getting the clientele you want with an effective use of your portfolio.
Dress for the Job You Want
The most important thing to consider is who you want to market to. If you create wedding cakes, you wouldn’t want to have an advertisement catered to birthdays, and to the same extent if you are marketing yourself as a high-end beauty retoucher, you wouldn’t necessarily want a bride and groom to be the first image of your work potential clients see. Your portfolio is the suit you don when dressing for the job you want, so dress accordingly.
Consider your style, your skill sets, and your interests, so that you can employ a targeted manner in which you present your work. Say for instance that you are highly skilled at retouching hair, you may want to focus on displaying a beauty editorial with a focus on hair, rather than a recent fitness project.
That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t also display those other projects, but the main page of your website should contain the most carefully curated examples of your work.
Out With the Old, in With the New
If there is one piece of advice that I can give, it is to frequently update your online portfolio with recent works. For those potential clients that visit your website more than once, a lack of change can elicit an opinion that you are not actively working. Not only is it in your best interest to avoid this perspective, but adding new images can give you a second chance to make a new impression upon your potential clients. Sometimes it can be a specific series or set that can convince a client to seek out your services.
Keep your portfolio fresh, but do not update it for the sake of it. Present only your best work to the world.
Before and After
While there are those who are against displaying a before and after comparison for their retouching, it can be an effective testament to your skills. For example, many photographers also retouch their images, but as time constraints arise, they will often look to professional retouchers to handle their retouching for them. These are not your average customers, as they already have some knowledge of post-production and retouching. For these potential clients that will be more critical of your skills, before and after comparisons can be the aspect of your portfolio that sways them over to your contact page.
Change as Quickly as Technology Does
While staying up to date with current trends is important, it is more vital to stay up to date with changes in technology. Just as Flash websites were commonplace before the advent of mobile web browsing, there are other adjustments that need to be made when it comes to your online portfolio. As the internet landscape has changed to one where people now browse from their phones rather than their home computers, the speed of your website is more important now than it ever was, as is the interface.
For those that do not code their own websites, there are a host of great services available with templates that will automatically support desktop and mobile browsing. With recent changes to Google’s Algorithm, your online portfolio must be mobile-friendly, or it will suffer when it comes to page-ranking. Ensure that your website loads quickly, and test its operation on multiple devices and web browsers. Invest time in researching proper SEO techniques, as internet marketing is your greatest platform as a retoucher.
Social Media is Your Résumé
With many photographers and retouchers spending their time on Facebook and Instagram, it is your presence as much as your work that will create a first impression with others. If a potential client sees you making controversial posts or your personal life is on display in an unflattering way, that can turn them away quickly. I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep your personal accounts separate from your professional ones, and to consider your reputation before posting anything contentious in a public forum.
Putting forth a thoughtful plan for engaging potential clients through social media is vital. If you are not working at capacity or billing dream clients, there is no excuse why your social media presence should be ignored. Post daily, show behind the scenes of your work through Instagram Stories, just share your work as often as you can. With repost accounts and a constantly changing algorithm, you never know how or when your work may get in front of the eyes you want. But it won’t happen unless you’re consistently putting yourself and your work out there.
While most retouchers tend to work with clients on a more global basis, there are times where you will meet people in your day to day interactions who will ask you what you do. It is in your best interest to have something handy that can do all the introductions for you. For those instances when carrying around a tablet or laptop may not be practical, keep a stack of business cards on-hand. Think of your business card as a mini-portfolio, with appropriate design choices or examples of your work.
For those times when you are meeting with a potential client, it is a best practice to have a tablet or laptop with access to your website and a download to the device’s hard drive of your full portfolio for times when internet access isn’t available. The last thing you want is to meet with a potential client only to have a sudden loss of power throw your portfolio plans into disarray.
An effective portfolio is just as important as an effective marketing strategy. You never know who your work will get in front of. Your goal is for your portfolio to be seen by as many potential customers as possible, while its content wins them over.
This article first appeared in [RE]TOUCHED Magazine, and has been updated as of this posting.