Five Steps for Students to Leverage Social Media to Improve the Design Portfolio

You need to focus not only on the content of the portfolio, but also on how you are going to showcase your portfolio on social media.

Social media is a very vibrant and visual medium, now considered the new standard that can be leveraged to your advantage to source great projects and get noticed. You want to make sure that you present yourself in a way that you come across as a seasoned professional. Here are some benchmarks:

1. Improve your visibility quotient: As a designer in any discipline – be it graphics, interior, communication, product, web or fashion, etc. your online portfolio is the summary of your capabilities and offers the potential client a window into your mind, imagination and world view. Make sure they see it from the best possible angle. How can you do that? Make sure your portfolio is on a good platform for e.g. Deviant Art, Behance, Coroflot, Adobe Creative Space, Issuu, etc. Show your creativity by using hashtags and tagging your work under multiple headings to improve visibility.

2. Focus on displaying your versatility: Your portfolio should be a curation of your best work, but you should also showcase the breadth and range of your versatility as a designer. Maybe you did a brilliant design job for a smaller brand. Go ahead and include projects that show off your versatility and stature as a designer. Plus, guide the viewer through the creation process with WIP images (work in progress). A good portfolio is a visual treat and should guide the viewer through all the different aspects of your repertoire. They would like to know “how the idea came to your mind”, “what worked for your project”, “what did not work” and “how you finally solved it”. Designers are known to solve problems and an innovative way of approaching the situation is always an eye catcher.

3. Follow your favorite brands and stay informed of the latest trends: Keep up to date with the latest developments and trends and incorporate them into your design elements. Follow your favorite brands and designers to find out about current trends and the latest innovations. It will help you think beyond the containment settings and discover something new to add to your work. Improve your network’s links to external sources by tagging designer friends who have a lot of followings, so that your work is noticed by more and more people. There are niche networking sites for every segment and design style. Use social media platforms for inspiration from different sources. Get exposed to what students from different parts of the world imagine and create. This will influence the individualistic interpretation of your work. Make way for originality. Unconventional ideas are the buzzword in today’s landscape and design community.

4. Learn new skills and get expert commentary in the field: Solicit input from veterans and established designers in your design discipline. You can use the challenges offered by the many design companies on Facebook and “Linkedin” to compete and start making a name for yourself. You can also choose projects online and gain work experience that you can then display in your portfolio. Inject vital energy into your website by introducing a blog. The current pandemic has put time in your hands. The lockout period can be wonderfully channeled by signing up for online sessions on your own schedule. You have the option of attending as many or as few classes as you can assimilate from the comfort of your own home. There is a plethora of possibilities for a design student if only they choose to focus on the possibilities and instill a “can do” attitude.

5. Your wallet is your business card: Your portfolio should reflect your personality, your worldview, your thought process, your experiments, interpretations and innovations. One glance at your portfolio and the viewer begins to subconsciously conceptualize the kind of work they can expect from you. You must be able to visually convey the added value that you will bring to the project. A detailed portfolio with a range of different projects, creatively represented, will go a long way in making you stand out as a designer. Your portfolio should always be updated. You never know when an opportunity will present itself.

You need to focus not only on the content of the portfolio, but also on how you are going to showcase your portfolio on social media. Social media has completely replaced traditional forms of marketing and it is where a business is created and promoted. Make sure you make the most of this support to connect with key clients to research projects or get a job opportunity.

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Billie M. Secrist

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