Helping designers rethink their online design portfolio.

My goal was to help fellow students and designers to rethink their design portfolio through a series of 36 articles, later bundled in a free to download handbook.

Project Info

Personal Project
36 articles in 36 weeks

Impact

15,000+ readers online
2,000+ downloads of pdf

The Unofficial Design Portfolio Handbook

For designers, your portfolio can greatly impact your career, but building one can be challenging. I’ve personally struggled for years before my design portfolio brought me the results that I wanted. To save other people some time I decided to share everything I know in relation to this topic in a series of 36 articles which originally appeared in my mail list. Later I summarized the articles in an “Unofficial Design Portfolio handbook”. It’s not complete, it’s not perfect but it’s a start.

You can download your free copy here.

.: 5 November 2015, Umea Institute of Design :.

What I learned publishing 36 articles in 36 weeks

36 Weeks ago I decide to publish an article on Medium every week. My goal wasn’t to publish a certain number of articles, but my goal was to show up every week. So that’s what I did.

I published and published but no one seemed to care. I tweeted more, created a publication on Medium and even designed a landing page for my mail list. Still no one seemed to care. All articles that I saw on Medium had hundreds of recommends but my articles weren’t even read by ten people. (Only later I realized that the homepage of Medium doesn’t represent the average post.)

All articles that I saw on Medium had hundreds of recommends but my articles weren’t even read by ten people.

I got quite discouraged. After about five articles I nearly decided to just stop. There was just one thing that kept me going. I was never comfortable publishing imperfect work, but the weekly deadline forced me to. Hitting the publish button became easier every week. It felt as I was curing my perfectionism.

Then suddenly a reader reached out to me. He read my post and found it helpful. The articles even helped him improve his portfolio and get a job. To me, this was quite a magical moment. This single email completely changed my mindset towards the statistics I was staring blind at.

This single email completely changed my mindset towards the statistics I was staring blind at.

That moment I stopped caring about the number of people recommended my posts. I stopped trying to make a post go viral. I stopped caring about the number of subscriptions to my mail list. This one email made me realize that all it takes is one person. One person to appreciate your work. Making an impact in another person’s life is more powerful than a million likes.

Work doesn’t have to be perfect to be valuable to others. If there is one thing I learned in 36 weeks it is that publishing imperfect work is more impactful than publishing nothing at all. I am actually convinced that all of my articles contain at least one grammar error. So if you are thinking to start publishing yourself, I hope this encourages you. All it takes is one person. One person to appreciate your work.

If there is one thing I learned in 36 weeks it is that publishing imperfect work is more impactful than publishing nothing at all.

It’s easy to hide behind a lack of experience. I realized my lack of experience gave me an unique viewpoint. There were many senior designers who give design portfolio tips. But because I am a student, because I am still trying to figure this out I look at things differently. I can write about portfolio struggles not just because I have struggled, but because I am still struggling. There will always be people more experienced than me. If only the smartest, most experienced people were allowed to write, the only person who would have permission to write about politics would be Barack Obama.

If you don’t know what to write about, start writing and you will discover. 25 Weeks ago I never thought I could write 20,000 words just about building design portfolios. I thought I could write five articles at maximum. However once I started writing, I discovered what I knew. If you start writing, you will discover what you know. Give it a try.

If you don’t consider yourself as a writer, neither did I. But then I realized that all it takes to be a writer is to write. Writing one sentence makes you a writer. You don’t need permission to write, all you need is a pen and paper.

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