Here’s the story you are an amazing creative individual and you have a great portfolio website featuring lovely new work you’ve been creating. You’d like more people to see your work and to hopefully get some paid work too.
You check your site hits and it’s heartbreakingly low. You decide to send a rushed email to everyone you know with a link to your work. You later regret how desperate you must have sounded, and the cycle goes on, and you continue to get very few portfolio visits.
Let’s try not be that person.
Do bear in mind, that the better your portfolio and portfolio website is, the more likely others are to share and promote it for you. Let’s cut straight to the chase and talk about some of the things that are happening that are keeping people away from your site.
1. YOU DON’T UPDATE YOUR PORTFOLIO ENOUGH
An outdated, and unmaintained portfolio gives off the impression that, firstly, you don’t take your work seriously enough, secondly, that you are a bit of an amateur and lack professionalism, and thirdly you don’t get much work.
Putting up personal, self-initiated, or work done for free, is a necessary replacement for periods when you aren’t getting paid work from clients.
2. YOUR NOT ENGAGING ENOUGH WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
You might not be making full use of the promotional potential of sites like Twitter and Google+. Using Twitter to promote your portfolio is not about constantly bombing links to your portfolio.
You need to be striking a balance between doing that and engaging with, and helping others out. The balance in this case, is skewed heavily towards engaging with others.
3. YOU DON’T HAVE A BLOG
Blogging consistent interesting content, especially to people (prospects) that could become your clients, and then linking that blog to your portfolio can work wonders.
People get thrown off blogging regularly because they try to create too much too often, at least in their minds, and never commit to it. Commit to posting something short and sweet to a set schedule. Your following, and traffic to your portfolio will begin to grow.
4. YOU’RE NOT FOCUSED ON YOUR AUDIENCE
Always be thinking about exactly who your targeted market group is. Who are you creating work for? What kind of people, customers and companies?
If you aren’t clear on this, your work will lack focus, and it will show in your portfolio. ‘Jacks of all trade’ portfolios lose out in this regard. If you have multiple skills, such as vector illustration, as well as page layout design, you need two separate portfolios. One for each skill, linking to each other.
5. YOU ARE NOT A EXPERT IN SOMETHING
Being considered an expert in something that compliments the work you showcase in your portfolio is a very powerful way of drawing views to your work.
The way to get established as an expert in something like digital painting, apart from being well known in the field itself, is to participate in forums, have a newsletter, run a blog, contribute to tutorials, speak publicly, run a podcast, write an ebook, guest post, and so on.
6. YOUR WORK ISN’T THERE YET
For some people, the reason you’re not getting plenty of views on your site, is simply down to the fact that your work has not matured as much as it can to begin to really stand out as something worth being of interest to prospects and fans.
You might still be in the phase that draws heavily from other creatives, and you might not have established a style yet.
Don’t give up, now is the time to keep moving. Momentum and a unique feel to your work will follow.
7. YOU HAVE A POORLY DESIGNED WEBSITE
There could be several technical reasons as to why your site is not bringing in visitors, especially if it is hard to use. Your portfolio might be trying to be too complicated and navigation might be difficult. Make it as easy as possible for users to use the site.
You’re better off ignoring how other sites do navigation. Start with a clean slate, and think about what is the most simple.
This means reducing the number of times people need to think about what to do next when it comes to revealing your work. There may also be too many links and distractions that mean your site’s bounce rate (rate at which people leave without continuing) is high.
8. YOU ARE NOT ACTIVELY ENGAGING WITH OTHERS
As well as engaging on social media sites, there are many other online platforms that provide the opportunity for engagement with people. Engagement in one form or another is crucial in this business, when it is ultimately people you are trying to guide to your presented work.
Get engaging on forums, respond to your emails promptly, retweet people, regularly reach out to people. It doesn’t need to be that much, just stick to do it a little, consistently. Remember that reaching out to one person, particularly someone who could be considered a higher profile ‘key influencer’ could lead to exponential visits to your portfolio if they like your work.
9. YOU ARE NOT MARKETING YOUR PORTFOLIO AND WORK
I’m not a huge fan of having a strategy when it comes to promotion, because strategy is boring and we lose interest.
What you need to do is make a pact with yourself to take regular action, ideally with a goal in mind, towards getting your work out there. You will get little back if you yourself are not taking action.
10. YOU AREN’T TAKING ADVANTAGE OF OTHER BLOGS
Blogs are a major form of currency on the web now in terms of acting as a source of exposure for you (and others), if done in the right way.
This means commenting and guest posting on popular blogs in your niche, as well as having your own, reaching out to bloggers, arranging joint venture agreements with other bloggers so as to raise both your profiles, and so on.
11. YOU AREN’T TELLING ENOUGH PEOPLE IN REAL LIFE
When you have the opportunity, tell people you meet and know about your work and your service. Telling friends and family about your portfolio and asking for help when you can, can lead to plenty of help being promoted, and some great rewards.
Business cards are not dead, and if they are, then you’ll stand out because you are the only person with some.
12. YOU HAVE NO CALL TO ACTION, PROMPTING PEOPLE TO HELP PROMOTE YOU
You can have an excellent portfolio website with fantastic work, but if you lack some kind of a prompt that pushes fans and other users to actually take the next step in helping to promote the site for you, then you are limiting the amount of further promotion your site can receive.
13. YOU ARE TO IMPERSONAL
Whether it be in the way you sell yourself and your brand online, interact with others, write your bio, email people, and so on, if you are holding back on showing more of you, as a human, in exchange for too much of simply your ‘brand’, you could be limiting yourself and the ability to draw more people to your work.
Even simply adding a photo of your face or describing what interests you in your ‘About’ area on your portfolio site, can garner a much better response from people. People are more willing to rant about your work, if they know who you are.
14. YOUR MESSAGE IS TO COMPLICATED
When people land on your portfolio, or personal site, you want to make your portfolio something that is obviously a portfolio. Avoid confusing and distracting the user with things that aren’t anything to do with your showcased work. This also applies to how you promote your work outside of your site, such as through online mailers.
Keep things simple.
15. YOU HAVE NO TESTIMONIALS
Always be asking clients for testimonials if a job was done well at the end of projects. With a good selection of strong testimonials about your work and service, your credibility as a professional will go up, and with it, so will your commissions.
16. YOU ARE TO MANY PORTFOLIO WEBSITES
This extends from having too complicated a site. It’s ok to have a presence wherever possible on the Internet. The problem lies in not committing enough to a single platform from which to showcase your stuff.
You need somewhere that you can direct everyone to, that is your definitive portfolio, instead of giving people a hundred and one options for places to see your work. People simply won’t bother, because the options are too great.
17. YOU HAVE NO UNIQUE SELLING POINT
As someone who provides a service in something creative, be that writing, film-making, painting or photography, each should be viewed as a form of business. And in business, having a unique selling point is the key to understanding how you market yourself, as someone who stands out from the rest.
What is different about the service you provide from everyone else out there?
This could range from your unique style, your location, your specialist skill, your ability to speak several languages as part of your service, and even your attitude (though this should be secondary).
18. YOU AREN’T TESTING OR TWEAKING
Monitoring as much as you can of your output, including all the feedback you get related to you and your brand is really important for ongoing improvement and ultimately drawing people to you.
You need to always be tweaking and editing how, where and why you share your work in the way that you do, based on how well you are doing (through looking at stats and analytics for example). It doesn’t hurt to ask others about what they think either.
19. YOU HAVE VERY LITTLE CREDIBILITY
A lot of the reason people admire, share and hopefully hire you in the first place is down to them recognising that you possess a certain level of credibility. This means people trust in you as a professional, skilled respectable person.
There are many things that contribute to your credibility as a creative, which will in turn benefit your success in displaying your stuff online. This includes getting featured on- and writing for other popular blogs, having a growing Twitter network, having an interesting/strong client list, good testimonials and so on.
It really is up to you how many of these points you really take into consideration and act on.
Maintaining visits on your website does take interest and commitment.
Best of luck!