What do you make?
What is your product, service or portfolio?
- results in a portfolio that matches your passion and drive;
- provides the tools required to create your portfolio;
- is a basis for defining a public that matches your work.
Create a portfolio
In this step, it is important to show and put into words what you make. As discussed in the previous step, you may discover in the next steps that what you make does not match the potential clients you had in mind. Or, you may discover that you can expand your range of products because that is what your clients want.
Creative people often develop their products based on intrinsic motivations or a creative urge. Their work is the result of an autonomous process and closely related to their fascination and drive. This is where creative people differentiate themselves from many other entrepreneurs, because they need to find a market for their products, rather than develop products for a particular market demand. Many creative people therefore set up business based on the product.
This requires a portfolio in which you make potential clients part of your work process. You need not just to show your work, but to tell or visualise the story of your passion, your drive and your ‘why’, and in doing so, you also create your portfolio. You start with the drive, so that your public understands where your work is coming from and can identify with it. What you present may differ for different segments, but your drive remains the same and is the connecting theme. The checklist will help you create a good portfolio.
A checklist is given below to follow when putting together your portfolio:
The style must be consistent (unless you want to go into business as an all-round designer, but even then you need a common theme).
What do you want to tell; how can your work support this story? Work that does not support the story should be left out.
What do you want people to remember of you (in a word or a short sentence) when you go out the door?
Make sure that you leave a unique experience behind.
Provide rhythm in your portfolio. This starts with a strong opening, moves on to an interesting core and ends with a strong close (do not fall into the trap of putting the least interesting work at the end, as this will be remembered).
Only include good work; if you are not sure leave it out (the client will begin to doubt any mediocre work).
Make sure that the work is up-to-date; only include older work if it contributes to the story (for example because it is part of your development).
Dynamism and variety
Play with different media (use a film, for example, to show how you make your work).
Consider for each case whether your portfolio matches the person you are going to see. You have a basic portfolio that you adapt to the public; a portfolio is never finished.
Make sure your laptop is clean, your file is clean and tidy (undamaged) and your appearance corresponds to the message you want to give.
Make sure that people can contact and find you easily. Leave something behind.
Solve a problem
In this step, designers in particular need to put into words which problem they solve for their client. The interactive agency Online Department, for example, describes this as follows: ‘There are lots of designers who can make pretty pictures. However, most do not provide a solution, or do not know how to put the solution into words. If you cannot provide your client with a solution, you will not get any business.’
Minimum version of your product
If you have got an idea for a product, first test the market with a minimum version of it to measure the response. After all, you often do not have any idea of what your market will be exactly and what people will like the most about your product. In the beginning you are flexible and can adapt quickly, so before investing money in production and publicity first test the product in the market. This approach is described in ‘The Lean Startup’.
This means, therefore, that you start with a ‘minimum viable product’. This is a product that may not be absolutely perfect but that allows you to see whether there is a demand for it. By monitoring the correct aspects and assessing how people respond, you can make quick changes to your product and test it again. This applies not just to product characteristics, but also involves finding out whether, and if so how much, people are prepared to pay, and in what form; in other words, what the revenue model is. This is called the ‘Build-Measure-Learn’ feedback loop.
Please note, this approach does not usually apply to autonomous art.
Make mistakes as early as possible in the process. The quicker you recognise your mistakes, the less time and money you lose. This means try things out, fall down, and get better step-by-step.
You need to find a market for what you make. The next steps will give you a greater understanding of the various markets and how to approach them. This is an interactive process. It is therefore quite possible that you will discover in Step 3 (for who) that you need to adapt your service or product to a specific market. You may also discover that there is no revenue model for your product because you do not provide a solution for a problem. In that case, you will need to change your product, or position it so that there is a revenue model for it.