Portfolio FAQ’s

Things to note: These are just my personal opinions I’ve learned the past 7 years in this industry- some I’m sure are debatable. Also I didn’t read this over for typos so be nice.

What is an Advertising Portfolio?
The short answer- is that your portfolio (commonly referred to as your “book”) is an online compilation of your best advertising ideas. The longer but still short answer, is that it basically is an online representation of yourself, housing your resume, elements of your personality, and most importantly how you think.
How to I get work in my portfolio without experience?
You fake it! Yes I mean it, this is the one field where they want you to make fake work- more commonly referred to as spec work. Basically, you just pick a brand and think of a fun way to advertise it.
How do I actually make the Spec work?
Now this question is precisely why this group exists. Without a portfolio school pairing you up with a partner, this can be really hard for both copywriters and art directors! I’m hoping this group can help people pair up and make great work together.
Do I need a portfolio (even for an internship)?
Yes. Do not waste your time submitting resumes all by their lonesome- it simply won’t work. You need a portfolio to even get a recruiter to consider you.
If I don’t want to make a portfolio, can I get job at an ad agency in a different role and transition?
First of all, that laziness won’t get you far- but I do appreciate the resourcefulness. While I have heard this working once or twice in my life- it’s very hard, if not impossible from what I’ve heard. On that note- the first job you pick, can really set the tone for the rest of your career (no pressure) but so don’t just pick the first job that comes your way- it’s really easy to get typecast in this industry (but that’s a whole different conversation)
What should go in a portfolio?

About Me & Resume:

I’ve had some recruiters say they read you about me first (some say they don’t at all) but this is where you get to talk a little bit about what makes you, well you. This is a great opportunity to shine if you don’t feel like your work represents your best self. But be careful to not make it too long or try too hard to be “quirky.” Being a self-proclaimed unicorn who went to Iceland once and plays a ukulele is probably not as charming (or unique) as you think it is.

As far as how to include your resume, include a link that opens in a new tab (so it doesn’t take them out of your portfolio) and make it downloadable.

Campaign Ideas

You will hear a range of opinions on this, but I’d say minimum 6 campaigns. That being said each campaign should be as 360 as possible. It’s better to have less ideas that are really thought out, than 12 brands in your book that are each a one off print ad with a clever line.

A truly good idea should be able to come to life in multiple executions. What does a billboard or bus shelter look like How about a sponsored ad on social platforms? Do you develop a clever new brand voice that comes to life on Twitter? A snapchat game? Even better, is there way to use a platform/ piece of tech a way that hasn’t been done before? A fun product or packaging innovation? Is there a PR event/partnership that can help bring to life your idea? Etc. Think about what sells to you- not what you saw on Mad Men that one time.

Other Stuff

If you have anything else notable that showcases your talent/personality that’s always a plus to include. Things such as your photography instagram, a YouTube Channel with a following, a blog of your theories about WestWorld, etc.

Can I include other writing examples?
Yes and no. If it’s a link to a blog you’re proud of, sure (but this doesn’t replace a campaign). But if it’s articles you wrote in college newspaper, or lengthy website copy you wrote for a class, leave it out. A good rule of thumb is, if it doesn’t represent who you are as a person, or the type of work you want to make, don’t include it.
How do I make a Website?
Most people use Squarespace, although I do see some wix, carbonmades and cargo collectives here and there.

Those are my thoughts, here are others:

Check out some of these portfolios for inspiration:

And my best advice is try not to get too overwhelmed. This is really freaking hard and I don’t know one person who really loves their own portfolio. It’s a vulnerable process, but you can do it.