There is almost NOTHING more important for creative professionals than your portfolio: basically, you ARE your portfolio.
Think about it… what’s the very first thing you do when you read or hear someone’s name come up and want to see what they’re all about? You look at their work, right? And you make a judgement of that person – whether they’re cool, whether they’re good, and whether you respect and would want to work with them – based on what you see in the first few seconds of skimming their portfolio.
I’m not saying this is right or wrong, it just is what it is… your portfolio is EVERYTHING – you will be judged by it. And therefore, you should be putting a massive amount of time, energy and thought into building the absolute best body of work that you possibly can.
I’m telling you all of this to set up the point I want to make here, which is that I am asking you to say NO to taking on lame projects for easy money – because ultimately, those projects are nothing but a distraction from what will actually move your career forward: a sick portfolio.
I know, it’s SUPER hard to say no to any kind of paying work, especially if you’re broke – but hear me out!
Here’s the thing: there’s a snowball effect… when you do good work, the word gets out and clients with good taste (and good budgets) will hire you to do more good work. What you put out is what you get more of.
And conversely, if you do shitty work for lame clients with bad taste, guess what happens? You’re gonna attract more lame clients with bad taste.
And here is the big problem: every time you say yes to one of those crappy projects for easy money, you’re digging yourself a little deeper into that hole.
And the deeper you get into that hole, the harder and more painful it is to dig yourself out – so my advice is, don’t go into the hole at all – say NO to those crappy projects!
Every hour you spend doing lame shit that you aren’t truly passionate about is an hour you AREN’T spending on honing your craft and building a portfolio of work you’re actually proud of. Opportunity cost is a very, very real thing!
That said… I get it – sometimes the rent is due and you just have to say yes to some lame shit like the website I did for the scented candle lady back in the day. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, but PLEASE…. whenever possible, turn down the projects and instead invest that time in yourself and your future – in a personal project, a collaboration with a friend, or some other project that might not pay anything, but is gonna take your portfolio one step closer to the vision you have in your head of what you want your body of work to look like.
Follow that route and I think you will end up doing more fun, creatively fulfilling work AND making more money in the long run – I go into more detail in the video, so rather than repeating it all here, just watch the video and I explain exactly how this leads to much, much bigger paydays with my hypothetical example of Joey and Jenny 🙂