Advertising Aspirations? 8 Terrific Tips for Creating Your Awe-Inspiring Advertising Portfolio

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Nov 12, 2018

Nov 12, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

Having an amazing advertising portfolio can get your foot in the door with any ad agency in the world. Excellent portfolios can also be very profitable.

The internet has made it easier to create an advertising portfolio. You can now pitch to companies across the globe.

It's also made the industry much more competitive. You're now up against candidates from around the world for each job.

The ad industry has also gone through a massive transformation over the last decade. Times have changed since the Don Draper era of Madison Avenue advertising agencies.

Radio and traditional television advertising is drying up. Magazines and newspapers are going the way of the dinosaurs. Digital and mobile advertising is the new frontier.

So how does this affect you and your dreams of making it big in the advertising industry? How should you put together your perfect portfolio?

Read on to learn 8 terrific tips to create awe-inspiring advertising portfolios.

Advertising Portfolio Basics

First you need to know what an advertising work portfolio is. An advertising portfolio is a physical or digital compilation of your ad-related work. It's used to pitch to potential clients or employers.

Portfolios prove that you have the knowledge and experience that bring companies value. They can do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to getting you hired.

Leverage them when seeking traditional full-time positions, consulting roles, or freelance positions. You can use them in a variety of specialized fields.

Here are some major advertising industry niches:

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Print
  • Direct mail
  • Pay-per-click
  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Web design
  • Graphic design
  • Packaging
  • Logo design

Advertising industry experience is key. If you don't have the experience, you need to do everything in your power to get it.

Build up your experience by doing freelance assignments, volunteering, internships or entry-level work. Every work experience is an opportunity to add to your work portfolio.

Once you have a base body of work, here's how to make a portfolio that gets you hired:

1. Compile Your Best Work

The first step is organizing your best ad examples. Show your range with ads in these formats:

  • Text
  • Images
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Product
  • Websites
  • Pay-per-click
  • Social media
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing

Start your work portfolio with your highest quality or most successful work. It's crucial to make a strong first impression. You might only have a few seconds to differentiate your portfolio from a hundred others.

You could keep one of your best pieces towards the back. That way you can end on a strong note. But the majority of your best pieces should be in the front.

While more work tends to be better, don't include too much filler or low-quality work either. Don't let mediocre examples bring down the value of your other work.

2. Round out Work with Spec Ads

You may not have much experience in advertising. Or you might not have experience in a certain industry.

Speculative ads are a great way to beef up your portfolio. Spec ads will increase your chances of getting hired.

Spec ads are advertisements that you create to showcase your creativity and skill. You aren't being paid for creating these ads... yet.

You can rewrite existing advertisements or come up with your own creative ideas. Be creative and stand out!

3. Digital Portfolio

In this modern era, you need an online portfolio. These portfolio websites are viewable at any time and on any device.

Unlike physical portfolios, they can also reference rich media. You can link to videos, mobile apps, websites, e-books, white papers, and audio files.

Create a custom website for your digital portfolio if you have web design experience. If you lack coding skills, consider using these platforms:

  • Wix
  • Squarespace
  • WordPress
  • Behance
  • SlideShare
  • YouTube

You should also buy a custom domain name from GoDaddy for under $20 a year. A custom domain name looks much more professional. It will be worth the minimal cost!

Hire an expert if needed to build your digital portfolio. Or hire a professional to teach you how to create a premium portfolio online. This investment will pay off when you get hired!

Your digital portfolio must be mobile-optimized with a responsive design on all devices. It needs to look appealing and provide a good user experience for people viewing it on:

  • Desktop
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Smart TVs

Make sure they look good on top browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

Also be sure to protect your work online. Watermark your images and videos if possible. Sign up for alerts of content duplication.

Once your digital advertising portfolio is complete, it's time to market it.

Pay-per-click (PPC) and display advertising can market your portfolio. To bring more attention to your digital portfolio, make sure to visit this site.

4. Physical Portfolio

Not every company prefers to view a digital portfolio. Older clients and more traditional companies may favor something they can touch.

Buy a professional portfolio case on Amazon and plenty of extra pages.

Get your portfolio pages printed and laminated by professionals if possible. Or print your own ads with high-quality photo paper and a personal laminating machine.

Your physical portfolio might differ from your digital portfolio and that's alright.

5. Focus on Digital Advertising

Your portfolio should include a variety of ad formats. Each medium is important... but digital advertising should be the top priority.

Digital marketing is the present and future of advertising. Digital advertising continues to gain more market share each year. Print, radio and traditional television are losing market share each year.

Within the digital advertising space, focus on Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. Facebook and Google currently dominate the US digital market. Google and Facebook have a combined 56% market share.

Also include advertising samples for the top social media platforms. Right now those include Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Snapchat.

6. Customize Portfolio to Client

Every potential client or employer is different. Don't pitch the same portfolio to all companies.

Portfolios for radio networks should emphasize audio files and written ad copy. Portfolios for television networks must focus on video content.

You could also create several portfolios based on industry or job title. That way you prepare for all possibilities.

Research a variety of potential industries and client types. Determine what each company and industry is trying to achieve. Decide how you can best assist them with their advertising goals.

7. Don't Forget Your Resume

Even an awe-inspiring advertising portfolio needs a respectable resume. A full resume will help to give your portfolio context. It may even provide data from campaigns that used your ads.

Resumes enhance your advertising portfolio if you know your numbers. Use campaign data to prove that your ads increased revenue. Clients and employers care about the bottom line.

Also include a copy of your resume within your physical portfolio. Include an online resume link and a LinkedIn profile URL on your digital portfolio.

8. Update and Upgrade

The advertising world is changing, so your portfolio should reflect that. It needs to evolve with industry trends, new technology and an updated body of work.

Continue to analyze areas of your portfolio that need improvement. Ask for feedback from peers and industry professionals. View other successful advertising portfolio examples.

Practice for your face-to-face interviews, video interviews, and phone interviews. Hone your presentation performance. The last thing you want to do is tarnish your perfect portfolio with a sub-par interview.

Don't rest on your laurels and don't use the same portfolio you used last year.

Perfect Your Portfolio

Your advertising portfolio will be a valuable asset throughout your career. You must keep up to date with the newest industry developments to get the best results.

Make sure to read more articles to learn how to get ahead in the advertising industry.

Now get out there and crush your interviews and pitches!