Publish Your Portfolio


How much of the work that you create do you keep to yourself?

What if you started sharing more of it?

Let’s explore what that could like.

Overcoming The Barriers

I’d like to share with you a simple framework that will help you to overcome the barriers that exist that stop you from putting your creative work out into to the world for others to see.

For many of you the creative work that you might want to share will be your sketchnotes – that’s what we focus on most here, developing the skill of visual note-taking as a tool to aid your work as a student or professional.

But the creative work that you’re sharing could be anything – an essay that you wrote, a song that you composed, a video that you made. The framework that I’m about to share doesn’t apply just to sketchnoting, but to any creative endeavor, and that’s what makes it powerful.

So let’s get into.

The Two Layers Of Your Creative Work

The overarching idea here is that sharing the creative work itself (the song, the video, the sketchnote) is only half of the puzzle, because what’s just as valuable and as interesting is the context surrounding that creative work.

By providing that context you help others understand both where you’re coming from and where you’re going with the work that you’re sharing.

The three things that I think are worth touching on when sharing a piece of creative work: here’s what I made, here’s why I made it, and here’s what I learned.

Let’s look at each of those pieces in turn.

Here’s What I Made

First, here’s what I made.

Don’t bury the lead. Start by sharing the work itself – the photograph, the video, the article, the song, the sketchnote.

Maybe give a sentence or two to introduce it, but get to the thing as quickly as you can.

Here’s Why  I Made It

The next two sections are where you have the opportunity to add some context to the creative work that you just shared.

Likely the most interesting context will be the reason why you made it. So take some time to explain some of the backstory.

You don’t have to explain every single piece of that backstory – you can leave as many details out as you want, either because they’re a bit too vulnerable to share right now or because you want some sense of mystery or unanswered questions to remain a part of that creative work.

But sharing at least a little bit of the why behind the work goes a long way in allowing people to fully appreciate your creative efforts.

Here’s What I Learned

Answering that question of “why did I make this thing” directs your attention to the past. The next part, here’s what I learned, helps bridge the gap between your past work and your future work.

The biggest barrier to sharing anything creative is the thought that it’s not good enough. We all feel that, pretty much every single time we make something.

But when you take the time to address what you learned from the creative process, to explicitly talk about what you might like to do better next time, you’re acknowledging that you’re on a creative journey, that no single piece of work will define you, and that with each new thing that you create you’ll try to get a little bit closer to the vision of it that have in your head when you start.

By adding this reflective piece about what you learned in the process of making the thing you just shared, you’re giving yourself a bit of momentum that will help you to jump into the next piece of work.

That momentum is important, because publishing your portfolio is an ongoing activity. Its purpose is to document not just the most recent thing you made, but also the archive of things that got you to where you are now. It’s that growth over time, that trajectory (even if you can only see it looking backward) that makes the sharing of your portfolio so powerful.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated

And the sharing itself does not have to be complicated.

Your portfolio can live in any number of places, starting with the most accessible like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube – you can address those three pieces that we talked about using any of those social media platforms.

And from there, if it makes sense for your long-term goals, you can create your own website that gives you a bit more freedom with how you share what you’re up to with the world.

Why This Is So Interesting To Me

This idea of publishing your portfolio is interesting to me for a couple of reasons.

First, it’s the core principle that lead to my current career.

My sketchnoting portfolio lives at The Graphic Recorder, and it was the regular posting there that lead to my first paid gigs as a sketchnoter and graphic recorder.

That archive is also what facilitated the launch of this learning platform, Verbal to Visual, where I focus on teaching the skill that I demonstrated mastery of over at The Graphic Recorder.

Because of that experience, and because of my interest in the intersection of education and entrepreneurship, I built a course called Learn in Public which will help you develop your own strategy for documenting your skill development online to create new personal and professional opportunities for yourself.

Opportunities abound for those who are willing to be vulnerable by sharing their creative work, regularly. My hope is that the framework that I’ve shared here makes it a little bit easier to take those steps and open yourself up to those opportunities.

Best of luck,

-Doug

***

Want To Dig Deeper?

If you’re new to the idea of sketchnoting and excited to develop more visual thinking tools, I think you’d enjoy our foundational course An Introduction To Visual Note-Taking.

If you’re an educator interested in bringing visual note-taking into your classroom, check out Sketchnoting In The Classroom.

If you’d like to make sketchnoted videos like the one you saw here, we’ve got a course for that too! Check out How To Make Sketchnote Videos.

And if you want to create new personal and professional opportunities by sharing the authentic journey of your skill development online, check out Learn In Public.