Did you even know you can use Instagram as a portfolio? Yep, that’s right. More and more young people are turning to Instagram to show off their skills in the perfect curated Instagram grid. In fact, an increasing number of people are picking creative “portfolio careers” over traditional career paths.
It’s not a bad idea, right?
It’s an even better idea for a student or graduate who may not have the most formal work experience but do have the creative skills that make them perfect for any task. Being able to put all this innovation in one place and share with potential employers, helps you to stand out amongst all other applicants.
It’s also a great idea if you’re looking for freelance clients. If you can showcase the brilliant projects you’ve been working on, and the skills you’ve developed, then why wouldn’t they pick you?
What employer doesn’t want to see what you can do and the skills you have before actually hiring you to do the job?
Optimise your Instagram account
If you’re wanting a client or potential employer to find you on Instagram, then you’ve got to get smart about it. You’ll need to make sure your profile is as clean and optimised as possible. Do you have a high-quality profile picture? Is your bio filled out with information about what you do, what you want to do next, who you are, where you’re located and maybe even a professional linktree thrown in there? You can even bullet point some previous experience if you’ve got it!
If you’re wanting people to find you on Instagram, a good way to think about it is ‘could I even find myself?’ What would you have to type into the Instagram search bar to find your feed? If you’re a graphic designer, do you have this in your Instagram name? Or, if you’re working as a Leeds-based photographer, do you have Leeds marked clearly in your bio?
If it’s difficult for you to find yourself WITHOUT knowing your Instagram handle, then it will be difficult for a client looking to hire you or someone like you.
First Looks at your Instagram
At first looks, is your Instagram portfolio even ready to be shown to a potential employer? Do you have enough posts? Do you have a clear colour scheme? Is your grid looking aesthetically pleasing to the eye?
It sounds a little bit brutal, but consider asking yourself if there is anything special about your Instagram. Why should an employer care about your online portfolio? If you’re not sure, let’s fix this.
You want to make sure your branding is up to scratch. Do you have brand guidelines that you follow consistently to ensure each post is popping? Then you should consider your logo. If you don’t have a logo, run and make yourself one now. It really just adds that extra professional spice to an otherwise beginner portfolio. Get your feed looking fresh and relevant.
Yes, you can look at what’s trending but make sure whatever inspiration you take from trends is used in a personal way. Your portfolio shouldn’t be a clear copy of any other Instagram feed out there.
Instagram posting priorities
Think of this step as spring cleaning. Get rid of those old posts of you absolutely hammered at a festival or the ones of carrying a traffic cone home from your night out. Boring, we know, but it doesn’t give off a professional vibe. And that’s the whole point. You want to be able to share your Instagram portfolio in applications or when finding freelance clients. You can also think of this as the perfect time for a rebrand.
Here is again the time to consider your grid feed, colour palette and the general feeling you want your portfolio to give out. Let your Instagram reflect your personality, personal values or passions. Whatever you decide, making it cohesive and clear will stand out.
Now you have a better idea of what you should and shouldn’t post, make a schedule. There is no point in doing all this graft to post once a month. Get consistent so you have a larger chance of reaching more accounts. Post daily if you can – this doesn’t have to be just on your feed, think stories too – or maybe even 3-5 times a week.
Don’t forget to add relevant hashtags to your posts and location tags where necessarily. Keep your audience updated and get creative with it.
Content to highlight in your portfolio
Show what makes you stand out. Post about your work – what makes it special? Are you proud of it and why? Share your most recent projects and keep it real. Get creative, show your behind-the-scenes in a snazzy Instagram reel or a carousel post that highlights your progress over a number of months.
Bonus tip: It’s even better if you can make it super relevant. Let’s say you’re looking for photography clients, can you share your progress from the first pictures you ever took to the kind of photos you take now? Or maybe you’re a graphic designer – let us see your first design to your most recent.
If you want to know more about how your creative skills can help you land a client or your next job, check out our blog here.
These are also suuuuuper important for your Instagram portfolio. If you’re offering a service or trying to land a certain role, show off those glowing reviews. Potential employers are more likely to trust other people about how fabulous you are than hearing it from just you. Go on, boost your ego and hand-pick your favourite reviews. Tell us how good you are without telling us how good you are. You can add these to an Instagram highlight or incorporate these into your feed consistently – do whatever floats your boat and fits your brand.
Stay relevant on Insta
Stop trying to make fetch happen. It’s not going to happen! You don’t want to be in this situation where you are years behind. That doesn’t mean you have to tap into every single trend or know about every single new Instagram algorithm but stay on top by reading up on what’s happening in your industry and consider how you can use this to your advantage. Tap into hashtags, follow accounts that are always ahead of the curve and set aside time every day to read industry newsletters that spell out all the news you need to know.
So now you know how to make the most of your Instagram portfolio, you can get sharing this. Share it when you network, share it on your LinkedIn profile (and shout about it in your posts!) and share that you’re looking for work opportunities on your Instagram portfolio. Make it super clear what you’re offering, what you want to achieve (if you’re looking to work in a certain role or sector) and why you are the right person for the job – whatever that job may be.
Oh, and follow The Grad Soc on Instagram while you’re at it.