Over the past weeks we’ve partnered with super simple website building tool Squarespace to explore what we think makes a great online portfolio. So far the pieces have been inward looking, in terms of what can you do to make your site as powerful and impressive a creative showcase as possible – looking at the basics, how to document your work and some tips on copywriting.
For the last in this series it seems obvious to look outwards, in terms of once your website’s working at its best, how do you then start getting your work out there?
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Find the right person
This seems like an obvious one but a little research in this respect goes a long way. If you’re contacting press is there someone specific who usually covers your kind of work? Is there someone at the agency you’re emailing that’s particularly relevant, or someone at the magazine who oversees commissions? Of course people can pass you on to the right person, but you might be adding in an unnecessary element of uncertainty. Spend that extra minute to find out who the best person to contact is.
Tim Jenkin, founder of leading photographic agency Making Pictures, says: “Be specific to the agency you’re contacting, and veer away from saying anything too academic. You have to know who you’re contacting and what the agency is about. The more you know the better; everyone has an About page, so read it, and find the name of the owner or the people responsible for finding talent.”
The Perils of Copy and Paste
It may well happen that you want to send out your new work to a whole lot of journalists/agents/art directors at once but be careful. Don’t send one huge email to everyone, and be careful to change any relevant bits if you’re using the same template i.e. the name of the person or organisation.
A couple of times a week I get an email from someone telling me how much they’d love to see their work on Creative Review…
There’s also a visual point here, sometimes copy and paste can do some strange things to the font or the layout so double check it before you hit send.
“I’m a big believer in the personal touch, so different sized text or different fonts that make it clear either my name or the mag’s has been copied and pasted in carelessly is a big no-no,” says Intern magazine founder Alec Dudson. “For the extra five minutes of writing and a bit of research, you not only come across as far more sincere, but you start to really understand how what you are pitching works in the context of who you’re pitching it to.”
Get To The Point
Most people in the creative industries love seeing new work and hearing from new people, but a lot of these people get a ridiculous amount of emails so keep it snappy. Explain who you are, explain why you’re getting in touch and link off to any relevant portfolios etc. That’s it. If I’m 250 words in and hearing about why you decided to do art foundation in Bournemouth rather than Bristol, I’m probably not getting much further.
Tim’s agency has signed creatives off the back off cold emails, but there’s a way to stand out from the mass in its dedicated submissions email folder. “The ones that stand out maybe just contain a couple of buzzwords, perhaps they lead with an editorial or a campaign they’ve shot, rather than something that just looks like a graduate CV,” he says. “It has to be something specific to the industry: say things like ‘I’ve shot for…’, ‘I’ve been commissioned by…’"
This is a judgement call but there’s a few general rules we’d suggest are worth considering. Be friendly but not overly familiar (you probably don’t really want to know how my weekend was). Be confident but don’t be boastful or presumptuous. Be quick, be clear and be considerate.
“A bit of personality usually gets my attention,” Alec says. “With so much of the job consisting of emails back and forth, if someone can succinctly and neatly introduce me to themselves and their work then that’s a good start. Even if you’re not generally a confident person, email is an opportunity to be confident about your work and your aspirations.”
Did you get my email?
Follow-ups are absolutely fine – in fact it shows a good bit of initiative – but be reasonable. Don’t call someone an hour after sending an email. Don’t demand to know why you haven’t received a response. And if the person can’t help you out this time, don’’t be rude or angry. Play the long game!
Quite a lot of creatives send out newsletters and it’s a really nice way of keeping people up-to-date with your work. Don’t sign people up automatically and make it easy for people to unsubscribe if they want. But take the opportunity to grab people’s attention once you’ve got it – make it look great and think about what information you really want to put across (click-through rates are much higher for content at the top of a newsletter).
One of the recurring themes throughout this series has been centred on making things simple for the people you want to see your work. We quite like to see an image or two in the body of the email, but don’t capsize my inbox with loads of massive files. Similarly I am far more likely to click on a link to go to your About page rather than download a massive PDF.
Blogs and social media
Again this has cropped up before in this series but it still stands here. Directing someone to a blog or an interesting social feed is a great way of showing off your hinterland and putting across a sense of who you are, how you work and what else inspires you.
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