Thursday, January 15, 2015

PW6950 Week One

Greg walked in my office carrying a fairly large and extremely heavy, judging from the way he was huffing and puffing, box into my office. He put it on the floor with a loud thump, then looked up at me grinning.

"This is my portfolio," he proudly remarked. "With every resume I send, I mail them this box."

I could not respond immediately. The box was filled with hundreds of documents that must have encompassed every project he had worked on and every report or letter he had written for the last ten years of his career. Who would read all this? Why? I knew instantly that this was why Greg was not getting hired.

It was Greg that sparked my interest and began my research into effective portfolio presentations. For many years I helped clients set up portfolios of their work. These were not online; however, because it was before the exponential growth of technology. Instead, the portfolios were in print and I was an all too frequent visitor of Office Max and Staples to find unique yet professional materials such as paper styles, folders, and binders. It could get quite costly, but it was always worth the cost and time to develop them because often the portfolio tipped the hiring decision in my client's favor. Then, as now, portfolios showcased growth and achievement of individuals.

I first learned about websites and online portfolios on my own, with no formal training or education. Because of this, development took more time and all the available resources were not incorporated into my productions. I learned a wealth of information just the week from the readings, videos, researching, analyzing, and discussions in the PW6950 Portfolio class.

I found it interesting that most writers combined an academic portfolio with a marketing portfolio. As I pondered that, I surmised that the academic portfolio is used primarily for formal education purposes and as students embark on their careers they modify their portfolio and include a call to action or request for clients and work. This drove home what Dr. Partridge stated in the FAQs about the difference between the two portfolios, "ePortfolio-as-process and ePortfolio-as-product." Thus as I showcase my work in the academic portfolio, I will also be scrutinizing the documents for the ones that will market me as a professional writer.

Purpose and audience are key issues to consider in portfolio development. The academic portfolio is focused on what I have done and the marketing portfolio is focused on what I can do. My portfolio must create an instant connection with my audience. Janine Duff's portfolio that I perused this week did create that immediate connection and I liked her advice, "It's about showing your potential clients that you GET on a heart-to-heart level...and making real, human connections that inspire trust and ecstatic fist-pumping."

With that being said, my biggest "aha" moment of the week was the large role visual elements played in connecting with the audience, even for a writer. The old cliche of a writer being a artist of words, is truly depicted in a writer's online portfolio. The ultimate goal for all writers is to have their words be read; and for those words to be read, a connection with the audience must be established. Online, that connection begins with the visual. When the audience views my site, their interest must be peaked, and that goes beyond the written word. Although I was familiar with this aspect, perusing many portfolios heightened my awareness of just how critical the visual element are to the competitive writer in today's marketplace.

There is a lot of work ahead! It is exciting and tad overwhelming, but the stress will weaken as the my knowledge grows.


  1. I will be curious to see if anyone maintains their academic portfolio after the conclusion of the program. Too often we focus on the goals and obstacles that lie ahead. In reality, we need to take a moment to reflect upon the accomplishments we have already made.

    P.S., I love the final graphic of this post!

    1. Hi John,

      You are right about reflecting on our accomplishments as we move forward. I am curious as well; however, I think many will incorporate the academic portfolio by pieces or in its entirety into their professional portfolios. It will be interesting to see!

      Thanks for your response to the blog! The last graphic is a fun one!


  2. Hi Lisa:
    You make a great point about the academic portfolio showcasing what you've done versus the marketing portfolio promoting what you can do. I agree with John as well regarding the degree to which people maintain both. I already have a marketing portfolio that highlights a few of my professional pieces but I think I'd like to refine the format in which it is presented. The Professor asked us to consider the rationale for offering both in contrast to each other and how we can be selective in what is displayed and to whom. As I read your blog I realized the comment about a writer being an artist of words has never been more true in this digital age. As readers scan through the text, the visual elements must support and encourage further interaction. I believe you are well on your way to accomplishing that goal. Your insights indeed prompted my own reflection and of course I was pleasantly engaged with the witty images.

    1. Hi Colleen,

      I like your thoughts on writers as artists. Years ago, it was how the words were framed on the page, but everything was black and white. Technology has made readers more interactive, but less attentive. As you stated the visual elements are imperative to attract and retain the audience. I appreciate your encouragement!