Cost-Effective portfolio methods

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    Jay Smith

    Has anyone seen or come up with less expensive ways of creating a physical portfolio product to send to firms?  Rather than sending someone a website link?   The cost associated with making copies, binding and postage for one 8.5″ x 11″ portfolio can really start to get up there, especially if one is sending out 10 to 20 or more.




    Jordan Lockman

    A couple things that I have found.

    First of all I am not sure that you need to send out a whole giant portfolio to everyone. I know that some people send out a “teaser sheet” and that works really well. One sheet that shows quick examples of your work with an option to send more, if someone is really interested.


    If you are finding a lot of interest you could try:

    1. Find a place that is doing cheap/cheaper color copies. I know that ups store and office depot have occasional sales on color copies.

    2. Find a cheap binder that you can do at home. In college I invested something like 30 dollars in desktop velo-binder and it has worked well for all sorts of things over the past 10 years.


    Another option is to go to kinkos or whatever they are called now and have them do a “saddle stitch”. Just staples but they are able to do them in the middle of your 11×17 sheets that you can fold over into a booklet. Maybe get creative on another cost effective binding.


    Jason T. Radice

    I agree with many of the suggestions (except for disk or website). If the person selecting the pile for interviews, they will usually pass over anything that does not take 2-3 minutes to review. They will not take the extra step of loading a disc or going to a website. Remember, because of the crappy economy, just about every opening has 100+ applicants for it and there is just not time for the extra effort.


    I also agree with creating cut sheets, but I have gone one step further and created a full marketing slick (brochure). It consists of two 11×17 sheets for a total of 4 sides, folded to be an 8 page 8.5×11 brochure. My local repro-shop charges only $1.50 a side for ledger, and on good paper. I have designed it so it can be bound via staples (invest in a spine or long-reach stapler, about $10, or just have the repro shop staple it). Each copy costs me about $6. Only put a variety of your best work and keep the text to minimum to explain what the project is, what you did on it, and why it is important. Save the rest of your portfolio for an interview. This, plus my matching CV and cover letter, goes into a CATALOG envelope (WHITE, not a brown mailing envelope) and then into a priority mail envelope. The whole thing ends up costing me about $11 with postage. You can get away with less if you send it regular mail or only have a 4 page brochure. Mind you, not many places ask for physical materials anymore. Kinkos and UPS tend to be obscenely expensive most of the time, and the prices are usually good only on COPIES, not PRINTS. Kinkos charges extra to log into a computer to send prints. Seek out a local place, as their prices tend to be a bit better, and they just plug in my thumbdrive and print the files off of that, no extra charge. One more thing, ALWAYS USE PRINTS as color copies of prints never turn out the best with color and clarity (the copiers actually pick up the dot-pattern of your inkjet or color laser printer and tend to amplify this)


    The brochure is also part of the package I e-mail, as I have a PDF of it compressed down to less than 3mg (that is what most employers request), and provide it in addition to my CV. I also have it posted on ASLA, and my website for easy download. I am encouraged to see that most of the places I had interviewed with had printed out the brochure for the file.

    Jay Smith

    Thanks for the ideas everyone.  I like the saddle-stitch concept, since binding can be costly.  Jason your double-sided brochure idea is great, I assume you need a relatively thick paper to prevent being able to see color shades through it?  I think I’m leaning in the brochure direction, but I figure there’s no harm in throwing in a cd or mini-cd in case the brochure peaks the employers interest enough.  I’ve also considered using a smaller paper size, but I don’t want to give up legibility.


    One thing I don’t like about emailing an attachment is that a lot of companies spam filters will block email with attachments.  And then trying to track down the person by phone to verify that they received it can be next to impossible if the gatekeepers won’t let you pass.  I think I’m falling back into the camp of sending something they can actually pick up, see and have on their desk, rather than something that can be forgotten with the click of a mouse.

    Jon Quackenbush

    The strategy that has worked well for me is the random drop-in visit, with your resume on hand, a printed portfolio if you have one and a business card that has your contact info and website if you have one.  It has the potential to back fire if they are uber-busy, but I think that if you can keep the interaction brief, shake hands and make eye contact it seems to go a long way.

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