I'm excited to share this talk with you today because I’ve been seeing a lot of people stressing out over building their portfolios. I wanted to share my recent experiences and hopefully inspire you to give Notion a shot.
I'm going to start with a question. How often do you update your portfolio? Or how often should you update it? Over my career so far, I’ve only really updated my portfolio a handful of times. And every time I was only doing it so I could apply for other jobs.
So here's a brief history of my portfolios over the years. Each one's totally different. It took me so long to build all of these, and once I landed a new job I forgot about them completely. In the end, the only people who saw my work were people looking to hire me. So in the end, what was the point?
When I remade my portfolio again, this time around, I thought about what an ideal portfolio would look like to me. I'm always working on something new, so being able to log my work quickly is a big win. I also didn't want to get bogged down in the visuals. What I'm doing is more important than how it's branded, right? My work should also be accessible. It should look good and be navigable on any device. And finally, I should be able to easily share it with anyone. Pointing people to a web address has worked well for me so far, and I didn't want to give that up.
After some digging, I found a tool that could give me all of these things. You can probably guess where this is heading!
What is Notion?
For those who don't already know. Notion is described as a management tool. It helps teams collaborate. Within Notion you can build your own dashboards and wiki pages for managing projects using things like tables and kanban boards. I've already been a huge fan of Notion for years so I was eager to build yet another tool using it.
For me, Notion ticked all the boxes I wanted. Making a dashboard is really as easy as just typing out what you want. And because it's based on typing, it means that you can really focus on your story. It's also built to be responsive, so looks good no matter your device. And finally, you can share Notion pages just like you would a website.
Tips and tricks
Now there are loads of guides out there on how to get started, so I won't cover that here. One I can personally recommend is this one by Lennon Cheng. He talks through his process in a clear way. What I want to do want to share are some tips I can give you after building a Notion portfolio myself.
Think about your content
No matter what you put into Notion, it’s probably going to look great. So don’t worry at the beginning about things like personal branding. Just make sure all your content is sound. Really think about the story you’re telling, and you can sort out how things look later if you want.
What made things easy for me is that in Notion, every page starts out like this. It reminds me a lot of Medium. Designers are posting their case studies there for a lot of the same reasons I enjoy using Notion. You focus only on what you're trying to tell people.
Embed content blocks
Another thing I love about Notion is that you can add neat features into your portfolio pages with very little effort. And because this tool is built for product teams, there's support for a lot of common things you make as a designer.
- Miro board on the Fearless page
- Figma board on the LwP page
- Typeform on LwP job application page (but you could use this to collect leads)
Of course I haven't covered all of the possible uses.
Find inspiration from others
There’s already a good number of people who’ve built their portfolios in Notion, so there’s loads of inspiration out there to draw from.
I referenced this page quite often. There’s many great examples of personal sites on here built entirely in Notion.
You can also find some great videos around the topic on YouTube. Even watching someone piece their portfolio together can be a great way to learn more about how the tool works.
Change the way you job hunt
Another portfolio complaint I've heard is that they're often too generic. They aren't targeting a companies' needs - which is a great way to stand out from a crowd. But it takes ages if you want to create a portfolio or cover letter tailored to a specific role.
Remember when I told you that Notion is a management tool? I've been playing around with how you can use Notion's features to create something really powerful and unique. Let me explain.
So I currently have these case studies on my website. And say I'm currently applying for roles at these companies. At Google, they're looking for someone with a strong research background, but Apple wants me to build great prototypes. And for Twitter, I might just want to send them some examples of things I think would best highlight my overall skillset.
I can use Notion to quickly pull together a collection for each company's needs. Since I'm just going to link to the content already on my portfolio, I don't need to duplicate any of my work.
To test this idea out, I've created a template. I'll make this available after the talk so you can explore it yourself, but let me show you what this looks like.
Take your time
This is the final point I want to leave you on. As I said at the start of this talk, every great portfolio you see has hours of time put into it. There’s loads of steps and changes you don’t get to see. You’re seeing the result of all that effort.
The beauty of Notion is that it’s easy to make updates to it. Your portfolio is a living document, and this means it'll grow slowly over time. Enjoy the process of creating your work archive.
So that's my advice. My latest portfolio is now running on Notion. You can find it at this address if you'd like to take a look jn your own time. 🏃♀️
I hope I’ve inspired you to think about giving Notion a try. Later today, you’ll be able to find the slides and script for this talk on my portfolio site. I'll also share the template I just showed, which you can explore and duplicate yourselves. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out on any of these channels!
You can also find me on the Fearless Community Slack channel. I’m there daily and I’ll stick around there for a bit after this talk. Feel free to tag me in a conversation or message me directly.
Thanks for your time and attention! 👏