Paper vs Online Portfolios

Online portfolios are convenient, versatile, and highly mobile in terms of delivery of materials to potential clients and employers. They are the accepted mode of presentation of professional work for most creative people and those in other media, advertising, and marketing. Paper or hardcopy portfolios are usually in the minority in the employment market. The choice, however, isn't always simple. Both forms of portfolio have strong points in terms of presentation, and that can make the difference between getting a job or not. In some industries, quality of presentation is a true decider, and it's fair to say that hardcopy is often neglected.

The different types of portfolios have relative strengths and weaknesses. Anyone who's ever tried lugging around a folder of artworks or wrestling with the vagaries of site maintenance will understand the possibilities. When deciding which portfolio format is best for you, you'll need to consider a range of factors, including the type of presentation you want to make:

Online portfolios: Comparison with hardcopy

Flexibility of formats and presentation: Online portfolios translate well into other formats. They can be downloaded and turned into digital presentations easily. Hard copy has to be digitized and uploaded to do this.

Currency of information: It's simple to update online portfolios to show current skills and products.This isn't possible in hardcopy.

Communications: There's no easier way to provide an employer or potential client than to send them a link to your online portfolio. This level of convenience is particularly effective for freelancers.This is almost impossible in hardcopy.

Information quality: An online portfolio can contain a lot of information about each element in it. You can use this ability to target specific issues with job criteria and contractual requirements.There are limits to the amount of information which can be put in hardcopy forms.

Passive advertising: Online portfolios also operate as personal advertising, showing your materials and allowing you to provide your whole range to prospective clients. This is difficult in the comparatively limited range possible in hardcopy portfolios.

Hardcopy portfolios: Comparison with online portfolios

Variable media: Hardcopy portfolios can use a range of media and mixes of media, including three dimensional materials. This type of media can present some problems in translation to digital forms, and lose visual quality.

Presentation values: Hardcopy can present very well, particularly in the form of individual pieces presented directly. The physical presence of the materials gives a different quality to the presentation from the online version.

Paper portfolios: Paper portfolios can be presented very effectively. Hardcopy materials are provided in individualized forms, like a folder of works for each person in a client group. This is a common business form of presentation of commercial materials in advertising. That form of presentation isn't really possible with online portfolios.

Mixed format portfolios

The relative strengths of the different portfolios have led to mixed formats. It may be appropriate to provide high visual presence materials in hardcopy, and back them up with online information, for example. Alternatively, you can promote your hard copy materials online, attracting interest by selective targeting in your job applications.