Toolkit: How to showcase your projects

Your work is a reflection of who you are. How you curate your projects influences the story people tell themselves about you.

This toolkit is a growing library of wisdom that highlights the hurdles of owning your content and building your platform. We not only curate the wisdom from creative leaders and artists, but also from the community—a balance of both, like cheese and wine—so that you’re supported and empowered to build your home on the internet.

Your work is a reflection of who you are. How you curate your projects influences the story people tell themselves about you. Like a resume, you don’t have to put everything out there, you simply have to highlight the work that lights you up and reflects the work you want to be doing more of.

Nowadays, there are endless tools and platforms that allow us to curate our projects beautifully and to also belong to a larger community of like-minds. Yes, upload your projects to places like Behance and the like, but always always update your website with the latest things you’ve shipped.


Practical wisdom from like-minded creatives

khoi-vinh-2-1-web

Meet Khoi Vinh, Principal Designer at Adobe. Previously, he was design director for The New York Times. He writes a widely read blog on design and technology at Subtraction.com.

As a designer and educator, he empathizes with the struggle of how to organize one’s portfolio. He adominishes in his Own Your Content interview:

Students often ask me about what kind of work to put in their portfolios and my answer is: what kind of work do you want to do?

“What I look for is work that reflects a great personal passion, whether it’s for a certain kind of client or industry, or a certain kind of subject matter or even a certain kind of problem solving.

“I’d be much more interested in a portfolio full of made up projects that are representative of exactly what a designer wants to do more than anything, than I would be in a portfolio of highly competent but passionless work executed by someone who’s not thrilled by any of it.

“The passion is the difference maker.”

Read the full interview with Khoi Vinh on how his blog became an amplifier for his career and why starting is the key to building the habit of writing →


jen-hewett-2-1-web

Meet Jen Hewett, a printmaker, surface designer, textile artist, educator, and author who has been blogging since 2006. She shares why it’s important for her to own her content and build an online platform where it’s easy to connect with her audience.

I’m a printmaker and a surface designer, but a good chunk of my income comes from teaching. I teach online and in-person classes, and my book contains my class curriculum.

“I decided early on that that information is my intellectual property and my livelihood, and that I would only share as much of it publicly (i.e. for free) as I felt comfortable doing. That livelihood has been crucial as I’ve built the rest of my creative career. Because I have other sources of income, I’ve mostly been able to choose the projects I want to take on, and to allow my creative voice to develop without feeling the need to chase trends.”

Read Jen’s interview that also goes into how to let go of perfectionism and how learning multiple creative skills enriched her creativity →


Encouragement for next steps

Go to your portfolio and review it. What work is missing that you’re proud of? What projects need more context or clarity around it to showcase your skills and responsibilities? How might you better organize the display of your projects so that someone can immediately understand the work you stand for? What work shouldn’t be in there because you don’t want to be doing it?


Additional Resources

What leading companies never want to see in your portfolio
An incredible curation of interview snippets from leading designers that talk candidly about what’s it and what’s not it.

Thirty years of projects
Seth Godin shares 30 years of projects that you probably never heard of. The projects you see today were built on top of these experiences.

Portfolio tips from top studios
It’s Nice That asked top designers and leaders at renown studios for their best tips on curating one’s portfolio.


Related CreativeMornings Talks

Watch CreativeMornings talks on maximizing your work and growing your portfolio →

thumbnail_SimonSinek_5 Simon Sinek speaks on how to be fulfilled by your job.
thumbnail_CaseyGeraldFeatured Casey Gerald delivers a powerful speech on getting to the heart of why you do what you do.

Own-Your-Content-1-1#OwnYourContent

What are some best practices or tips that you’ve read or learned? What do you want to learn or improve upon? Share your ideas, links, and thoughts by using the hashtag #OwnYourContent.

Read more interviews and toolkits at ownyourcontent.wordpress.com.


Build your home. Own your content. Get 20% off your next WordPress.com site. An offer from our Global Partner WordPress.com for the CreativeMornings community.

Toolkit by Paul Jun. Illustrations by Jeffrey Phillips. ‘Own Your Content’ illustration by Annica Lydenberg.

Toolkit: How to build a newsletter list

An important piece to owning your content is also having a direct connection to people who want to hear from you.

This toolkit is a growing library of wisdom that highlights the hurdles of owning your content and building your platform. We not only curate the wisdom from creative leaders and artists, but also from the community—a balance of both, like cheese and wine—so that you’re supported and empowered to build your home on the internet.

An important piece to owning your content is also having a direct connection to people who want to hear from you. Although it is the oldest publishing platform on the internet, email is unquestionably reliable, you can take your list with you, and it is decentralized and untainted by algorithms and companies with hidden agendas. A newsletter is the single greatest asset you can build for yourself that pushes you to commit to the long-haul.

Truth is, it’s harder to get popular on social media than it is to grow a newsletter list of humans that are eager to receive your messages. You’ll scream so much on social media you’ll end up losing your voice, whereas with newsletters, you have to be thoughtful, clear, and useful. Aren’t all of those skills worth nurturing?


Practical wisdom from like-minded creatives

paul-jarvis-2-1-web

Meet Paul Jarvis, a writer and designer who’s had his own company of one for the last two decades. His latest book, Company of One, explores why bigger isn’t always better in business.

His newsletter, Sunday Dispatches, is where he tells honest stories about creativity and business, sharing lessons learned and connecting with his readers on a basis of transparency and resourcefulness. For Paul, this is what turns readers into customers, and customers into creative allies. He said in our Season 2 interview:

“This is where your own blog and your own newsletter differ entirely and why I think they’re better than social media or any other platform you rent or use which isn’t your own. Companies who provide us with blog software and email marketing software charge us for it or make it open-source for everyone.

As Craig Mod wrote in WIRED in his epic The ‘Future Book’ Is Here, but It’s Not What We Expected:

“We simply cannot trust the social networks, or any centralized commercial platform. Email is definitely not ideal, but it is: decentralized, reliable, and not going anywhere—and more and more, those feel like quasi-magical properties.

“Mailing list data is owned by the sender and not governed by changing algorithms. No one company controls email. No single company can get between a sender and their recipient (even though Google tries with those damn tabs and their spam policies).

“Try exporting your “page likers” from Facebook or even your followers on Twitter… oh wait, you can’t do that?! That’s because those platforms own your data and own your social connections, not you. They own the connection you have with the people who connect with you there. There’s no portability and they can absolutely take and use those connections to further their own bottom line. They can also change the way you use their platforms, based on their whims. You want to reach your likers? It’s now $5 or more.

“Same goes for blogs that live on servers you pay for. You own that content, it’s yours. No single company controls hosting and servers, and if you want to leave and move hosts at any time, you can pack your data up and leave. Your ownership stays in tact. Same goes for content management systems that power blogs—if you want to switch from one to another, you can typically grab an export of the data (since it’s yours), and migrate to something else.”

Read Paul Jarvis’ Own Your Content Interview →


Encouragement for next steps

The key is to pick a platform that resonates with you and just start. We love Mailchimp. Consider this a learning experience—you’re gaining a new skill, growing a pillar in your business/work, and fostering a channel for connection with people that want to hear from you.

You don’t need a fancy template. People don’t connect with templates, they connect with voices and the people behind them; they connect with the purpose of the newsletter and how it adds value to their life.


Additional Resources

Really Good Emails
An archive of… really good emails. So good.

Letterlist
This site helps you find the best-of-the-best newsletters curated by your interests.

The most defensible thing you can do for your career: Build An Audience
Sean Blanda makes a strong assertion that the smartest thing you can do as a creative is to build your platform and audience. Why? Because you then own it.

Craig Mod on what makes a good newsletter
Craig is a writer that believes in the long-game of publishing and building your platform. As mentioned earlier, Craig has experience growing and managing various newsletters that connect with people that want to hear from him.

Paul Jarvis on all things email
To dive deeper on Paul’s approach, check out his in depth essay on his approach to newsletters.

Permission Marketing
Coined by Seth Godin, the ethos of permission marketing is simple: “Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.” This is the heart of owning your content and growing your newsletter.

A 201 guide for taking your newsletters to the next level
“Since applying email newsletter best practices can be surprisingly cumbersome, the Shorenstein Center at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Lenfest Institute teamed up with Yellow Brim to produce a series of open source newsletter templates.”


Own-Your-Content-1-1#OwnYourContent

Starting a newsletter is the first step to owning your content. Share your newsletter sign-up link or your latest campaign by using the hashtag #OwnYourContent and see what other creatives are saying about these topics.

Read more interviews and toolkits at ownyourcontent.wordpress.com.


Build your home. Own your content. Get 20% off your next WordPress.com site. An offer from our Global Partner WordPress.com for the CreativeMornings community.

Toolkit by Paul Jun. Illustrations by Jeffrey Phillips. ‘Own Your Content’ illustration by Annica Lydenberg.

Toolkit: How to give proper attribution

From practical wisdom to intellectual property law, you’ll learn how to give attribution if you use other artists’ work in this Own Your Content toolkit. We also share places to find free, licensed work that you can use.

This toolkit is a growing library of wisdom that highlights the hurdles of owning your content and building your platform. We not only curate the wisdom from creative leaders and artists, but also from the community—a balance of both, like cheese and wine—so that you’re supported and empowered to build your home on the internet.

Have you ever held a door for a stranger and they didn’t thank you for it? That’s what it feels like when someone uses your work and doesn’t give you credit or proper attribution. It’s not the end of the world, of course, but simple acts of courtesy often feel like they should be a default of internet behavior.

How do we change the culture? Not with shame, but through kindness, patience, and holding each other accountable. It won’t happen overnight, but if we at least start tonight, then tomorrow is more promising.

From thoughtful attribution to using Creative Commons licenses, we’ll share the resources that can improve all aspects of your online presence, and also a general rule of thumb for respecting people’s work that makes you look good. The least we can do (which happens to be enough) is to give credit where it’s due, link to the person’s website—and if you want to go the extra mile—send them a kind note that you’re using their work with proper attribution.


Practical wisdom from like-minded creatives

ryan-merkley_2-1-web

Meet Ryan Merkley, the CEO of Creative Commons—a global nonprofit organization that enables creators to share and reuse creativity and knowledge through the provision of free legal tools.

He admits that attribution is often incorrectly done, and it’s not always out of malice. It’s just people are lazy or don’t know the “right” way. He said in our Season 1 interview:

“Attribution is gratitude. It’s the least you can do to thank someone for creating something and allowing you to use it. CC’s minimum standard for attribution is author, title of the work, link to the original work, link to the CC deed for the licenses.

“For example: Ryan Merkley, “Self-Portrait”, https://www.foo.com/12345, licensed CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

“Unfortunately, attribution like that is done incorrectly quite often. Sometimes it’s malicious, but most of the time I think it’s because people are confused, or a bit lazy. I think we should make it easier, or better yet, automatic.”

Read Ryan Merkley’s interview on why attribution is gratitude and how you can use the Creative Commons license to ensure that the work you use is respected.

heathermeeker-portrait_2-1-web

Intellectual property law is a topic that is easy to ignore, yet it’s paramount to have a foundation of understanding so you can protect yourself and your work. It’s a topic that lacks urgency until someone steals your work and makes a profit or a cease and desist arrives in your mailbox. The internet has loose boundaries and infinite possibilities, and it behooves us to know some of the basics so your work doesn’t suffer the iron grip of the terms and conditions.

Meet Heather Meeker, a specialist in intellectual property licensing. Heather’s clients cover a range of industries including software, communications, educational testing, computer equipment and medical devices. She has wide-ranging experience in open source licensing strategies, and in intellectual property matters related to mergers and acquisitions.

“If you understand the four types of IP and what each one does, you will be much better equipped to protect your work — not to mention understanding the legal environment for creative work.

“Copyright covers “works of authorship,” which include traditional works such as books, drawings, movies, plays and sound recordings, but also computer software and semiconductor layouts. An author owns a copyright as soon as the work is “fixed in a tangible medium,” or written down in any form. It’s not necessary to register a copyright to own it, but doing so is a good idea, if you think you will ever want to enforce your rights. Registration is inexpensive and not difficult.

“Patents are much harder for most people to understand. A patent is a pure “negative right”  — meaning the ability to prevent others from making, using, selling or importing a product. It does not give the owner the right to do anything. Patents are expensive and time consuming to get — the inventor must submit a patent application and convince the patent office to issue the patent.  You have to prove your invention is new (in patent parlance “non-obvious” in light of prior inventions) and that you are the first inventor of it.

Trademarks are much more understandable. A trademark is a brand name or logo. They can usually be registered for a modest investment. Every business and artist has a trademark, whether they know it or not.

Trade secrets are also a common-sense IP regime. This area of law covers information that is confidential and has business value.”

Read Heather’s insightful interview that covers the basics of intellectual property law.


Encouragement for next steps

Consider going back to your posts and checking to make sure that a photo or illustration is properly attributed—full name and link to their website. This is also a good time to let that artist(s) know that you’re using their work—you never know what kind of connections that may lead to.

Don’t be hard on yourself if you forget—it’s something none of us learned in school or while growing up alongside the internet. Fix the error and be mindful next time.


Additional voices on attribution

 


Additional Resources

The Noun Project
Need an icon for your project? The Noun Project is a generous resource has over 2 million icons from designers around the world. You can use it for free (attribution included) or buy the icon.

Creative Commons
There are over 1.1 billion works in the CC archive. This means that you have access to audio, video, photos, scientific research, and so much more to use and remix for your projects. Each work comes with a specific license that teaches you on what the boundaries are and how to properly attribute the work if you were to use it.

Unsplash
Unsplash allows you to use gorgeous photos from talented and generous photographers from around the world.

Internet Archive
Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.

The Gender Spectrum Collection from Broadly
The Gender Spectrum Collection is a stock photo library featuring images of trans and non-binary models that go beyond the clichés.


Own-Your-Content-1-1#OwnYourContent

Share your ideas on what it means to be thoughtful with attribution and giving credit by using the hashtag #OwnYourContent if you know of any valuable resources, share it with the community!

Read more interviews and toolkits at ownyourcontent.wordpress.com.


Build your home. Own your content. Get 20% off your next WordPress.com site. An offer from our Global Partner WordPress.com for the CreativeMornings community.

Toolkit by Paul Jun. Illustrations by Jeffrey Phillips. ‘Own Your Content’ illustration by Annica Lydenberg.

Toolkit: How to write your About page

Your about page copy is like a form of identity for the internet. It’s not always easy to talk about yourself and it certainly feels awkward to highlight your successes. But if you don’t, who will?

This toolkit is a growing library of wisdom that highlights the hurdles of owning your content and building your platform. We not only curate the wisdom from creative leaders and artists, but also from the community—a balance of both, like cheese and wine—so that you’re supported and empowered to build your home on the internet.

Your about page copy is like a form of identity for the internet. It reflects who you are, what you stand for, and the work you do. However, it’s not always easy to talk about yourself and it certainly feels awkward to highlight your successes. But if you don’t, who will? Similar to life, it’s a process that’s continuously growing and unraveling rather than being set in stone.

The roadblock is not the act of writing your about page copy. The real roadblock is in your mind—the desire for perfection, the pursuit of the right answer. It’s one of those tasks that you want to get off the hook as fast as possible.

Nothing is perfect and there are no right answers in writing about yourself. We’ll help you craft a clear and concise About page that reflects your story, values, and the work that you’re doing. It will be a framework that you can use throughout your career as you expand your portfolio and garner more achievements.


Practical wisdom from like-minded creatives

paul-jarvis-2-1-web

Meet Paul Jarvis, a writer and designer who’s had his own company of one for the last two decades. His latest book, Company of One, explores why bigger isn’t always better in business.

As a creative that shows up in various places–his courses, blog, and newsletter—he reassures us that no one has the right answer. He admits that he struggles each time he reads or rewrites his about page—and he’s been in this game for two decades. Paul continues:

“There’s common advice that our about pages aren’t about us, they’re about our audience/customers. Which I think is both wrong and right at the same time. It obviously has to cover who we are and to some extent prove what we know. But it also can’t leave out an aspect of ‘why would someone else care?’

“About pages can also vary widely depending on who it’s about and the type of work they do. My business is heavily leaning towards me as the brand or in other words, personality-as-a-brand, so that’s got to shine through on mine. But if it was a corporate type or in a different industry or ran a business that was not personality driven, mine would be quite different (and probably not have a silly note about Greys Anatomy). Even my bio on my books website is different than the bio on my personal site, because context is important.

“I think we just have to be honest and get over our penchant towards not wanting to brag a little. We should be proud to showcase our accomplishments, our features, our clients, etc. We should also make sure that every bit of what’s mentioned bears some relevance to who we want to be reading it. So I don’t need to mention my love of gardening or pet rats on mine, but I will mention who I’ve worked with, my most recent product and some social proof. I may even apologize a little bit (I’m Canadian after all).”

Read Paul Jarvis’ Own Your Content interview →


About Pages We Love

We can bolster our learning by hearing from different points of view and studying a diversity of examples. Some of our favorites are below.

HomSweeHom Lauren Hom is a designer and letterer based in Detroit, schooled in New York, and raised in Los Angeles.
MiddleFinger Ash Ambirge is an internet entrepreneur, creative writer, speaker and advocate for women being brave & doing disobedient things with their careers and their lives. Her About page shows it.
DarkIgloo Dark Igloo is a company that specializes… in their About page.
DanielEatock Daniel Eatock’s About page features his bio. Every bio he’s ever had.

 


Encouragement for next steps

The about page is the one thing that gets re-written and heavily scrutinized more than any other copy on one’s website. Why? Because it creates the first impression.

The key is to avoid thinking of your about page as something that’s set in stone. Look at it like a canvas where every brushstroke adds a new layer of texture and color, adding richness to your story. Once you have a template that flows well, the key is editing and adding new achievements over time.


Additional Resources

Lessons Learned From Writing 7,000 Artist Bios
Artsy shares the common threads that make bios stand out.

Why Writing About Yourself is So Hard
Our beliefs influence the stories we tell ourselves and the way we see the world. When we become aware of those beliefs, and change them, we can tell our story clearly.

How to Write an “About Me” Page That Gets You Hired
99u shares practical, easy-to-follow-along tips on writing your about page that’s clear and reflects your personality.


Related CreativeMornings Talks

CreativeMornings talks on identity and personal narratives.Watch thousands more on creativemornings.com

thumbnail_mlkold Marie Louise Kold on you are your art.
thumbnail_34095706622_066dc51d69_z Morgan Givens on the intricacies of identity.
thumbnail_dec-2017-0426 Julia Bottoms-Douglas on why context remains a key element in connecting us to our purpose and our identity.
thumbnail_cm-aug-2016-24 Max Moore talks about embracing your weird is learning to embrace yourself.

Own-Your-Content-1-1#OwnYourContent

Share your new about page with the world. Share your personal tips, learnings, or frameworks by using the hashtag #OwnYourContent so you can also learn from others who are on this same path as you.

Read more interviews and toolkits at ownyourcontent.wordpress.com.


Build your home. Own your content. Get 20% off your next WordPress.com site. An offer from our Global Partner WordPress.com for the CreativeMornings community.

Toolkit by Paul Jun. Illustrations by Jeffrey Phillips. ‘Own Your Content’ illustration by Annica Lydenberg.

Toolkit: How to keep your guest list inclusive and diverse

Once considered an afterthought, an inclusive and diverse set of speakers, guests, and audiences can be at the core of your work—not because culture told you to, but because diversity is an enriching element for all endeavors.

This toolkit is a growing library of wisdom that highlights the hurdles of owning your content and building your platform. We not only curate the wisdom from creative leaders and artists, but also from the community—a balance of both, like cheese and wine—so that you’re supported and empowered to build your home on the internet.

Once considered an afterthought, an inclusive and diverse set of speakers, guests, and audiences can be at the core of your work—not because culture told you to, but because diversity is an enriching element for all endeavors.

There is a wave of change happening in industries around the world, and it’s a change that we can all support and push forward. By adding more seats at the table and uplifting voices that weren’t heard before, we allow ourselves to revel in the richness of diverse viewpoints and beliefs that stretch our understanding and the way we lead our lives.


Practical wisdom from like-minded creatives

jon-kat-2-1-web.png

Meet John Maeda, Global Head of Design at Automattic, and Kat Holmes, Director of User Experience Design at Google. She’s also the author of Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design.

In Season 1 of Own Your Content, John and Kat talked honestly about the challenges of inclusivity and what organizations can improve upon.

Kat Holmes: “I don’t think we’re at a common understanding, yet. Inclusion means a lot of things to a lot of people. We need better language to describe different kinds of inclusion. We need specific methods for building and measuring it. There is a lot of work to do to make inclusion a repeatable practice, not just a nice idea.

“Success is when inclusive design is the default way to design any aspect of society. In 10 years, the urgency for inclusiveness in tech will be higher than ever. My hope is we’re prepared to meet those challenges with practical methods

[…]

“There are two approaches that I’ve seen work well. First, start with building diversity in the most senior leadership positions. People in positions of power can move culture more quickly. Second, focus on building inclusive customer experiences. We’re all here to build great products, regardless of our demographics. That’s core to many tech teams and a great way to guide everyone towards a more inclusive culture.”

Read John & Kat’s Own Your Content interview →

John Maeda: “It’s all about how we believe we define “better.” I like to think that “better” means succeeding in the marketplace at a scale that is hard to imagine. In the “hard to imagine” space lies the reason why diversity of talent creating content and products is so key — certain folks who have similar upbringings and social circles will at some point be unable to think outside of their box, because they’re all roughly the same person. Who do you trust more? Someone just like you? Or someone that isn’t like you? The answer is simple: we tend to like people who think like ourselves. And when we make content or products our immediate go-to instinct is to design for ourselves. But if our goal is to expand our market size, commonly called “Total Addressable Market” in business parlance as meaning the demographic range of your product or service, then the way to grow the TAM is to incorporate diversity into the content and product team. That helps to lower the difficulty of finding “hard to imagine” spaces because you are working with the people who live and work in those spaces that you can’t imagine, or empathize with, on your own. Inclusion is good business.

[…]

“It’s about hearing all of our voices — and a medium that enables inclusivity.”

Read Kat and John’s interview on how to design for inclusivity and ways to bake in this mindset into leadership positions.


Encouragement for next steps

Consider having deeper conversations with colleagues and friends in different communities to grow an understanding that informs your decision making process. It’s about being self-aware of cognitive biases (and learning about them), and actively challenging your processes to enable inclusivity naturally.


Additional Resources

How diversity in the lab helped scientists
“The people I collaborate with have backgrounds in electrophysiology, molecular biology, medicine and psychology. Our different scientific backgrounds and research topics and our different ethnicities and cultural upbringings push me outside of my comfort zone. I do not have to explore my basic assumptions when I’m around only people who share my background.”

How diversity makes us smarter
Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups.”

eBay’s first chief diversity officer on humanizing diversity and inclusion
“Oftentimes, this conversation narrows to be about only race and gender. While, yes, race and gender are very important aspects, diversity goes well beyond them. It absolutely should include them, but goes even further into hundreds of attributes.”

Automattic’s inclusive design checklist
a thoughtful and meticulous checklist that ensures you’re asking yourself the hard questions, keeping yourself accountable, and taking action that champions inclusivity.

Ask the question: Who’s voice is missing?
Google’s director of UX design says the ability to seek out a range of perspectives is a critical skill for leaders of the future.


Related CreativeMornings Talks

Watch some of these featured talks on collaboration, and thousands more on creativemornings.com

Tim Allen on how inclusive design uses diversity to guide innovation.
Priya Parker on the art of gathering and setting clear intentions for why people get together.
Abadesi Osunsade on why we need to keep the tech world accountable in diversity and representation.
Ramona Lindsey, director of education at the Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft, shares how everyone deserves a seat at the table.

Own-Your-Content-1-1#OwnYourContent

Share the project that you’re working on with #OwnYourContent and see what other creatives are saying about these topics.

Read more interviews and toolkits at ownyourcontent.wordpress.com.


Build your home. Own your content. Get 20% off your next WordPress.com site. An offer from our Global Partner WordPress.com for the CreativeMornings community.

Toolkit by Paul Jun. Illustrations by Jeffrey Phillips. ‘Own Your Content’ illustration by Annica Lydenberg.