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Blog

My review of Pitch Your Portfolio

So here’s my experience of doing Pitch Your Portfolio, a course run by surface designer Shannon McNab.

Last year I decided to enrol in Shannon McNab’s Pitch Your Portfolio course. We were in the midst of a lockdown, at home and things had become stagnant with art licensing after I had built a little momentum over the past few years. While I have done a few classes through platforms like Skillshare in recent years, I haven’t enrolled in any of the larger design courses that have been on my radar because of the lack of time and money.

I’m not new to licensing and creating art. My background is in graphic design and I took a side step into surface designer after discovering repeat patterns and knew that’s what I loved creating. My journey so far has involved working with a US agent for almost 3 years, which was my introduction into the licensing world, licensing my art to greeting card, photo card and giftware companies. After I finished working with my agent, I branched out on my own, searching for my own clients where I could focus on licensing patterns. As well as my licensing I started creating my own products under the label ‘Fabric Drawer’ with my designs as another avenue to get my work out there.

Even though I had some success finding my own clients, these licensing deals could be often few and far between and certainly no where near a reasonable income. I was also unsure about so many things; how to find clients (beyond brands I knew of), what should I send and how, when I should follow up and what to do if I don’t hear back. Each time I contacted a potential client, I went through the same uncertainty over and over again and lacked the confidence and persistence when following-up. 

I first heard about Shannon McNab through her blog and Skillshare classes. She also held a workshop prior to the course enrolment that gave a little overview of how to find and pitch your portfolio to clients. I knew two things after watching those videos; 1) I liked Shannon’s teaching style and 2) the Pitch Your Portfolio course was filling the gap that I had been feeling for awhile. I wasn’t a beginner, but I needed help trying to progress and move up. 

The course is broken down into 6 different modules, with one module covered each week.

  1. Your Portfolio
  2. Searching for clients
  3. Finding Email Addresses
  4. Making Contact
  5. Following up
  6. Long terms success

I found that I was able to listen to all the videos in one module during one sitting every week. The videos are bite-sized and easy to digest and because it’s not a portfolio development course, you can easily move through each module every week without falling behind.

What I love about the course is Shannon’s practical advice and actionable steps. Yes, I had read some methods before about searching for clients or tips on how to contact clients, but Pitch Your Portfolio covered everything about the process that I was unsure about. I found modules 4 and 5 about making contact and following up the most useful for me, as I often got stuck when clients didn’t respond and I would never follow-up again if I didn’t hear back after sending a second email. Shannon also ran several Q&A sessions, which was an opportunity to ask her anything if you had a specific question not covered in the course. The live calls and the course itself are available to replay at any time afterwards.

After the course:

Since finishing Pitch Your Portfolio I have gained the confidence to contact and follow-up with clients. My mindset has shifted too and I no longer see knock-backs or no responses as a definite ‘no’, and it certainly has helped me bounce back from any disappointments. Following the course, I contacted potential clients and called one directly after they responded to my email and while it didn’t result in directly licensing a pattern, I was commissioned to design a packaging label utilising some of my pattern motifs. This year, following one of Shannon’s methods to find clients, I was able to license one of my patterns to a new client that I’ll be sure to share when it’s released later this year. The course was certainly what I needed at this point in my career and I’m glad I finally took the time to invest in myself. 

A little reality check though – while the course gives you the tools, the hard work still needs to be done. Art licensing is a long-term journey that you need to stick with for awhile to see and reap the benefits. 

Is Pitch Your Portfolio right for you?

If you’ve got a folio of work (even as little as 10 quality pieces) and ready to pitch your work then yes, I would highly recommend Shannon’s course. You’ll gain the confidence to approach potential clients and lots of time saving processes so you can focus on creating the art. The course is $USD497 making it much more affordable than other courses I had seen.

If you’re still not sure or not in a position to invest in a course, then I’d recommend doing Shannon’s other Skillshare classes or following Sketch Design Repeat on Instagram where you’ll find videos with a wealth of information to get you started. 

If you are interested in enrolling in Pitch Your Portfolio it opens on 20th April 2021 and it’s the only time it will be open for 2021.

You can enrol or join the waitlist via this link: https://sketchdesignrepeat.mykajabi.com/a/2147483757/r4xwsEKg

Any questions:

If you have any questions about my experience with the course then please reach out and email me at beck@fabricdrawer.com.au – I’d be happy to answer of your questions. 

Note: While I am an affiliate for Pitch Your Portfolio, I would only recommend a course that I have personally found to be of benefit.