Creating a Sound Design Portfolio: Tips & Practices
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


Creating a sound design portfolio might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. It's all about showcasing your talent and skills, and that's something you've got plenty of! With the right tactics, anyone can learn how to create a portfolio for sound design that shines. In this blog, we're going to walk you through some effective tips and practices to help you craft a top-notch portfolio.

Showcase your best work

First things first: you want to put your best foot forward. This means selecting your most impressive pieces of sound design to feature in your portfolio. But what makes a piece "the best?" It's not always about complexity or big-name projects; sometimes, it's about the creativity, innovation, or unique challenges you faced and overcame.

  • Quality over quantity: Resist the temptation to include every project you've ever worked on. Instead, pick a handful of your most impressive pieces that truly demonstrate your skills and creativity in sound design.
  • Highlight your special skills: If you're particularly adept at a certain aspect of sound design—say, Foley art or mixing—make sure to highlight this in your portfolio. Showcasing your specialties can help set you apart from other sound designers.
  • Consider the project's impact: It's not just about the sound design itself, but also the overall impact of the project. Did the film win an award? Did the video game sell well? If your work contributed to a successful project, don't be shy about sharing that success.

Remember, the goal here is to impress potential clients or employers with your abilities. You want them to look at your portfolio and think, "This is someone who knows how to create a compelling soundscape."

Now, you're ready to take the first step in creating a portfolio for sound design that truly showcases your best work. And remember, the most important thing is to let your passion for sound design shine through in every piece you select.

Tell a story with your work

Next up on our journey to learn how to create a portfolio for sound design: storytelling. Yes, sound design is a technical skill, but it's also an art form. And like any art, it's a means of telling stories. Your portfolio should reflect that.

But how can you tell a story with sound design? Well, it's all about context and progression.

  • Context is key: Don't just present a sound clip or a piece of music. Give it some context. What was the project about? What emotions were you trying to evoke? How does the sound design contribute to the overall narrative or mood of the project? Providing this context helps others understand your creative process and decisions.
  • Show progression: People love a good growth story. If you have earlier works that showcase how far you've come as a sound designer, don't be afraid to include them. Showcasing your progress can make your portfolio more engaging and relatable.
  • Connect the dots: Try to create a narrative thread between the different pieces in your portfolio. This could be a common theme, a particular technique you used, or a specific type of project you enjoy. This will give your portfolio a sense of cohesion and make it more memorable.

Telling a story with your work will help your audience connect with your portfolio on a deeper level. It's one thing to demonstrate technical skill, but showing how you use that skill to create meaningful, engaging soundscapes takes your portfolio to the next level.

So, are you ready to tell your sound design story? Remember, your portfolio is more than a collection of work—it's a reflection of your creative journey. Happy storytelling!

Display your range

As you continue on your sound design portfolio quest, it's time to talk about something important: showing your range. Now, you might be thinking, "I'm good at one specific thing—why venture out?" Well, let's break that down.

While specializing in a particular area of sound design—say, video game soundtracks or podcast editing—can be an asset, you don't want to pigeonhole yourself. The sound design field is wide and varied: there's film, television, theater, radio, video games, live events, and so much more. By showing that you can handle a wide range of projects, you increase your chances of landing diverse work.

  • Try different mediums: If you've only worked on film projects so far, why not try your hand at a video game or a live event? Each medium has its unique challenges and requirements, and tackling them can help you develop a versatile skill set.
  • Experiment with styles: Variety is the spice of life, and it adds flavor to your portfolio too. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and experiment with different styles of sound design, be it ambient, realistic, or abstract.
  • Show off your technical skills: Tools and software are an integral part of sound design. Show potential clients or employers that you're proficient in popular sound design software like Pro Tools, Ableton Live, or Logic Pro X.

When you display your range, you're showing potential clients or employers that you're adaptable, versatile, and up for any sound design challenge. So, don't limit yourself—stretch your wings, explore different facets of sound design, and make your portfolio a testament to your range and versatility.

Include detailed project descriptions

Now let's talk about the 'meat and potatoes' of your sound design portfolio, the project descriptions. You might wonder, "Isn't my work enough to speak for itself?" Well, not always. Including detailed descriptions about your projects can make a big difference. Let's see how.

Ever come across a dish that looked good but you didn't know what it was made of? That's how your portfolio might look without detailed project descriptions. You've got all these amazing soundscapes and sound effects, but without context, they're just sounds to a potential employer or client.

Here's a simple recipe to craft compelling project descriptions:

  1. Project Overview: Start with a brief summary of the project. What was it about? Was it a film, a video game, an advertisement, or something else?
  2. Your Role: Next, outline what your role was. Did you work as a Foley artist, a sound editor, a sound mixer, or a sound designer? Did you work alone or as part of a team?
  3. Tools and Techniques: Mention the tools you used—was it Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, or something else? Talk about the techniques you applied—did you use Foley sounds, synthesized sounds, or field recordings?
  4. Challenges and Solutions: Every project has its hurdles. Share one or two challenges you faced during the project and how you overcame them. This shows you're not just technically proficient but also a problem solver.
  5. Outcome: Finally, touch on the outcome. Was the client happy? Did the project win any awards or accolades? This helps wrap up your project description on a positive note.

Remember, your project descriptions aren't just about sharing information—they're about telling a story, your story as a sound designer. So, make them engaging, informative, and a true reflection of your work.

Make your portfolio easy to navigate

Imagine you're on a road trip. You're excited, you're ready, and then you realize—there's no road map. You're stuck with an unclear path and no directions. Doesn't sound fun, right? The same goes for your sound design portfolio. A disorganized portfolio can be as frustrating to your potential client or employer as a road trip without a map.

So how do you ensure your portfolio is a smooth ride for anyone who visits it? Here are a few guidelines:

  1. Clear Layout: Just like a well-planned city, your portfolio should be easy to navigate. This means having a clear, clean layout where your work is the star. Avoid clutter and keep things simple.
  2. Logical Order: Arrange your projects logically. This could mean placing them in chronological order, or grouping them by type—like films, video games, advertisements, etc. It's your portfolio, so the order that makes the most sense to you is probably the best choice.
  3. Easy-to-find Information: Make sure your contact information and any important details about your work are easy to find. No one wants to play detective when they're trying to hire a sound designer.
  4. Quick Loading Times: Nothing says "frustration" like a slow-loading website. Make sure your portfolio loads quickly, especially if you've got a lot of audio files. A potential employer or client might not wait around if your site takes too long to load.

Remember, your portfolio is like a tour of your work. Make it an enjoyable, easy-to-navigate tour, and you'll leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits.

Ensure your portfolio is accessible

Imagine walking into a store, only to find that every shelf is out of reach. Frustrating, right? This is how it feels for people with disabilities when websites aren't designed with accessibility in mind. And yes, this includes your sound design portfolio.

So how do you ensure your portfolio is accessible for everyone? Let's break it down:

  1. Use Alt Text: Alt text is a short description that gets read out loud for people who use screen readers. Make sure every image and audio file in your portfolio has alt text. This way, even if someone can't see or hear your work, they'll still know what it's about.
  2. Consider Color Contrast: There's more to color than just making your portfolio look good. You also need to make sure there's enough contrast between your text and background colors. This makes it easier for people with visual impairments to read your content.
  3. Make Your Site Keyboard-Friendly: Not everyone can use a mouse. Make sure all your site's features can be accessed using only a keyboard. This includes your menus, buttons, and even your audio player controls.
  4. Provide Transcripts: Transcripts aren't just for podcasts. They also make your audio content accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. If you've worked on any spoken-word projects, like films or video games, consider providing a transcript along with the audio.

Remember, an accessible portfolio isn't just a nice-to-have—it's a must-have. After all, the more people who can access your work, the more opportunities you'll have to get hired.

Keep your portfolio up to date

So, you've learned how to create a portfolio for sound design and it's looking great. But, like a garden, it's not something you can just set and forget. Your portfolio needs regular care and attention to stay fresh and relevant.

Think of it this way: would you serve guests a dish you made three years ago? Probably not. The same goes for your portfolio. Your latest work is a reflection of your current skills and style, and it's what potential employers or clients are most interested in.

So, what should you do to keep your portfolio up to date? Here are some tips:

  1. Regularly add new projects: As soon as you finish a project you're proud of, add it to your portfolio. Remember, your most recent work often reflects your current abilities best.
  2. Remove older, less impressive work: As your skills improve, some of your earlier projects might not make the cut anymore. That's okay. It's better to have a smaller portfolio of amazing work than a large one full of mediocre projects.
  3. Update your bio and contact information: You grow as a person, not just as a sound designer. Update your bio to reflect any new skills or experiences you've gained. And of course, make sure your contact information is always current.

Remember: your portfolio is like your professional storefront. Keep it tidy, updated, and welcoming, and you'll be well on your way to creating a successful career in sound design.

If you're eager to learn more about sound design and how to create a stellar portfolio, we highly recommend the workshop 'The Importance of Sound Design' by Jessy Moussallem. This workshop will not only help you understand the significance of sound design in various creative projects but also provide you with valuable tips on how to showcase your skills effectively in your portfolio.