Workshops vs. Courses

Courses are what we take in school.

Courses offer theory, and are taught by a trained professor of sorts. 

In courses, we can expect to read textbooks, listen to lectures, or perhaps do some group projects. 

A workshop on the other hand, is more hands-on. A workshop is shorter and gets to the point. A workshop has a clear focus. A workshop requires you to put your hands in the dirt and get to work. 

If I took a course on bread making, I would expect to read and listen to about theories about baking, temperature and timing, yeast, and the history of bread.

If I took a workshop on bread making, I would expect to make a loaf of sourdough with my hands and see all the different types of bread I could make in a kitchen with a few ingredients. 

It’s 2 different kinds of learning for 2 different types of people.

Those who are ready to lead and learn on the fly don’t wait for all theories to be in place before taking a first step. 

And those who want a solid foundation and sit eyes-wide-open won’t want to make a move unless they know what will come out of it.  

Speaking of workshops, the Portfolio Campfire will be back again this year and we want you to join our waitlist:

If you are a design student or a junior level designer looking to make your portfolio count, we hope you join us. 

Writing the First Draft of my About Me

Yesterday I shared a simple list of questions to answer in order to write an effective About Me. 

Today I’ll be taking my own advice (as I know my own bio needs some work. I’ll be working out loud) 

Here goes my first draft:

My name is Anna Peng. My background is in design, but my heart is in branding and marketing.

These days I work with my parents at our family-owned restaurant in Scarborough (this is my way of giving back all that they’ve done for me).

During the nights, I write. I write about sharing work on social media, and things about creativity I feel like more designers could find helpful. 

I also co-run a business called Habit Factory with my friend Mikayla Koo, where we help new designers step up to their creative potential. 

Why do I do it? I believe we’re all here to contribute something. The 3 things I do is my current way of leaving my mark on the world. 

If you think we’d get along, I’m always looking to connect with new people. Send me an email at about anything and I’ll answer. 

Second draft soon to come.

From feeling unsure about your creative abilities to putting your best food forward in 14 days

Trying to land your first real design job and winning your first client are both hard to do. 

That’s why we made the Habit Factory. 

It’s easy to think that as you’re beginning your career all by yourself, there’s nobody to help you. You’re all alone, and nobody is getting back to you because you suck.

At the Habit Factory, it’s quite the opposite. 

We’ve made the portfolio website building process into a community-centred experience. 

Instead of working in the dark, you get to be surrounded by people with different experiences and points of view. 

You learn to see your work through the lens of someone else, not just your own. 

Best of all, you take action. 

The key to all creatives who are winning is action. 

If you want to join our upcoming portfolio-building workshop, the last chance to sign up is today. Take action and make your work stand out. Learn with a community. Make a portfolio you’ll be proud of sharing. 

I hope to see you there. 

You’ve just built the perfect portfolio website. How did you do it? 

Since starting the first run of our portfolio-building workshop (we call it the “Portfolio Campfire”), we’ve analyzed and have taken apart hundreds of junior-level design portfolios.  Here’s our winning formula on how designers can build a portfolio that stands out: 

  • Find out what your personal strengths are (curiosity, team leadership, organization, impeccable visual taste, etc.) and frame your case studies around them. State your strengths clearly. Use them to your advantage
  • Get feedback from others—and not just nice words from friends telling you that you did a good job. Ask for improvements, clarity, and effectiveness
  • Understand what your prospects need to see from someone like you. If you’re applying for jobs, get familiar with what employers want to see. If you’re a freelancer, learn why your ideal clients buy work like yours. Show your audience what they need

Make your portfolio go from “needs a ton of work” to “clear and enticing, ready to share” in 14 days. 

You can apply these key concepts on your own, or you can join our 14 day Portfolio Campfire workshop where we work on your winning formula together as a community.

PS. Most of our workshop members prefer working together as a community when it comes to building a portfolio.

Want in? Sign up through the link here.

A Room with One Head vs. a Room with Fifty Heads

Building a portfolio website is hard.

It’s even harder when you’re stuck in a room all by yourself and have nobody tell you what might help make it better before you start using it everywhere. 

The Habit Factory is back (and we’ve rebranded!). Our most beloved workshop for design students all over the world is open for registration.

In our portfolio-building workshop, we don’t tell you how to build the best portfolio (because you can just google that). Instead, we guide you into finding who you are as a designer. We help you show off your strongest qualities as a creative professional. You’ll also be surrounded by a (virtual) network of other designers just like you. 

If you’re reading this, you’re likely somebody we’d love to have on board. Go check out our workshop details here and join our upcoming cohort this October. 

Finding yourself isn’t a piece of cake, but those who have gone through our workshop tell us that it’s well worth it. Hope to see you there.

PS. It would also help if you shared this workshop with 2 other friends. If you aren’t able to join our workshop but want to in the future, just sign up for our newsletter to get updated on when new cohorts come up.

Where to Make Progress Happen

Make progress, move forward.

The Habit Factory is a space made for creatives like you who want to commit to work that scratches an itch.

The best part? Work that scratches an itch and makes an impact is made possible when you start taking daily, single steps toward your goal.

It’s not hard, it just takes time and persistence.

We’re starting a new cohort for portfolio building this May 31 (this makes for our 4th Portfolio Campfire workshop in a row!) Register for your spot here:

If you’re looking to start, I hope you’ll join us.

5 Portfolio Website Tips for Designers

  1. Really long case studies with lots and lots of text can be condensed. Do it. It’s more of a service to the person reading through your work if it’s concise and gets to the point quickly.
  2. If you’re applying for a job with your portfolio website, tailor the aesthetic and language to meet the company you want to work for. This helps them see how well you’ll fit in with their team.
  3. The landing page matters. Don’t waste it on trying to be too clever, or insert graphics that take too long to load.
  4. Put in projects that you care about, because projects that you care about means you can talk about it with more natural enthusiasm.
  5. The order of information of your website and it’s project structure should be this: best – least interesting – second best.

The Portfolio Campfire is enrolling members for our second cohort happening this March 8th. If you want to take your website seriously, this is the time and place to do it. Sign up for your spot here:

Bonus tip: Don’t hide. Put your face in there somewhere. It makes your website feel more human.

Why I Don’t Have A Portfolio Right Now

After years of re-tuning, re-doing, and re-freshing, I chose to scrap my design portfolio 2 months ago.

Not because I was getting so many gigs and leads left and right (because I’m not).

And definitely not because I think I’m super talented to the point where a portfolio is not needed (because it will always be needed).

I chose to scrap my portfolio because it’s not serving anybody at this point in time—not even me. So rather than hold a backlog of my experiences from 3-4 years ago in a time capsule to show to anybody who needed to see it (which is nobody, because I’m currently not seeking any design positions or opportunities), I replaced it with something more relevant and true to the present me.

While I’m not looking for creative job positions in the market, countless others are.

So I think it’s worth it to help artists and designers just like us level up in an environment where we want to do more and do better, together.

That’s the Habit Factory (where all my creative energy is going right now). We’re hosting our 14 day Portfolio Campfire workshop this February for creatives who are looking to find their next opportunity. Find the community and accountability you’re looking for, and sign up for the online program. It’s open for all creatives who need to rebuild their websites and portfolios with intent this year.

Check it out at