I like this response by Neil Binkley of Wonderful Machine to a question about self promotion:
As someone who has reviewed so many outstanding portfolios and self-promotional pieces, what distinguishes the very best?
Certainly, the “wow” factor of an unorthodox or expensive portfolio/promotion is always something that catches my attention. However, if that “wow” isn’t met by “wow #2,” ie. excellent photography presented in a cohesive form, then I feel sorry that the photographer spent so much money putting lipstick on a pig.
The book looks great and the blog seems like it will become a wealth of information and inspiration for portfolios and promos.
Here’s another quote from an interview with Art Director Robin Milgrim, a recent PDN Self-Promo Judge:
What do you think is the most challenging and rewarding part of being a judge for an awards competition, such as the PDN Self-Promo Awards?
There are so many talented people out there. When reviewing work for the photo-annuals I am most struck by how many people do not understand their audience, or how to distinguish themselves. At this level everyone is good, but only few are great. It’s easy to choose the winner’s. I am saddened by how many very capable talented people do not understand whom they are talking to. When submitting work for these competitions, keep in mind that the judges, as well as those that will hire you, see an enormous amount of work everyday. They devour creative. They have seen it all, and are hungry for something that breaks with convention.