Build an Online Portfolio

Edited by Swoonunits, Melissa Rae, Shelley, Eng and 2 others


In the age of the Internet, having an online portfolio is becoming increasingly important. An online portfolio is a personalized collection of your talents and capabilities, and the first gateway to more and better work opportunities. Most importantly, it is your digital footprint in the professional world, and makes it easy for future collaborators and potential employers to reach out to you.

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Creative people and professionals of all kinds can benefit from having a digital portfolio to link to on resumes, cover letters, social media accounts, and business cards. In some settings, not having an easily accessible online portfolio can hurt your chances of networking for the right person or receiving an offer for the perfect job. This article will teach you how to organize, build, and a proper online portfolio with tools and resources that are affordable and widely available. Learn how to build a portfolio that best represents your experience and allows your hard work to shine!

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Choose Your Content

Your portfolio should be a reflection of you as a versatile, creative professional. It is your place to display work that best showcases what you are capable of delivering to a client or employer. Visitors will undoubtedly be looking for work that properly translates your experience, ideals, and interests, so it's best to pay attention to the content you actually feature in your portfolio. Ideally, you should already have a collection of your work saved somewhere, but if not, start by saving any links, documents, videos, or pictures you may have of your work. Such documents should be well-dated, clear, and easy to read.

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If you are new to the professional world, and do not feel that you have enough pieces to share, focus on increasing your creative output while building your portfolio. Reach out to friends or family for pro bono work, create in your free time, or take up freelancing when you can. The more work you have to show, the better. In the meantime, select projects that you contributed to most to, or projects you consider to be your favorite.

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Employers enjoy seeing variety in portfolios, and will consider candidates who can demonstrate versatility in their work. If you cannot find diversity in your output, try switching up the type of projects you contribute to. Take on more challenging projects or complete a few projects you have been interested in for a while. Document your process via a journal or blog.

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Once you have collected your previous projects, take the time to consider the strength and merits of each one. You should want to display your best projects, or projects you have contributed the most to. Try selecting at least five projects that you can speak the most about, and write out as much detail about them as you can, like the date the project was started and completed, its contributors, and your specific role in the project. This will give employers an idea of how well you collaborate, handle responsibilities, and keep to a deadline. It also demonstrates an appreciation for and interest in your work!

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  • Tip: If you have the time, try writing out a case study for each project as well. Case studies are longer, more detailed reports about your role, responsibilities, and challenges of a project. Depending on the type of position you're applying for, employers may expect to see case studies on your portfolio. For example, project managers or supervisors might be expected to not only detail their responsibilities, but also the responsibilities of their colleagues.

Choose your Medium

It'll be up to you to decide how or where to host your online portfolio. There are many resources available to you, so be sure to choose one that includes all of the features you need to properly represent yourself. Be sure to hunt for the specific features that you need, like a gallery or a commenting system. Additionally, ask yourself what positions you are hoping to apply to, and what type of presentation best "frames" your work. Are you a writer that needs a blog? A web designer that needs a custom site? A fund analyst who needs to upload PDFs? You don't want to start the process of designing your portfolio, only to realize your medium of choice is lacking in options.

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No matter what you choose, be sure your medium of choice allows for a customization URL. This will benefit you in many ways: the URL will be easier for you and potential employers to remember, and you'll have a presentable link to include on businesses cards and resumes. Additionally, be sure that your personal website or portfolio service is responsive - meaning that it looks pleasing on a desktop, tablet, and mobile browser. Employers may open your portfolio on many different devices, and it needs to look professional on all of them.

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Writers and content creators may benefit more from keeping a steady blog about their experiences in the professional and creative world, but other types of professionals should consider a blog as well, even if it is just adjacent to your main portfolio. Reading your blog gives your employer insight on how you think, handle challenges, and generate your ideas. Process your current projects, ruminate on older ones, or talk about new projects you hope to generate. Take pictures, post status updates, or even personal anecdotes (provided that they are appropriate.)

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Portfolio Site

Websites like Behance, Dribble, or take the guesswork out of building and maintaining your own personal domain. These websites usually offer free option with features like unlimited uploads, versatility in document types, and a customizable URL. They may also offer paid packages for other features, like linking a domain name or video uploads. Make sure you thoroughly research the options available to you to determine which system works best for you and whether or not you will need a paid account to get the features that you need.

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Personal Site

If you are a web developer or designer, it would be best for you to build a personal portfolio site from scratch, as it will most often be the first example of your capabilities that an employer sees. For other professionals, there are services like Squarespace or available to help you build a portfolio website without using web programming languages. Much like portfolio sites, these services offer a free package with the opportunity to upgrade to a paid account with more complex features. They also come equipped with customizable themes for you to build upon. Again, keep your necessary features in mind when selecting from these services: will you need something totally customizable? Do you need a multi-page website? Ultimately, the answers to these questions will lead you to best option for you.

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Build Your Site

Rome wasn't built in a day, and realistically, your portfolio won't be either. Depending on your medium of choice and quality/quantity of content, your portfolio may take some time to build. Be patient! The most important thing is that you are happy with the finished project. Select and reselect themes, add and remove projects, write and rewrite case studies and captions. Remember: be sure to show pieces that show versatility and creativity. Utilize images in your portfolio, whether they are pictures of the finished projects or screenshots of certain stages.

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Shelley Branch Building a website.jpg
  1. 1
    Add a biography.
    A bio doesn't have to be particularly long or detailed, but it should focus on your time within your respective industry, your passions, and your accomplishments. Name one or two things you are most proud of, and what you'd like to achieve next.. Always write with an upbeat, inviting tone of voice, and describe - don't brag! - how you were able to enrich the work of your previous employers or clients. Include a picture with your bio.{
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  2. 2
    Include accurate, up-to-date contact information.
    This can be the form of a professional phone number, email, and social media accounts you have created. It is not the best practice to link to personal accounts you normally wouldn't like an employer to see. If possible, always create separate social media accounts for your professional lives. If you're uncomfortable posting your personal number, consider registering a Google Voice number instead. This info should directly lead back to you; for example, your phone number should ideally be a cell phone number not an office number. This is because employers expect to be able to get in contact with you quickly if they are interested. Check your email often, set notifications, and check your spam folder often. Make sure this contact info is clearly displayed on all pages to your personal site or your portfolio site.
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  3. 3
    Consider adding a reference or "testimonials" page.
    The former can benefit everyone, but the latter can definitely come in handy for freelancers. Employers will likely make their own decisions about hiring you, but having a few enthusiastic players in your corner doesn't hurt! Be sure to select former clients or references that you still keep in touch with somewhat, and be sure to ask their permission before featuring them on your site. Never list a client's full name unless they are comfortable with being contacted by visitors to your site. If you are featuring a testimonials page, prompt your references for quotes you can use, and link back to their company or business site. If you are merely displaying references, be sure to offer their names and a contact phone number or email.
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  4. 4
    Test your website, then test it again.
    Swoonunits 120px-Pixmac000075508403.jpg
    Make sure all of the links lead to the right pages and that your copy is free of spelling or grammar errors. Much like your resume, employers will likely toss out your portfolio in the face of glaring errors.
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Spread the Word

Congratulations! You've built your first portfolio site. You've built something that properly represents you and your work, tested for errors, and created a customized URL. Now it's time to show your friends, colleagues, and potential employers your hard work! Consider posting a link to:

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Shelley Branch social media.jpg

Social media

A social media post is the perfect way to introduce your friends and followers to the professional you. When posting, detail your process, show your excitement, or explain your reasoning for building an online portfolio. This is also gives you an opportunity to remind friends and family that you are looking for work. Consider adding the link to your social media profiles as well in the"bio" section.

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Adding a link to your online profile to your email signature can be a sign of professionalism and makes it easy for employers to find your work. Consider creating an email signature with your contact information, title, social media profiles (if appropriate) and your online portfolio link.

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An online portfolio is just one of many ways to promote yourself on the Internet. A clean, aesthetically pleasing portfolio will convince potential employers, colleagues, and loved ones how far you've come as a professional, and convince them of how far you can take them in the future. Above all, remember that your portfolio is a reflection of you, so have fun with it and create something that is uniquely you!

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Categories : Online & Web Job Related

Recent edits by: VisiHow, Eng, Shelley

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