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How to build your portfolio online in 2021

Are you a…

Graphic designer?

UX designer?

Writer?

Artist?

Photographer?

Web developer? 

A digital creative?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you should definitely have an online portfolio. If not, you’ve come to the right place. 

Think of your portfolio as an online reflection of who you are, your experience, and what you can do for your prospective clients. An online portfolio lets you showcase your body of work, service, and/or product, helping you to ultimately connect with new clients and build your business. 

So, are you ready to put your best digital foot forward? We’ll take you through the steps necessary to build your own portfolio. 

Portfolio basics 

Before we get into the different portfolio solutions you can choose from, it’s important to figure out what you want your portfolio to actually look like, i.e. the overall structure. 

For example, do you want your portfolio to look like a blog, with a long page for your visitors to scroll down to read and/or see your work? Or do you prefer a gallery-like presentation that people can click through to see more? Both options are great choices, but it bears a little consideration for what you want your visitors’ experience to be. 

Once you’ve decided how you’d like it to look, now it’s time to fill it with your actual body of work. Here are the sections that should definitely be on your landing page: 

Your “About Me” section

When it comes to introducing yourself, keep it short and sweet. A sentence or two about who you are and what you do should suffice.

Your “Selected Work” section

This is where your work should really shine. If you’re a web designer, you could include projects that you’re particularly proud of whereas if you’re a photographer, your galleries could reflect your range of services, e.g. weddings or portraits. 

Your “Contact Me” section

Now that you’ve introduced yourself and showcased your work, you need to give people an easy way to get in touch with you. This means listing an email address and/or phone number that’s clearly visible. 

building blogs of online portfolio

Pick your platform

Now that you’ve visualized your portfolio, it’s time to start building it with the platform of your choice. Luckily, you’ve got a few to choose from, but the best one will all depend on your needs and preferences.

Website Builders

If you have zero technical skills, or you’re looking to save time and money, then a website builder is for you. Website builders let you easily publish your online portfolio by choosing a template, uploading your work and contact info via a drag-and-drop interface, even connecting to a customized domain name of your choice.

While there are many free website builders available, we recommended paying a little extra to ensure your prospective clients/customers have a great experience. This means spending anywhere between $5 to $15 per month. Solutions such as Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Adobe Portfolio, Crevado, Flickr, Flipsnack, and Jimdo are solid places to start.  

Did you know that Namecheap Shared Hosting plans also include a complimentary website builder? This gives you the freedom to build your website from scratch or edit an existing design, for free! 

WordPress

Powering nearly 40% of the Internet’s websites, it’s no wonder that WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS) out there.

Since WordPress is a free and open-source platform, however, keep in mind you’ll need to pay for website hosting, as well as any premium plugins/themes you might want. While a lot of beginners use WordPress, it does help if you’re technically confident. If you prefer to avoid the technical backend of WordPress, we recommend EasyWP Managed WordPress, with plans that start at just $1 per month for the first month. Otherwise, Shared Hosting from Namecheap works great. 

When it comes to creating your online portfolio with WordPress, you’re looking at total control over your website’s design, features, and functionality. With that control, however, comes responsibility. You’ll need to make sure you run consistent updates to the latest WordPress version and update any plugins and/or themes you have installed. 

So, what sort of plugins do you need with your WordPress website? Let us break down some of our top essentials.

searching portfolio in WordPress

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is the practice of increasing the quality (and quantity) of traffic to your website through organic search page results (SERPs). Organic traffic, in other words, means any sort of traffic that comes to you naturally, without having to pay for it. In order to get this natural type of traffic, the copy on your website needs to be optimized. 

That’s why there’s nothing better than Yoast SEO, which helps better optimize your website copy so that Google ranks your website in their organic search results. 

E-Commerce

Want to create your online storefront and start making money? Look no further than WooCommerce, the free plugin that helps you build a secure and flexible e-commerce store. Designed to work across all devices, WooCommerce powers 25% of the Internet’s e-commerce website stores. 

Need some tips on how to get started? Start here

Backups

You might think that occasionally skipping out on that routine website backup is harmless, right? Think again. Regular backups help to safeguard your website data (files, accounts, and settings, for example) and give you extra peace of mind. 

Our plugin pick for backups? UpdraftPlus

Image compression

On average, images make up 50% of a website’s weight. That’s why image compression is key to dramatically speeding up your website. Super easy to use, OptiMole gets installed in minutes and auto-optimizes every image in your media library as well as every new image you upload. 

Social media 

If you’re looking to grow your social following and engage with your users with relevant content from your website, take advantage of Revive Old Post. A social media sharing and scheduling plugin, Revive Old Post lets you share older and newer content to your social media channels in a super efficient, aka automatic, way. 

Not sure where your business should be on social media? We’ve got some insider tips to get started. 

Data caching

A process where commonly-requested data is stored locally, either on your server (server-side caching) or your website browser (HTTP caching), caching creates a lightning-fast load time, which is essential for improving your SEO and conversion rates. We recommend WPRocket, which does the trick nicely. 

Contact forms

As mentioned earlier, sometimes a prospective client just wants a simple form to fill out on your website where they can get in touch with you. Your best bets? WPForms or Happy Forms are great picks. 

Yeti getting lots of interest in his online portfolio

How to create a successful online portfolio

Make no mistake. A stellar portfolio makes all the difference between making a decent first impression and an outstanding one. For tips on how to maximize success with your digital portfolio, have a read through one of our previous articles on this very topic. 

If you need some inspiration, don’t hesitate to check out what others are doing. Just search those who are in your industry and take a look at what they’re doing, portfolio-wise. From the good to the bad, you’ll be able to figure out how you want yours to look (or not to look). 

Ultimately, building a portfolio website is a huge step towards helping potential clients find you and for them to choose you over someone else. It’s also a great way to promote your work online and play up your abilities, wherever that may lie. 

Do you have an online portfolio? Let us know in the comments below!

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Erin Huebscher avatar

Erin Huebscher

As a born-and-bred American who now resides in Germany, Erin brings her love of digital storytelling to Namecheap. With nearly 10 years of international copywriting experience from her time in Stockholm, Sweden, and an MA in Creative Writing, she has a penchant for all things fashion, film, food, and travel. More articles written by Erin.

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