How to Create an Online Portfolio: 12 Tips to Make It Perfect

working hard on portfolio

Let’s face it: every freelancer needs to have an online career portfolio. It’s an excellent tool for demonstrating your skills and for finding work. A solid collection of your work and experience can even serve as an automatic work generator, turning the visitors to your website into your clients.

Thankfully, it is not difficult to create an online portfolio. Even better, there are plenty of websites where you can make a free online portfolio. The next aspect to consider is: how to make a portfolio the best?

Here’s the trick:

Use the 12 tips we have collected for you! They will help you make your portfolio much more efficient at showcasing your talent!

1. Select a platform for your portfolio

If you already have an e-portfolio, skip to the next section.

If you do not, you might be wondering: What are the best online portfolio sites?

Here are some you should consider:

  • WordPress. WordPress is among the most popular online platforms. It is also flexible and user-friendly. You can set up your website on WordPress for a fee or just start a hosted blog there.
  • Squarespace is another popular hosting service and website builder. It is also a good choice for anyone wishing to create an e-portfolio.

square space website

Of course, you can use other options, if you desire.

If you are looking for free e-portfolio websites, there are several available:

  • PortfolioBox. This simple and convenient platform allows you to create a free digital portfolio, with an option to upgrade it to a professional account and gain access to several additional functions. You can also find a few online portfolio examples on this website, as well as portfolio templates to help you.

portfolio box website

  • Crevado. Crevado is a free portfolio website letting you create an online portfolio free of charge; it does not expire and includes all the features necessary for an e-portfolio. It also provides digital portfolio examples and instructions on how to create your portfolio. A great choice for anyone looking for a free portfolio hosting service.

You can also find other options easily. Just remember that as long as your hosting service is free, your potential clients might have to view ads and the like while going through your portfolio.

2. Anticipate the questions your customers may have

When creating a portfolio, ask yourself a question:

What questions are my potential customers likely to have, and how does my digital portfolio answer those questions?

After all, providing your clients with answers and attracting them is what a portfolio is all about. Therefore, when making an online portfolio, ask yourself what your potential customers will be looking for, and try to show them that you are what they seek.

3. Keep your digital portfolio website simple

Do not make your portfolio too complicated. It should be easy to navigate, and easy to read.

  • Keep it simple: do not use dozens of different fonts. Doing so will make your portfolio challenging to understand, and instead of straining themselves, most visitors will leave. Even the few interested ones will probably be annoyed by the effort involved in reading your portfolio–and you don’t want that.
  • Do not make your portfolio too flashy: this can also be irritating.
  • Make navigating your portfolio as clear as possible.

Remember, your visitors should have no trouble:

  • Viewing your online career portfolio
  • Navigating it
  • Finding whatever they need

4. Make your e-portfolio catchy

Even though you should keep your portfolio simple and easy to navigate, that does not mean you cannot make it memorable. It is a good idea to include eye-catching images and content. You can also find some useful portfolio design ideas online. These will make the visitors to your web page stay there longer.

You should also think about how to present your work. Simply displaying what you have done might be sufficient, but do you wish to only “satisfy the minimum requirements”? Probably not. So, you can, for example, share a story behind each of your included projects.

Just remember to keep it simple and brief—your potential clients did not come to your website to read a thick book. Also, some of them might not be native speakers of your language.

5. Make your About Me page effective

The About Me page is crucial in your portfolio. If the visitors to your portfolio become interested in you, this is the place they will most definitely look for to learn more about you.

Remember: ask yourself what questions your potential customers might have. Here are some questions the visitors of your About Me page may have:

  • Who is this individual?
  • Do they appear dependable and trustworthy?
  • Which qualifications and what experience do they possess?
  • Can I hire them for my project?

three people are sitting in front of an exhibition

The best way to convince visitors that you are dependable and deserve their trust is to include recommendations and references from your previous customers. You should also personalize your page—keep reading this article to find out how.

As for qualifications, you may list them, if you are sure they will be to your advantage.

When it comes to experience, it is best to include links to your previous work so visitors can see and judge for themselves.

Finally, for visitors who are wondering if they can hire you, include information about the work you are willing to do.

6. Create a Hire Me page and link to it

What is the purpose of your portfolio? If you only wish to display your work, there is no need for a Hire Me page. But we are thinking about how to make a career portfolio, right? So, the purpose is clear: your portfolio has to attract customers so they will hire you.

So, make it simple for them to hire you!

You should include a link to your Hire Me page not only on your About Me page but your website’s main page as well. It should be easy to notice.

You also might wish to title that page using your name, for instance, Hire John or Hire Jane.

7. Personalize your About Me page

When thinking about how to create an online portfolio, keep in mind that adding some personal information about yourself can “give you an edge” in the eyes of your visitors, letting them see you as an individual, not just as some abstract entity. The benefit? You will become more exciting and trustworthy in their eyes.

Here are several simple ideas on how to make a professional portfolio more personal:

  • Include some information about yourself, such as your hobbies and interests, so the viewers know more about you.
  • Mention your awards. If you were mentioned on TV, in the press, or somewhere else, add these—they will significantly enhance your image.
  • If you have a blog and update it regularly, include a link to it. But that’s, of course, if you decide that its contents will be appealing and attractive to your clients.

8. Emphasize the skills that you are selling

While it might be a good idea to demonstrate the breadth of your skills and expertise, to show that you are an interesting and skillful person, you should focus on the areas where you are seeking work.

Frankly speaking, it won’t harm you if your visitors want you to work on projects that you don’t wish to take. However, here is the problem: you can lose potential clients if they see a lot of “general” content in your portfolio rather than what they are specifically looking for.

a web designer developing a logo for a company

For example, if you want to work as a web designer, you should not show off your work as a photographer too much. If you do, those who are looking for a web designer might mistake you for a photographer and leave.

So, you can include a link to your other types of work somewhere in the margins. But make it clear that your focus is web design (for instance), and include more examples of this kind of work.

9. Show off only your best work

Another tip on how to create a digital portfolio that is effective is to choose its contents carefully. You should display only the best of what you have, because:

  • You want your visitors to stay on your page as long as possible–up to the point when they are ready to hire you. Therefore, if you display mediocre work, it is likely that they will simply leave before seeing better examples.
  • You also don’t want to show average work because if a viewer dislikes some of your projects, the chances are you will lose that customer. So, your digital portfolio is only as good as the worst of your projects demonstrated on it.

photos on different devices and a printed picture

  • There is no point in showing a lot of projects (25, for instance)—very few people, if any, will look at them all. You should show more than a few projects, of course. To display how broad a range of work you can do, you need to include perhaps 5–6 projects.

Also, do not forget that demonstrating only the best of your work does not just mean “those that you are proud of.” The key component here is the usefulness of your work for your clients. That is what should be emphasized.

For example, if you have testimonials from your customers that demonstrate the success of your work, do include them. What could be better than a referral from a previous client saying that you, for example, increased the daily visit frequency of their website by 35%, from 2,000 to 2,700?

10. Update your portfolio regularly

You should always remember to keep your professional e-portfolio fresh and up to date. It is a good idea to describe your latest projects and to include any new work that has received good reactions from your clients.

Your newer work will probably be better than your older projects, simply because you gain more experience and skill as you work. It doesn’t mean that you should dismiss your older projects as “outdated” when they are really good, however. Remember what we said before: you should only display the best of your work.

You should also keep in mind that when you update your portfolio, this can be a sign to visitors that you are active and looking for work.

11. Do not forget about SEO techniques

When thinking about how to create a portfolio displaying your skills, do not forget about making it visible to people. To do that, use some SEO (search engine optimization) in your portfolio so that it rates higher in the results of a Web search.

Consider this: what phrases will your potential clients use to find a worker? If they are looking for a photographer that lives in Washington, DC (for example), they will probably type something like “washington dc photographer for hire” or “washington dc freelance photographer” into a search engine. So, do make sure these words appear on your About Me page, and probably in several other places in your online professional portfolio.

washington dc photographer in google search

Also, keep in mind that today’s search engines look not only for keywords but also for their synonyms. These are called LSI keywords. You should include a few of these in your portfolio as well, to move it up the list of search results. But do not make them blatantly obvious.

12. Take other steps to increase traffic

You can direct potential customers to your professional e-portfolio, or you can make it so they find it without your assistance. This involves a lot of work, not in one go but over time. However, popularity always requires effort.

There are many options for a freelancer to popularize their website:

  • Share what you know with other freelancers
  • Display not only your projects but also the projects of others you like
  • Make useful instruments

Clearly, there are plenty of other options. If you are successful, maintaining the popularity of your website will probably feel more like a rewarding hobby than work for you.

Invest time in your portfolio, and you’ll get a reward.

So, there are our 12 portfolio design ideas you should use to create an online portfolio and make it effective.

Just remember: once you have created a portfolio, do not forget about it! You should update it regularly, as well as attract more traffic to it.

Always keep in mind to answer the questions your potential customers will have, and provide them with what they are looking for.

And, finally, remember that an online portfolio can be an automatic work generator–but you need to invest some time and effort for it to become one. So, find time for it, and eventually, your efforts will pay off.

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