If you’re interested in learning how to make a graphic design portfolio from the get-go, then you can scroll all the way down below to see the guide.
However, if you have a few minutes to spare, then you might be interested in reading this post from the beginning.
A lot of designers tend to hesitate when it comes to creating an online portfolio. They think that it’s expensive and that there are a lot of coding and other technicalities involved.
I’m here to tell you that creating an online portfolio is as easy as abc. And contrary to popular belief, it’s also inexpensive and damn right simple to implement.
After reading this post, you’ll learn how to find your hosting, create a URL, build the look of your online portfolio and create your blog – all in under 15 minutes. The longest part of this process is finding your theme… but that’s also the most fun part.
No matter how great your portfolio is,
No matter how many years of experience you have,
No matter how much skill you have,
If the design of your online portfolio sucks, you could seriously be losing out on valuable clients.
The dangers of a badly designed online portfolio
Let’s think of it this way.
Would you rather hire an accountant whose office is in a broke down building with the wallpaper falling off and cockroaches roaming around?
Even if this guy had great skills and could probably give you useful advice, deep down, would you really trust this person with your hard-earned cash?
Or would you rather spend a bit more money and hire an accountant that has a decent office in a nice neighbourhood.
You may not think this is much but below I’ll explain the thought process behind why you’re most likely to hire this type of accountant.
By the look of this accountant’s office, you know that they must be earning a decent income in order to maintain it.
Since these guys are earning a good income, it must also mean that they have a decent amount of clients.
And since they have a decent amount of clients, it should also mean that their clients trust them with their money, which means that your money should be safe with them as well.
Now, lets see how we can use this example for your portfolio.
I know this example is a bit on the extreme side, but would you honestly hire this person to design your website?
The first time you see someone, before they even say a word, you have already sized them up in the first 3 seconds.
In your mind, you’ve already created an image of how this person speaks, what kind of personality they have and how reliable they are.
Now tell me, if you went to the above site, would you stick around and see what kind of service they provide or will you instantly hit the ‘close’ button?
Looking at Jacob’s portfolio, you know straight away that you’ll be getting your money’s worth. The design of his portfolio clearly shows that he knows what he’s doing.
If you’re looking to hire a designer and you came across Jacob’s site, would you stick around longer to see what else he does?
I know I would.
The design of your online portfolio reflects what kind of person you are and what kind of service you provide. By having a well-designed portfolio, it will instantly boost your credibility, differentiate you from your peers and will gain you respect.
Be a boss and have your own URL
Another benefit that comes with creating an online portfolio is that you get to create your own URL.
I’ve seen tons of great portfolio sites that are only missing one thing.
Their own URL.
I know for a fact they’re losing out on paying clients just because of this one problem.
Which one seems more professional, RahatBashar.Behance.com or RahatBashar.com?
Personally, the latter sounds much better. It even has a nice ring to it… but that’s just me.
Ever since I’ve changed my URL to a personal one, I have seen a dramatic increase in enquiries from potential clients.
Build authority with your blog
Later on, I’ll be showing you how to create your blog with WordPress. Most of the popular blogs you see online, run on WordPress mostly because of the ease of using it and also because of its seemingly endless capabilities.
A blog is a pretty awesome marketing tool.
By having a blog on the same site as your online portfolio, you’ll be able to gain authority and clients will be less reluctant to hire you since you’ve already proved your skills.
I remember reading a post on Chris Spooner’s blog about how he got hired after a client saw his post on skateboard design. So I decided to send him an email so that he could elaborate more on this.
That’s right! This particular example is the work I created for the band Fall Out Boy. The previous week I’d posted a tutorial on how to design a skateboard deck, which was something I’d never done before. I created the tutorial just to give myself an opportunity to design on such a platform. I then received an email from a guy from a merchandising company who said he’d seen my work and liked what he saw. He then asked if I wanted to design a skateboard deck, t-shirt and hoodie design for the band’s new album launch. Without my blog I would have never landed this kind of project.
If you’ve created a blog post that showcases your talent, you’ll have ensured the client that you have the right skills and techniques to do the work properly. You would have also removed any doubts that the client may have had.
The design of your portfolio, your URL, your personal blog that is naturally connected to your portfolio site – all of these things add up and make you seem like a professional. And because you look like a pro, you’re more likely to get higher paying clients.
And that’s what we all need right? A couple of high paying clients so that we can enjoy doing what we love and worry less about where the next pay check is coming from.
This is a brief guide on how to create an online portfolio. I’ll be discussing it in more detail later.
I created it since you might need it later. Feel free to save it for future reference, or even better, you can Pin It onto your Pinterest board.
The three steps to creating a kick-ass online portfolio
1. Domain name and hosting
Creating a domain name and finding your hosting can all be done in one place and in one go.
From experience, I would highly recommend that you use BlueHost. The hosting is only $3.95 per month and they also have a great service. I personally use them for a couple of my client’s websites. Not only is the hosting low-cost but it also comes with other features as well. Such as a free domain name, unlimited email accounts and a $100 Google advertising offer.
During the signup process, you’ll need to first create your custom URL. I would recommend that you use your name in the URL, that way it makes you seem more personal.
The next step is to finalise your purchase. Though not necessary, you may want to tick the ‘Domain Whois Privacy’ box. This basically protects personal address and phone number from being displayed to the public.
After logging into your Bluehost control panel, scroll down to the ‘Blogs’ category and click on ‘Wordpress’.
Simply click install and it will take you to the next section.
On this part, choose your domain name then click ‘Complete’. After taking this step, you’ll be given your login details so be sure to keep them safe as you’ll need to use them on a regular basis.
3. Install theme
Ok, so this is the fun part. You’ll probably be spending a couple of hours (I spent 4) searching for your theme and testing them out.
There are three great sites that sell portfolio themes, so I’ll list them out to you.
If you’re on a tight budget, then ElegantThemes is the way to go. You can get all 81 of their themes for only $40.
If you have a bit more money to invest, then I would HIGHLY recommend that you purchase your portfolio theme from StudioPress. I’ve poured a lot of money down the drain purchasing different themes and then finding issues with them later. I then started to see numerous popular bloggers giving some seriously good feedback for the Genesis framework.
So what did I do?
I straightaway purchased my first theme from them and… let’s just say that I would gladly pay double of what they’re asking.
Not only do they sell awesome themes, but since they all run on the Genesis framework, the backend of all their themes is simply mind-blowing. They also have a free in-depth guide available if you have no clue how on how to customize your portfolio.
Now, if any of the portfolio themes from the other two sites are not to your taste, then you should think about purchasing a theme from ThemeForest. They have a wide range of developers that create a huge number of themes for them.
From experience, I would suggest that you purchase your themes from ThemeZilla. They have a ton of good portfolio themes and also have a great forum where you could ask any question you want and they usually reply within the same day.
FINALLY, it’s time to install your portfolio theme
Sign in to your WordPress. The URL should be something like this:
After you’ve logged in, click Appearance (on the left sidebar)> Themes> Install Themes> Upload.
Still have questions about creating an online portfolio?
Creating websites that convert is my forte and I’ve produced a handful of websites for freelancers. There’s too much that goes into a creating a great online portfolio to cover fully here, so if you still have questions feel free to email me and I’ll do my best to respond promptly.