Calling all artists, designers, photographers, and anybody else working in the creative sphere - this article is for you. However, even if you are not directly involved in the arts, don’t click off just yet - you might be surprised, since the information we are about to give might inspire you to create your own website dedicated to the sphere you are in. We’re here to talk online portfolios, and why they are absolutely crucial for anyone working in the creative field.
LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest - all of those are great. But do you know what’s even better? A personal website. It gets your name out there, generates credibility and - if designed well - gives you the WOW factor that makes you stand out from competition. If you don’t have an digital portfolio, now is the perfect time to create an unforgettable one that will have visitors rushing to admire your talents and see what you have to offer.
“A digital portfolio, what’s that?”
So, what exactly is an online portfolio? It’s a personal website, usually dedicated to showcasing some form of artwork - be it photography, architecture, web design, or anything in between. You can showcase your best projects, provide personal information, offer your services and even include an online store. The main benefit - everything is in one place, and not scattered around on various social media platforms. It’s like combining your Instagram, LinkedIn and CV, and choosing the most important, impressive information. People who are interested in your work and want to understand what you’re about - from supporters, to potential clients, to future employers - will be able to carry out a quick background check and get everything they need in one place. And that’s only the beginning.
It’s safe to say that anyone can benefit from having an personal website, but some career paths basically call for it. If you are a designer, photographer, videographer, architect, web or graphic designer, artist, web developer or even work in the sphere of marketing and branding, having an online portfolio is a must. Nonetheless, you don’t necessarily need to work in the creative field to create one. In this day and age, many people are opting to improve their online presence by building websites and showcasing their work via a personal website. Moreover, some of the benefits we are about to discuss below can apply to various industries, so take a read before you decide that a portfolio is irrelevant to your sphere of work. With that being said, let’s dive into the numerous benefits that an personal website can provide.
The Benefits of a Portfolio
1. Provides a platform to showcase your work
First and foremost, an online portfolio is there for you to show your final result to the world, on your own terms. You can choose the layout of your portfolio, what pieces to show at the forefront, provide background information on every piece/project and much more. Sure, you can technically showcase your work on platforms such as Instagram, but a website gives you the freedom and creativity to choose your display. For example, you can dedicate a section or even page to your latest projects, another section for award-winning pieces and even include an accessible archive. Moreover, your personality is also more likely to shine through when it’s your own website.
2. Amplifies your online presence
You’ve probably Googled people before, and taken them more seriously when their website was one of the first search results that popped up. A personal website will take your online presence to the next level and promote your brand. Moreover, it can also become a source of inspiration for other creative-minded people. Your website might start getting featured on various platforms across the web, and gain significant popularity if the aesthetics are up to par. Showcasing your work on your own platform will put you one step ahead in terms of professionalism and dedication to your craft.
3. Good for future clients and potential employers
Say you want to expand your client base, or are planning to send in your resume for that dream job position. An excellent addition to your CV and current internet presence is a digital portfolio. Considering that most employers do a background check on their employees prior to calling them in for an interview or hiring them, having your own personal website will definitely elevate you. If your portfolio is one of the first links that pops up when someone searches you up on Google, it will convey a degree of professionalism and dedication to your work. Moreover, it can put you one step ahead of other candidates.
Likewise, potential clients are also more likely to be impressed and consider your service if they see that you have taken the time to build an online portfolio. It allows you to present your work the way you want, in the context you want, and reflects your personal aesthetic. Future clients will be able to get a better idea of what image you are selling and will be encouraged to pick you over other artists/designers etc.
And finally, an online portfolio is an excellent time-saving tool for future employers and clients. Considering how busy the current generation is, looking closely through resumes and social media profiles is not at the top of most people’s lists. An websiteis like a one-stop shop for everything: your background, achievements and best works. Plus, it shows a degree of awareness from your side and the desire to make people’s lives a little bit easier.
4. Reflects your personality and creativity
As we briefly mentioned above, an online portfolio is a great reflection of who you are as a person and professional. You can choose how to present yourself, what works to display, what achievements to list and even the layout. Actually, design and layout are key here. Unlike social media or a resume, you can pick the colors, visuals, fonts and even animations which best reflect your personal style. You can even show your sense of humor if you wish to do so, and make yourself look more approachable.
The beauty of a portfolio also lies in the fact that you can edit it at the click of a button. Likewise, you can add as much new content as you wish. We recommend updating your website consistently, especially if you are constantly working on new projects and there is a lot going on in your life. And even if there isn’t, there will still be fresh content from time to time that you can upload to your website. Don’t let your portfolio just sit there and collect dust. You want people to click on it and see what you are doing now, and how you are progressing as a professional. An online portfolio is also a reflection of your learning process.
One tip to amplify this effect: start a blog. It’s a good way of letting your personality shine through whilst also updating your audience on the various aspects of your life. People do this with Instagram all the time - they post the best pictures on their profile, and everything else to their stories. The only difference is that a blog is permanent, so people will be able to click on your blog and see what you’ve been up to.
5. Establishes your personal brand
Building on the previous benefit, an online portfolio helps you to create your own personal brand and get your name out there. By choosing the design of your website, you are already creating your own aesthetic and “mood”, so to speak. Thrown in a logo, and you are good to go. It’s great to set an overall theme for your website, especially one that matches your work and personality. Unlike other platforms, a website allows you to create a specific image for yourself and therefore establish your personal brand.
6. Displays consistency and professionalism
You need to be passionate and dedicated to your work to go the extra mile and create a portfolio. This is both a visual and verbal example of the level of dedication you put into your craft. Likewise, it also shows your level of understanding when it comes to making a name for yourself, and how to do it the right way. The overall impression from this is that you prefer to showcase your work on your own platform, on your own terms.
How to Make a Digital Portfolio
Now that you know why an online portfolio is important, let’s learn how to create one. Unless you are somewhat of a website designer yourself, we don’t recommend creating one from scratch. It’s best to seek the services of a web designer or - even better - use a website builder to build yours. The benefit of opting to use a website builder as an online portfolio creator is that you get to design your portfolio exactly how you want, instead of trying to explain your vision to someone else. And don’t worry, most website builders are created for people who have never dabbled in web design in their life. For example, our own website builder is designed for newbies in mind, so take your time to check out various builders and pick the one which best suits your goals.
Although creating a website with a builder is quite easy, we want to guide you through some of the key steps that are absolutely necessary to consider when creating an online portfolio that withstands competition. The advice below is pretty universal, so let’s go through it.
1. Create a website for your portfolio
Select a website builder and choose a plan and domain name. After that’s sorted, you can pick a template and play around with it or keep the default design if it suits your brand - it’s up to you.
Make sure to compress any images if necessary in order to avoid slow loading time, and make your website as user-friendly as possible. User experience should also be a priority.
2. Set the structure
Make sure you have the following pages/sections:
Introduction (a bit about yourself)
Services you offer
You can also include other pages or sections such as a blog, store section (if you are selling your work) and achievements (e.g. awards, nominations, prizes).
3. Showcase your work
If you have a substantial number of projects or works, you might want to showcase your best pieces - quality over quantity. You can also divide your work into various categories such as “New”, “Award-winning”, “Older projects” and so on, so that the visitor can immediately find what they are looking for. Make sure the quality is up to par; low-quality images and videos are a no-go. Also, remember to provide context for each project; include a name, brief description and why the project was a success and what makes it special to you - all of this is very interesting to the visitor. And most importantly, remember to update your portfolio regularly.
4. Present your services
If you are looking for work or new projects, you need to be clear about what you have to offer, and that you are readily available to provide a service. This includes listing every service you have to offer, as well as the price (if you choose to make this information public). Likewise, you need to give a guarantee that your final result will be of the highest quality. In short, your list of services should be clear and concise. With that, you are very likely to expand your client base or even get a very good job offer.
5. Provide key information about yourself
When presenting yourself as an artist/professional, there are important things to include aside from a basic description of yourself. First of all, make sure to list your achievements and skills, at least briefly. You can also include testimonials from previous clients or employers, since they will increase validity and show what value you bring to every project and job. If you are searching for employment, make sure that this is very clear in your description; the same goes for freelance work. Make sure people know you are available, instead of leaving them to assume whether you are or not.
6. Include your contact info
This speaks for itself. Make sure to provide the necessary contact information so that potential clients and employers can easily contact you. This section should be consistently updated if anything in your contact information changes.
7. A few online portfolio tips
Your portfolio should be available on all devices: desktop, tablet and mobile.
Don’t go overboard with a quirky design; unless your brand absolutely calls for it, simplicity is key a lot of the time.
Dabble a bit in SEO (search engine optimization); include relevant keywords in your content, and optimize your metatitles and metadescriptions for each page.
Test out your website once it’s finalized, or get someone to test it for you. Make sure any flaws are spotted and corrected.
We decided to further discuss this topic with our art director Mher, who has created several portfolios in his time. As someone with extensive experience in this field, he definitely had some insights on the topic, which you can check out in this mini-interview below:
What is the main benefit of having an online portfolio?
You present yourself and your work exactly the way you want to, and really put yourself out there.
What professions definitely require a portfolio?
If you are an artist or designer, you need one for sure. At the end of the day, any professional can create one, but it’s a must for anyone working in the creative industry.
In your opinion, what is the best layout/design?
There are two key aspects to the design of a portfolio:
1. Less is more. Keep it minimal and stay away from flashy designs.
2. Provide all of the necessary information straight away. It should be at the forefront of your website.
What advice can you give in terms of deciding what work to include?
You need to include your best work, and provide context for it. Don’t overcrowd your portfolio with every single piece or minor detail.
What about providing personal information?
I prefer to start with the basics, such as my name, age, workplace and professional experience. However, I also like to speak about my hobbies and passions so that people get a better idea of who I am as a person. I might dedicate a couple of sentences to my love for windsurfing, or mention the genre of music which makes me feel like my best self.
Ok thanks Mher, any final advice for people just starting to create their portfolio?
Sure. Make sure to take the following points into account:
Less is more
Aesthetics and content is key
Avoid fancy animations - don’t do too much
Don’t crowd your website with too much text
For more inspiration, check out these great artist portfolio designs.
So that’s a wrap! Creating an online portfolio will reap many benefits, including a wider audience, a more professional image, a stronger personal brand and even more work opportunities. We’ve covered the advantages, given a brief overview on how to make an online portfolio and even shared key tips from our art director. Now it’s your time to shine. Make a name for yourself as a creative soul and build your website today.