Hiring managers treat an online portfolio as a first pass – a kind of pre-audition – to determine whether a creative pro merits further consideration. Clients do, too. Without a standout digital portfolio, you won’t get the business you need to grow your career. If you don’t yet have a digital portfolio, or if yours could use some updating, here are some ways to get started.
Build It, They Will Come
You don’t have to fuss with registering for your own domain name and creating a website from scratch when there are so many easy-to-use portfolio hosts out there. Sites like Behance, Coroflot and Carbonmade enable you to showcase your designs in a few simple steps – no coding required. From your browser, you set up an account, upload images and publish.
Most sites have a free option for basic design and hosting services. In some cases, you’ll have to pay more to get more, such as having your own domain name, private galleries, third-party integration, social media tie-ins and extra storage. Each service offers different free and paid options, so do your homework before selecting one.
If possible, opt to have your own domain name. It’s more powerful to have “yourname.com” as the URL instead of your name after a slash or period. That’s why you shouldn’t rely on Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn or Flickr as the primary host of your digital portfolio. Link to your portfolio’s URL every chance you get – via resumes, business card, email signature, social media profiles and blog comments.
Elements of a Killer Digital Portfolio
Hiring managers and clients look at dozens of portfolios each week. Make yours stand out with the following tips.
- Recent and relevant: Be ruthless in editing your online portfolio. Just because you can upload 1,000 images doesn’t mean you should. Include only your best and most recent work. Don’t go back more than five years unless an older campaign was especially impressive.
- Variety: Show versatility, breadth and depth. You want enough variety that your selections might appeal to different audiences but don’t include just any item. Make sure your body of work represents your key strengths and areas of focus. If appropriate, include images from starting concepts to final results.
- User-friendly experience: Your online portfolio needs to be uncluttered and easy to navigate. Organize samples by category (e.g., posters, brochures, branding/logos) and make sure the site is optimized for tablet and smartphone viewing.
- Unified theme: Make the look and feel of your digital portfolio match the rest of your branded materials. This means using the same fonts, colors, graphics and layout style in your resume, business card and online presence.
- Engaging text: Since your digital portfolio has to do the talking for you, use catchy titles and few but meaningful words to help readers understand your specific role in a project and the thinking behind your creative process.
If you’re a newbie to digital portfolios and aren’t quite sure where to begin, a workshop may be just what you need. Check out The Creative Group executive director Diane Domeyer’s HOW Design Live session on “Putting Together and Pitching a Digital Portfolio That Lands You Work” on Thursday, May 15, at 3:15 p.m. ET.
Is it time to create or refresh your portfolio? Whip your portfolio into shape in this intensive Portfolio Bootcamp.