How to Create an Impressive Online Portfolio (with Examples) (2022)

Online portfolios are like show-and-tell for professionals.

You’ve spent weeks, months, maybe even years developing skills, studying, and working—now you get to put your results on display. You might be tempted to paste a few links on a one-page website and call it a day. But as competitive as the hiring process can be, you’ll need to do more to make your portfolio pop.

In this post, I’ll address who needs an online portfolio (hint: everyone), how to create one that suits your needs, and highlight some top-notch examples to help inspire your own.

Who Should Have a Portfolio?

Considering the countless hours we all spend online and the rise of online networking, having a web presence that showcases your talent is a must. Put yourself in an employer’s shoes: Wouldn’t you trust a candidate whose work you can see instead of having to take their word for it or relying on a stale resume?

With that said, here are some career paths where online portfolios are an absolute must:

  • Photographers
  • Videographers
  • Architects
  • Graphic Designers
  • Artists
  • Advertisers
  • Web Developers
  • Writers

I’ll dive deeper into ideas and examples for your portfolio later in this post. But for now, just know that if you create anything, you need a portfolio.

“But My Work Doesn’t Have Any Visuals”

Even if your interests don’t fall under the umbrella of “creative” work, having a portfolio is still possible and definitely advantageous.

Maybe you’re studying chemistry, nursing, HR, or another subject that doesn’t require as many bells and whistles as other majors. Even so, employers still want to see what you’ve accomplished with your time, and a portfolio can put that on display. Not to mention, you’ll be a step ahead of others who only have cookie-cutter resumes. Here are a few portfolio ideas for work that’s not so visually oriented:

Case Studies

One of the best ways to demonstrate authority in a subject is through case studies. This is an opportunity to show prospective employers how you think, work, and solve problems. The best part? You don’t need to know design to make a killer case study. For a deep dive into case studies, check out this guide from HubSpot.

Research

That’s right, history majors: you’re not exempt from portfolios either. Whether you want to become a teacher, a lawyer, or anything else, showcasing your ability to research and distill information is a valuable skill that can easily be translated into an online portfolio.

Lab Reports

If you’re in medical-related fields such as nursing or pre-med, chances are you’re stretched pretty thin for time. With that said, repurposing lab reports is an easy way to show what you’ve been up to in, well, the lab. All you’ll need to do is convert them to PDFs and add the links on your website.

Presentations

Nearly every major in college requires a presentation at some point. If you’ve suffered through research and public speaking, why not include the finished product as a portfolio piece? You can embed a slideshow into your website or, better yet, include a video of you presenting.

Certifications

If your potential career values or requires any type of certifications, it’s in your best interest to put them on display in your portfolio once you earn them. This can be as simple as a blurb, such as “Google Adwords Certified” or a screenshot of the actual certification if it was completed online.

(Video) How to Create an Online Portfolio with ZERO Experience | Work From Home Beginner PH [CC English Sub]

How to Create an Online Portfolio

If you’ve read this far, chances are I know two things about you: you don’t have an online portfolio (or need a better one) and you need help building it. In this section, we’ll explore what needs to go into your portfolio and some useful tools to button it up and make it legit.

Create Your Website

(If you already have a website, skip on down to the next step.)

First things first: if you don’t have a website, make one—right now. A personal website is the most important networking and professional development tool you can have. Traditional resumes (black text on white paper) are becoming less relevant. They go out of date as soon as you accomplish something new, not to mention exchanging resumes is way more of a hassle than exchanging website links.

Bottom line: you need a website. To build one, check out our ultimate guide to building a personal website.

Don’t worry, we’ll be waiting for you when you get back.

Choose Your Best Work

Think of your portfolio like a highlight reel—you want to be selective. Before you dive headfirst into the details and design of your portfolio, take some time to reflect on what work you’re most proud of. Remember, you’re going for quality, not quantity. If you’re on the fence as to whether something is good enough to include, chances are you probably shouldn’t.

For example: As a writer, it doesn’t make sense for me to link to every single article I’ve ever written. Instead, I created a tab on my website called “Popular Articles” where I list 10 of my best-performing or best-written articles.

How to Create an Impressive Online Portfolio (with Examples) (1)

Designing Your Own Portfolio vs. Using a Theme

Once you have a website and select your best work, it’s time to decide whether you’re going to design your own portfolio or use a pre-built theme. There are advantages and disadvantages for both options, so I’ll dive into each one and offer some resources.

Building from Scratch

If you’re a web developer, a graphic designer, or if you’re just proficient in web design, creating your own online portfolio is a smart move. When you create a site from scratch (be sure to mention you did so), the site itself becomes a portfolio piece in addition to the work you showcase.

On the other hand, if you decide to build your own portfolio and it doesn’t turn out well, that can create a bad first impression. Whether you’re a pro coder or just learning the ropes, you should always get a second set of eyes on your portfolio before you hit “Publish.”

Free WordPress Themes

If your field of study isn’t visually-oriented (or you don’t have a lot of spare time), a pre-designed template can be a life-saver. Website builders like WordPress have thousands of themes to choose from, most of which can be customized if you choose to do so. But rather than sorting through endless options, here are a few suggestions for free WordPress portfolio themes:

Ignis

(Video) How I Made My Online Portfolio!

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This theme’s sleek design and bold lettering will help your portfolio make a statement. Most importantly, Ignis makes it easy to display organize your portfolio items on the backend. Overall, Ignis has a minimalist feel with plenty of wiggle room to add your personal touch.

Photomania

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If you’re a photographer, this theme was designed just for you. With a responsive design and the ability to add custom logos, colors, and fonts, Photomania is a solid theme for photographers of any kind.

Portfolio

How to Create an Impressive Online Portfolio (with Examples) (4)

The name says it all: if you don’t need all the bells and whistles but still want to make a statement, this minimalist theme will do the trick. You can go hands-off with Portfolio, or take control with color schemes, animations, and custom fonts.

.TUBE

How to Create an Impressive Online Portfolio (with Examples) (5)

If you’re a vlogger, filmmaker, videographer, or film editor, .TUBE is an awesome theme that allows you to easily embed your work into your site. .TUBE lets you display video thumbnails in a grid on your homepage, so visitors don’t have to search around your site to find your masterpieces.

Wisteria

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For not-so-visual portfolios, Wisteria is a simple theme that’s focused on content rather than images or videos. The simple navigation menu makes it easy for visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for. You’ll still be able to customize your background, colors, and sidebars if you like, or keep it plain-vanilla.

Additional Portfolio Builders

You aren’t limited to WordPress when building your portfolio, of course. Here are a few popular tools to simplify the process:

PortfolioBox

This tool has everything you need to create a professional portfolio website right in your own web browser.

(Video) Make A KILLER PORTFOLIO In 2022! (Don't Fall Behind)

Adobe Portfolio

Adobe is arguably the most trusted brand for digital design, and their portfolio building tool lives up to the hype. This tool includes web hosting and unlimited pages (plus there’s a free version).

Jimdo

Jimdo is a great resource for creative types like photographers, artists, and designers, but its functionality can really cater to a portfolio of any kind. Jimdo also offers dozens of examples to help you get your juices flowing.

What to Include in Your Portfolio

There are countless resources out there that provide an overwhelming amount of information about what needs to be included in your portfolio, but we’re going to stick with the basics. Sometimes, simple is better. After all, people don’t have all day to sift through your website.

Who Are You?

That’s a valid question, especially for a hiring manager. As I mentioned in my article about interview questions, it can be tempting to ramble about your life story, but most people aren’t interested. When it comes to the introduction on your portfolio, a sentence or two about who you are and what you do along with a headshot will suffice. Let your work do the rest of the talking.

For example:

Hey, there! My name is Jane Smith and I build websites that make clients wish they’d met me years earlier.

Your Work (Time to Brag)

This is where reputations are won and lost. Now that [insert internet user] has found your site and read your intro, it’s time to knock their socks off with your portfolio pieces. The website theme that you use (or code yourself) will ultimately determine how your portfolio looks, but there are a few things that still need your attention:

Context

What was your scope of work? Were you assigned this project or did you take it on yourself? This doesn’t have to be a lengthy explanation—a couple sentences should do the trick. Here’s a simple example from Ashley N. Diers:

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Results

(Video) HOW TO BUILD ONLINE PORTFOLIO IN DIGITAL MARKETING (3 WAYS!)

Did you increase sales? Was a client thrilled? Don’t just show viewers the end result—tell them what you achieved. This is your chance to sell yourself. Pretty pictures are great, but results write the checks. Testimonials are a great way to highlight successful projects that don’t have tangible results. Luckily, WordPress has dozens of testimonial plugins (this one is my favorite).

Contact Page

Now that you’ve introduced yourself and showcased your work, you need to give people an opportunity to get in touch. The best way to do that is with a contact page.

You have two options:

  1. Find a theme that has a built-in contact page template
  2. Add a contact form to a page using a plugin or by simply listing your email address.

Either way, it’s really easy.

Here’s Thomas’ contact page from his personal website (just don’t spam him, or else he’ll blame me.)

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Inspiration

Now that we’ve covered the basics of building a stellar online portfolio, you’re probably eager to get cracking. Here are a few of my favorite examples to help guide your own design:

Kristin Wong

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Kristin has an ideal website for a writer: her portfolio, blog, about page, and contact page are all on the home page, plus she has media logos of the outlets she’s been featured in for extra credibility. Bonus points: Thomas interviewed her on the College Info Geek Podcast.

Michael Tunney

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Michael has taught me a ton about the freelance biz, most notably the importance of social proof (aka testimonials). He has a simple testimonial section on his website that he actively updates, and it’s in plain sight as soon as you scroll down the home page.

Dan Birman

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Dan is a product designer at Uber. What stood out to me is the minimalist effect that can be replicated in essentially any portfolio. There’s no fluff or jargon. This portfolio proves that sometimes, less is more.

Got Questions?

Hopefully, you found this article to be a useful resource as you build or update your online portfolio. If you need further assistance or have general website questions, check out our personal website guide.

You can also check out our list of 50 awesome personal website examples for more ideas on how you can optimize your site even further.

Now, go build that rockstar portfolio.

(Video) How to Make a Personal Portfolio | Online Portfolio Quick Tutorial

Image Credits: featured

FAQs

How do I make an online impressive portfolio? ›

Five Tips For Creating An Impressive Portfolio
  1. HIGHLIGHT YOUR VERSATILITY.
  2. REVEAL THE PROCESS.
  3. KEEP IT SIMPLE AND ACCESSIBLE.
  4. EMBRACE WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE.
13 Jan 2021

How do I make my portfolio impressive? ›

4 Secrets to Building a Portfolio That'll Make Everyone Want to...
  1. Figure Out What You're Showing Off. Before you can figure out how to best create your online portfolio, you need to understand what you want others to see. ...
  2. Keep it Simple. ...
  3. Make it Easy to Navigate. ...
  4. Remember It's Not Just About Your Work.
22 Dec 2020

What is online portfolio example? ›

An online portfolio is created by or for designers, photographers, and the likes. It showcases their previous works that speak loud about their creative skills. It comes in different forms - a shareable folder, blogs, one-page websites, multi-page websites, job experience timelines, etc.

How do you create a portfolio example? ›

How To Make A Portfolio?
  1. Identify your best work samples. ...
  2. Create a contents section. ...
  3. Include your resume. ...
  4. Add a personal statement outlining your professional goals. ...
  5. List out your hard skills and expertise. ...
  6. Attach samples of your best work. ...
  7. Include recommendations and testimonials from credible sources.

What makes a good online portfolio? ›

The best portfolio sites simply frame the actual work. The less distracting that 'frame' is, the better. More often than not, over fussy, loud, cluttered portfolio sites are over-compensating for mediocre work. Simple is always best.

What are 5 things a great portfolio includes? ›

What Should My Portfolio Contain?
  • Table of Contents.
  • Career and professional development goals, tailored for each interviewer.
  • Work philosophy statement; personal mission statement.
  • List of areas of expertise.
  • Works in progress (activities and projects)

What are examples of student portfolios? ›

That means a portfolio could include anything from samples of writing the child has done, tests the student has completed, pictures of the child in the classroom, notes from a teacher about things the child has said or accomplished, self-assessments by a student, and more.

What are the 3 types of portfolio? ›

For example, Danielson and Abrutyn (1997) identify three major types of portfolios: working portfolios, display portfolios, and assessment portfolios.

What should a portfolio include example? ›

What to include in your portfolio
  • Biographical information. An “about me” section in your work portfolio is an opportunity to tell your potential clients or employer a bit more about you. ...
  • Skills and abilities. ...
  • Education and certifications. ...
  • Resume. ...
  • List of accomplishments. ...
  • References or testimonials. ...
  • Samples of your work.
26 Jul 2022

How do I write my first page of my portfolio? ›

While there are many templates within word processing programs you can use, designing your own portfolio cover page will better present your skills and personality to recruiters.
...
How to design a portfolio cover page
  1. Open a blank document.
  2. Create a design.
  3. Type the title and your information.
  4. Proofread.

What are the 7 steps of portfolio process? ›

Processes of Portfolio Management
  1. Step 1 – Identification of objectives. ...
  2. Step 2 – Estimating the capital market. ...
  3. Step 3 – Decisions about asset allocation. ...
  4. Step 4 – Formulating suitable portfolio strategies. ...
  5. Step 5 – Selecting of profitable investment and securities. ...
  6. Step 6 – Implementing portfolio. ...
  7. Step 7 – ...
  8. Step 8 –

How do I write a portfolio about myself? ›

You can write about yourself using the following steps:
  1. Begin with an attention-grabbing introduction. ...
  2. Mention your relevant professional experience. ...
  3. Include important awards and achievements. ...
  4. Share relevant personal details. ...
  5. End with a professional yet friendly tone.

What makes a successful portfolio? ›

Putting it all together: a successful portfolio finds that perfect blend of your personality, prominence of work, simplicity, and ease of use that makes your portfolio stand out from the crowd and achieve your goals.

What are the 4 qualities effective of portfolio? ›

When we use the term “well-constructed portfolio,” we mean a portfolio that contains the following four key traits.
  • Effective Diversification. What do you think of when you think of a diversified portfolio? ...
  • Active Management. ...
  • Cost Efficiency. ...
  • Tax Efficiency.
12 Oct 2016

What is the most important part of a portfolio? ›

The pictures in your portfolio are, without question, the most important aspect overall. If the photographs of your previous projects look unprofessional, it's unlikely that prospective clients will want to put their trust in you for their building project when they can't even see the quality of your work properly.

What are the 5 types of portfolio? ›

Types of Portfolio Investment
  • The Aggressive Portfolio.
  • The Defensive Portfolio.
  • The Income Portfolio.
  • The Speculative Portfolio.
  • The Hybrid Portfolio.

How do you make a good creative portfolio? ›

Six easy steps to create a successful online portfolio
  1. Keep it simple and remember your goals. ...
  2. Present only your best work and keep it varied. ...
  3. Use quality images and tell the story. ...
  4. Add an About page and write a compelling bio. ...
  5. Make yourself stand out from the competition.
18 Feb 2015

What are elements of a good portfolio? ›

12 elements of a career portfolio
  • Career summary. A career summary is a short paragraph that describes your relevant work experience, skills and professional accomplishments. ...
  • Mission statement. ...
  • Brief biography. ...
  • Resume. ...
  • Marketable skills. ...
  • Professional accomplishments. ...
  • Work samples. ...
  • Awards.
23 Nov 2021

What a portfolio looks like? ›

Your portfolio should contain written and visual overviews of projects and significant pieces of work that you've managed or been involved with. It should also include an insight into skills you have, methods you've used, the impact of your work, along with any relevant outcomes and / or lessons you've learned.

How do I write a student portfolio for me examples? ›

  • Introduce yourself. Tell readers who you are in the first line of your portfolio introduction. ...
  • Aim for a friendly, casual tone. ...
  • Decide which professional experience to include. ...
  • Consider listing awards and accolades. ...
  • Add a few personal details. ...
  • Include a photo of yourself. ...
  • Proofread and edit.

What is portfolio format? ›

A portfolio format is a template that guides a writer in creating a writing portfolio. Most portfolios will include a cover letter, body, additional work, final written work, reflective essay, and a source page if applicable.

What is the most commonly used portfolio? ›

Paper Portfolio: As you know, the most common form of portfolios is a collection of paper products such as essays, problem sets, journal entries, posters, etc. Most products produced in classrooms are still in paper form, so it makes sense to find ways to collect, select from and reflect upon these items.

What is the 2 main type of portfolios? ›

There are two main types of portfolios: Showcase Portfolios: Students select and submit their best work. The showcase portfolio emphasizes the products of learning. Developmental Portfolios: Students select and submit pieces of work that can show evidence of growth or change over time.

What is an example of a student portfolio assessment? ›

Portfolio assessments ask students or teachers to collect work products that show growth over a specific period of time. Examples of work products include collections of student essays, artwork, lab reports or reading logs.

How do I present my portfolio online? ›

In conclusion, there are 6 steps to remember for all scenarios:
  1. Introduce the project and why you're including it.
  2. Explain the creative brief and who the client is. ...
  3. Tell them what your role was.
  4. Tell them what the results were. ...
  5. Pay attention to your audience, whether in person or on the phone and present accordingly.
17 Jul 2022

How do you come up with a portfolio idea? ›

Read on for 20 top tips from the pros themselves.
  • Be thoughtful about what you include. Liz Designs Things. ...
  • Select only your strongest pieces. ...
  • Showcase your most unique and creative work. ...
  • Go for variety. ...
  • Decide on how many pieces to include. ...
  • Do you need a physical portfolio? ...
  • Go high-resolution. ...
  • Stay current.

What is project portfolio and example? ›

A portfolio in project management refers to a grouping of projects, and programs. It can also include other project-related activities and responsibilities. The purpose of a portfolio is to establish centralized management and oversight for many projects and programs.

What are methods of portfolio? ›

The portfolio method is a type of assessment emphasizes writing process over writing product. Many composition instructors teach writing as process over product. Thus, the portfolio method, which also helps teachers to align their instruction with their assessment.

How do I make a portfolio with no experience? ›

Building Your Creative Portfolio with No Work Experience
  1. Just start creating.
  2. Don't be too picky.
  3. Create for the industry you want to enter.
  4. Use social media to your advantage.
13 May 2020

How do I write about my portfolio with no experience? ›

The way you to do it is to thoroughly analyze your past experiences. Make a list of every job you've ever had. Include volunteer experiences and major projects you've worked on in the past. For each of those roles, write down and circle anything writing related you may have done.

How many writing samples are in a portfolio? ›

Gather your best writing samples

As a rule, you'll want anywhere between 10 and 20 pieces. Too few and it's hard for people to get a true idea of your work, too many and people will feel overwhelmed. As with most things in life, when building a writing portfolio you should value quality over quantity.

What are the three elements of portfolio strategy? ›

Portfolio Management is about the Big Picture view that sets the objective criteria for identifying, ranking, positioning and selecting new application and change delivery projects. PPM has three elements that are critical to application delivery: Collaboration, ForeSight and Risk Management.

What are the 2 methods of optimizing portfolio? ›

Portfolio optimization often takes place in two stages: optimizing weights of asset classes to hold, and optimizing weights of assets within the same asset class.

How do you create a student portfolio? ›

How to Make a Portfolio for School
  1. Step 1: Determine the purpose of the portfolio. ...
  2. Step 2: Create an evaluation plan. ...
  3. Step 3: Organize the portfolio. ...
  4. Step 4: Select what content will be included in the portfolio. ...
  5. Step 5: Determine what format the portfolio will take.
14 Oct 2021

What are the contents of your portfolio answer? ›

As you begin to create your portfolio, there are several different categories that you should consider: Personal Information, Values, Personal Goals and History, Accomplishments and Job History, Skills and Attributes, Education and Training as well as Testimonials and Recommendations.

What should an online art portfolio look like? ›

When it comes to your portfolio's design, clean and professional always should be top of your list. No distracting backgrounds. No crazy fonts for large chunks of text. Everything should be easy—easy to read, easy to navigate, easy to understand quickly who you are as an artist.

What is portfolio and examples? ›

A portfolio is a place where you keep examples of work that you are proudest of. It will often be in the form of a website, but it is also possible to use a platform such as Instagram to increase your visibility. A few Wix portfolio templates.

What are the 4 types of portfolio? ›

4 Common Types of Portfolio
  • Conservative portfolio. This type is also called a defensive portfolio or a capital preservation portfolio. ...
  • Aggressive portfolio. Also known as a capital appreciation portfolio. ...
  • Income portfolio. ...
  • Socially responsible portfolio.
25 Jul 2022

How do you write an art portfolio example? ›

What Should an Art Portfolio Include?
  1. Finished artwork.
  2. Examples of sketches or working documents that show your creative process.
  3. Examples that show a range of different skills within your area of specialization.
  4. Examples of strong observational drawing skills (whatever your medium)
  5. A range of subject matter.
5 May 2021

How many pieces should an online portfolio have? ›

The perfect number of projects to have on your portfolio website at any time should be between 3-6 projects. This allows you to clearly communicate the type of work you enjoy doing while also making it easy for the viewer to remember your design work by not overwhelming them with too much.

How do I make my portfolio look professional? ›

Your portfolio should contain written and visual overviews of projects and significant pieces of work that you've managed or been involved with. It should also include an insight into skills you have, methods you've used, the impact of your work, along with any relevant outcomes and / or lessons you've learned.

What should a digital portfolio look like? ›

A digital portfolio is like an online scrapbook that showcases your skills in action, your experience, and your expertise through real-life examples. By looking at this scrapbook, your future employer or client can get a feel of what you bring to the table and who you are as a professional.

What should you avoid in a portfolio? ›

7 things no one wants to see in your portfolio (and what to...
  • Everything you've ever designed. ...
  • Your life story. ...
  • An overly complex or distracting layout. ...
  • Finished pieces with no context. ...
  • Only one type of work. ...
  • Unresponsive content. ...
  • A static presentation.

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