Portfolio Tips

Tips to build your online portfolio.

Here are some tips and links to help you build a simple, non-creative, portfolio website.


The first step to building a good portfolio site is having something to show on that site. So, save your homework assignments!

In the past, I always recommended saving your assignments (mostly written assignments) to Scribd.com. But, Scribd has changed dramatically, and it doesn’t work like it used to. So, I recommend these Scribd substitutes:

Another option is to be very organized with your homework — save everything in several locations. Include Dropbox.com as one of your locations. Then, when you’re ready to build your site, you can import each homework item in an appropriate format. You have to look through many portfolio samples (like the ones listed here) to understand the variety of ways to show different types of files.



You need a website! Don’t even question this, you need it.  Here are some options for you. [Note: if you want to build websites for a living, do not use any of these suggestions — build your website “from scratch.”]

This is your best bet, but be prepared for a learning curve. The benefits start with a simple integration of a branded URL for only $17 per year (sign up for this from the beginning, as you are starting your “blog” — it’s more difficult to add this after your site is already built.)  WordPress also automatically creates a mobile version of your site, and even an iPad version, if you’d like. You’ll have dozens of templates to choose from, and options to add a custom header, if you’d like. Be advised: If you are looking for a design job, do not choose a template that already is heavily designed — choose a plain template (like 2010) and add your own custom header that showcases your design. If you spend several hours playing around in WordPress, you’ll get the gist of things — it’s well worth your time! (Hint: you probably want to start out with a playground site and experiment with “pages” and “posts” until you understand the difference!)

WordPress Examples:

Weebly has been consistently offering good web-building tools, and continues to make improvements to its offerings. This is a reasonable source for your portfolio site. Check out some examples and see what you like. Weebly does have a mobile format available, a must!

• Wix.com
Wix has some similar tools as Weebly and WordPress.

• SquareSpace.com

• Other


Not as powerful as WordPress, but using some of their new templates, you’ll have a nice framework for your portfolio site. And, it can be “automatically” formatted for mobile devices. The site you’re on now is made using this tool. As you can see, you can add navigation items and a custom header. You can embed documents (see the “Internships” page) and videos (see QR video below). Like WordPress, you’ll have to experiment with “pages” and “posts” — they are two different methods of posting content, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both. The site you’re on now uses primarily “pages” — each navigation tab above is created using a “page.”

  • SmittenBlogDesigns.com — I don’t have a lot of Blogger portfolio sites to link to, but this one is neat, because it’s not only been custom designed, it is a site about Blogger design options, so you might get some ideas here! This site is made primarily with “posts,” but there are some “pages” that are evident in the navigation tabs.
  • NWjobs.blogspot.com — This site! This site is made primarily using “pages” not “posts.”
  • Video 3xamples: Wendy Whelan and Megan Davis

This is a quick and easy way to bring together all of your social sites, so it’s possible to use this as your one-stop web site.

• Very easy ways to have an online “portfolio”
For simply the easiest approach to having an online “presence,” try these:

• Some portfolio sites

CargoCollective and BehanceNetwork are places where designers can showcase their work. They aren’t really portfolio-building software-based sites like the ones above, they are more like designer communities. But, they’re worth mentioning here because you may find these useful if you are a designer. Some of these services also are plug-in options at Flavors.me and About.me. For broadcast majors, post your credentials at StaffMeUp.com.

Upload a nice photo. Don’t use a photo where you crop out other people, that looks weird. Have a photo taken that’s well lit, very basic background, and pose professionally. Put the photo on an “About” page, and not too big. If you put a huge photo of yourself on your homepage, that might send a message that you think the way you look is your most important feature. Put your skills front and center — you want to be hired for your skills!

Add at least one social media link to your portfolio site — at minimum, this should be LinkedIn. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, get one. If you use Twitter for professional posts, then add a Twitter link to your site. (If you only use Twitter for personal posts, don’t link to Twitter!) Ditto for Pintrest. Don’t link to your Facebook account — but expect the HR manager to find you on Facebook!
Egon Heidendal has a good example of this in his “Contact” area of his web-based portfolio, and you can add these tools easily in several of the template sites.

Check out this elevator pitch that the student hosted on her LinkedIn profile.


Buy “your name dot com” so that the address of your online portfolio is easily found. The simplest way to do this is through WordPress (see above). But, you also can buy relatively cheap domains at GoDaddy.com (secure your domain for at least two years — five is better!). Once you own the domain, simply forward it to your Blogger, Wix, Google Sites, or other template-built page. For some tips on branding yourself across your site, your resume, and business cards, see what some AdInk’ers put together for a recent “Brand Yourself” information session: AdInk.org/BrandYourself.

Consider establishing a Google Voice number that will only be used for your job search. It’s free, and messages can be transcribed and emailed to you or send via text. This means your personal phone number doesn’t have to be published online, but you’ll get messages pronto!

Do some research for more ideas on building simple, web-based portfolios. This eHow page is just one example that will help you come up with ideas for building a simple site! See this site for a list of blog-portfolio examples. Here’s a slideshow on the same topic.

Here are some examples of good “About Me” pages.

An elevator pitch is a short (60-second) summary of who you are and why you should be hired. Here’s an example on YouTube. You can embed YouTube videos into your LinkedIn profile, like this.

And now for some website inspiration…

Check out what these two students did to apply at Droga5.

Here’s how to get attention when you really, really, really want the job! www.dearlisarudgers.com

Here’s what your Bearcat competition is doing to apply:

And now for some LinkedIn inspiration…

And now for some QR inspiration…  (THIS is how to  use a QR code!)

QR CODE – Content-rich Resume from Victor petit on Vimeo.

Note this: Advertising professionals know how and when to use QR codes — if you choose to incorporate a QR code onto your resume or business cards, they will scrutinize your decision. Be sure you know how and when to use these. For example, don’t use a QR code unless your web site has a mobile version.

Don’t use a QR code on a resume unless you’re doing something clever with it, like the video above.  Why not? Well consider this: why would you want someone to see your work on a tiny screen when they’re likely sitting at their desk when they see your resume? Wouldn’t your work look better on a big monitor? So, just put your URL on your resume! Leave the QR code for situations when the person you want to visit your site might not be at a computer — for example, on a business card.

Some from-scratch Bearcat portfolio sites

Here are some portfolio sites of NW graduates who have built their sites from scratch.

Lindsay Edward’s site: lindsayelizabeth.com
Chris Riebschlarger’s site: www.the816.com

Resume Help

To help you get started with your resume, go to my Resume help section!