How to Create a Portfolio in WordPress
Portfolios are a logical way to sort, store and show competencies and accomplishments. They are often used in academic settings for student work from elementary school through college, and are also used by many different professions (including teaching, design, writing and business). Whether you’ve been required to make a portfolio or are just looking to give yourself an edge in the job market, creating your own WordPress portfolio gives you control over your personal brand without requiring you to spend money or have extensive web design skills.
1. Determine what type of portfolio you want
The first step in making a portfolio is deciding what you want it to achieve. Do you want your portfolio to show off what you’ve learned in school? Your abilities and skills? Work and project experience?
If you know exactly where you are going with your portfolio (for example, you’re an education major looking to get a job teaching secondary mathematics), you can tailor your portfolio so that every part of it is oriented to that end.
If you’re a little more open-ended (like an amateur photographer/coder who has dabbled in carpentry), you’ll want to set up your portfolio so that it’s versatile and uses a lot of tags or other organizational tools so that potential employers can find what is relevant to them.
2. Create a WordPress account
Next, you’ll need a WordPress account. If you already have one, just add a new site to it.
When you’re setting up your portfolio site, you have a few different options. You can have a free “yoursite.WordPress.com” website, pay an annual fee for WordPress to host “yoursite.com,” pay a monthly fee that includes premium themes, “yoursite.com” and “firstname.lastname@example.org,”,or pay an annual fee to host the site using your own domain.
The cheapest option is to go with the free site, but having your own .com looks more professional and might be worth the cost if it helps you land work.
3. Select a theme
A major reason to use WordPress for your portfolio website is that its themes look polished and professional. Because you’re setting up this site as a portfolio, you’ll want to make sure to pick a theme that has attractive portfolio pages instead of just blog pages. Searching “portfolio” on the theme page will help you narrow your options.
There are a number of free themes that work very well for portfolios. If you’re interested in paying a few dollars for something more unique, WP Explorer suggests themes by ThemeForest, Creative Market, StudioPress, Theme Beans, Array, and Elegant Themes.
4. Or use a portfolio plugin
If the available portfolio themes don’t satisfy you, it is possible to create a good-looking portfolio within any theme using a plugin. Just go to “plugins,” click “add new,” and search “portfolio.”
5. Curate your work
This is the most difficult step in building a portfolio. While remaning mindful of the objective you decided on in step 1, gather all of your work samples and begin picking your best projects.
College of Charleston’s Career Center suggests including a combination of the following items in your portfolio.
- Personal goals and values
- Work history
- Education and training
- Letters of recommendation
- Work samples
- Class projects
- Professional philosophy
- Videos/photos of your work
Your portfolio should essentially include evidence of your abilities, much like an essay should include evidence supporting its main argument. The thesis statement of your portfolio is that you are a capable, skilled professional.
6. Add work samples and descriptions
Once you’ve decided what to include in your portfolio, you’ll want to upload and arrange it on WordPress. Some items (like your resume or professional philosophy) will work best as standalone pages, while others (work samples, projects, etc.) should go together on a portfolio page.
When you upload each item, you’ll want to add a short description or reflection on each item. A line or two about why you created that item and how effective it was is sufficient. If you used advanced tools or worked with others, mention that as well.
If you are using your portfolio to showcase a diverse set of skills, you’ll want to create tags for each item you upload. The tags are located on the right side when you are creating or editing a portfolio item, and listed at the bottom of a posted item.
If you are adding graphic design or photography samples, you should consider taking measures to protect your work from getting stolen. Adding a watermark or uploading only a small image should deter anyone trying to rip you off.
On the same note, be aware of personal information listed on your work samples that you might not want to share with the entire internet. For example, many resumes include a street address and cell phone number at the top. Great for employers, horrible for stalkers.
7. Add peripheral information and features
The bulk of your portfolio is the work samples and other items you included in the last step, but the beauty of using WordPress for your portfolio is that you can add other features to your site without it feeling disjointed.
What information and features you add will be based on what you are using your portfolio for. You might integrate a Youtube channel or blog to draw people to your site and show your creativity and value. If you teach classes or participate in other in-person events, you can allow people to register and get information right on your site. You could also have a page referring people to other blogs or websites that you have found helpful.
8. Create a Contact Me page
This is essential. Whether you link to all of your social media accounts and put your address and cell phone number right on your website or just use an anonymous contact form, you want to give site visitors a way to get in touch with you.
These eight steps make up 95% of the work involved in creating a portfolio. The rest is updating it with your latest and greatest work over time. Whether your portfolio is a requirement or exists purely because you want to show off your work, having a beautiful, functional collection of some of your greatest accomplishments feels amazing.