A Guide To Creating Your First Portfolio Website

Credit: Wikimedia

By Patrick Foster

Building a portfolio website is one of the best things you can do to boost your communications career. An online portfolio lets you showcase your talents professionally, while demonstrating your drive and organizational skills. A good portfolio improves your chances of finding the job you really want.

Recommended reading: End Debate Over ePortfolios: Just Do It!

Do you need a portfolio website?

Some influential figures say creating a portfolio website is a waste of time. They feel that you should be out there doing real work…

Credit: Twitter

That might be OK if you have connections or an in somewhere, but if you are starting from nothing, a portfolio can be a great thing.

Whilst brands and hiring managers do need to take into account the huge effort that creating a portfolio can demand (and not be too quick to insist on one), for anyone striking out on their own (or bad at conveying things in an interview), a portfolio can be a solid value-add.

Creating a portfolio website is you chance to show employers what you can do. It’s your way of advertising your skills, experience, and potential. For anyone who is about to make their entrance into the creative industries, it’s almost essential.

It’s why academics, students and professionals take courses (like the one offered by DePaul’s College of Communication) to help them create the perfect ePortfolio. See what Travis Kessel, Senior Director Talent Acquisition for Walmart eCommerce, says:

Credit: DePaul

Even if you are in a role you love (right now), a portfolio website is a good investment in your professional future.
ABC, build your website and showcase your PR CV
30% of all websites are powered by WordPress. It’s a simple to use content management system with a huge developer community. For most people starting out with their first portfolio website, it’s a clear winner.

Some straightforward steps to follow when building out a portfolio website with WordPress:

  1. Select a WordPress host
  2. Add plugins and themes for greater functionality
  3. Create a header
  4. Add in an ‘About Me’ page
  5. Upload testimonials from people who know and love your work
  6. Create a contact form for employers/clients

This video link gives a great tutorial on how you can use WordPress to create your first portfolio website.

Create great portfolio content

For many people, creating a website is the simple part — the hard work really starts with creating the content for it.

As a PR pro, content should be the easy bit…

Maggie Stanton’s site is great example of a PR portfolio website. You see a clear tagline, and then Maggie introduces her background, experience, ambitions, and provides contact details:
Credit: Maggie Stanton

She follows that with links to examples of her work, along with icons that give a blurb on the projects she’s worked on:

Next are samples from her blog:

Credit: Maggie Stanton

Then she includes a CTA by telling prospective employers what she’ll do for them, along with her resume:

Using Maggie’s website as an example, what content do you need for your PR portfolio website?

Here’s your portfolio checklist to get you started:

  • A clear tagline
  • A brief introduction to you:

           -Your background
           -Your skills
           -Your experience
           -Your ambitions

  • Examples of all the different types of projects you’ve worked on
  • A blog
  • Your resume
  • Testimonials/social proof

Include all of this content and you’ll be well on the way to creating a portfolio website that’s pretty much perfect.
Take inspiration from your industry
Every industry has its quirks. While you shouldn’t be a slave to convention, it’s important to keep in mind the standards and requirements your prospective employers expect from your portfolio website.

You could spend a huge a amount of time looking for portfolio specific sites without finding what you want. My tip is to look at brands within your niche and see what conventions hold. Let’s take the tech industry as our example – a great area for budding a PR to specialize in.

Apple are the standard bearer. The biggest tech brand on the planet. The starting point. A PR dream. Apple has a clean and simple layout. Its image heavy and uses the bare minimum of text to get its message across:

Credit: Apple

Scrappy newcomer Early Access Tech is light years behind Apple. But as one of the tech brands listing their business for sale on Exchange, it’s clearly doing plenty right. Like Apple, it is light on text, heavy on imagery, and easy to visually digest:

Credit: Early Access Tech

The last example I reviewed was US tech website, ExtremeTech. Launched at the start of the millennium, it’s one of the most popular destinations for PR tech heads. Clearly it’s qualified to know what people interested in the industry want to see. While there is more going on with this website than the other two examples, ExtremeTech is still pretty simple and image heavy at its heart:

Credit: ExtremeTech

So the tech industry values websites which use lots of images and not a lot of text. These are important things to know and apply when creating your first portfolio website — you want to ensure that you mirror any niche-specific language and the core themes appropriately. It’s all about the correct alignment and positioning.

Unless you’re in the job of your dreams and have no plan to ever leave, it’s important to have a portfolio website to showcase your skills and experience. Take the lessons from this guide, put them into practice, and then create your first portfolio website. Once you’ve got it, all you need is for the right people to see it.

 Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert from Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog devoted to bringing you the most useful articles for new, established, and soon-to-be businesses. Check out the latest news on Twitter @myecommercetips.

2 thoughts on “A Guide To Creating Your First Portfolio Website

  1. Hi Mr. Foster,

    I read this article in hopes that it would give me good insight on building the right kind of website to accompany my work. I am currently in the process of creating a website on WordPress but am struggling with content. I’m a senior in college and my professional experience in public relations field is limited, so my questions would be: How do I build a site that showcases me as a professional though my experience is not extensive yet?

    1. Since Patrick Foster may not get to respond before your class discussion, I’ll jump in with a quick suggestion. I know your great program offers some terrific hands-on projects. Include those in your online portfolio. Check out some of my students’ websites and see how they blended both professional and classwork to build impressive portfolios. Link: https://communication.depaul.edu/academics/public-relations-and-advertising/student-resources/eportfolio/Pages/default.aspx

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