Sometimes you come across an interesting professional online. And days after, their website or portfolio still remains in your memory, coming to surface in sundry moments of day-to-day life.
Why’s that? What stood out to you so much? The chances are, it was their achievements. And what better way to present your achievements, passions and skills than through a portfolio. That’s why everybody needs one!
And what if you’re at the beginning of your career? Well, even your interests and hobbies could serve great for your portfolio. People don’t care only about your work, they also care about the kind of personality that holds all the pieces together.
So this time, we will see just how you can transform your student website into a professional portfolio that will help you launch your career.
Oh, and did we mention that “I don’t know how to build a website” is not a valid excuse anymore?
Now, read on!
Choosing A Website Builder For Your Professional Portfolio
Even if you already have a website (which means you’ve already chosen a website builder), moving it to another website builder is never too late.
There could be many reasons for that. Maybe you didn’t put much thought when choosing your original website builder. Or maybe a new website builder has just come up and it seems superb.
But regardless of that, the first question you should ask yourself is – what am I exactly looking for in a website builder?
What to Look For in a Website Builder?
When choosing your website builder, there are four key criteria you might want to consider:
- Easiness of use – Need we say more? The website builder should be easy to use. And using it shouldn’t cost you your nerves.
- Visual component – You want to build your website easily, sure, but you also want it to look nice. Oh, and need I remind you that you might want to unleash your creativity while you’re at it?
- 24/7 customer support – When you encounter a problem in building your website, you want customer support that’s helpful and responsive. Not only that – you want a website that already has a wide community centered on it. A community of like-minded people who can lend a hand when you come across a problem. A community of experienced professionals whose steps you can walk in. And a community that’s probably been through the very same problems you’re facing right now.
- Data ownership – You want you (and no one else) to be the owner of your website data.
Now, with these criteria in mind, what website builders stand out as the best?
Some Website Builders to Check Out
There are many sweet website builders out there, and we’ve talked about them in length in our other articles. However, this time, we will take a look at only four of them.
Vsble.me is designed for visual artists in mind, and it allows creative many ways to highlight their work. It offers many ways to make your website eye-catching and stand out. With it, you can also create your website as an online portfolio that is fully downloadable. Your visitors can export the content in PDF, rather than screenshotting it.
Vsble.me offers a free trial with a limit of 80 image uploads, and you can use only their free domain. Vsble.me Pro plan overcomes those limits and provides website analytics as well.
WordPress is a free and open-source website builder, which gives you maximum control over your website. Any website can be created with WordPress: eCommerce, community forums, a simple website, a social network – you name it. WordPress has thousands of pre-made themes, offers over 58.000 plugins, and is fully translated into many different languages. So no wonder it powers over 39.5% of websites.
However, you will have to manage your website and to do this, you will have to learn how WordPress works. All of this will take away some time and energy.
Dunked is devoted to creative professionals who would like to showcase their portfolio. So it is ideal for designers, photographers, illustrators, and creatives in general. Simple editing tools will enable you to change the layout, typography, and colors whenever (and however) you wish. You’re in complete control of your online portfolio. And if you know how to code, then you can customize your portfolio even further!
Dunked.me does not provide domain names though, so you’ll need to purchase your own. Another downside of this website builder is that it doesn’t accept PayPal.
WebWave is amongst the appealing and easy-to-use website builders. It’s one of those builders that offer pre-made templates, but also give you the freedom to start from scratch. And even if you choose a template, it’s still fully customizable. And the best part? It looks great in all sizes and on all devices. So you don’t have to worry about whether the mobile version of your website will look good.
It offers a 30-day trial period – if you decide it’s not for you, you get a refund. Also, WebWave makes exporting your website to another hosting quite easy.
Building Your Personal Website
Doubtlessly, this step will seem to be the most daunting of all. But don’t let that feeling trick you! It seems like a monumental task, but you can build your website and get it moving in a matter of days.
Here, we will look at some tips that will make that easier for you.
Tip 1#: Make Your Professional Portfolio Easy to Explore
The work on your professional portfolio shouldn’t be hard to find. Your visitors should be able to quickly find your best work and to get the idea of what you’re all about. When it comes to that, making your website easy to explore is crucial.
There are many things you need to consider so that your portfolio is easier to explore, such as:
- Less is more. Start simple. Streamline the layout. Try to avoid too many links or pages. The average visitor may not have the time to go through all the links (or even notice them, for that matter).
- Your work should be accessible and viewable in larger formats. So, it’s always a good idea to allow for zooming in (if you’re a graphic designer, for example).
- Your portfolio should be consistent throughout. Use cohesive aesthetics.
And speaking of consistency – the one thing you cannot go without is personal branding.
Tip 2#: Brand Yourself Through Your Work
Now, we know we mention this all too often – but it’s important! Because branding isn’t just for companies or long-established professionals. If you want people to recognize you as a professional, then you need a personal brand. Everyone does! Whether you’re a graphics designer or video game developer or speaker, personal branding is something you must work on.
What a personal brand allows you is to establish your own online identity. In that regard, your personal brand is like your professional ID card. It’s something you can turn to when people ask you that dreaded question, “Who are you?”
In other words, a professional portfolio with a touch of personal branding is the way to be recognized through your work.
However, it might not be easy to choose what work to share in your portfolio. So organize your work first. Put it all before yourself, take a look at it, and ask yourself, “Which of these do I want to be known for?” Or you can do it the reverse way (“Which of these do I not want to be known for?”) and scrap that workpiece from your portfolio.
And step by step, the decision on which workpieces to put on your portfolio will become abundantly clear. But let’s talk more on that.
Tip 3#: Highlight The Work You’re The Most Proud Of
Through these years, we had the fortune to talk to many admirable people of the .ME community and learn from them. And though there are many life stories, when it comes to success, one thing seems almost impossible to go without. The crazy, inexplicable love for what you’re doing.
At the same time, it just so happens that .MErs’ most famous work is also the one that they’re the most proud of. So don’t put up just any work you did up there. Not every single project needs to find its place in your professional portfolio. Rather, be selective and choose the very best work you’ve ever made.
Tip 4#: Mistakes will be Inevitable. Learn from them
You can’t avoid mistakes even when doing everyday things. So why set up an unrealistic standard for yourself that building your website will be different? Really, making mistakes is only a step towards doing something great and growing while you’re at it.
Mistakes and failures are needed for learning and growth. They’re part of the process of becoming a recognized professional in your niche.
So, be prepared to experiment with your professional portfolio.
Bonus Tip: Clean Up Your Online Presence
Before you started being watchful of your digital presence, you’ve probably posted things that you wouldn’t want your future clients or employers to see. We’ve all been there. So, what do you have to do when presenting yourself as a professional? Clean up your online presence.
Start by cleaning up your profiles on social media platforms. Make sure that your profiles look polished and professional. Then highlight your skills and achievements that are most relevant for your profession. After all, that’s what a professional portfolio is all about.
And here’s one additional pro-tip. If there’s an image online that you don’t want appearing in Google search results, you can always make a request to have it removed. See more about it here.
Of course, there’s no rule saying you can have nothing really personal on your social media. But be mindful about it, and you will be a long way ahead.
I know you began surfing the career waves just recently and that you might feel you don’t have much to show on your portfolio. Yet don’t let that be an excuse! Judging by our .ME community, we’re confident that you too have skills, achievements and passions that are important and worth presenting. Here, we offered some tips on how to do just that and really get the most of your work.
We hope these tips will make this somewhat of a daunting task easier for you. And if you ever need inspiration – the success stories from our community are always there.