4 Easy Tips for Building Your Perfect Online Portfolio
For creative professionals, a successful online portfolio will become your most powerful marketing tool. Follow these ten steps and you’ll build a portfolio that takes your career to the next level.
1. Curate Your Work
Including work that you like can result in a weak online portfolio. You might end up overloading your site with images that mean a lot to you but distract from your best work. Alternatively, you may struggle to find images worthy of inclusion, and be tempted to abandon your portfolio altogether.
Let’s face it: you can’t always judge your own work objectively. We all have a blind spot when it comes to our favorite projects. Either our emotions get in the way of objectivity, or our perfectionist tendencies paralyze us.
If you’re having trouble deciding what to include in your online portfolio, try viewing it from the perspective of your potential client. Which images catch your eye? Which ones do you skim? If you’re unsure about including an image in your portfolio, leave it out. Remember: Quality over quantity.
2. Think About Your Clients
Many photographers, illustrators, and artists believe that focusing on one specific niche will limit the number of clients they can reach. For most creative professionals, it’s the opposite. By identifying your niche and dream clients, you can better tailor your online portfolio to their needs.
For example, if you shoot a lot of weddings but want to branch out into fashion, create a portfolio of your fashion photography. A fashion client wants a photographer with a fashion portfolio, not a wedding photographer who occasionally shoots style editorials.
So only apply for jobs that you actively seek. If you don’t have much professional experience in a particular field or area, consider creating a gallery of personal projects to showcase your diverse skills and interests. Identify five dream clients you’d like to work with. Consider the photos they take and structure your portfolio accordingly.
Clients will only consider you for the jobs that you actively seek out. If you don’t have much professional experience in a certain field or area that you’re interested in, consider creating a gallery of your personal projects to highlight your varied skills and interests.
Brainstorm five dream clients you’d like to work for one day. Consider the kinds of photos they shoot — then structure your portfolio to reflect the same.
3. Organize Your Work
Your online portfolio should support multiple projects. This will help you sort your work by type, client, or creative series. Always make sure your online portfolio is easy to navigate and find what you want. You may lose their attention if they have to hunt too much (and potential sales).
4. Follow The Rule of Three
Three is a magical number. Threes just seem to work better and feel more balanced. Why? Because our brains process information by identifying patterns, and three is the smallest pattern number.
Keep in mind the rule of three when organizing your online portfolio. The first image sets the tone, the second sets the pattern, and the third should break it. When the viewer thinks they’ve figured out the pattern, you surprise them with something new that leaves a lasting impression.
People find writing about themselves difficult. The question of how to distill your work down to a short, simple description is always difficult, regardless of how long you’ve been in your profession. This truly comes to light when you’re faced with writing your Bio page on your portfolio website.
The goal of creating an About Me page is to help you market yourself. You want to make sure visitors and readers to your site understand your work—but you don’t want to go into too much detail and create a long essay about yourself in case they lose interest. You want to mention recognition you’ve received and exciting projects you’ve completed—but you don’t want to seem like you’re bragging.
Even if you’ve hit the perfect balance of writing just enough about your professional experience, the question of how to make your bio stand out remains. How can you keep things personal and professional without coming off as unprofessional? How many paragraphs do you need?
I’ve put together a simple step-by-step guide to teaching you how to create a biography that works: one that’s personal and professional at the same time, and that can be finished up in seven easy steps.
1. Introduce yourself
Tell readers who you are in the first line of your portfolio introduction. Before introducing yourself, first think about how you would do so. Mention where you are based.
2. Aim for a friendly, casual tone
There’s no need to be overly formal on your online portfolio website page. Keep the page name simple. This is your own space for representing yourself on the web. Let yourself feel at home, and write your About page the same way you would normally speak.
3. Decide which professional experience to include
You can briefly present your work and keep the details for specific job applications, or make a separate page for your CV. Decide what you like. Include your education background and any projects you’ve worked on.
If you’d like your “About Me” page to include a CV, keep it short and simple. Your biography should be descriptive, but not too long. Add job headings, dates, and a quick description of your work and skills. Consider adding commissions or commercial work from recent clients or projects that highlight the skills and experience needed for a job you’re coveting.
4. Consider listing awards and accolades
If you’ve been recognized for your work, your “About Me” page is a great place to briefly mention this. Depending on the kind of work you do, client testimonials might be appropriate to include here as well. You can consider obtaining a peer review from people within the industry or projects you’ve worked on.
But don’t get carried away listing all of your accolades. You can leave behind high school awards. Recognition for work by a reputable organization, team, or person in the past is certainly noteworthy.
5. Add a few personal details
It may seem unprofessional to include details of your personal life, but a biography page that only lists work-related information about you isn’t offering a complete introduction. It’s easy to skim through someone’s professional experience and not feel as if you’ve learned anything personal about them. Briefly mentioning something interesting about who you are or what you like, or other talent and skills to make your “About Me” page more memorable.
Remember: you want to come across as professional and reliable, but you’re also trying to stand out in a sea of many other professionals. Including these brief little details can make a world of a difference.
6. Include a photo of yourself
Choose a photo that represents your personality. Depending on the tone of your online portfolio website and what kind of work you do, you might choose an image that’s more professional (like a headshot) or something more personal (like a shot of you working in your studio). Adding a photo will make your online portfolio stand out by allowing visitors to put a face to your name.
Also, balance between personal and professional needs to be maintained. However, having a more intimate picture of you working in your studio is not a problem as long as it is not a picture of you taken in a bar on a Saturday night.
7. Proofread and edit
Your About page should not appear sloppy or unprofessional because of typos, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors. Read everything carefully before saving your “About Me” page. Always make sure you look at both text-formatted sections in your portfolio. This ensures the content looks great.
Now, you’re ready to craft your about me page for your portfolios. Of course, it may take a bit of time at first and several drafts, but you can tweak them along the way and as you have more experience to add.
To sum it up, writing your about me page is all about striking a balance between personal and professional. You don’t want to share every detail about your personal life on your about page—not relevant—but you also likely won’t keep anyone’s attention if you simply list out every job you’ve ever taken on—boring.
Once you have the idea of balance down, you should feel ready to craft your about me page for your portfolio. Of course, it may take a bit of time and several drafts, but, don’t forget, you can always tweak the page along the way as you have more experience to add.
Let’s get writing, shall we?