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Tell Your Story: A Step-By-Step Guide to Digital Portfolios

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Self promotion can be one of the trickiest parts of career building. Is it bragging to show off my skills? Is bragging okay? When is it too much? And then there’s the how. How do I even get started? What is the best medium to showcase my work? What even is a portfolio? Diving into the world of portfolio creation can feel like diving into a sea of unanswered questions. Luckily, it’s a lot easier than it seems. Creating an online portfolio is simply a matter of planning and gathering – planning out what you want it to look like and then gathering the resources and information needed to achieve that. Being an expert in web design is a wonderful thing, but it is not necessary to create a good looking and effective portfolio. All it takes is a few easy planning steps and the willingness to learn along the way.


  1. Find yourself a host.

Before you do anything, it is important to think about what you want your online portfolio to achieve. Do you want to showcase your work? Do you want to tell your story? What do you want it to look like? Do you want to sell something? Thinking about these questions will help you pick out the website host that you would like to use. A website host is an online service designed to make creating a website easier for you. There are many web hosts with varying levels of user accessibility and difficulty. Want a simple host to build a clean and simplistic informative portfolio? Try out Wix. Want a host that gives you tons of different layout options and is slightly more complex but still user friendly? Give WordPress a whirl. Want to focus on selling a product? Try Square or Shopify. From SquareSpace to GoDaddy, the options are near endless when it comes to choosing a host. So, play around. Try viewing some previews, looking at reviews, or simply exploring the host website to see what feels most comfortable for you. You can change your commitment at any time, often with no financial repercussions. All it takes is a little brainstorming, planning, and research to find the perfect place to host your digital portfolio.


2. Make a blueprint.

Once you have a host that works for you, it is tempting to jump right in and start filling the pages with information and photos. Not so fast! This can become problematic without a fleshed out idea of what you want to include in your domain. Most website hosts have templates with suggested content already inside. However, you still need to think carefully about what needs to be included. Think about the first thing you want a potential visitor to see when they come to your site. Do you want to give a brief introduction or jump right in with your work to entice your visitor? Either way, you’ll want to plan out and accumulate that information before putting it onto the site. Find some images you want to use. Work on the tone that you would like your intro to take. Having multiple pages is a good idea if you plan to include a CV of some sort. This way you won’t overwhelm the visitor with information. Think about the different pages you would like to include. Typically speaking, most professionals will include an introductory “Home” page, a CV page, a page with examples of their work, and a “Contact Me” page. Whatever you’d like to add, subtract, combine, or modify is completely up to you, but those four pages tend to make a pretty comprehensive summary of you as a professional. Regardless of what you want to include, plan it out. Accumulate photos, find and refine the things you want to showcase, think of the best way to lay it all out. Think of it as a building. An architect doesn’t start construction without a solid plan and the proper materials. Neither should you.

3. Tell your story.

Now you’re on your way. You have your host, you have a template, and you have all of the information you plan to fill it with. It is now time to think outside the box. What is the tone that you want your site’s visitors to take away from it all? Do you want them to view you as a serious no-games professional? Or do you want them to see a more lighthearted person? Do you want to look like a complex maximalist whose capabilities and interests are several? Or do you want a more minimalist aesthetic that conveys a focused professional who is a master at their craft? These are important questions and will influence every aspect of your website’s design, from the photos to the layout to the copy to the colors you choose. Your portfolio tells a story, and the more conscious you are of that, the more you can hone that story to be the story you want to tell. Copy and layout are some of your most essential tools in this area. The language you use to introduce yourself, the captions of your photos, the blurbs you use to describe your work are all forms of copy that need to be cohesive and bold in their tone setting. Try finding some examples of businesses with a very clear tone and check out the words they use in their advertisements. Or, better yet, get someone to help you out (like Em & a Pen). Whether alone or with help, your copy writing process should be attentive. Use this as a way to convey the personality that you want to show to your visitors and possible future employers. Layout is similar in that it is a huge personality indicator. A streamlined layout with open space conveys something different than a busy website with a plethora of information. Decide the message you want to convey and use the layout to do so.


A digital portfolio is more than a resume. It is a piece of storytelling. It does not take a mastery of digital media skills to take control of the story you tell. All it takes is a crystal clear vision and some decent planning to use your portfolio to paint the picture that you want your future employers and clients to see when they search your name on the internet.