AnnaMarie Houlis
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Journalist & travel blogger

So you need a portfolio. Your online portfolio is a digital showcase of your creative or professional talents and skills that's far more elaborate and exemplary than your resume. While the elements of your portfolio largely depend on the industry in which you work, there are some key ingredients to a compelling portfolio.

But where can you make a portfolio online and how exactly should you design it? Here's everything you need to know to make yourself a portfolio that'll grab employers' and clients' attention. 

Photo via Adobe Portfolio

Do I Need a Portfolio?

You don't necessarily need a portfolio, but it can't hurt to have one. And, in some industries such as writing, art and design (also known as portfolio careers), having a portfolio that showcases writing clips, photography or other art, and design graphics is critical to success.

Even if you don't work in a field in which having a portfolio is typical, putting together a portfolio for yourself can only help you in your job hunt.

"The process of putting together a portfolio itself will help you become a more effective interviewee," according to Clarke University. "You will be identifying the skills you have gained through your various experiences and how they relate to the career you are interested in. Choosing the most relevant experiences and putting them in an easily understood format will help you better articulate your skills and experiences when asked questions about your qualifications in an interview. A professional portfolio will also show an employer proof of your organizational, communication, and tangible career-related skills."

In short: Your portfolio should help you stand out against competitors by showing your work in the best possible late.

Photo via Carbonmade

Where Can I Make a Portfolio?

You can make a portfolio online via a number of resources. In fact, there are tons of free online portfolio makers from which to choose — you're spoiled for choice.

Here are 10 of the best online portfolio websites with templates to create your own professional portfolio:

  1. Portfoliobox: More than one million creatives around the world are using Portfoliobox to create their public portfolios. There are two types of accounts: a free account and a premium account that costs $6.90 per month.
  2. BehanceBehance allows you to discover each day's works in progress, while also presenting you with recommended portfolios to check out and allowing you to create your own.
  3. Cargo"We make Tools for building websites, shops, portfolios, archives, blogs or whatever," according to Cargo's site.
  4. Portfolioopen: "Designed especially for designers, Portfoliopen has a user-friendly interface with features that help you create a professional looking portfolio in minutes without any HTML or programming," according to the site.
  5. Dribbble: Dribbble is a leading portfolio maker for design professionals used by tens of millions of people looking for design inspiration and feedback.
  6. CarbonmadeOn Carbonmade, you'll find more than 1.5 million portfolios featuring more than 2.6 million projects with more than 15 million images.
  7. Coroflot:  Coroflot hosts over two million images with over 150,000 new projects published every month from professionals and students across the world. The platform promotes the work of dozens of design disciplines, including industrial, fashion, 3D modeling, architecture, illustration, graphic, UX and many more.
  8. Adobe PortfolioBuild your own personalized website with Adobe Portfolio. You don't need to know HTML or CSS to build a beautiful portfolio on this platform.
  9. CrevadoCrevado allows users to customize their portfolios by uploading files with different formats, such as photos, videos, GIF images, PDF and more.
  10. Techtinium: On Techtinium, users have all the flexibility to customize their resume and add Images, PDF files and videos to their portfolio. All users also acquire a unique URL, which makes it simple to share their portfolio with anyone.

Photo via Crevado

What Should You Include in a Portfolio?

Your portfolio should include a number of sections that may vary depending on the nature of your work. Ultimately, most portfolios will contain the following seven sections:

  1. A Table of Contents: This should outline what exactly a viewer or reader will find in your portfolio, so they know what to expect and what to look out for.
  2. A Resume: You should always include a copy of your updated resume in your portfolio so viewers or readers can take a quick glance at your overall experience. 
  3. A Personal Statement: Your personal statement should set your intentions for the portfolio while briefly explaining your work and introducing yourself.
  4. A Detailed Outline of Skills and Experience: This outline should delve into your skills and experience in far more detail than is delineated on your resume.
  5. A List of Honors and Rewards: If you've received any honors or rewards that are relevant, you'll want to be sure to point them out with a brief description of what they are and why they're valuable.
  6. Some Samples of Your Work: A portfolio should, of course, have examples of your work. This may be photographs, design graphics, writing clips or something else entirely. Whatever the case, carefully choose a handful of your most impressive pieces of work to showcase in your portfolio.
  7. Any References: If you have reference letters from professional references, you'll want to include those in your portfolio, as well. These references should be recommendations of you that, ultimately, vouch for your work.

Photo via Behance

How Do I Create a Portfolio?

So, finally, you're still wondering: How do I create a web portfolio? It's simple. Follow this step-by-step guide to making your own portfolio online. 

1. Know Your Market

Get to know the market to which you're catering. If you're a photographer, understand what's of the moment in the photography world. If you're a designer, understand the trends in the industry so you know what work might be most appealing to put forth.

2. Write Your Personal Statement

"Personal statements have many uses; however, the main purpose is to convey who you are, and why you’re the best person for the job," according to UK-based career company, Fish4. "The personal statement is your chance to show off your strengths, shout about your achievements and share your career aspirations. Your personal statement should be a small, bite-sized representation of who you are as a professional, and what you have to offer in terms of experience and ambition."

According to Fish4, your personal statement should be "a short and snappy description" of only about 50 to 150 words.

3. Describe Your Skills and Experiences

Here's your chance to talk about your experiences and the skills you've developed from those experiences in far more depth. You'll want to share some hard facts and personality to back up what you share on your resume.

For example, if you mention that you worked in sales for a B2B ad agency on your resume, in this section, you'll want to talk about the company and your role. What kinds of sales did you drive and how successful were you (in numbers), and why or how were you so successful in sales?

4. Gather Your Materials

You'll want to gather all of your materials so you can start putting your portfolio together. This includes your resume, personal statement, references and, most importantly, the samples of the work you're going to include. When deciding which pieces of work to include in your portfolio, you might want to ask yourself these questions:

  1. Which skills of mine are applicable to the organization(s) to which I'm looking to appeal?
  2. What is my best work?
  3. What of my work showcases the most relevant (or versatile) skills and competencies?

5. Put Together Your Portfolio and Publish It

Once you have all of your materials, head over to one of the aforementioned sites and get working on putting your portfolio together. One you publish it on a platform like those, it'll already be public for thousands, if not millions, or prospective employers and clients to find.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.