Suppose you are a freelancer offering logo-making services. A client approaches you with a potential project and asks you to share your online portfolio. Instead, you send them a Google Drive link or screenshots of work you have done for others. After two weeks of waiting, you contact the prospective client about their decision. They said they expected a robust online portfolio, not screenshots or a Google drive link. This may have worked well in the past, but not now.
Clients expect you to have a professional portfolio website where they can see your work. A portfolio website is not for freelancers or graphic designers alone. Businesses can have a portfolio website or a portfolio section on their existing website. Let’s review the benefits of a portfolio website before moving on with our discussion.
Pros of a Portfolio Website
- Maximize Reach
A portfolio website allows you to maximize your reach and reduce reliance on platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, or LinkedIn. The market is highly competitive with so many agencies and freelancers offering services. Therefore, it is better to have multiple work sources as it can help you get more work.
- Save Money
Fiverr and Upwork deduct 20% of the order amount. Imagine doing all the hard work and having the platform take a large chunk of the money. Any work that comes your way through the website is safe from this hassle. You get the full amount, barring a few taxes/deductions.
- Alternate Revenue Source
Your portfolio website can act as an alternate source of revenue. You can generate money in the form of Google AdSense or other means. For example, you can rent out advertising space on your website and charge a fee. You can charge money for guest posting if you have a blog section on your website.
Lastly, a portfolio website offers greater flexibility. You can add new projects or remove existing ones with a click of a button. If a client asks for a portfolio, all you must do is share the link. There is no risk of uploading incorrect projects or worrying about whether the client will see your most valuable work. You can ensure that the client sees your most valuable work by tweaking the website design. It will help create a good impression.
Setting up a Portfolio Website Quickly
Follow these steps:
- Buy a Domain Name
The first thing that you will need to do is buy a domain name. Several platforms allow you to do so, including GoDaddy, BlueHost, NameCheap, and Netim. The domain name is the equivalent of a URL. For example, markuptrend.com is the domain name. We recommend dedicating as much time as possible when deciding on the domain name. Some people opt for using their name as the domain name.
The domain name should not be too long or complex. It must be short and easy to remember. Remember that the domain name is a factor in Google’s search algorithm. We recommend that you include a relevant keyword in the domain name to help search engine optimize your website. Keep a lookout for any hidden costs when purchasing a domain name. Some domain service providers charge high renewal amounts.
Overview of Popular Domain Purchasing Platforms
NameCheap: One of the most reliable domain purchasing platforms and offers free privacy.
Bluehost: Another reliable domain buying platform that offers domain hosting and WordPress development.
Netim: It offers free WHOIS privacy, i.e. keeps your registration details safe.
- Hosting Platform
Once you have completed your domain registration, the next step is selecting a hosting platform. There are countless hosting providers offering their services worldwide. Most domain registration platforms offer hosting. However, it is not necessary that your domain and hosting are on the same platform. If you want a WordPress portfolio website, you can opt for GoDaddy, Bluehost, or HostGator.
Before finalizing the hosting platform, we recommend that you carry out a thorough comparison. It will help you assess the services you will get and for what money. If a special event like Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Cyber Monday is around the corner, you should wait till then. Why? Well, every business provides discounts and special offers during these events and hosting companies are no exception.
- Install WordPress
Once you complete the first two steps, the next step is to install WordPress. Refer to the official blog post on the WordPress website on installing WordPress. If the steps are too technical, you can engage a freelance web developer or a professional web development agency to install and set up WordPress.
- Selecting the Theme
The next step is selecting the right theme. You can hire a freelancer or development agency to create a customized theme or ask them to install an existing one. For example, Google ‘web design Toronto’ and numerous web designing agencies will come up. Talk to them about your requirements and they can guide you better.
There are numerous portfolio themes available for WordPress. Head out to Theme Forest. It is the world’s leading platform for WordPress themes and C.M.S. products. It is a part of the Envato Market. Head there and search for ‘WordPress Portfolio’. You will come across countless portfolio themes. Some of them will be paid, while others are free to use.
Depending on your budget and requirements, select the theme. For example, opt for a premium theme if you are a top-level professional designer and wish to land high-value clients. When searching on Theme Forest, you will notice that the themes are for different niches. For example, designers, video makers, photographers, and musicians. Use the theme that best reflects your niche.
- Install the Theme
After buying/downloading the theme, proceed to installation. Usually, within a single theme, there are different versions. Opt for the one that best matches your requirements or appears most appealing. Remember, the whole purpose of a portfolio website is to appeal to the client. So, it is imperative that you opt for the most visually appealing version.
- Create the Pages
The next step is to set up the pages. You will need the following pages:
- About Us
- Contact Us
The ‘Homepage’ will provide an overview of your services and projects. There is no need to explain each page’s purpose as it is self-explanatory. However, we recommend that you do a competitor analysis at this stage. Assess what your competitors have done on these pages. Look for shortcomings and ensure you don’t make the same mistakes on your website.
It is undoubtedly one of the most critical parts of setting up a portfolio website. Your content needs to be engaging, appealing, and persuasive. Content is not confined to the text alone. It covers everything on your website, including images, infographics, and other forms of content. Ensure that they are readable/viewable.
Do a quick keyword analysis and try to include the keywords on the relevant pages. We recommend hiring an expert writer to write the content and a designer for the images/videos/infographics. When you complete this step, do a user experience (UX) audit. Assess if a user will have trouble navigating the website. Also, refer to our post on top UX mistakes to avoid.
- Selecting the Projects
Now comes the most challenging part. You may have done 100 projects, but not all of them are worth mentioning on your website. Therefore, sit down and go through your projects one by one. Decide which one will appear most appealing to prospective clients. Start uploading the screenshots/videos/other information to your website. Select the best projects to display on the homepage—likewise, upload projects on the portfolio page.
- Clients & Testimonials
The second-last step is to upload a list of your top clients and their testimonials. You can do this on the homepage, services page, or portfolio page. Do A/B testing to assess where they offer the most value. The testimonials will increase customer trust in your services and bring in more customers.
- Search Engine Optimization & Social Media Marketing
If you wish to make the most of your portfolio website, go for search engine optimisation (SEO). It refers to the process of ranking your website on Google’s top pages. It helps bring organic traffic. Suppose you offer web designing services in Toronto. In that case, you must rank your website for keywords such as ‘web design Toronto.’
When people search this keyword on Google, your website will appear on top. This traffic can lead to increased conversions. While you invest in SEO, don’t forget the importance of social media marketing. Share your website link on Facebook groups, Reddit forums, and other channels. You can even set up dedicated social media pages for your website.
It concludes our detailed discussion on how to create a portfolio website quickly. If you have any questions in mind or suggestions, let us know in the comments section below. Lastly, don’t forget to keep updating your website regularly. You can set up a blog page to share the latest information from your industry.