What to Include
So you've purchased your own little real estate on the web, you've installed WordPress, and you know how to add content to your web portfolio. So, what should you add? After exploring many different web portfolios, reading many articles, and constantly obsessing over my own portfolio, I've learned a lot about things that can be worth including in a web portfolio. If you're not quite sure where to start, here are a ten ideas to get you started.
1. The Resume
Whether you are a looking for a job or looking for clients, the resume is a common standard for displaying your experience and skills. When you include a resume, be sure to include it as text on one of your pages as well as in downloadable format. The version on the page helps with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and makes seeing your skills at a glance more convenient. Include direct links from your on-page resume to companies you've worked for, conference you've been to, and certifications you hold. These links also help with SEO and make it easy for companies and clients to learn more.
2. Bio or About You
Be sure to include a page that gives more information about who you are. A little Bio information, a little career history. This is a narrative tale of how you got where you are and what you are all about. This narrative should speak to your character, your experiences, and your journey.
3. Cover Letter, Manifesto, or Mission Statement
Different than the Bio page, this page talks about what you see for your future and what you bring to the table when a company or client hires you. Highlight strengths and keywords that fit with your field and that will be appealing to potential employers.
4. A Picture
A picture is worth a thousand words. We connect with people throughout senses. Giving a face to the bodiless voice of your online presence helps add to that tactile connection, and in a way that you control. Be sure that the background and look in your photo match the image you wish to give.
You can talk about yourself all day, but how do we know you are what you say you are? Including testimonials from past clients, employers, and colleagues can add credibility to your site. When looking for testimonials, be sure to hit on multiple different aspects of your work that highlight skills you bring or services you offer.
6. Community Activity / Social Links
Social media and online communities offer a unique piece of information that is hard to make tangible anywhere else: your activity in your field. Social networks, online communities, and blogs (see item 7) can show evidence that you are staying current in your field, that you are adding to the conversation, and that you have connections to others in your field. An already connected, already active job applicant is far better than one who has been idle, especially if you are not currently employed.
An active job applicant requires less startup time to get on track with current trends and issues in whatever field you work. A connected job applicant has a community of resources to call on when outside help is needed to get a job done. And an applicant who show they add to the conversation outside work, is going to be brining those conversations and the things they learn to their work.
Now, I'm not saying go crazy. I spend less than 5 minutes a day on my social networks, promoting my own stuff and sharing stuff I've seen from others. Posting twice a day is a great goal if you want to build a social following or if you get freelance work from the web. Posting five to seven times a week is great if you want to show employers that you are active on the net.
If you're not familiar with social networks, here are a few to consider:
- LinkedIn is the premiere business social network. Lots of companies are moving to LinkedIn as a place to find, learn about, and hire employees. I see more and more online applications include an "Apply with LinkedIn" feature. If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, I'd suggest getting one. Keep your profile complete and up-to-date, and stay active on it.
- Twitter has become a social phenomenon. The foundation of Twitter is through what are called tweets—small 140 character snippets that are shared in a timeline fashion. By nature, they are meant to be short. Many companies have their own twitter feeds which they use to disseminate information and "socialize" with their clients.
- Facebook is widely considered the social network and has undergone quite a bit of controversy. It's got a huge following, and a lot of potential, but be careful. It's often hard to tell what potential employers and clients can see from your own profile. If you don't have a Facebook account already, I'd not necessarily recommend one for business purposes. If you do, then be sure to regularly view your public profile to see what different types of connections can see.
- Google+ came late to the game, but is quickly catching up. The nice feature of Google+ is that it fully integrates with other Google products. So, if you want to send a Gmail to one of your Google+ circles, or share a Google Doc with them, you can.
There are many other social networks out there as well, so feel free to explore them.
Your social network emphasizes your connections and interaction in the larger discussion. Your blog is a representation of what you are doing or thinking in your field. Blogs are great for building page rank and furthering your SEO strategy. They also show that you are actively producing content, even if you're out of work. Even if you are fully employed, a blog that outputs a post a week is a powerful testament to your commitment to furthering the field.
You're reading my blog right now, so you can see what I do. I generally post twice a week, one content-based post, and one photo post. The photos I load up a month or two at a time and pre-schedule for release. They are a great way for me to increase my activity with minimal work, since taking pictures is something I do anyway. Choosing a few each month to share is not that much more work.
To learn more about how to get started blogging, you can read my article, Five Steps to Successful Blogging.
8. Contact Info or Hire Me Page
The goal of a portfolio is to get clients or jobs. They can't hire you if they don't know how to get in touch. And generally, we don't spend much time trying. If it's not immediately obvious, you risk losing potential work. Make your contact page easy to find and easy to fill out. Avoid too many fields if you have a contact form. Generally, I avoid making clients fill out the Subject line. It's unnecessary for me, and makes one less step for them.
If you are a freelancer and looking for clients, consider a Hire Me page in addition to or instead of a Contact Me page. The difference here is that a Hire Me page will include specific services you offer. Don't make your clients do the work of figuring out what you can do for them. Give them a sense of the services you offer. You can also always include a free consultation for those who might not know and a custom services option for those wanting something not on your list.
9. A Memorable Logo or Landing Page
First impressions count. Give visitors something to remember you by. A creative logo or a really sleek landing page are ways to make a good first impression. It doesn't need to be complicated. See my landing page. I include some neat little graphics to represent the various parts of my portfolio. You can also include a slider with images of some of your best work. Or a logo with a little spunk.
10. Portfolio artifacts
Of course, a portfolio is not a portfolio without examples of your work. When including examples, remember to include only your best work. Your visitors are not likely to look at everything you've done, so be sure that if they only look at one, it gives a good representation. Best works are the evidence of what you can do, so spend some time making sure they are error free and look good.
But portfolios are not just about the products you create. The process you go through is also important, so be sure to share how you created the artifacts, what tools you used, and what role you played in the project. Showing that you can work both collaboratively and independently is a strength.
Hopefully this list will get you started building your portfolio today, but this is just a start. Your portfolio will become a living document, changing and improving as time goes on.