How to Create an Online Portfolio

Building an online portfolio may be necessary to be competitive in today's marketplace. Here's how to create a solid one.
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Nikki Carter
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Nikki Carter is a writer-editor who focuses on tech, healthcare, and other industries. She's been published in Business Insider, The Muse, and more. She runs a weekly newsletter, Will & Way, for women of color and is querying her first novel for publ...
Published on Sep 15, 2022
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Giselle M. Cancio
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Editor & Writer

Giselle M. Cancio is an editor for BestColleges, where she focuses on a variety of topics including subject-specific content, DEI, and career-related content. She previously worked in higher education, managing social media and digital communications...
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Ready to Start Your Journey?

  • Online portfolios help you grow your network and connect with employers and clients.
  • Building a portfolio is especially helpful when you're a recent grad or new to your field.
  • You should include your strongest work and update your portfolio regularly.
  • There are many free websites to help you create your portfolio.

These days, most of the recruiting and hiring process happens online. Even if you don't want to establish an online presence, creating a portfolio you can easily share with others may be necessary to grow your network and career.

Still not convinced? Over 40% of employers said they might not even interview a candidate if they can't find them online, according to a 2016 survey collected by CareerBuilder.

The good news is that creating an online portfolio is straightforward, and once you have it up, it should be a relatively light lift to maintain as time goes on.

Careers That May Require a Portfolio

While not all careers may call for an online portfolio, many — particularly those within creative arts and some tech fields — do.

Here's a sampling of careers for which people typically build portfolios:

  • Camera
    Photography: With just one glance, a potential client can understand your visual style and aesthetic.
  • Pencil
    Writing: Sharing your published work and bylines can help establish credibility and may help you bypass writing tests and trial projects.
  • Desktop Computer
    Graphic or Web Design: Showcasing finished projects you've completed can allow someone to visualize what you can do for their brand or company.
  • Qrcode
    Coder, Programmer, or Developer: Again, highlighting your work illustrates your abilities and builds trust with your audience.

Though this list is far from all-inclusive, it shows you how online portfolios can help you connect with a broader audience and highlight your abilities.

Why You Should Build a Portfolio

Creating a portfolio has many benefits. It lets you raise awareness of your work, point to your abilities, and connect with more people.

Even if you're in a field where it's not required to have one, a portfolio can still come in handy. Think about how easy it is to send over a URL that shows off what you can do versus explaining all that information yourself.

Portfolios are especially helpful when you're a freelancer, a recent grad, still in school, or trying to pivot careers and build experience within a certain area. When you don't have a work history in a specific industry, portfolios can give employers or recruiters something to look at.

For example, this is why you'll build a coding portfolio as part of your education in a coding bootcamp — hiring managers want to evaluate a body of work. Without it, you won't be as competitive.

Things to Include In Your Portfolio

Ready to build out your portfolio? Here's what you should include and some tips to stand out from the crowd.

First, make a comprehensive list of your work and accomplishments within your field. If you have a ton of experience, you may want to pull out the most significant and noteworthy projects.

From there, circle anything that you definitely want to highlight in your portfolio, and cross out anything you don't want to showcase. If there are things you're unsure about, you can leave them alone and decide after you create the portfolio.

Aside from your work — the most important part, of course! — here are some other common components of portfolios:

  • Artist's statements or goal statements
  • Resumes (in PDF format)
  • Social media handles
  • Contact information
  • Testimonials

Once it's up, ask a few people to review your portfolio and provide feedback. If they're confused about what a project entailed or your part in it, you can consider adding text descriptors. Or, if the site isn't loading correctly on their devices, you can troubleshoot that. This way, you get ahead of any potential glitches before sending your portfolio to professional contacts.

Finally, set a calendar reminder to update your portfolio regularly. Maybe you'll add in newly finished projects, remove older work that doesn't fit your style anymore, or give your portfolio a once-over to make sure everything still looks nice. Keeping up with your portfolio regularly ensures updating it is an easy task and that you're always putting your best foot forward.

Best Free Websites For Creating Your Portfolio

There are many free tools out there to help you build your portfolio. Here are some of our favorite recommendations:

Squarespace: The platform's portfolio pages are built to deploy sleek, visually appealing portfolios that can work for a wide variety of professionals. WordPress: A major and comparable competitor of Squarespace, WordPress has many plugins you can use to add a portfolio to your website. Wix: Wix is similar to Squarespace and WordPress and is often recommended as a great resource for beginners. Weebly: Nearly any creative or professional, including writers, artists, and photographers, can use Weebly to create a portfolio. Behance: Geared toward those working in creative fields, Behance might be a great option if you're a graphic designer, photographer, or videographer. Dribbble: This one's a solid option for designers and other creative talents. They bill themselves as a prime place to find inspiration as well. GitHub: Coders and developers can build repositories on GitHub and quickly share them with the world. Adobe Portfolio: If you're a creative subscribed to a Creative Cloud plan, you already have access to Adobe's Portfolio tool, which can help you develop your personalized site.

Let Your Online Portfolio Speak For You

There you have it: the reasons to create a portfolio, what to include in your online portfolio, and how to build it yourself. With so many free resources and examples out there, it's never been easier to start a stunning portfolio of your own.

Once you've developed a portfolio you're proud of, don't forget to share it far and wide across your social networks. You never know who might be interested in the type of work that you do. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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