How to build an online portfolio

As a recent university graduate, I know how important a portfolio is. I have now applied to over 60 jobs (the grind never stops haha) and although I’m not where I want to be just yet, I know the value in being able to display your work in a way that is accessible to potential clients or employers. I know making a portfolio can be daunting. I’m sure you have so many experiences you want to share! Here are some quick steps that can allow you to narrow down your focus and build your online portfolio.

Categorize your work


In order to better highlight your key skills, you want to categorize your work. This process is going to come down to the audience you’re making your portfolio for, as well as the work you’ve already done. Knowing your audience allows for you to tailor your portfolio for the positions that you want. This means you might have a category of work that maybe you haven’t worked a ton in, but you want to create that category to amplify that skill for a particular job or audience you are trying to attract. You can also take the route that I did and focus in on the skills you have tried to develop in your career, and turn them into categories. The categories for my portfolio are:

  • Social media

  • Web design

  • Guest blogs

  • User experience design

  • Creative design

Highlight key skills

Under each category is where you can now highlight key skills. You want to separate each category into readable chunks for the best experience for your user. This means you would take one of your categories and separate it into smaller segments that make sense for your skills. Here are the examples of how I separated out the content in my portfolio.:

  • Social media - This is separated by type of work

    • UWaterloo Flagship Events

    • Volunteer opportunities

    • Personal branding

    • Live streams

  • Web design - This is separated by project

    • Waterloo Magazine

    • UWaterloo Beyond Campaign

    • Global Impact Report

    • Webforms

  • Guest blogs - This is broken down into specific samples of writing

    • Benefits of Using a Landing Page for your Digital Campaign

    • Free Tools to Help Automate your Marketing for Growth in 2019

    • Top 3 Trends to Add to your Marketing Strategy in 2019

    • Millennial Buying Power: How Big Brands Are Aligning Themselves with Nonprofit Organization

  • User experience design - This is broken down into two different projects

    • Best Practice Module

    • Mobile App

  • Creative design - This is broken down into types of services or skills

    • Photography

    • Videography

    • Photoshop

Collect tangible assets

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your display. On my “Web Design” page I took a screenshot from each website I’ve worked on and made a more interesting element using a Mac desktop instead of just a plain screenshot.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your display. On my “Web Design” page I took a screenshot from each website I’ve worked on and made a more interesting element using a Mac desktop instead of just a plain screenshot.

Now that you know what exactly you’re looking to explore in your portfolio, you want to collect the perfect assets that display those circumstances. These may range from photos of you physically doing something, screenshots of the work that you have done, or uploaded documents (such as PDF’s) that display the content you’re connecting to in your categories. In my circumstance, with a marketing portfolio, most of the assets iI’ve collected are screenshots or original photos that I have personally taken. I have the occasional link to a website as well, but do this with caution as websites are frequently updated. I align my website links by also providing a screenshot of the website from the time that I created it. I use the Google Chrome extension called Awesome Screenshot to get a screenshot of the whole page in one shot!

When it comes to assets, you will also want to develop some copy to align with your categories. Short blurbs that explain the importance of the project can be very valuable for a viewer. Something that I am hoping to implement more in the future are specific numbers relating to my skills - for instance, “grew this social media platform by 22%.” Having actual statistics and facts to back up your skills is a surefire way to set yourself a part.

Add your contact info

Since your portfolio now shows all of your skills and is looking the way you want it with your specifically selected assets, you want to make sure you are accessible to contact. Here on Maria May Marketing, I have a contact form that visitors can fill out. You want to ensure it is very easy for your viewer to access your contact information when they are excited about your work! If this becomes a difficult process, they may not see the value in trying to search hard and give up. Be accessible!

Promote the hell out of it

Make sure people can actually see your awesome work! Add your portfolio to your LinkedIn account, your Instagram, personal website, resume, anywhere! You want to get as many eyes on your work as possible. Use this as a way to submit writing samples, share your skills or better describe what your job actually is to your family (Hi guys!). I’ve gotten compliments before on my portfolio, even though I felt like it was pretty basic. Maybe simplicity is the key. Go on and start thinking about your new portfolio - Good luck!

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