April 10, 2019

If you offer freelance creative services or run a client services agency, you’re going to need a portfolio.

A portfolio is the foundation of a creative business. It showcases your work, demonstrates your skill and style, and shows prospective clients what you’re capable of.

If you want to create a gorgeous online portfolio that will persuade clients to hire you or that dream agency to hire you, Managed WordPress should be your platform of choice. With beautiful portfolio-style themes you can customize and a variety of image gallery and slider plugins available, WordPress gives creative professionals the ability to build a unique portfolio that reflects their personality and represents the work they are most proud of.

Image Gallery and Portfolio Plugins

Recently we shared a list of the five best WordPress photo gallery plugins. All five plugins give you the ability to add stunning image galleries to your WordPress portfolio and customize the display options. By adding a gallery to an individual portfolio entry, you can showcase a collection of work samples, background context, and project images that tell the story of the project.

If galleries aren’t your thing, you prefer to limit scrolling, or you’d rather have visitors experience one image of your work at a time, you could use a slider plugin like Soliloquy. Soliloquy Lite is the free version available in the WordPress plugin repository and Soliloquy Pro is the premium version with even more features. It is responsive and mobile-friendly by default, optimized to ensure maximum speed, easy to use and update, and easy to customize with tons of hooks and filters — and with slider blocks, it is Gutenberg compatible.

Another option to display your work and create a portfolio with WordPress is to use an actual portfolio management plugin like Custom Content Portfolio. With Custom Content Portfolio, you can:

  • Create individual projects for your portfolio and customize the permalinks
  • Categorize and tag portfolio projects
  • Add custom project details such as a project image, URL, client, location, start/end dates, and a description
  • Create sticky projects

tips for displaying your wordpress portfolio

Tips For Displaying Your Work

How you represent yourself in your portfolio — it’s design, organization, style, attention to detail, presentation, content, and imagery — is a reflection of who you are and how you work.

How you do anything is how you do everything.”

Once you have your portfolio designed and the plugins you’re going to use to display your work chosen and configured, it’s time to select the projects to include, write the project description and story, and create the imagery.

Here are five tips to ensure your portfolio is filled with eye-catching images that will impress prospective clients or employers.

1. Curate Your Work Carefully

Your portfolio isn’t the place to store samples of every project you have ever completed. It is the place to curate and showcase your very best work, your style, and your experience — it is your opportunity to tell the story of who you are as a creative professional.

2. Show Your Work

When creating the collection of project images that will be included in a portfolio entry, mix it up and include both samples of the finished project and behind the scenes snapshots of your work in progress and creative thought process. This will give your portfolio entries more depth and visual interest.

3. Move Past The Screenshot

Anyone can take a screenshot, and when a portfolio consists of nothing but screenshots of completed projects, it becomes boring and monotonous. While screenshots are an important part of documenting your work, you also need to go beyond the screenshot to show your projects in context. Show the responsive website on multiple devices; photograph someone using the hiking app on a smartphone screen out on a trail; share a picture of someone using the restaurant website you just finished on a phone in their car.

cut and paste images into stock images to make great wordpress porfolio additions

Tip: Not ready to take your own photos for your portfolio? Grab photos of computers, tablets, and phones in a variety of contexts from places like Unsplash, Shutterstock, and Creative Market, cut out the screens and drop in your screenshots.

4. Get Creative With Cropping

While you need to present the project as a whole when creating a collection of portfolio images to display in a gallery or slider, consider adding in some beautiful close-ups of specific design elements or interesting pieces. Close up images create extra visual interest and drama and elevate the perception of your work.

5. Use A Consistent Style

If your portfolio is all over the place, it tells people that you’re all over the place. It’s important that the entirety of your portfolio tells a consistent story of who you are, what you’re great at, what work you want to do, and how you work. This means all imagery included in your portfolio — whether it’s a screenshot, photograph, or close up feature — needs to use a consistent style in the presentation so it creates a better user experience.

Final Details to Consider For Your WordPress Portfolio

Remember, when setting up your WordPress portfolio site, remember your audience and your ideal clients. Be sure to organize your portfolio in a way that helps them quickly find what they are looking for, and along with captivating images, include the critical details of each project so visitors have context for the work they are reviewing.

Also, set yourself up for success by placing your best projects at the beginning and the end of your portfolio. It can be tempting to put all of your best projects first in your portfolio, but with that approach, you risk visitors abandoning your portfolio and moving on when they see projects that aren’t as impressive. When reviewing portfolios, people typically look at the first few entries, scan over the middle, and look at the last few, then if they’re still interested, they click through the middle of the portfolio.

Always put your best projects first and last and mix up everything else in the middle.

Finally, add an annual recurring reminder to your calendar to review your portfolio. Add any new projects that are missing and remove the older projects that are no longer relevant or have become too old. Ideally, your portfolio should be updated as you complete new projects or write new case studies and it should feature the most current work that you’re most proud of.

Try Managed WordPress

Nexcess’ Managed WordPress automatically handles image compression, core WordPress and plugin update, backups and more.

Todd Terwillegar
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