Online portfolios for artists and creatives
CAKI’s tips on how to create a professional online portfolio
An online portfolio is essential when you are running your own business and are looking for clients or partners. The portfolio is where you as self-employed business owner, freelancer or jobseeker visualize and convey your work and make yourself available to customers, partners, curators, bookers, foundations, etc.
Creating your portfolio does not have to set you back moneywise and it doesn’t need to take up a lot of your time. If you keep a few useful tips in mind, you can relatively easily and quickly create a professional online existence.
Seven tips for your online portfolio:
At CAKI, we often receive portfolios and digital CVs from students. Whether they display projects in visual arts, architecture, music, performing arts or design, the best portfolios have a number of things in common. These we have gathered in the following seven recommendations:
- Be selective and be strategic: Your portfolio should only show off the projects, assignments or work you are proud of, as well as those which emphasize your interests and competencies as best as possible. If you have many projects in your portfolio, it is a good idea to choose strategically among them. That way, you can also target your portfolio to future collaborators, clients or employers by displaying projects / assignments / work in the areas you want to work with in the future.
- Be specific: It is important that your work, your skills, your professional interests as well as what you are offering and/or selling is made clear. Be sure to concretize your work, for instance by providing an insight into your workflow. If you are showing a project with more people involved, remember to describe what part of the project / assignment you were responsible for. For example, if you have been involved in making a film and you were responsible for writing the script, directing, and for fundraising and managing the project manager, then remember to state all the roles you have had in the realisation of the project. And do it in a way that makes it clear and easy to understand.
- Visualize: Use both text and images to visualize your projects. Use specific examples and highlight (important) details to help the viewer/reader to visualize your work through the text as well as perceive the depth and content in the images you choose to show your work. If you do not have any good images or pictures, it might be an idea to hire a professional photographer. Good pictures are an important part of the dissemination of your work – they will communicate your skills as well as your goals.
- Use references: Has your work been (positively) mentioned or highlighted by former employers, collaborators, colleagues in the press, on SoMe or somewhere else you can refer to? Then make a reference to it! And remember, it’s good practice to ask for permission before using quotes.
- Make your content manageable: Your portfolio must be manageable to the receiver. Set up your projects, your work and your CV in chronological order with the most recent activities first.
- Personalize your content: Make your portfolio – and especially your about-text – personal so that the reader gets a feel for you as a person. Think about what sets you apart from the crowd: Is there anything you are especially passionated about? Do you have other skills that do not necessarily have anything to do with your primary professionalism but which you have experienced as beneficial in a professional contexts? Who are your sources of inspiration? What is your personal story? What is your background? How did you get to where you are today?
- Update: Update your portfolio, and do it regularly.
Four types of portfolio:
There are many different ways to showcase your work. We have gathered four of the most common online portfolio-types in the section below:
- Self-build: You can build a portfolio site from scratch. It takes time, patience and knowledge about the internet and digital platforms in general, but most building-self-sites have become more user-friendly than before. This applies, for example, to One.com, where you can work in drag&drop and the design is automatically responsive (meaning that it will adjust to the interface used for viewing, such as Ipad, smartphone or computer). WordPress is also a good option, though it is a bit more complicated than just drag&drop, but it has a wide range of more flexible features. Both One.com and WordPress offer a number of responsive templates.
- Portfolio templates: There are several good, easy-to-use website templates that can help you create a professional portfolio – including Dunked, Allyou, Portfoliobox and Squarespace. The latter two are divided into portfolio categories such as ‘musician’, ‘architecture’ and ‘photographer’.
- Shared platforms: Another option is to create a portfolio on a shared platform or join an online community. The advantage of the shared platform is that you can display your own products and works next to others, so that potential clients, customers or partners can browse around the platform. At the same time, you also have the opportunity of being inspired by others. In addition, companies use the shared platforms to keep themselves updated about new candidates. Upload, for example your portfolio at FOLIO, a platform collecting student and graduate portfolios from the Danish schools for design and architecture, or upload your work on the international portfolio network, Behance. Other shared platforms could be Soundcloud(music) or ArtRebels(design, illustration, arts etc).
- LinkedIn: Even if you have a portfolio platform of your own, it is still a good idea to be on the slightly dry, mostly blue-collar portfolio site LinkedIn. In addition to share your professional credentials and following the colleagues, companies, institutions and organizations you are interested in, many people use LinkedIn to recruit freelance and self-employed for smaller tasks or independent projects. You might just want to upload your CV and other more formal details, and then include a reference to your website or the platform, where you keep your online portfolio.