Extend Your Reach with an Online Portfolio

  •    A freelance reporter and writer based in Philadelphia, Pa., Dinah previously worked as a staff reporter for The Associated Press and Dow Jones Newswires.

Perhaps you produce impressive photography, design sleek jewelry, knit gorgeous sweaters or craft beautiful housewares. Maybe you have essays that you want to publish or a college project or video you want share. While your unique work may speak for itself, its voice can get lost among all the noise on the Internet. That's why an appealing, professional online portfolio is essential for showing off your talent.

Set Yourself Apart

A great portfolio allows you to set the tone and establish the identifying look you want associated with your work, whatever it is you produce. It also lets you share your story, and your personality.

You can give your portfolio a custom domain name, add a blog to share interesting and inspirational information with readers, and include contact pages for fans, potential buyers and other people to reach you.

Do-it-Yourself website platforms offer themes, drag & drop tools and other features to customize your portfolio, giving you a polished look even if you have no experience with coding or graphic design. You can add slideshows, videos, picture galleries, podcasts and music to enrich your presentation.

Katie Daisy Online Portfolio

Illustrator Katie Daisy, for example, sets a whimsical, flowery, sunny tone on her website, which includes a portfolio of her nature-themed work, a blog, a shop, autobiographical details, photos of the artist in her studio, and short videos. It takes barely a minute to get the artist's overall style and focus -- and a bit of her personality.

Katie Daisy's site also fits in essential business information, including a photo of Oprah Winfrey, whose eponymous network is listed among the illustrator's clients.

Portraits for Pits, a custom pet portraits business, displays its bright, colorful artwork in an online gallery, part of an eCommerce website that includes pricing, order and contact forms, and a listing of its donations to animal rescue organizations.

Here are some ideas for assembling your effective online portfolio:

Make it Clean and Simple

There's nothing like a cluttered, overly busy website to turn off web surfers. Clean lines, white space, and a few key categories that include samples of your best or most photogenic work allow you to convey plenty of information without overwhelming readers.

Use High-Quality Content

Choose powerful images, videos and graphics to give your portfolio a professional appearance. Make sure the writing is crisp, elegant, grammatically correct and in line with the overall tone of your website.

Give it Your Voice

This is your website, your work, so it should reflect your personality. Give viewers — potential employers, clients or school admissions officers included — a glimpse of the person they'll be working with, even if you write only a brief bio. This should be more than a resume-style list. Who are you, what brought you to this line of work? If you have a team, include relatively short, personal-style bios on them as well.

Include Contact Information

Give folks ways to get in touch, whether you use a form, email address, postal address or phone number.

Building an online portfolio need not be a scary prospect. It can be a fun opportunity to stretch your creative wings, curate your work and present your best face to the world.

Looking for more inspiration for setting up your one-of-a-kind portfolio? Check out Weebly's guide on the topic.

How will you make your mark?