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How To Build An Online Portfolio In 30 Minutes or Less

Building your portfolio website can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. This guide shows you how to set everything up step-by-step.

In the amount of time you’d spend watching a sitcom on Netflix, you can get a simple online portfolio up and running. Just follow along with this very straightforward (we promise!) guide to building your portfolio website using Format. In 30 minutes or less, you can create a professional, easy to navigate portfolio. No coding skills required.

Simply sign up for an account on Format to get started. You don’t need a credit card to sign up and it’s totally free for 14 days. Get started here, and then scroll down for your next steps:

Step One: Choose your theme (2 minutes).

The first choice you’ll make when setting up your online portfolio is how you want your theme to look. No pressure, though—if you decide later that you don’t like the theme you’ve picked, you can change things up whenever. It can be easy to procrastinate getting your site online because you’re worried about it looking perfect. Just remember that once you have your basic site set up, you’ll have lots of time to adjust it as much as you want. This is just to get things started.

When you start creating your Format portfolio, you’ll see the option to choose between a few different types of theme layouts:

  • Horizontal Scrolling
  • Fullscreen Slideshow
  • Thumbnails
  • Vertical Scrolling
  • Slideshow

Once you select the theme you want to try, you’ll go to the dashboard, and you can get started designing your portfolio.

Step Two: Get creative with fonts and colors. (7 minutes)

The “Design” tab of your dashboard is where you go to play around with how your site looks: you can explore different themes, and then customize as much as you like.

Under “General,” you can change the font and sizing of your website logo, or add an image if you have a custom logo you’d like to use. You can also edit the style of your site’s headlines, text, links, and footer, and change the background color. Choosing one of the custom fonts available is a quick way to give your portfolio some unique character.

Step Three: Curate your first gallery. (8 minutes)

Deciding what work to include on your online portfolio can be a challenge. To begin, try curating ten images that you know will make you stand out. In the future, you can create more galleries for portraits, landscapes, personal work, works in progress, whatever you feel like showcasing. But for now, just select ten of your best pieces, whether they’re photos or illustrations.

Think of this as a highlight reel. When someone ends up on your site, you want them to get an accurate, positive impression of your work right away. Having a quick and easy gallery to scroll through immediately offers visitors a window into your work that’s visible as soon as they land on your page.

Once you’ve selected your first gallery images, just choose “Gallery” from the “Create New” tab, and load them in, adding captions if you choose. Quick captions can be a good way to give context to your work, especially if you’re showcasing commissioned pieces or collaborations.

Step Four: Create an About page. (5 minutes)

Your About page is one of the most important parts of your portfolio—it’s actually the page that visitors to it will click on the most.

Under “Create New,” select “Custom Pages” to find a selection of About page templates you can customize. Add a quick, casual bio explaining who you are, what you do, and where you’re located. Including an image of yourself is a great way to make your About page more personal.

If you want to offer a comprehensive overview of your professional work on your portfolio, you can always add a detailed resume later on, but for now, a simple bio is a good start.

Step Five: Add your contact information. (2 minutes)

When a potential client comes across your online portfolio, you want them to be able to contact you easily and directly, without having to search through your site for your email. Including a dedicated contact page makes it super easy for anyone who sees your work to get in touch.

Step Six: Link to your social media accounts. (2 minutes)

Under the “Social” tab of the Design menu, you’ll see the option to add up to five icons linking visitors to your social media accounts. If you have a professional Facebook page for your creative business, or if you post work on Instagram or share updates on Twitter, linking to your social media is a great way to grow your professional brand online. It also offers a way for visitors to your site to get to know you better, and to check out more of your work or see updates on what you’re currently doing.

Next Steps

Now you’ve set up your basic portfolio, you can consider more ways to get creative with your site, maybe adding elements like a blog, or setting up a store, depending on what you want your portfolio to do for you.

Try making a checklist of steps to take to finalize your portfolio. You might want to:

  • Customize how headings and menu items are displayed
  • Upload more image galleries showcasing your work
  • Create a listing page to allow easy navigation between your galleries
  • Add a more detailed bio or resume explaining your work experience
  • Create a page linking to your published work

Want some inspiration?

Check out our favorite portfolios by Format creatives:
20 Mesmerizing Portrait Photography Websites
20 Incredible Illustration Portfolio Examples You Should Bookmark
20 Design Portfolios You Need to See for Inspiration
16 of The Best Animated GIF Portfolio Examples
20 Wedding Photographers with Exceptional Portfolios

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