Showcasing Your Work Online
Kristin Kane writes for www.ework.com – a Ms.Money partner.
The word portfolio comes from the Italian word portafoglio, meaning
"a carrier for papers." Traditional portfolios, large black folders
holding a collection of drawings, paintings, or photographs, are
a means for artists to show a sampling of their work to curators
and collectors. Today, fine artists, graphic designers and writers
alike are moving their portfolios online. In a few short years,
online portfolios have become one of the most efficient ways to
show creative work to a wide audience. And for the independent professional,
online portfolios represent an indispensable tool for attracting
The Contents of an Online Portfolio
Whether you are a seasoned independent or just breaking out on
your own, an online portfolio is an excellent way to market
your services. But to be an effective marketing tool, your
site must convey professionalism. Poor navigation or sloppy
writing can detract from the work on display and leave a negative
impression. Depending on your area of expertise, you may wish
to enlist the help of a friend or hire an independent to design
a professional site or finesse the content.
As you draft the content for your site, start with the standard components of an effective portfolio:
Bio. A professional biography is an essential element in any online
portfolio. Your bio should include the same information as your
resume, but in a web-friendly format. Use it as an opportunity to
- Professional experience in the field, including a list of previous and current clients
- Pertinent educational experience
- Any awards or honors
Description of Services. Since the primary purpose of an online portfolio
is to secure future clients, be sure to describe your services in
detail. As you work through this section, consider the work you
have already done, as well as other avenues you are interested in
exploring. If your background is in web design but you are interested
in working on the content side as well, you may wish to market yourself
as a full-service web development consultant. If you are a writer
with experience writing investment advice but you want to write
on arts and culture as well, highlight both areas in your description
Work Samples. The heart of a portfolio is a collection of
work samples. Choose pieces that support the emphasis in your description
of services. Broadly speaking, samples fall into two categories:
- External links. If your work has appeared online, you can direct visitors
directly to your published sample by means of a hyperlink (URL).
Remember that in many cases your work may be the legal property
of your client, so be sure to use proper citations and follow
the terms of your contract.
- Works showcased on your site. You may also wish to publish
work directly on your site. This is an excellent way to display
work that was not created for a client, especially if you are
exploring a new area of your field or just starting out as an
independent. Occasionally, you can also get permission to reproduce
client work on your site.
Contact Information. Finally, be sure to provide potential clients with
a way to contact you. Some independents provide just an e-mail address,
while others include a daytime phone number and address as well.
You might get e-mail from a large number of virtual passersby, so
you may want to dedicate a separate e-mail account just for this
Creating an online portfolio is an excellent way to promote your business. It is also a venue for sharing your work with family and friends. Sometimes constructing your portfolio can be as creative and rewarding as the work you are showcasing.