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Do You Really Need A Portfolio Website? The Answer is Yes.

Here's the 'Who, What, Why, and How' you need.

The year is 2021, many larger companies are moving to fully remote or hybrid work plans, and we’re in the midst of what folks are calling ‘The Great Resignation.’ If we know one thing for sure, it’s that having a presence online is one of the most important things you can do to secure your future at this moment. No, we don’t just say that because we’re an online company. And, no, we aren’t just talking about social media (see: the big Facebook & Instagram crash of October 2021). Whether you are a creative person, a small business owner, someone who works in a corporate job, or someone who is actively trying to figure out your next move… it’s high time to ensure that your professional life and wellbeing are implosion-proof, social media shutdown-proof, and all-around iron-clad. Now is the time to carve out your own little corner of the internet. Now is the time to create your personal / portfolio website.

We’ve talked about how very important we think personal websites are a whole bunch in the past. From how to talk about yourself and your work, to how to approach the task of creating a personal portfolio website if your work isn’t in a creative field, and even imposter syndrome and how to get over the feeling that you’re just bragging. And now we’re back to remind you that now is the time to snag your own domain name and make sure you exist online in a way that you completely control. Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it.

What Is A Personal Portfolio Website?

The short answer is… that your personal portfolio website can be anything you want / need it to be. The longer answer is… a portfolio website is a place where you can display all your best work, share it with the world, and tell people exactly how to get in contact with you or hire you.

There are different kinds of personal portfolio websites, depending on where you are in your career or goals. The best part is that with Squarespace you can make your website any of these (or one site that is all of them).

  • A Resume Site—if you’re job hunting, this is for you.
  • A Portfolio Site—if you’re a creative, or have done a bunch of different things in your life… time to show it off.
  • A Blog—if writing is your thing, you need to have a place to house all that content for folks to find.
  • A Personal Brand Site—no matter if you’re an Instagram influencer, a photographer, or a lawyer… it’s time to define your brand.
  • A Shop—if you’ve got anything to sell (physical or service-based), you have to show people how to acquire those goods.

Who Needs A Personal Website?

It might seem reductive to say this, but… everyone. Like, truly.

If you’re a creative professional (even if it’s not your money-maker right now), you should definitely have a portfolio website. This could mean that you are a photographer, designer, artist, website coder, model, writer… or any other creative who has physical or visual work to show off.  Create a space where you can collect all the many things you’ve made and created over the years. Don’t let yourself arrive at the moment where you need a job, or are ready to show someone your skills, and you have to go digging through 10 years of Google files. Instead… create one beautiful visual space for it all to live.

Pro-tip: Don’t include *everything* you’ve ever made or done. This is your highlight reel… so include the best of the best and the things that will show off your abilities and interests.

So, what if you’re not a creative? You need this, too. If your work history and career goals aren’t something that you can show off with photos, that’s okay. We’ve got tips on how to handle a professional website, how to talk yourself up, and how to make your website visually impressive even if your work isn’t visual. In short: lean into words, include a killer headshot, and use the magic of the internet to give your website a strong visual appearance, even if you don’t have your own imagery. (Squarespace has a partnership with Unsplash, so you have endless stock photos as options. Plus, you can use their logo tools and charts to create graphs and graphics that will level up your site in no time.)

But what if you’ve had a bunch of jobs and aren’t really sure what’s next for you, or what your ‘dream job’ is? All the more reason to put your best foot forward with a digital presence. Get out a piece of paper or open a document, go to your LinkedIn page, and get to work. Think about all the jobs you’ve had over the years, volunteer work you’ve done, projects you’ve been a part of, schooling and certificates you hold… all of it. Your goal is to get a big picture view of everything you have to offer (leaving out anything you don’t want to brag about) and share your skills and abilities with the world. Whether you’re searching for a job now or will be someday in the future (I mean, won’t we all), you should offer recruiters and hiring directors a sneak peek into all you bring to the table.

Why Do You Need A Portfolio Website?

In this day and age (did I sound like a grandma?), there is just no way around the fact that the internet is where we all need to be thriving. If you’re invisible on the internet, except for an old Facebook account that’s full of (vaguely inappropriate) college memories… you have to change that (like, yesterday). And while we’re pretty big fans of LinkedIn, the reality is that it’s only the beginning. You can only personalize and utilize other social media platforms so well. With a personal website, however, you have complete flexibility and unlimited options.

When someone searches your name online, you want them to find more than just an old headshot from 10 years ago. You want to direct them to a place where they can learn the very best and most valuable information about you… oh, and how they can hire and pay you. You should be the person controlling and directing your own narrative, not some past employer or, ya know, whatever the internet digs up. By creating a personal website, you can control the story and information that folks find about you, and you become instantly more credible.

Pro-tip: Own your own name on the internet. With Squarespace, you’ll get a free domain name with your first annual subscription for your website. Win!

How Do I Make One?

With Squarespace, making your personal portfolio site is a breeze. You’ll start with one of Squarespace’s super clean templates… there are so many to choose from. Portfolio options, personal / CV options, and so many more—I’m a fan of Amal for a layout with no photos, and Noll for an option with large photos. The best part is that they’re all capable of the same options and are completely customizable. The template you choose is just a solid place to start. Once you’ve chosen a template, you get to dive into the fun of building your site.

Pro-tip: Short on time? You could choose a one-page layout if you’re just looking to get your site up quickly and work on adding more to it later. I like Devoe and Toledo if that’s what you need. As you work on growing your site, you can add more pages and enable them when you’re ready.

Like with all big projects, it’s going to be helpful to make a plan. Think about the site you’re building and what your goals are for your audience. Do you want recruiters to see your site and hire you? Prioritize your resume (here are some tips for sharing your resume on your website). Are you aiming to create a portfolio full of all your works? Then think about how you want to organize them (this organization will become pages or sections of your site). Do you want people to shop or read your writing? Then make sure your products or writing are front and center. Always keep your audience in mind and make sure you’re putting your best foot forward. Squarespace has this great article for you that will help walk you through creating your website, and we made you an e-book that will literally walk you through the process step-by-step. With all these tools, and Squarespace, which makes the process super simple, you can totally get this done this week. No more putting it off.

How Do I Get it Out In The World?

So, you’ve got a website. Yay! What now? Well, it’s no use having an amazing digital presence if no one ever sees it except you and your mom. I know… this is the scary part. You’ve got to share it with the world. But how? That part is easy. Add your custom domain URL to your LinkedIn page, your email signature, your resume (obviously), your Instagram bio, and literally anywhere else you can think of. When someone thinks of your name, they should be able to find you and your work online via your amazing new website, then there should be a way for them to click a button and contact, hire, and pay you.

Pro-tip: You most definitely want your website to be searchable by Google… that’s how folks will find you. Here is a great checklist from Squarespace for making sure your SEO (search engine optimization) is set up. Oh, and don’t forget to verify your site with Google Search Console, and that your site is indexed with Google… thank me later.

So, APW… have you created your own personal portfolio or CV website? If you haven’t, what’s holding you back? If you have… will you share it with us, we’d love to see it! 

This post was sponsored by Squarespace. We are thrilled to be continuing our partnership with Squarespace talking about what it means to be a woman with #goals in this modern world. Whether you’re stepping up in your career or striking out to do your own thing, one of the best things you can do for yourself is creating a place online where you can show off your work in the form of a portfolio site, an online resume, or another hub that displays just how awesome you are. Squarespace provides an all-in-one platform (including everything from custom domains to templates, SEO tools, and now even built-in marketing tools like e-mail marketing) that makes it easy to build your online home beautifully. Never made a website before and have no idea where to start? Check out their webinars for free help and step-by-step details. Click here to get your website started today with a free 14-day trial from Squarespace. APW readers get 10% off your first Squarespace purchase when you use the code APW at checkout.

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