You’re creative. You’re talented. You want the world to see who you are and what you can do. But the world’s a big place, and it’s hard to stand out. If people can’t see your work, they won’t come knocking at your door. You need people to see what you’re all about, and that requires a strong, professional presence on the web. Luckily, there are online tools that can help you do that successfully.
You need an online portfolio It should be easy to find, easy to browse, and easy on the eyes. It should also be easy for you — to set up, update, and customize without taking up too much of your time. It’s easy enough to upload some images to a popular photo site like Flickr, but do you really want your gallery to look like 30 million others? Software packages like WordPress can be tweaked to look pretty, but do you have the time and know-how to maintain your own web server, configure PHP files and learn an elaborate content management system?
Embrace the new Luckily, the web is changing. New tools are being created that eliminate the trade-off between capability and ease of use. In other words, you don’t need to be a certified geek to pull off a great online portfolio. One service to consider is 4ormat, which gives you a slick portfolio instantly, and lets you customize the look and feel with just a few clicks. It’s also optimized to look great on mobile devices like cell phones or tablets, so you can show off your work wherever you go. It even lets you connect your portfolio to your own domain, if you happen to have one.
Manage your résumé Especially if you’re looking for long-term work or contracts with larger agencies. First, make sure it’s accurate, readable and convincing. Liberate it from typos and punctuation errors. Then, make sure people can find it quickly. To do that, make sure it’s available on your site in “plain text” format so that it’s easily indexed by search engines. Job search sites like Monster and CareerBuilder post your résumé this way, as does the aforementioned portfolio site 4ormat. This can also be done with WordPress, but it’s a bit trickier. You should also convert your résumé to PDF, an almost universally accepted document format. PC users can do this for free using software like CutePDF Writer and on a Mac you can simply use the Print to PDF feature.
Use social networking to your advantage If you don’t have one already, put up a Facebook page with examples of your work. But you should also consider building a profile on other popular sites. LinkedIn caters to a more business-minded audience, so it’s key to developing your professional reputation. Twitter lets you post frequent, short updates for people to follow, letting you connect with potential buyers, collaborators and mentors. You can also “follow” the posts of other people, keeping you updated on the latest insights, trends and opportunities in your field. Whichever sites you use, make sure to include some form of contact info, and always link back to your online portfolio.
Help people find you Submit your portfolio site to search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Search engine optimization, or SEO, will help your site show up in searches. Many free guides exist, but there are a couple of obvious techniques. Use metatags and keywords that relate to the subject — yourself — and to your work on every page you create, so people can find it easily. Link to your portfolio wherever appropriate and try to get others to link to it, too.
Manage your rep Now that you have an online presence, it’s important to maintain a consistent and professional identity. You also need to stay active — in the social world, the key is to “just show up.” Do one thing daily to promote yourself and your work, but don’t spam. Forge beneficial relationships by communicating with people in a style reflective of your personality and values. And remember: what you put online can stay there forever, for anyone to see. Your reputation is as valuable as your work, so make sure both are at their best.
Finally, motivate yourself. The web has some amazingly powerful tools, but the rest is up to you!