How to Make a Portfolio

create portfolio

A portfolio is a great career tool to start building now if you haven’t started already. It collects all the important academic and professional information that you may ever need in the job application process.

But people often wonder how to create a portfolio. Let’s go over some of the how-to’s of portfolio making, so your portfolio can be the most effective it can be.

Explore this Guide:

What is a Portfolio?

A portfolio is like a visual resume. It is a collection of work samples and other important documents that show your skills and abilities. A professional portfolio is especially helpful when the job applications in your field of work often require samples of your work.

For example, if you are a writer your portfolio will include a collection of your best writing. If you are an artist you’ll include a collection of your best art pieces.

Creating a career portfolio is something job seekers are doing a lot now to best illustrate their qualities. There are two kinds of portfolios you can create, a printed hard copy, or an online portfolio.

Online portfolios have become really popular and are usually made as a personal website. Using a website portfolio is nice because all you have to do is send employers your website, instead of sending large email attachments or binders in the mail.

But even if you have a website, it is still a good idea to have a PDF copy of all your portfolio content, in order to save all the documents and images in a safe place.

A portfolio can also be helpful as a kind of CV or master resume so that you can save all the information an employer could ever want in one spot.

What Goes into a Portfolio?

The main elements in a portfolio are the samples of your work. But there are a few other sections you can include to really complete your portfolio.

Here are the main sections of a professional portfolio, regardless of your field of work:

Name, About Me, and Contact Info
You’ll want to introduce yourself and provide the best way to contact you.

Resume Info
Include your basic resume—with your experience, education, accomplishments, and skills sections—so that you have the option of sending just your portfolio, instead of having to send in a portfolio and a resume.

Samples of Your Work
Then you’ll actually show your work—the proof of your skills. This is like a cover letter, where you write about your skills, but in a portfolio, you instead show your skills.

So if you are a photographer, include your best photos. If you work in app development, include trailers, photos, and links to the best apps you’ve made or been apart of.
If part of your work samples includes images of any kind, make sure that they are high-quality images with high resolution.

Other Important Documents
You can also include copies of any important documents an employer might need to see. For example, if you have a certificate for knowing Spanish then include that document here. You can even include a copy of your degree here too, or any other certificates or awards you’ve received.

Keep a list of references and credentials somewhere in your portfolio. This includes anyone an employer could contact to talk about your skills, projects, and experience. Don’t forget to ask permission to include someone’s name and contact information in your reference list first.

How to Design a Portfolio

Resumes, cover letters, and portfolios can sometimes include elements of design to make your portfolio just a little more eye-catching. Usually, unless you are making a graphic design portfolio, it’s best to keep your design efforts simple and clean looking.

A good idea for designing your portfolio is to think about how you want to portray yourself, and your field of work. You can use search engines to explore keywords and common imagery that have to do with your work.

You can also look for example websites from successful people in your field to see what their websites are like. A final insight into designing your portfolio is to remain consistent throughout.

Just remember, the center stage of your portfolio should be your content, so don’t allow any design work to obscure what you need employers to focus on.

How to Make a Printed Portfolio

printed portfolio

Printed portfolios can be especially useful when an employer prefers having a hard copy, especially if they want to go over it with you in an interview. It’s also helpful if you ever need to bring your portfolio with you places. This can happen a lot with people in the arts, like artists, photographers, or models. Likewise, sometimes print form is just better for the medium you’re portraying.

Artists should always make copies of their work rather than giving out the originals because you might not get that copy of your portfolio back. Artwork can also come in nonstandard sizes of paper, making original copies not ideal to carry around. So copies of your work, resized to fit your book, is better. Always make sure you print out quality images on good paper and any digital images should be set in CMYK color for printing.

1: Make a cover page
Your cover page can have your name, the title of your portfolio, and your preferred contact information.

2: Include a table of contents
Make sure you number all your pages. Adobe Acrobat has a feature that allows you to create a linked table of contents for your PDF file, so that a viewer can see an outline of your portfolio, and easily jump back and forth from each section to the table of contents.

3: Print out a couple of copies of your resume to pass out
You can include your resume inside your portfolio, but you can also print out a few copies of your resume in case there are more than one person in an interview who might want a copy.

4: Pick the best examples of your work
Include your best work first, and go in descending order from there. But pick the best pieces you have. If your work is visual it’s a good idea to include around 10 examples, give or take a few. If your work isn’t visual you can usually include less, especially if they’re writing examples.

5: Make copies of any important documents
This would be any licenses, certifications, awards, or degrees you’ve received.

6: Have a list of references
Don’t forget to include who they are in relation to you, and their preferred contact information.

7: Use a good binder to put everything in
Make your printed portfolio look good using quality binders, printers, and paper. There are several places you can use to help you create, design, and print out your portfolio in a beautifully bound book as well.

Where you can create a printed portfolio:

How to Make a Digital Portfolio

A digital portfolio is somewhere in between a printed portfolio and a portfolio website. You create it using digital files that you can then send in electronic applications. A digital portfolio is helpful to have when you need to be able to email your portfolio to an employer or submit it online. The smartest way to make a digital portfolio is to create a PDF portfolio.

How to Make a PDF Portfolio
Make a PDF file of all your portfolio content and organize the sections the same way you would a printed portfolio. Not only will you be able to use this PDF file for your basic portfolio, but you’ll also have a great place to store anything you would ever want to include in a portfolio you send someone.

When accumulating your PDFs, make sure they are set as printer friendly PDFs. You can use Adobe Acrobat or Hello Sign to make up your PDF files.

How to Make an Online Portfolio

online portfolio

The key to a great website is being user friendly. To achieve this have clear sections, or web pages, for each of your portfolio sections.

1. Gather Your Content
Plan your website before you start creating it. Knowing what all you want to include, writing out all your blurbs first, and organizing everything into their sections will help you format your website and keep everything organized.

2. Design Your Website
Any good website will have some design elements, so whether you’re creating the website from scratch or with a template, you’ll want to pick a layout.
A website also needs clear organization. One of the first things you’ll do for your website is create a navigation bar with all your different sections.

3. Home Page
The main page of your website can be an information free kind of cover page, or you can include some basic introductory information about yourself.

4. About Me Page
This page can include an introductory blurb about yourself and your preferred contact information. Since the entire website is for your portfolio, you can also combine the About Me Page with the Home Page.

5. Work History
Include a version of your resume on your website, especially if a viewer wants to see a quick overview of your work history instead of going through all of your website.

6. Work Examples
Divide your different types of work examples into different web pages. Images should be set in RGB color for digital websites.

7. Important Documents
Make copies of any important documents. This would be any licenses, certifications, awards, or degrees you’ve received.

8. References
Have a list of references. Don’t forget to include who they are in relation to you, and their preferred contact information.

Where you can create an online portfolio:

Many people wonder how to make a portfolio website. Here are some portfolio sites that make it really easy to build your portfolio website. You can also link this website to your social media accounts, promote your work, and get potential clients through your website alone!

Start building your portfolio today. You won’t believe how handy it will be during any job hunt. Meanwhile, if you’re still in between jobs, you can always take out a Check City Personal Loan to tide you over while you make your killer career portfolio to land that great new job!


Check City also has articles to help you make a good resume and an awesome cover letter:
How to Write a Cover Letter

How to Make a Resume

Check out some expert website making tips from Wix, “How to Create an Online Design Portfolio: The Ultimate Guide.”

Learn some more tips on creating a print portfolio, “7 Tips For Creating a Print-Based Design Portfolio.”


written by Kimber Severance, Check City Copywriter

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