The Benefit of Digital Portfolios for Non-Designers

One of the things I’ve been working on a lot lately is creating digital portfolios for clients as a complimentary marketing tools to their resume and LinkedIn presence.

These have ranged from basic landing sites geared toward marketing a freelance venture, to creative industry (writing, design, etc.) portfolios, to portfolio sites used to showcase graduate school work and market folks into the non-visual areas of advertising (such as strategy and account planning).

I love working on these, because they give the client a platform to stretch their creativity and come up with a digital brand presence that really makes them stand out.

A Digital Portfolio, Huh?

If you’re in the creative industry, you know that a portfolio is a standard marketing tool, and can often outweigh the resume altogether when the work really shines. I’ll be following up in the coming weeks with ideas on how to structure a creative portfolio. But what about those of us who aren’t designers or copywriters, and who want a way to showcase some of our project work and talents?

First of all, thanks to the growing popularity on content management systems like Tumblr, SquareSpace, and WordPress, you don’t need to know anything about web design or programming to create a digital portfolio or simple website. You just have to have a clear idea and strategy around why you’re creating the site, who your target audience is, and the overall brand message that you want it to convey about you (which should align with your resume, LinkedIn, and other marketing materials, btw).

So What Kinds of Things Might be Included in a Non-Visual Portfolio

  • Case studies or overviews of projects that you participated in as a team member, or worked on yourself. This is a great way to show your strategic and creative thinking skills, and how you conceptualized and executed a project.
  • An expanded bio that allows you to go into more detail about yourself than on the LinkedIn or resume (as long as it’s professional and relevant).
  • A web-based version of your resume that you can link to.
  • A flattering photo of yourself – part of what makes LinkedIn so attractive is that the visual element makes you feel like you’re making a connect with a real person, versus just a piece of paper.
  • Links to all of your relevant social media profiles or other platforms. A portfolio site serves as a great central landing page where all of your networks come together under a cohesive brand.
  • A statement about your personal brand – this might be your bio, or perhaps an additional overview of what’s really important to you as a professional, where your talents lie, or how your personal values have influenced, or been inspired by your work. Everybody loves a personal success story.
  • Your contact information – which is surprisingly hard to access on LinkedIn as a recruiter – not always an advantage for job seekers who WANT to be found.

Great, now where should I start?

Here are some suggestions for user-friendly portfolio building websites, many of which offer professional-grade templates with the ability to customize:

  • Excellent if you’re looking for more of a 1-page static site with space for a bio, photo, headline, and links to all of your relevant networks.
  • Slideshare: More project-focused, and a great platform for hosting things like multimedia presentations, slideshows, and other pieces of work that you want to share with their wide-reaching community, while building brand visibility for yourself.
  • Issue: A digital publishing platform that utilizes a pretty cool magazine/catalog-style layout that you can share and link to.
  • SquareSpace: Your best bet if you’re looking to build more of a traditional multi-page site with navigation and a dedicated homepage (and don’t want to tear your hair out trying to figure out the interface and customization tools). While it’s a bit more complicated and requires some learning, WordPress can also work well for this. Wix is another free option.

And if you are looking for more creatively-focused options to showcase your work, these options are available as well:

  • Behance
  • Elance
  • Portfolio Box
  • Dunked
  • Viewbook
  • Crevado
  • Carbonmade
  • AllYou
  • Pixpa (Primarily Photography)
  • Dripbook

And regardless of the platform you’re using, or the strategy behind it, remember that portfolios are all about the work – the focus should be on showcasing quality content and relevant information, versus spending time on a flashy design or complicated functionality that you don’t need. And if you don’t know what to include, start with a couple of your best pieces that show a range of your capabilities and build it from there.


For this post, YouTern would like to thank our friends at Brooklyn Resume Studio.




DanaAbout the Author: Dana Leavy founded Aspyre Solutions, focusing on small business development and career consulting. Her mission is to support creative and socially-conscious small businesses, through career transition coaching and business consulting for creative professionals and entrepreneurs.

Dana has helped hundreds of professionals in advertising, marketing, design and other industries execute effective career plans to find and DO the work they are passionate about. She has presented seminars on navigating careers, transition and work-life balance to several colleges and universities, and her advice has been featured on MSN Careers, Fox Business News, NewsDay,, GlassDoor and Follow Dana on Twitter!



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