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It's time to get your magnificent work out into the world. This means creating a place to put your best stuff online: your portfolio. Although there are free options for displaying your freelance portfolio, having a personal website gives you complete control over the content of your site and how your work is displayed. It looks more professional and established to have your own domain name vs. using a free service for your portfolio. Plus, who wouldn’t want to have their own website? It’s pretty fun. Picture your name in big fancy letters across your very own site.
Setting up a portfolio with Wordpress is a bit complex, because there are massive amounts of configurations, settings, plugins, themes, etc that you could worry about if you wanted to. But don’t worry, I’ve got you. This tutorial will show you the steps you need to take to quickly set up a basic portfolio website:
1. Set Up Web Hosting
A web host is what allows you to set up a self-hosted Wordpress website so that you are fully in control of the site and can use your own domain name. This is what allows you to install Wordpress and have a domain like [yourname].com instead of having a [yourname].wordpress.org site.
I recommend Bluehost for web hosting. I've looked around a lot and they are the most affordable company I've found so far. I've used them for various websites I've created, without issue. They also offer really good deals to new customers. Although their service is normally 7.99 per month, you can use this link
to get web hosting for just 2.65/month on their 3-year plan. It comes out to around a hundred dollars for 3 years of website hosting, which is about the same amount you’d spend on an annual plan with most web hosting services. Here you can compare their plans with the discount above applied:
To sign up for web hosting, head over to Bluehost and click "Get Started". You'll then be able to pick any of the plans above. The basic plan should be enough for a portfolio website.
2. Pick a Domain Name
Part of the benefit of setting up your portfolio on Wordpress is that you get your own domain name. This looks more professional than a wordpress domain or a portfolio site domain. Bluehost plans include a free domain name for the first year. This is the step you'll encounter after you select your plan.
Usually the best domain name is straightforward: choose your own first and last name. Enter that under "new domain" and click next.
Of course, that's not always available. If your name is taken, consider these:
(Or, if you’re not a freelance writer and you’re reading this, replace writing with whatever you do!)
You don't need to reinvent the wheel with choosing a domain name. It's better that clients easily know who you are when they land on your site. Having your name right there in the domain name makes that easy.
3. Sign up and Choose Domain Privacy-- **SUPER IMPORTANT**
Next, you'll fill out a form to create an account. It's pretty standard except for one thing that's SUPER important.
To make a long story short, you'll want to splurge on that domain privacy service, which is an additional 99 cents per month.
There are laws that require every web domain to have contact information listed in an online directory called Whois. If you don't have domain privacy, your personal information goes into that directory and spammers can call and email you. Domain privacy means that Bluehost will list their own contact information as the domain owner and they will get spammed instead. mwahahahaha. Trust me, you do NOT want your information in the Whois registry; I made that mistake once and was receiving 40 spam emails and 10 calls a day until I changed my number.
4. Log Into Your Bluehost Dashboard
Once you sign up, you're going to get a variety of important emails from Bluehost. Look for the one that says "Welcome to Bluehost!" This contains your login password. Click the "Get Started" button in the email to login to your Bluehost Dashboard.
5. Do a 1-click Install of Wordpress
One of the things I really appreciate about Bluehost is that they make it super easy to install Wordpress on your new website in a single click. It saves so much time.
All you need to do is:
1. Navigate to your Bluehost Dashboard
2. Click "Marketplace"
3. Scroll down to Featured Products and click the One-Click installs tabs
4. Wordpress should be one of the first options that comes up. Click "Install".
6. Log into your new Wordpress site and choose a theme
Alright, whew. Setting up web hosting to work with Wordpress is one of the most technical things about creating a website, but you should now finally be able to log into your new wordpress portfolio site.
Now that we have that out of the way, it's time to get to the fun of setting up your Wordpress site.
The first thing to tackle is choosing a theme for your site.
There are a variety of free themes on Wordpress. Personally, I haven't ever purchased a theme because there are plenty of great free ones. I like the Shapely theme as well as the Twenty Seventeen theme, but you've got to find one that speaks to you! Browse around the themes until you find something you like. Clicking on any theme allows you to get more details about the theme and see how it actually looks:
If you like the theme, click that blue install button in the upper left corner. Then go back to your wordpress dashboard, click themes, locate the theme you just installed on your site, and click "activate".
6. Add Your Content
With a self-hosted Wordpress portfolio site, the sky is the limit on what kind of content you can add to your site. But in this tutorial I'll show you how to add the core content of your portfolio website: an About page, a Work or Projects page, and a Contact page.
Let's start with the about page.
Navigate back to your dashboard and hover over Pages, which I've highlighted below:
A dropdown menu will appear. Click Add New.
This is the screen that will come up. Add your title and the content of your About page. Click the blue Publish button on the right side.
Add Your Contact Page
Adding a contact page to Wordpress can be done with a simple plugin. I use WPForms. Here is their quick Tutorial for adding a contact form. You'll end up with something like this:
7. Add Your About, Work, And Contact Pages To Your Navigation
Lastly, you'll need to add your new pages to your primary navigation menu.
On your dashboard, click Appearance, and then Menus in the dropdown.
Drag the Work, About, and Contact pages into the Menu Structure area. Make sure Primary is checked under menu settings. It should look like this:
Click Save Menu.
You've Got a Wordpress Portfolio Website!
There's a lot to learn with Wordpress, but hopefully this gives you enough to get your website off the ground. You don't have to start out with a super complicated website. As long as you have your About, Contact, and Portfolio pages ready to go, you've got a functional portfolio website. From there, you can always continue to learn new tricks and tweak your portfolio design when you have time.
Who Wrote This?
I’m Renee Hyde and I’ve been a digital nomad freelance writer since 2012. So far I’ve visited 60+ countries and counting! On this blog I share tips about dreamy travel destinations, travel hacks, ways to work remotely and travel, and advice for living your best nomadic life!