What's the easiest way to make an online portfolio?

Over the last few weeks, many people have asked me this question. And to be honest there are a few ways. But as a designer/copywriter/art director/creative team you're meant to be "creative" when it comes to how your online portfolio looks and/or works.

Obviously nowadays an online presence is vital. And anyone and everyone (that you need to show off to) has the internet. Meaning you can always show people your work without needing to be there.

In this post I'll attempt to take you through a few things that you should do. And ways to save you money by doing it too.

1. Custom URL.
Probably one of the best ways to market your team is by having your own unique web address. A something.tumblr.com or something.carbonmade.com just shows you haven't cared about the way you come across.

Custom URLs cost pennies. I'm talking £2.50 a year for .co.uk or a few more quid for a .com. Think about it. And have a look around too. For instance there's a DanAndAdam.com, not to be confused with AdamAndDan.com.

Two very different sites but both creative teams. This could be the difference between a rival team getting a page view by a Creative Director, our a rival getting one instead.

Obviously ours is wearecrap.co.uk, which helps with stand out. But we also have a reason for the name. Don't over egg yourself either. shithotcreativeteam.co.uk probably won't do you any favours in the short term.

2. Hosting.
This is my biggest annoyance. Everyone asks, where can I get decent hosting? The answer is. You don't need it.

I host this blog on blogspot and yet, without looking very hard (or in the source code), you'd never know.

There are so many blogging sites out there that will host a custom URL for you. And then if you know a bit of code. You can remove all knowledge of them hosting it.

Blogger and Tumblr are my favourites for this. Wordpress everyone will scream is better. And yes, if you know code, it is. But, if you want to use a custom URL on Wordpress, you need to buy hosting!

Behance offers a place where many designers have a site, but you can't add any creativity to your page. While Carbonmade, offers a great portfolio hosting site. But, it's just that you're limited to how you can show off your work.

There are more ways to showcase your portfolio here, but they all require a monthly fee or less creative ways to showcase your work.

3. Flash or not?

Now the reason I've mentioned the above sites is that they are all built using HTML. Not Flash. Don't get me wrong, Flash can be great. But it can also ruin a users experience. I've seen too many young team's sites that use Wix. I hate it. It ruins the whole purpose of Flash. It's trying to be obvious. And ends running slowly and making work look naff.

We use Flash, because we currently don't have the skills to produce the same in HTML5. The downside to our site is, you can't look it on an iPad and an iPhone. And, with more and more people getting these devices, it upsets me greatly when I try and look up someone online and get greeted with a blank page. That's why my personal portfolio site is in HTML, and built with Tumblr.

Yay... and nay.

If I've persuaded you to stick with HTML, go to point four.

4. How do I make blogging format a portfolio?
Simple. There's a range of "portfolio themes" out there. Just Google them for Tumblr or Blogger and see which one you like the look of.

My Tumblr uses Cargo Theme, but here's a lot more great themes for Tumblr. Blogger is slightly limited on great easy to implement themes. If you're good with code though, here's a few to get you going. My honest opinion is that Tumblr offers the easiest and best way to create a different looking portfolio. Without any technical knowledge.

5. Yes but how do I make a standard theme different?

Easy. In Tumblr there's a customise (to us brits) tab which then takes you to a range of pages that you can change just the way you want. 

In my theme, you can change the only a few things in appearance. But, I've always been one for simplicity and clean lines. 
Tumblr also makes it really easy to link loads of things too. As it's my hub of all things me, I've got links to all the other sites I'm on. Simple really.
Tumblr also makes it really easy to publish any new content you create. By linking up your Facebook and Twitter to your folio, you can let all your followers know you've added more work. Always a good thing in my opinion.
And finally, you add your title. description and change your something.tumblr.com to your custom domain. I bought andymarkpeel.co.uk and andymarkpeel.com from 1and1 for a mere £10(ish) for two years. These won't become active instantly. They'll take about 24 hours to be usable. Then to activate your own url, just go to point six.
6. Transfering your .tumblr.com to your own url.

If you're struggling, there's some helpful info here, but I'm hoping these screenshots will do nicely. I order my domains off 1and1, so firstly you need to edit your DNS settings.

Simply change your IP address/ A-record to this will point your custom url at Tumblr.
Then head back to Tumblr and point your 'blog' at your custom url.
And hey presto. A freebie portfolio blog with your own custom name. And it won't cost a penny (other than renewing your domain name).
Hope that made sense. Give me a shout if you want any help.