3 Elements of a badass online portfolio

Killer Online Portfolio

Ah, It seems like just yesterday I was stumbling through WordPress version 1.1.4 publishing my DePaulia news articles in desperate hopes of developing some remanence of an online presence.   Those were the days before I knew better. Before I knew what constituted a good website. Before using phrases like “personal branding” was a daily occurrence.

I look back on my first website and can’t help but laugh. It was so bad.

And yet, like most mistakes I admit to on this blog, my crappy online portfolio taught me something. First and foremost it taught me that finding your brand and building a website that appropriately reflects that brand, takes time. It also taught me where to focus my website-making energy (a.k.a what people who matter care about seeing when they visit your website).

From my perspective, if you can get someone to give a shit about you or want to meet you after seeing your website, then you’ve done your job. So what makes up a badass portfolio and gets you noticed? If done correctly, I know these three things are sure to get you that coffee date with someone important.


1. People know it’s your site without seeing your name

Think about how you approach designing your bedroom. You go to great lengths to make sure your room practically screams your personality. And don’t tell me you don’t love hearing, “I love your place, it’s soooo YOU!” We crave this compliment. It makes us feel things. You love to know that people see you the way YOU see you. Now take this approach and apply it to your online presence. Think about the colors, layout, typography, voice, tone, and design that speaks to you. Better yet, that SCREAMS you.

So what does this mean?

It means staying authentic to who you are. Try not to get distracted by the sparkly and shiny websites out there. Hey if you’re not a “shiny” person, more power to you. More importantly, don’t create a website that looks just like your friend’s or colleague’s. My guess is you’re not the same person, so you shouldn’t have identical portfolios. Instead use these examples to gather inspiration and hone your personal aesthetic. If you’re just starting out, it may help to speak with a branding expert or designer (if so, please contact me and I can advise!).


2. Quality > Quantity

If you forget everything you read from this post, fine. Just DO NOT let this slip by. I can’t tell you how many portfolios I’ve reviewed where the person put up every. single. project. they’ve ever worked on. This is especially common with recent graduates who don’t have a lot of “real life” work examples yet and overcompensate with a slew of random portfolio pieces. Here’s a tip: If you’re post-grad applying to job and the press release assignment from your sophomore advertising class is still on your portfolio, you’re in trouble. 

If there’s fluff on your website, people will know. You’re not fooling anyone. In fact, you’re just making it harder for important people to find the meaty pieces in your portfolio. And darling, no one has time to go on a wild goose chase for good content.

Focus on work examples that have either made a profound impact on your professional growth, or would be considered big “wins” in your career thus far. Maybe you have ten. Hell, maybe you have only three. The number of examples is irrelevant if the work is of high quality and accurately reflects your creativity and professional aptitude.


3. A killer brand statement 

I’m a content gal, so I always focus on messaging. I also happen to know from experience that what you SAY is just as/if not more important than what you look like. Meaning, your website can be beautiful but if the messaging is shit, you’re screwed. I wrote a post not too long ago about writing a killer bio for your LinkedIn profile which may come in handy while crafting “About Me” content for your website. However,when it comes to a writing one or two sentences for a personal brand statement think about the most important questions you need to answer. Think about what visitors to your website want to know right away:

  • What are you known for?
  • What are you passionate about?

Answer this questions in 140 characters or less and congratulations, you’ve earned yourself a gold star in killer personal branding.


With these three elements working together, you’re on your way to creating a badass online portfolio. Now go get hired darling!