Lesson 1: Getting started

In this lesson, we’ll pave the way for your new portfolio by answering some key questions and considerations.

Hello and welcome to my course How to Build a Portfolio. Thank you so much for joining me on this journey towards launching your very own portfolio. 

Here’s an outline of what we’ll cover in this course: 

  • Lesson 1: Getting started (this lesson)
  • Lesson 2: Intro to how the web works 
  • Lesson 3: Choosing your hosting and buying a domain
  • Lesson 4: Installing WordPress and picking a theme
  • Lesson 5: Customizing WordPress for your portfolio
  • Lesson 6: Introduction to plugins and third-party services
  • Lesson 7: Introduction to SEO
  • Lesson 8: Website maintenance
  • Lesson 9: Marketing yourself
  • Lesson 10: Resources

By the end of this course, you’ll have a portfolio site that you can continue to build as your endeavours grow and change. The best part is that you’ll own your content. Unlike social media platforms that may change the rules tomorrow or go out of business, having your own online portfolio means you’re in control. By choosing to build your website using the WordPress Content Management System, you’re also opening yourself up to adding any features you like in the future. In Lesson 2, I’ll explain why that’s possible and in Lesson 6, how to pick the right features to add.  

Now, before we move on to the next lesson, I have some homework for you. I want you to take a few minutes to answer these questions about your future portfolio:

How do I want to organize my portfolio items?

Take stock of all the content you want displayed on your website. If you do photography, paintings, and video work, do you those to be organized by year, by client, by media type, or all of the above? By mapping out your portfolio items and structure, you’ll be in a much better position to start building your site.

The second question is: Will I need a video storage solution?

Video is one of those media types that is best hosted off your site for bandwidth and money-saving reasons. In Lesson 6, I’ll talk about this in depth, but this is something you’ll want to consider before you upload any content to your site. 

The third question is: is there anything I want to watermark for copyright purposes? Do you have creative commons licenses on your work or is everything all rights reserved? If you need to watermark your work before uploading it, make sure you’ve planned time to do that before uploading your media. 

How much money do I want to spend on this portfolio a year? 

You’ve already invested your time in this course, so kudos for taking the step to start your portfolio right. And maybe you’ve already purchased a domain name and hosting and just need to build your site. There are ways to host a site for free on the internet, but none of them will give you the same freedom and flexibility as purchasing your own hosting. Plus, there’s usually a tradeoff to using free platforms. It may be that the platform gets to display ads on your site, or that you don’t get to pick your own domain. Make sure you read the Terms and Conditions before opting for a free platform. 

Now, does this mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars every year on your site? Nope! You can get hosting that meets the needs of your website for a few dollars a month. And, you can choose themes and plugins that are totally free. What’s great about building your own portfolio is that you own your content 

Whether or not you want to invest in design services like getting a custom logo made, or want to choose a paid, third-party plugin (more on that in Lesson 6) is totally up to you! But for those who want to start lean, there are plenty of ways to do that too. 

In summary, your homework before moving to Lesson 2 is to answer these questions:

  • How do I want to organize my portfolio items?
  • Will I be showcasing video files?
  • Do I need to watermark my content?
  • How much do I need to budget for my website?