There are over 1.2 billion freelancers throughout the world.
To make yourself stand out among this ocean of people, you’ll need more than being skilled in your craft—
You’ll need a portfolio that shows a client you’re the best person for the job.
I’ll cover three of the best-paid portfolio makers and three free counterparts throughout this guide. Keep in mind that everyone has different needs. I tested each website based on the criteria I created; however, yours may differ.
Why You Should Consider Building an Online Portfolio
An online portfolio serves as a business card in a way. It gives you a chance to introduce yourself without a boring cover letter, shows your work, and provides contact information.
In today’s climate, it’s almost essential to have an online portfolio. Otherwise, clients or employers may ignore your application.
Also, depending on what means you use to build your portfolio, it gives you a chance for employers to find you. Rather than you having to find them. Whether through search filters on a website or Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Here are several reasons you may want to build an online presence in the form of a portfolio:
- Provides more information about your work than a resume
- Showcases your past works to tell a client or employer whether you can produce what they need
- Strengthens your brand
3 Best Paid Websites for Building Online Portfolios
I’ve tried at least nine different paid website platforms. Some are dedicated to portfolios, while others are general website builders. However, most did not meet my criteria. Nor did they offer enough value.
The following are the three best candidates for serving various freelancers.
1. WordPress.org: Best Overall
After testing various paid portfolio services to meet my needs, I’ve realized that spending some money on web hosting and a domain name for a WordPress website was my best bet. However, if you want to fine-tune your website and access a myriad of plugins for additional functionality, you may want to consider the same.
If you’re not familiar with WordPress, it enables you to build a website with custom code or website building additions like Gutenberg (built-in) or Beaver Builder—one of many drag-and-drop website builders.
If you want to host a blog within your website, you could also integrate Google Analytics and Console to observe your traffic. Moreover, you can monetize your content with Google Adsense or Ezoic while waiting for employers.
However, you will also need to find a hosting and domain name service when dealing with WordPress. You can either self-host or go with a web hosting provider with hosting. As for domain names, you can use one of many services available.
For hosting and domain name registrars, I recommend Namecheap. While I’ve had my fair share of issues with their customer service in the past, it didn’t deter me from continually using their service.
They offer affordable domain names, which are significantly cheaper during sales. Also, you can purchase WordPress hosting through their EasyWP hosting solution. They install WordPress for you and give you a dashboard to back up your website and access your site’s files.
Conversely, I also recommend trying Cloudways. So far after testing it, I love the service.
I recommend using WordPress to create the best-looking blog possible with control over the details. The only way you can go above WordPress is to design and launch a website from scratch.
If you purchase and renew your hosting and domain name during sales, you can save a lot of money.
Advantages of Using WordPress
- Thousands of themes and plugins available to customize your website
- Total control over what happens with your site
- It allows you to create fast websites
- You can self-host a WordPress website
Disadvantages of Using WordPress
- Unless you use a page building plugin like Elementor, you may have to learn some technical aspects of website building
- Managing incompatible themes and plugins
- Security: WordPress uses out-of-date technology
2. Squarespace Website Builder: Best for Building a Quick Site
If you want the launch a website the quickest way possible. I recommend using Squarespace. You can get into editing a website in five minutes without a lengthy signup process.
Maybe it’s my computer, but I did notice a bit of lag while trying to edit the various boxes in their drag-and-drop interface. However, you do get a considerable amount of tools without paying for a theme subscription license like with WordPress. For example, access to more templates that offer features like spacing and animations.
There isn’t much regarding a backend, unlike what WordPress has, but it’s a great alternative to managing allows you everything on the site yourself.
However, I’ve experienced that Squarespace doesn’t provide websites that perform well regarding Google Page Speed’s criteria.
I recommend Squarespace for those who don’t want to learn how to design a website.
Advantages of Using Squarespace
- Offers great templates
- Unlimited storage space
- Plenty of integrations
- Custom CSS and JS
- Built-in analytics tool and enables Google Analytics integration
Disadvantages of Using Squarespace
- Negative Google Page Speed Tool ratings, meaning they can produce slow websites
- Not the best deals for domain names
- Tedious to perform specific tasks, like adding alt text to images
3. Carrd: Best for One-Page Website
Carrd provides a free (and paid) one-page website for account holders. With these pages, you can provide basic information about yourself, links to your works, and contact information.
Moreover, Carrd gives you a lot of templates to use.
However, you still have to purchase a domain name, which, when you add onto the price of their hosting, you may find more value in other portfolio building options.
I recommend using Carrd if you don’t want to deal with the technical aspects of WordPress.
Advantages of Using Carrd
- Affordable “hosting” prices
- Pro Templates are suitable for many
- Great one-page website builder for basic needs
- It makes it so you can create attractive websites
- Plans give you access to more than one site
Disadvantages of Using Carrd
- Must pay $49 a year to customize CSS and JS
- Lacking a decent widget selection
3 Free Websites To Use for Building an Online Portfolio
If you don’t have extra money to invest, there are plenty of options for you. While you won’t have access to features like custom URLs or website builders, you can still have somewhere to host all of your work.
Before continuing, I’d like to bring up an honorable mention—Google Docs. If you’re a writer, you can create a list of links within a Google Docs document and share it with a client. While it may not look the best, it’s still a great way to present your past works for free.
1 Contently: Portfolio + Agency
Contently is both a top-tier freelance agency and a means to host a free writing portfolio. In addition, they give you a filterable portfolio, which makes it easier for potential clients and employers to filter what type of content they’re looking for.
Also, you have a slight chance of being accepted into their platform as a writer. If I’m ever accepted, I’ll let you know everything I did to become a part of the platform.
2. Behance: Best for Designers
Behance is an Adobe-owned website that allows designers to mingle with clients and host projects for free. It’s perfect if you’re a beginning designer and don’t want to pay for hosting. Moreover, it has a pleasant user experience and enables you to explore other artists’/designers works for inspiration.
3. LinkedIn: Essential for Jobseekers and Freelancers
If you’re not using LinkedIn by now, you’re missing out. Many say it’s essential, while a select few say they’ve managed to score clients without it. First, however, I recommend creating an account and optimizing it.
First off, ensure you add relevant portfolio pieces. Or at least a link to a portfolio website. I only stated the latter because LinkedIn’s portfolio-filtering options aren’t the best.
Take the Next Step Toward Building Your Portfolio
There are potentially hundreds of other portfolio-building websites. However, based on my experience, these were the best I could find. Therefore, the best route is to host a website and post your content there.
However, if you don’t have the funds or don’t want to spend money, you still have plenty of options that’ll help you stand out from the crowd.
- Website screenshots
- LinkedIn media resources