Lack of a professional portfolio Website, especially if you’re a freelancer, can significantly impact the sorts of customers or employers you get. Many will not give due care and attention to this step because they think it is too complicated or doesn’t know where to start. On the other hand, WordPress makes it simple to build a portfolio site that looks professional.
WordPress is the perfect solution for freelancers looking to showcase their work on a tight budget. It has everything you need: power out of the box and many additional features through the large number of themes and plugins available. By the time we finish this article, you’ll know how to create a basic (but elegant) portfolio site in WordPress in eight steps, and we’ll start from scratch, for those of you unfamiliar with things like WordPress web hosts and installations. Let us begin!
Table of Contents
Steps to deploy a Professional Portfolio Website
1. Choose a good WordPress host
We’ve discussed this topic endlessly in the past, but if you want to jump right in, here are four things to keep in mind when choosing a WordPress host:
- Scalability: Your host should be able to handle demanding sites, in case you want to look into new projects in the future.
- Security: A decent host should take web security seriously and offer sorts to keep you safe.
- Support: This is critical. If something goes wrong with your site, you’ll want access to a reliable support team.
- Reputation: Every web host will have its detractors, but in general you’ll want to choose one that has a proven track record.
We would be doing you a disservice if we suggested a single host now and said “Sign up here!”. Instead, you should review the results of our latest, extensive WordPress hosting survey and base your choice on that data.
Now let’s move on to installing WordPress.
2. WordPress installing
This process may look a little different depending on the web host you’ve chosen, but the basic steps remain the same. After signing up with a provider, you’ll get access to a private cPanel for your hosting plan. This will likely include a one-click option to install WordPress or the Softaculous app installer:
The Softaculous installer in a regular cPanel
Click on the Softaculous App Installer icon and look for the WordPress option on the next screen. Then click Install Now to start the process:
The WordPress installation option in Softaculous.
On the next screen, you will be asked to fill in your WordPress site details, including your name, description, account name, and password, among others. Most of these are self-explanatory, but for security reasons, remember to change the default admin username and database name:
The administrator account details for a new WordPress installation
Once you click Install and wait a few moments, you will have created your first WordPress site! Next, we’ll turn it into a beautiful portfolio.
3. Find and install the right themes and plugins
Due to the fact that we are unable to select the ideal theme and plugins for your requirements, this stage is a little more open-ended than the rest of this course. For this tutorial, we are going to use the Zelle Pro theme as a base (which also comes with a free version):
Zelle Pro Theme
While ZellePro is a perfectly solid option, we urge you to look around and find a theme that feels right for you. You can go with a multi-purpose theme (like Zelle Pro) or look for something tailored to visual portfolios. You should be alright as long as your theme has respectable ratings and thorough documentation. Managing plugins presents a similar issue. It would be reckless to propose random plugins (even though some are very necessary). We can, however, show you how to pick out the finest free ones. Once you’ve learned that, you’ll be ready to dig into the official plugin directory and see what piques your interest.
You’ll need to install the ideal WordPress portfolio theme and one or two intriguing plugins after locating them. To do that, you need to start on the WordPress dashboard. You can access it by going to YOURSITE.com/wp-admin.
Customizing the Zelle Pro Theme Settings
Zelle Pro Theme offers a wide range of customization options to make your portfolio website unique and visually appealing. Access the theme customization options by going to the WordPress Customizer. Here, you can modify various elements such as the logo, header, footer, colors, fonts, and layouts. Take your time to experiment and create a design that aligns with your brand and showcases your work effectively.
The WordPress Dashboard
Ours already has some additional options, but don’t worry about them now. Instead, look for the Appearance and Plugins tabs. Click on Appearance and the next screen you will find the Add New option. Clicking on that will take you to a new screen where you can select one of the default WordPress themes or upload a new one:
The Add New Themes section in the WordPress dashboard
When you select Load Theme, a prompt appears to locate the downloaded theme on your computer. Select the folder, click Install Now and you’re all set. To install any plugin, the process is very similar. Instead of the Appearance > Themes tab, the Plugins tab is where everything happens. Here is our detailed guide on how to install WordPress plugins. Lastly, keep in mind that your new theme and any new plugins you install must be activated for them to work. If you skip activation, your themes and plugins will not work. To keep things easy for this article, we installed only the Zelle Pro theme in our scenario.
4. Create a header
We have WordPress installed and a working theme, now it’s time to create our portfolio page. Your first component will be a header: a simple, full-width image with a clear message and call-to-action for any potential customers visiting your site. Head over to Appearance > Customize and see what the Zelle theme looks like out of the box:
Zarif’s base header
Let’s take that big header section and tailor it to our needs using the WordPress Customizer, a place to tailor your theme to your desired needs. This involves three steps:
- Replacing the text under Content, in the Large Title section (this is how Zelle refers to their header).
- Adjusting the text of the first button and eliminating the second in that same section.
- Loading a new image in the Parallax tab and activating the effect. This allows us to use an image as the background instead of plain colors.
5. Create a gallery of projects
The project gallery is the heart and soul of any WordPress portfolio site. It’s essentially a group show of their latest projects, with links to each entry. The Zelle theme includes a custom post type called Portfolio, which allows you to add new projects from the dashboard:
For this example, we added four of our previous articles and set up featured images for each one. Once set up, these will appear on the main page of your portfolio:
- In addition to creating four individual projects, this is what we did with the WordPress Customizer:
- We added a new Portfolio section below our header. You can do this in Zelle via a dropdown menu on the Section Order tab.
- We modified the main title in the Content tab of the Portfolio section.
- We add featured images to each project in the Portfolio custom posts section.
Finally, we enable the Open portfolio in a lightbox. option on the Settings tab. That way, you don’t need to create individual pages for each project to get going. Just assign a good image that exemplifies your work and develop each page further if necessary.
6. Create an About Me section
We are already making a lot of progress in our portfolio, but we still have to develop things. A great way to do this is to give your visitors an idea of who you are; for example, the key facts that employers would love to know about you. To do that, we’re going to use Zelle Pro to break all the information down into easy-to-digest chunks.
Those types of items are called banner ads and are part of the Our Zelle Approach section of the Customizer. Here are the steps you need to follow, in order:
- Add an Our Approach section to your portfolio page, using the Section Order tab.
- Go to the Our Approach section and change the content under the heading to “About Me”.
- Create three (or more) individual widgets in our focus section widgets. Each one should include a title, some body text, and an image from your WordPress media library.
Optimizing the Website for SEO
To maximize the visibility of your professional portfolio website, it is crucial to optimize it for search engines. Install an SEO plugin such as Yoast or Rank Math, which provides valuable tools and insights for optimizing your website. Focus on optimizing page titles, meta descriptions, headings, and image alt tags. Conduct keyword research to identify relevant keywords to incorporate naturally throughout your content. Regularly publish high-quality, informative blog posts to attract organic traffic and demonstrate your expertise in your field.
Creating a professional portfolio website using the WordPress can maximise your online presence and help you to take a stand in a competitive online market. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can deploy a visually appealing and user-friendly portfolio website that effectively describes your skills, expertise, projects and work samples. Remember to regularly update your portfolio with new skills & projects and continue optimizing your website to improve SERP rankings.
Can I use Zelle Pro Theme for other website instead of professional portfolio?
Yes, while this Theme is particularly developed for professional portfolios, it can be customized to fit landing page types of websites such as business websites, creative portfolios, and agency websites.
Do I need coding skills to customize Professional Portfolio Website?
No, Zelle Pro Theme provides a user-friendly interface for customization, allowing you to modify various elements without any coding knowledge. However, basic familiarity with WordPress will be helpful.
Can I integrate social media profile links into my portfolio website?
Yes, Theme supports the integration of social media profiles or pages links. You can easily add icons and links to your social media profiles, making it convenient for clients to connect with you on different platforms.
Is Zelle Pro Theme user friendly for mobile visitors?
Yes, Theme is designed to be responsive and user friendly for mobile visitors. It ensures that your portfolio website looks great and functions properly on various devices, including smartphones and tablets.
Can I add additional functionality to my portfolio website?
Yes, Zelle Pro Theme supports the use of plugins, allowing you to extend the functionality of your portfolio website. You can add contact forms, analytics tools, galleries, and more, depending on your specific needs.