Starting out a design career is challenging. You can be confused about many tasks beyond strengthening your design process and planning skills. After you have spent months or years collecting quality samples for your portfolio, what do you do?
Many will put their prints in a large book, and lug it into an interview for a print job. That’s “fine and dandy” if that’s what you are into. However, many design students, freelancers, and job-seeking professionals are utilizing the internet to showcase their design work.
Blog portfolio websites, like this one, are awesome for showing your passion, knowledge, and ability to learn. They can also be the gateway to a freelance design career by generating client leads.
For this online portfolio project you will learn how to:
- Choose a Hosting Plan to Start Your Website
- Install WordPress Using CPanel
- Install a Free Portfolio Image Gallery Plugin (Lightbox Plus)
Interested now? Follow the steps below.
1. Get a Domain and Hosting Package
First thing is first. See if your desired domain name is available.
Choose a web hosting service that provides a CPanel for free. Many companies will only offer a plesk or simple control panel setup charging extra for CPanel. Those work most of the time but can be difficult to figure out for an inexperienced person. A shared unlimited hosting service should cost you less than $10 depending on the features. I’ve worked with most of the shared hosting services during my web design work for clients. A few have proven to have great strengths and weaknesses.
Personally, I’d steer away from GoDaddy after working with them several times. Load times are normally slow (around .85 seconds) and they only offer CPanel as an upgrade.
A few good ones are HostGator (.12-.2 seconds load time), BlueHost, and my own affiliate service theDesignerHost (.12-.2 seconds load time). All of these services are fast and reliable with good support. The main difference is between theDesignerHost and HostGator. theDesignerHost leases our servers from HostGator but provides consulting for portfolio related questions. You won’t get any answers from HostGator about your theme installation because they are technicians, not designers. With theDesignerHost you will most likely be having your questions answered by me personally. That’s great, right? Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading my blog for design related answers!
- CPanel with Fantastico Deluxe is your friend
- Hosting should cost less than $10 for a starter package and be unlimited
2. Install WordPress
Normally, a WordPress installation takes approximately 5 minutes to install using the famous 5 minute install method on WordPress.org. This is true, but it’s not all its cracked up to be. WordPress can pose a lot of problems when installed on a host without all of the proper configurations. A manual install can also be more difficult for new users because they aren’t familiar with htaccess, permalinks, uploads security, and cache folders. For new WordPress users I highly recommend you stick to a service that offers Fantisco Deluxe on CPanel.
Here is the basic walkthrough of setting up a WordPress website with CPanel:
- Login to your CPanel at http://yourdomain.com/cpanel/
- Click Fantastico De Luxe under “Software/Services”
- Click WordPress
- Click New Installation
- Fill out the Installation Location, Admin Access Data, & Base Configuration and Click “Install WordPress”
- Confirm the installation and login at http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin/
3. Upload a Quality WordPress Theme
There are tons of free WordPress themes in the WordPress Extend catalog. These will work but may lack some advanced features and quality design. Recently, I published a list of some premium quality Free WordPress themes here. To install these themes, you can go under “Appearance” on your WordPress admin panel. From there you can download them directly to your themes section.
Quality Design Method That’s Inexpensive
Several market sites have popped up where you can download more advanced WordPress themes for around $40 or less. One example is the Themeforest Marketplace mentioned above. Be sure to read the reviews of the authors and check to see whether they are offering proper support for the theme purchase. A published list of popular portfolio Themeforest WordPress themes can be found here. Once you purchase the theme you want, just download it and upload the corresponding zip file using the WordPress theme uploader under the “Appearance” panel.
4. Adding Your Portfolio
If you did not purchase a theme from a theme market place you will need a way of Creating a Lightbox Gallery on your WordPress pages. I’ve tested out most of the well established lightbox plugins. I use and recommend Lightbox Plus from 23Systems.net. You can see an example of a lightbox gallery on my portfolio page.
Installation is simple. Upload the Lightbox plugin zip, or download it from the WordPress catalog. Create a new page called “Portfolio.” Upload all of your images to the page without inserting them. You don’t insert them right away because you are going to click “Gallery” on the upload to insert the whole gallery.
Uploading my portfolio to the web changed my career. Instead of sweating it out trying to find a job I can stand, I ended up doing my design work directly from my home. No strings attached and my own work schedule. You can do the same with a small investment of about $15 in hosting.
Ready to get started? theDesignerHost.com is offering 20% OFF For LIfe on any hosting package, plus a FREE domain at signup (.com, .net, .org). Use Coupon Code: “Friend” to receive the discount!