Everything You Need To Know About Creating An Online Portfolio

I am a huge advocate for creating an online portfolio while in college. Regardless of your program, creating your own portfolio will be incredibly beneficial as you begin to approach the job search process. 

Especially in this day and age, the last thing you want to do is go out into the real world with just a hard copy of your resume. Whether you're just getting started, or finding yourself stuck along the way, these tips will help you navigate the crazy, often frustrating world of creating an online portfolio.


The real question is, why wouldn't you need a portfolio? It is a collective way to organize the professional materials you've created over the years. Think of your portfolio as your own professional biography. 

Added Value

An online portfolio will complement your resume and cover letter. Your resume talks about what you've done and when, but your portfolio shows people what you've done. Sure, people will find it impressive that you increased your sales by 25%, but you can use your portfolio to show people how you increased your sales by 25%.

More Visibility

The job search process is all about being able to market yourself. With such a competitive job market, every chance to put yourself in front of someone is time well spent. You should make it as easy as possible for hiring managers to be able to find information about you, online. 


Here comes the fun part. Once you get over this bump, the rest will be smooth sailing, I promise.

Understand what you want to get out your portfolio

Are you using your portfolio to gain clients? Are you using it in your job search, or to apply to grad school? Create your content based on who you want to see it.

Purchase a domain

It's a safe bet trying to purchase something simple like firstnamelastname.com or firstmiddlelastname.com. Sometimes, those are taken and you might have to think outside the box. If you focus on photography or design, you can play around with those words. I've had great experiences purchasing domains through GoDaddy and BlueHost. Both companies offer discounts on domains if you purchase your hosting through them, which leads me to the next point.

Choose a hosting company

A hosting platform is the middleman between your domain and your website. It connects the two together. Usually hosting companies are the ones that offer the best deals for purchasing domains. GoDaddy, Bluehost, and HostGator are some of the more popular hosting companies. Many of them make it easy to connect your domain to your blogging platform. Bluehost, for example, lets you connect your website to a Wordpress.org account for free, which is a really great perk.

Pick a blogging platform

Tumblr is a good (and free) alternative for housing your portfolio. You can easily create pages and upload photos, videos or text posts. The only challenge is finding a theme you like and feel comfortable using. This is a good option for beginners, or people who want to create something simple that they can expand on, later.

Wix, SquareSpace and Weebly are great options, too because they allow you to drag and drop your layout, making it easy to arrange things how you want them. I knew I wanted a minimalist, black-and-white design so I used Wix to create my own layout. And, honestly, I'm in love with it! They have the optional to add a blog to your website, which is a great way to expand on your professional experiences. Each of these services have monthly fees, but they are definitely worth it for the amount of flexibility they offer. SquareSpace even has a discount option for students!

Blogger and Wordpress.org allow less flexibility in terms of design. You'll have to use a free layout or pay to have someone design one for you. These websites offer a ton of cool features, but also require a bit more back-end knowledge to be able to use them to the best of their abilities.


So, you have your website. Now, you just have to put the final pieces together. You can add separate pages for the following areas.

A timeline

This is totally optional, but it helps paint a larger picture of your experience and your goals. I created a timeline using Piktochart to document my experience in a way my resume doesn't. They have a template you can edit, or you can design your own. I wanted to create a minimalist timeline that matched my portfolio layout. If you're unsure how to go about it, check out my timeline here.

The resume 

Save your resume as a .jpeg file and upload it on its own page. This is a good way to give people a quick chance to look at your resume, without the hassle of making them download it. Some websites have the option to let people download a file straight from the page. If you decide to go with that option, make sure to convert your resume to a .pdf file. Some people are thrown off when they receive resumes that are still in a word file.

Contact page 

If you make it difficult for people to reach out to you, they won't reach out. Create a contact page with your e-mail address, or even a message option, to help people get in touch with you if they have any questions. I decided to type up my e-mail address along with inserting a message box, so people can reach me in whatever way is most convenient to them. 


Below are some things to think about when thinking about general content of your portfolio.

The home page 

As a rule of thumb, a professor once told me that a home page should include a professional photo of you, your name, and your job title. If you're still in school, you can add your university, major, and graduation date. 

The biography 

Oh, the dreaded biography! You don't have be too formal with this. You also don't want to come across as too laid-back. Try to find a good balance between the two.  

Your situation dictates your tone, so feel free to let your personality shine through! I used my portfolio for my graduate school applications and wanted to come across as professional. Mine is written in third person and is very straight to the point. I list my major and minor, areas of interest, life changing moments, and hobbies. If you're a photographer who started taking photos with an old Kodak you got for Christmas, talk about that. Maybe your whole life changed when you studied abroad. If so, mention that!

Linking your socials 

LinkedIn is the most common thing people link to in their portfolios. However, I would suggest adding links on your sidebar to your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Often times, employers will look for these anyway, so posting them clearly on your portfolio will make it seem like you’re comfortable with them looking at your social media profiles.


We all have specialty areas. Mine are photography and writing. Some other areas include design, editing, research, event planning, public presentations, and the list goes on. 

Show by example 

Create a page for each of your specialty areas, and use each page to elaborate on your experience in that area. Did you do a killer presentation in class? Add a photo or a link to your PowerPoint, and write a little bit about your presentation.  Do you have research experience? You can add a photo and link it to your published work. You can also type up the abstract on your portfolio. Do you write for publications or take photos? Add some links to your samples.

This is all about being able to show people what you've done. If you can't think of anything, add in essays or other assignments you used for class. Everything is relevant.


Link to your portfolio as much as you can. Add your URL to your resume, and business cards. Add your link on your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. The more you push your website, the more likely people will see it. Don't be afraid to show your portfolio off. You worked hard on it, and people deserve to see how great it is!

Angela Flores is a first-year graduate student at Northeastern University where she studies Music Industry Leadership. She is a lover of all things culture, art, and advocacy, and loves trying to connect the three together. She sometimes blogs at This Hollow Trend.

When she is not obsessively reading through the piles of young adult novels she promised her high school self she’d read, you can find her reading VICE’s opinion-editorials, scouting local art venues, and trying to find time to sleep. 

The 7 Best Writing Resources for College Students

If there’s one thing you need to master in college, no matter what your major is, it’s how to write a good essay. For some, it’s easy. Writing comes naturally and mistakes are rare. But that’s not the case for everyone. Even if you’re a good writer, writing essays can be hard. Creative writing and essay writing are two completely different things, and one might not help you with the other. I personally struggle with the latter, even if I think of myself as a good writer. I quickly realized that writing essays was an art which I had to master if I wanted to graduate. One of the things that helped me make it easier was using the right tools! There are many resources online and on campus that you can use to become the best essay writer ever!

Specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias

Research is part of the writing process. One of the things that will make writing essays easier is to have good content to work with from the start. If you’re having problems explaining certain concepts or you’re not sure how to include them in your essay, check out specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias! These tools cover the terminology of a particular subject field or discipline. Not only do they give you a better understanding of the concepts, but they’re a great way to show to your professor you know what you’re talking about.

What is the difference between a dictionary and an encyclopedia?

At first, when I started using specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias, I wasn’t sure what the difference between the two were. I mean, they both explain concepts, right? But the more I used them, the more easily I understood why they were helpful. You need to use them based on what you need.

A dictionary helps with linguistic matters. It focuses on the definition of word. You will find synonyms and antonyms in the entries, but you will not find in-depth explanations on the different usages of the word or its etymology. Specialized dictionaries go normally a bit more in-depth that general ones, but it still provides limited information, analysis or background of the word defined. Dictionaries are helpful when you are looking for the definition of a word and want to know in which contexts you can use it.

An encyclopedia focuses on the factual information relating to a concept. Encyclopedia articles are not limited by simple definitions. You will often find the history behind the concept, maps and illustrations, a bibliography, and statistics. It gives the extensive meaning of a concept in a field or discipline. Sometimes you will find what you’re looking for in general encyclopedias, but more often you will need to look up one in your field of study. Since it goes more in-depth, encyclopedia entries are normally longer and more detailed than those in dictionaries.

Specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias can both be found online and at your college library.


Another great tool for research is using databases. They will give you access to thousands of articles that can be great sources to include in your essay. If you’re looking for a way to include citations and the most recent discoveries in your field, databases are a great place to look at.

If you want some serious and reliable sources, make sure your articles are peer reviewed. What does that mean? It means that the article has been reviewed by other scientists in the field. If you’re writing a literature review, you will want to use scholarly articles written by professionals and reviewed by professionals. Professors will often ask for this!

Amanda has written a great post on how to use research databases if you want to know more about them!

Style guides

If you are writing essays, you need to know about style guides. One of the most important things you need to know how to do in your college years is how to cite your sources properly. Plagiarism is definitely not the way to go in college! (or ever) Maybe your faculty is using MLA, APA or, maybe even their own style guide (like it’s the case for me). No matter what your faculty use, make sure you use the right one… and use it correctly!

I would suggest making a template with your most often used citation formats (books and articles are not cited the same way, for example). That way, whenever you have to cite your source, you just have to copy-paste the template and fill it out with your source’s information!

Citation generators

I know you can find citation generators online that use certain style guides (like MLA and APA). While I know it can be easy to use those so you don’t have to “waste” your time on citations, I suggest you take them with a grain of salt! It’s honestly not that complicated to cite your work. Like just anything else, it’ll become easier with practice! However, if you really want to use those, just do it. But make sure you revise the citations that are generated! You don’t want to be penalized for being lazy, do you?


Revising your paper is one of the most important, yet often overlooked, part of the writing process. I only recently discovered Grammarly, and now I cannot live without it! As a French Canadian, this is not something I use for college purposes. I personally use Antidote, which is kind of like Grammarly, but in French. But Grammarly is great when I correct blog posts or emails!

Grammarly is a free grammar checker that can instantly check for 250 types of grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. You can either download totally for free on Chrome, or you can use their website and upload your document there. You can also download the Microsoft Office add-in so Grammarly can correct your documents even when you’re offline! There’s also a premium version that includes some extra features, but quite honestly, I think the free version works wonders!

Dictionaries and thesauruses

I think that’s a given. If you doubt even a fraction of a second on a word, don’t take any chances. Look it up! Dictionaries are your friend. Nowadays, you don’t even need to buy one or to hit your library to have one, you can all find that online!

A thesaurus is a great tool to have if you’re looking for a way to spice your vocabulary up a little. I don’t know about you, but I tend to always use the same words, whether it is in my essays, blog posts or emails. Same adjectives, same nouns, same verbs… that can all get a little bit repetitive! Crack a thesaurus open and look for different words! Sometimes, you’ll find some colorful synonyms that can totally improve your writing!

Side-note: For key concepts that are specific to your field, I suggest not using synonyms. It’s okay if it gets repetitive. Using a different word could mean something completely different, which would make your professor think you don’t know what the concepts mean!

Writing center

If you’re unsure of your structure or your arguments, I would recommend going to the writing center on campus! There will be students there who will be happy to answer your questions about anything writing-related. They can also revise your paper and give you feedback to improve your essay. Those students are normally really good writers. Some writing centers will require that they have a certain GPA or pass a test in order to work there, so don’t worry about it! They are competent and they can help you succeed. Plus, they’re students just like you so they know what it’s like to struggle with writing an essay!

Online posts and articles

If you’re just completely lost and confused when it comes to writing essays, look it up online! Browse Google or college blogs for tips and tutorials. The Internet can be a goldmine of information if you search correctly!

For instance, I stumbled upon this article today and I thought it would be perfect for this post! It’s basically a gathering of everything you need to know about academic writing.

Final thoughts

Essay writing can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be! Using the right tools, any college student can become a good academic writer. Just use the resources at your disposal and you’ll already see an improvement in your grades, I promise!

About Amélie:

Amelie is a blogger and communications major at University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada. When she's not studying for school, blogging or working at her local library, you can find her reading a book or watching her newest obsession on Netflix. She loves chocolate, her dog Maggie, sweaters and browsing the alleys of her local bookstore. Amelie loves writing about being your best self in college and surviving adulthood.

Read Amélie's last post on The Happy Arkansan all about how to create a college study guide.

9 Places To Look For Blog Post Ideas

Blogging can be very difficult, especially if you have been blogging for a while. Need some inspiration? Today's post is all about places to look for blog post ideas. We all run low on ideas every blue moon, so I am hopeful that this post will help you get your creative juices flowing.

1. Pinterest

Pinterest is one of my favorite places for new blog inspiration. You can search for just about anything, and chances are the posts that are getting the most traction will be the first posts you see. You can read those posts, figure out what they are missing and how you can add to their perspective. Or you could just look at your own content. If you are using a Pinterest for Business account, which I highly recommend you do, you can go to your Pinterest Analytics to see what posts are being the most shared and clicked on posts for your site. After you figure this out, you can read those posts and see what sections of the article you can expand upon.

2. Facebook Groups

If you know of a great Facebook group that is active and is surrounding your exact topic, check around the group. What questions do they have about a topic you write about? How can you provide great content that will answer all of their questions? Once you craft perfect content, depending on the group, you may even be able to share your blog post with the group. Finding great Facebook groups, answering questions, and sharing your content about the questions will help you radically expand your reach and expertise.

3. Forums

Forums still exist, y'all. There are plenty of very active forums out there, and this a great place to do research for blog post ideas. Do a quick Google search for forums about your blog topic and see what you can find from them. Forums are great because they are filled with people creating threads just to ask questions. Somethings that are talked about on forums are quite specific to that one person, but obviously without naming names you can expand upon their story and give some general advice that may be of help to your readers (or even people on the forum.) Depending on the forum rules, this may also be a great place to advertise your blog, but be careful that you are always following the rules of the forums you post in.

College Confidential

4. Books About Your Subject

Authors put a lot of work into their writings so you don't want to rip anything they say completely off, but since they do so much research they have really put work in to creating great content that matters to their audience. If you have a similar audience, look through their books and see if you can expand upon something they write about in their book. Flip through the table of contents and index. Skim the chapters. Get a good understanding of the content they have and see where you can add to it. Use that content to write your blog post.

Books that I love:

U Chic: College Girls' Real Advice For Your First Year (And Beyond!) *Side note: I am actually a contributor for this awesome book from my U Chic contributor days.

The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into In College

The Freshman Project *Side note: I got to meet and see Erin Fischer speak during my sororities convention this summer and she is v. inspiring.

5. Podcasts

I love listening to podcasts and I think they can be great for inspiration. Podcasting takes a long time, so if someone feels the need to set everything up and share a podcast about a subject, they must have done some great in depth searching about the subject. If you can find some podcasts in your niche, then definitely follow them and listen to them for ideas.

College Info Geek

6. News Sites

If your blog really focuses on current events and news, you can get a lot of ideas for posts by looking at news sites. I have linked below some of my favorite ones for my college lifestyle blog, Going through these sites and keeping up to date with new information about college and college students has helped me keep my life and blog fresh over the years.

HuffPost College

Inside Higher Ed

USA Today College

7. Looking Through Old Posts

Old posts are a treasure trove of information and ideas. If you have been blogging for multiple years like me, chances are you have grown an awful lot since you started your blog. Being able to go back and read old posts will help you create amazing content on your blog. Recently I wrote an in depth post about how to get over presentation jitters. I had written a post a few years back about surviving speech classes, but I really adore this new post a lot more. I have learned so much through my time as a graduate student about public speaking, and I feel much better about my advice during this last blog post. If you can find a clever way to update or re-work your old content, you will be pleased with how many new blog post ideas you have.

8. Your Audience

One of the easiest ways you can get new ideas is to poll your audience or ask your audience what they are having trouble with lately. So, take sometime to create some useful questions that are in depth and easy to answer. You don't want your questions to be so vague that your audience doesn't know what to tell you. Make sure your answers are specific about the kind of topics you want to answer. So don't just ask a general question about the blog posts that your readers are interested in reading, ask about a specific topic.

So if you like talking about sororities, ask a question like "I am thinking of creating content about sorority recruitment. Do you have any questions about the recruitment process?" Send this out to your email list using a survey, sometimes you even want to directly send your readers a question a few days after they sign up for your email list. Asking them about what they directly want to have blogs about is really helpful.


One thing I have also been doing lately is using Twitter's polling feature to ask what my audience wants to see next. I will usually do this if I am writing 3 or so topics at once. I will poll my audience for a few hours to see which of the three topics they are most interested in seeing and then I will share that topic. See an example of this here.

Bloggers: Do You Give Your Readers What They Want?

9. Webinars/Presentations

The last place to look for content inspiration is webinars and presentations that are given by people in your niche. Especially during the summer, I make a point to attend as many informational webinars and presentations as possible. You never know when inspiration might strike. My biggest piece of advice is to write your own thoughts in a separate color from the notes you are taking at a webinar or presentation. You never want to take someone else's idea and pass it off as your own. You never want to rip someone's entire webinar off. If you can take one thing that they said and expand it into your own blog post with your own thoughts, that is one thing, and I think that can be very beneficial for you.

final thoughts

I hope this list was extremely helpful for you. Writing content (especially when you are doing so for years) can be really difficult. It is important to stay up to date and be constantly learning so that you can find new content to write about. Which method will you be using?