online portfolio creation?
January 18, 2008 12:26 AM   Subscribe

i'm a freelance writer and want to create a simple website with an online portfolio for my work.

id prefer for the pieces to be embedded in the website and not have to be downloaded. right now i have all the files as pdfs, if that matters. i realize that this is a pretty simple order, but the catch is that i want to learn how to do this myself; i don't want to be beholden to a designer whenever i want to change or add something. what do i know about web design? very little. i know how to google the html code for bold or whatever and cut and pasted it in and that's about it. so i guess the question is: is there a cheap or free site that can do this for me (i'm thinking like the tumblr or vimeo of online portfolios...or something) or is there a simple few things i can learn to do this myself. thanks!
posted by sacho to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
it sounds like you want a shared hosting account with something like wordpress or moveable type
posted by iamabot at 12:32 AM on January 18, 2008

Set up a Wordpress Account and do your Portfolio as a blog. By doing certain tweaks from within the Wordpress Content Management System you can change the look - so it doesn't have to look like a blog.
You'll probably have to convert your pdfs to jpgs so they can be displayed as part of the website.
There is a bunch of useful Wordpress plug-ins out there for displaying pics.

Or as a Mac User us use iWeb.
Or RapidWeaver.
posted by ollsen at 1:02 AM on January 18, 2008

Another idea: get a hosting account from GoDaddy ($3.60 pm for 5 GB etc).

Then use CityDesk for your site. It's free for up to 50 pages/objects. After that it's a hefty $250, but they gave me a 25% discount when I bought it, I think everybody gets the discount. It's pricy but it's the most awesome CMS (Content Management System) you can get for projects like this.
posted by worldshift at 2:44 AM on January 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

Yo! use googlepages to build your site and then buy a domain and have it all magically transferred from the host google pages to your site of choice.

Googlepages is free. But kind of creepily easy to use.

I would also advise you to check out other "freelance" web sites to see what kinds of stories they post as examples of work and style issues.

And proofread before you "go live." Poor grammar and bad spelling = no job.
posted by mimikachu at 3:57 AM on January 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

id prefer for the pieces to be embedded in the website and not have to be downloaded.
If you want that i wouldn't advice WordPress to you. It's great as a blog tool, but not that great to include anything else than text and images. You could check out a more dedicated content managment system (CMS) such as Drupal or Joomla. There are many web hosts out there that offer such as system completely pre-installed with free upgrades for as little as $5 a month.

You could also take an easier route and simply put your work online at YouTube and Flickr and embed them in your website.

Learning to do everything yourself is cool, but only if you really want to invest time in it. If you don't want to do that it might be a better idea to hire a freelance webdesigner to make a website specific to your wishes. Make sure that you may change their work afterwards, so that you're not stuck to them for upgrades and feature request.
posted by husky at 4:56 AM on January 18, 2008

I would second the use of wordpress. It'll get you started right away, you can go with the hosted option ( or host it yourself (many hosting providers offer a 1-click install)

Wordpress is very widely used which means there are a lot of resources out there, it's also incredibly flexible and can be used as a CMS with a little tweaking while still having a very easy to use backend. The hosted option, however, is less flexible since you are limited by the themes they offer and can't easily alter the code.

My suggestion would be to sign up for some cheap web hosting (check out and install wordpress. Go to and find something that works for you and then post an about-me page and post your writing samples as pages in wordpress, then set up the blog to default to your about-me page and link to those writing samples from there. Wordpress' WYSIWYG editor will make posting and linking easy and you don't even need to use the blog features, just remove the link from your nav-bar, or challenge yourself to use the blog to write a small something every day/two days/week.

Using wordpress might be a bit clunky at first, but as you learn it you'll be able to tweak it more and more to your liking, something you won't be able to do with a lot of the other options. Who knows, you might even end up with another skill that you can 'lance.
posted by JRGould at 6:47 AM on January 18, 2008

I would not suggest posting your articles/pieces on the site as images. Simple text, one html page per article, is the best way to do this. They want to see that you can write, and where that writing has been published, and that can be best accomplished if your site shows articles in text, with an attribution and link to the publication they appeared in. (A link to the page the article appears on within the publication's site would be even better, if said publication posts its articles online.)

There are at least two really good reasons for this:

1. Consider your potential audience: Editors in offices that are often underfunded, with sub-par Internet connections. A site full of images is not the way you want to go.

2. Images can't be indexed by Google. You want to be indexed by Google; it'll bring people to your site who are searching for the topics you've written about.
posted by limeonaire at 8:46 AM on January 18, 2008

I work with the team at TypePad, and we've helped a lot of writers do this, from newspaper/magazine journalists to popular authors to fiction writers. (You can see some of the authors here.) It's a couple bucks a month, but unlike some of the other suggestions, you don't have to know any HTML or anything, you don't have to worry about anyone putting ads on your site, and you don't have to install anything. There's also a help ticket system if you need to ask for support.

Incidentally, we've seen a *lot* of freelancers and stringers get work from editors who found their past work on a portfolio website or blog, so there's a pretty good business case for putting your work out there that way, too.
posted by anildash at 3:21 PM on January 18, 2008

Response by poster: thanks everyone for the tips! i've been checking all your suggestions out and i'll be sure to link back to my site when it's liive. you guys are great.
posted by sacho at 10:13 PM on January 20, 2008

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