The Ultimate Guide for An Online Portfolio Using WordPress

Whether you’re a web designer, an illustrator, a graphic designer, an architect, or a photographer, your online portfolio is undoubtedly your most important asset when it comes to finding new clients and being awarded jobs.

An online portfolio gives you the opportunity to showcase your previous work to potential new clients, build your online reputation, and drive more traffic to your professional website.

There are many different ways you can set up a portfolio online. You can either develop your own website from scratch or use one of the community portfolio websites that provide you with an easy to use template so you simply need to upload images of your work.

Another option is to develop your own portfolio site using WordPress and there are several advantages to this approach, as we’ll discuss below.

Why Choose WordPress for Your Online Portfolio?

Wordpress portfolio

When there are so many pre-built and easy to use portfolio sites around like Behance and Carbonmade, you may wonder if it’s really worth the effort to go to all the trouble of creating your own site in WordPress.

While choosing a pre-built portfolio service is a viable and popular choice and works well for many creatives, it’s not always the best option – particularly if you already have some experience in making websites.

If you really have no technical knowledge and no desire to learn about WordPress then stick to what works for you, but otherwise there are several advantages of WordPress portfolios to consider:

It Demonstrates Your Skills in Web Development

It goes without saying that if you’re a web designer or developer, you should really make the effort to create your own portfolio rather than relying solely on pre-made portfolio sites.

Even if you don’t have a large portfolio of previous work, your portfolio site itself can act as a visual demonstration of your design and technical skills and you can update it regularly to keep up with changing trends in web design or new technologies.

The benefit is less obvious for creatives who don’t work in web design or development, but it’s always advantageous to show an additional skill outside of your main offering. For example if you’re a photographer, you could offer an additional service setting up mini gallery sites for clients or if you’re a graphic designer you may be more valuable to clients looking for someone to do a mixture of print and web design.

It’s Unique to You

The main problem with pre-built portfolio sites is they all tend to look the same. While you may be able to choose from a selection of template or make customizations, in most cases there will be several other portfolios that look exactly the same as yours. This can make it difficult to stand out to the crowd and be memorable to potential clients browsing different portfolios.

It’s Flexible

You can do pretty much anything you want with a WordPress site so if you want to create a password-protected client login area or put a random slideshow of your best work on the homepage, it’s just a case of finding the right plugin to help you implement it.

With a pre-built site you’re limited to the functionality that is offered with the portfolio solution you’ve chosen.

You Have Full Control of Your Site

Even if you’re paying for a premium portfolio service, you’ll never really have full control over it. This means if the provider suddenly goes bust or is hacked or the service goes downhill, there’s not much you can do about it.

With your own WordPress site you’re in full control of where it’s hosted, you can choose your own domain name, and you can backup, download and move your site whenever you want to do so.

It’s Cost Effective

While there are some free portfolio solutions available, they are usually quite limited and you’ll have to pay a monthly fee to make best use of the features offered. Most portfolio services charge between $10 and $20 a month for their services.

While it’s not completely free to host your own WordPress site, there are some very cheap hosting deals available, especially if you can grab a deal during one of the big sales such as Black Friday. Some hosting deals cost less than $1 a month.

On top of that you’ll need to buy a domain name, which is usually around $10 per year for a .com. Many web hosts offer a free domain with a hosting package.

WordPress itself is completely free and while you may pay a one-off charge for any premium themes or plugins you want to use, there are plenty of free options.

Many hosting packages allow you to run more than one site, which can be particularly valuable for web designers or if you want to set up separate sites for different clients.

WordPress Sites are SEO Friendly

SEO or search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your site to be appealing to search engines. This means if your SEO is done well, you could come up in the first page of results for someone searching for “wedding photographer Texas”, for example.

Most WordPress themes are pretty SEO-friendly right out of the box and there are also various SEO plugins you can use to improve the visibility of your site even further.

There’s a Large Selection of Themes and Plugins

While some portfolio services offer a few dozen different templates to choose from, the selection is nothing when compared to the thousands of WordPress themes in circulation, many of which are free.

There are also a great deal of plugins to choose from to add functionality to your site such as image galleries and sliders, social media integration, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

It’s Easy to Use and Customize

While non-technical creatives may be put off the idea of setting up their own WordPress portfolio due to the learning curve involved, it’s actually very simple to use WordPress even if you have no prior experience with building websites.

WordPress can be installed in just a few minutes with a single click and installing most themes and plugins is a simple case of finding the one you want and clicking the “activate” button.

WordPress uses a WYSIWYG editor that’s similar to what you’re used to in word processing software and uploading and inserting images is also very easy.

Basically, once you’ve got WordPress installed and set up to your liking, it’s no more difficult to use than any other portfolio site out there.

WordPress Portfolio Themes

While you’ll probably want to create your own portfolio theme to show off your skills if you’re a web designer, there are many great WordPress Portfolio themes you can use to get your site up and running and the customization options are often so extensive that there’s no risk of you ending up with a cookie-cutter portfolio site that looks the same as one of your competitors.

The advantages of using a pre-built WordPress theme include:

  • It’s quick and convenient
  • There are many themes to choose from – both premium and free
  • They’re great for designers who don’t have technical development skills
  • They’re also very helpful for web developers who aren’t confident in their design skills
  • You can usually customize themes to your liking quickly and easily

If you’re looking for a good WordPress portfolio theme, you might want to consider one of these options:


Mochito WP theme

One-page Ajax portfolio theme

Demo | More info & download ($26)


Photome WP theme

Photo gallery and portfolio theme

Demo | More info & download ($59)


Pure WP theme

Minimal portfolio theme with 7 layouts

Demo | More info & download ($29)


Kalium WP theme

Creative portfolio theme for professionals

Demo | More info & download ($60)


Hyper-X WP theme

Portfolio theme with different layouts for freelancers and agencies

Demo | More info & download ($17)


Betheme WP theme

Multi-use WordPress theme with a range of portfolio styles

Demo | More info & download ($59)


Illustrator WP theme

Portfolio theme for illustrators, artists, and designers, with a range of different layouts

Demo | More info & download ($59)


Assemble WP theme

Contemporary portfolio theme with 18 different layouts.

Demo | More info & download ($59)


Werkstatt WP theme

Creative portfolio theme with drag and drop layout options

Demo | More info & download ($49)


Origin WP theme

Grid-based visual portfolio theme

Demo | More info and download ($89 as Elegant Themes membership with access to all themes and plugins)

WP Portfolio

WP Portfolio theme

Simple responsive portfolio theme

Demo | More info and download (free)

Portfolio Press

Portfolio Press WP theme

Responsive portfolio and blog theme

Demo | More info and download (free)


Nikkon WP theme

Multipurpose theme with drag and drop pagebuilder

Demo | More info and download (free)

WordPress Portfolio Plugins

If you’re designing your online portfolio from scratch you’ll find these plugins to helpful to manage images, and add some extra functionality and visual effects to your theme.

Huge-IT Portfolio

Huge-IT portfolio plugin

This portfolio plugin makes it easy to create portfolios containing images and videos in sortable sets with a selection of different layouts and animation effects. There’s also a pro version with some extra functionality.

More info and download (free)

Nimble Portfolio

Nimble portfolio plugin

Nimble portfolio is a user-friendly way to create a basic portfolio with a wide range of customization options. It’s fully responsive and skins and lightbox support can be upgraded when paying for the pro version

More info and download (free)

Behance Portfolio Manager

Behance portfolio manager plugin

If you’re already using Behance to showcase your work, this plugin is a great way to integrate your Behance portfolio into your personal website without a lot of fuss or effort. It has a clean layout and offers categorization and custom styling features

More info and download (free)

Essential Grid

Essential Grid plugin

This plugin makes it easy for you to display various types of content in a customizable grid with 30 different skins and a visual editor.

More info and download ($26)


Photomosaic plugin

This simple plugin adds an additional option to the standard WordPress gallery, allowing you to display images as a tiled photo mosaic. It’s fully customizable and includes loading animations and the PrettyPhoto lightbox.

More info and download ($18)

Go Portfolio

Go Portfolio plugin

Go Portfolio is an easy-to-use portfolio builder for WordPress with a great number of different responsive layouts, settings, and customization options.

More info and download ($23)


As you can see, there are a lot of resources available for those wishing to build their own online portfolio on WordPress and it’s pretty straightforward to create a stunning professional-look portfolio with the minimum of time, effort, and budget.

If you’ve created your own WordPress portfolio site or have any other helpful resources you’d like to share, please feel free to drop the link in the comments.

He is a 22 year old creative and also freelance web designer and developer from Jakarta, Indonesia. Write about everything related to design, trending topics in web development and symbian phone. Loves color, design, blog, WordPress, and has an unhealthy addictions to smiles and laughs.



  1. / Reply

    Since the title is THE ULTIMATE GUIDE for creating an online portfolio using WordPress, how about writing about how to use wordpress to make a portfolio site (custom fields, etc?) and also maybe list out the plugins and snippets which are useful in creating a portfolio site. Just listing free themes is not enough for THE ULTIMATE GUIDE i guess? Just my 2 cents.

  2. / Reply

    I’m not sure that if you’re showing off your portfolio, ripping off a WordPress ready-made template is a particularly great idea.

    1. / Reply

      Yes but what Im saying is that telling people that ripping off a wp ready template is a good idea is not enough to make this the ultimate wordpress for portfolio guide. Putting in list of plugins, etc will make this a great article.

      • bima,
      • June 15, 2010
      / Reply

      Yup Steven, I understand for what you’ve said above. But actually this one “guidance” for those people who wants to understand the process, instantly and quickly thay can build with wordpress without any deeper coding knowledge but focus on any goals for their online portfolio. Listing wordpress themes above, just bonus from me.

      • bima,
      • June 15, 2010
      / Reply

      Sorry, I don’t mean to spam this comment. Just forgot to write this in my previous comments. So you want “how to use wordpress to make a portfolio site (custom fields, ajax your portfolio page, more related articles and plugin etc?)” tutorials..? You can read on my blog soon, i’ll prepare.

      @Devolute and @Stevensst — Thanks for your comment guys

      1. / Reply

        Yeah it will be good if you can prepare “how to use wordpress to make a portfolio site”. Also I am sorry for posting negative and rude comments. This is a good article honestly but it can be better!

        Maaf ya mas dan salam kenal!

      2. / Reply

        Btw komen aku yg pertama di delete aja deh, gak enak diliat…

          • bima,
          • June 15, 2010
          / Reply

          Jiaah ngk usah, itu gunanya komen. Ngk apa kali, kan kita obyektif

        • bima,
        • June 15, 2010
        / Reply

        Haha yes, soon. I’m currently working and prepare my portfolio site. I really appreciate your feedback here (positive or negative)

        Lho bisa Bahasa Indonesia juga..? tapi kok lokasinya Singapore ya di websitenya mas..Haha yaaa ngk apa, salam kenal juga :)

    • Mike,
    • June 15, 2010
    / Reply

    I really like those case studies. They’re so beautiful :)

    • bima,
    • June 15, 2010
    / Reply

    Thanks Mike for coming, I’m glad you like it.

  3. / Reply

    Not sure what this post had to do with WordPress? Isn’t this more of an in-general portfolio type post? An Ultimate Guide Using WordPress should contain more than a few mentions of WordPress and a ton more code samples…

    1. / Reply

      My thoughts exactly.

      • bima,
      • June 15, 2010
      / Reply

      @Amber and @Jae:
      Yaa, I know and I realize that the “title” phrase looks like out of context. I just want to drive the way of thinking about an online portfolio starting from concept – and at the end, using wordpress as a machine for proof of your concept. Thanks for your comments guys, really appreciate it..nice for future.

  4. / Reply

    I totally agree, as this is how I went about creating my portfolio site. I did not know any php or MySQL, but I needed a functional portfolio site with a working contact form, so I turned to WordPress. The plugins available took care of the job, and styling it was easy using WP’s built-in plugin code editor.

    Through the process of putting WP into my portfolio site, I now know how to integrate a CMS, blog, and theme.

    WordPress has been one of the greatest experiences to me as a web designer.

    Great article, Bima.

  5. / Reply

    Nice articles..
    where the heck are the plugins?

    ooh mann,,

  6. / Reply

    Thanks, it’s a nice guide. A lot of good points to keep in mind about advertising yourself online.

    It is an interesting challenge for a designer to create a portfolio site that itself is a stunning example of their work, but doesn’t steal attention away from the actual work samples featured on the site. I often think portfolios as picture frames that support the works, but they require something that makes it stand out and represent your style and values.

    I like it when people manage to show off their web design skills and still keep the site simple. I also like it when people refrain from too much self-love in the introductions and let the work speak to itself.

    • John Foster,
    • June 16, 2010
    / Reply

    A cool and minimalistic Portfolio is

  7. / Reply

    I totally agree that WordPress is perfect for portfolio websites. It makes it so easy to add/edit work and blogging functionality is already built-in.

    I use WordPress for my portfolio:

    If you’re a web designer/developer, I do think you should create your own custom theme to prove your ability. It’s also a great way to learn more about WordPress.

    1. / Reply

      nice porttfolio.. i like its featured contents

  8. / Reply

    I agree that WordPress is a great platform to create any website in, let alone just your online portfolio. But I also agree with the likes of Amber above – this is a misleading article. It’s fair enough that you want to display WordPress as a machine for creating portfolios, but it would be much more suitable as “The Ultimate Guide for an Online Portfolio”. If this was truly the ultimate guide to creating a portfolio with wordpress (something I’m actually wanting to complete myself) I would have expected details on creating your own themes, plugins and the likes and much more about WordPress on the whole, rather than some ready-made themes…as a web and graphic designer I don’t want to just adapt templates – I want to create my own from scratch.

  9. / Reply

    hi, I have seen many articles on word press, but unfortunately unable to find a proper starting point. I am a web designer and comfortable working on css & photoshop. I am designing for my client and I want to convert that into word press theme. can you take a look at this design and just give me few tips how to implement this design into wordpress. I also want to know which plugins are best for galleries

  10. / Reply

    I am agree that word press is a great tool to create portfolios.

  11. / Reply

    Much prefer the Carolina Jesus one shown in the picture here than the current one!

  12. / Reply

    I agree that wordpress is a pretty flexible way to get your portfolio online – especially if you have the HTML/CSS knowledge and time to whip up a design which reflects your overall aesthetic values.

    However, for all the creatives out there who are daunted by learning WordPress and HTML etc to get their work online, hosted solutions can really step in to save the day. One such alternative to WordPress is – a new way to get your creative portfolio online in a snap; you can try it out for free and then upgrade whenever your portfolio has outgrown the limitations of the free account:



    PS – If you are set on using Wordpres, I recommend checking out the NexGen Gallery plugin, its pretty easily customizable…

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