How to create a writing portfolio in WordPress in 3 steps

You’ve narrowed down your seemingly countless options for hosting your digital writing portfolio and decided is the best fit for you. That’s no small task, but the work of creating a stellar site is just beginning!

With some thoughtful choices, you can harness WordPress to display your work cleanly and professionally, making it easy both for you to manage your writing projects and for a visitor to navigate them.

I learned a few tips after finally landing on WordPress and building out my portfolio (it took a lot of scrapped pages and redesigns!).

Here’s how to transform your WordPress site into a writing portfolio.

1. Choose a theme with a portfolio feature

The WordPress themes you have access to depends on whether you’re using the free site—[your site]—or paying for your own domain name and subscription. A paid subscription unlocks more themes.

See or change your subscription level under Upgrades.
The Premium level unlocks premium themes unavailable with a Personal or free site.

However, there are several free themes with a portfolio feature. To find one, navigate to Themes from the WordPress Admin sidebar and use the search bar to filter by feature.

You can use filters to narrow down your options to the ideal layout you want for your site.
Typing “portfolio” into the search bar will bring up the feature. If you don’t want to buy a theme, make sure you also select Free.

Side note: Some portfolio themes are oriented toward displaying artwork, so they may not look like a great fit until you play around with it. Nevertheless, you still have the option to choose which media types you add to your portfolio.

From the results list, you can choose to: see a demo of a theme, activate a theme, or try a theme on your own site.

Live demo opens a preview of what the theme has to offer on a dummy site (see below). Activate immediately applies the theme to your site.
From the live demo, you can Try & Customize the theme on your own site. Notice, you can also preview what the theme will look like on mobile (top-left corner).

To get the best idea of how the theme will fit your site, select Try & Customize.

In this view, WordPress displays your current site with the new theme applied. You can play around with it to see if it has the features and layout you want. Any changes you make won’t be published to your site unless you click Activate & Save.

If you don’t want to save your changes, click the X in the top-left corner.

Notice the Portfolio option in the customization screen. This is where you can edit the title and cover image on your portfolio page.

Once you’ve found the right theme and customized it, click Activate & Save to publish the changes to your site.

2. Publish projects to your portfolio

Now you’re ready to add your best work to your portfolio! Since you chose a theme with a portfolio feature, Portfolio will display on WordPress Admin sidebar.

Once you navigate to Portfolio, you’ll see a screen identical to your Posts screen—a list of projects that are published, drafted, scheduled, or trashed. From here, click Add New Project.

Your projects will display in a list on this page.

For a writing portfolio, you can copy/paste your text into the editor and/or hyperlink to the site where your writing is published. You can also upload your work as a PDF that site visitors can view and download.

I strongly suggest hyperlinking when available and saving your work as a PDF so you don’t have to worry about broken links blocking access to your work.

Thankfully, the WordPress project editor is identical to the post editor, so you don’t have to learn a new set of tools (hooray!). However, notice a couple differences:

  1. “Portfolio” appears in the URL.

2. You can add project types and tags.

Keep your project organized with types and tags (read on to learn why).

You might be wondering, Why use a portfolio feature at all? Why not simply use your blog feed (posts) as a portfolio? There are a couple major reasons why the portfolio feature is key.

3. Display your portfolio from the main navigation

One of the benefits is the ability to add your portfolio to the main navigation menu on your website, keeping it cleanly separate from your blog feed. This is especially useful for those who want to maintain a blog on the same site as their portfolio.

To do this, return to the theme customization screen and open Menus from the sidebar.

Navigate to the Primary menu.

Here, you can add items to the menu. Notice that you have different options for which portfolio content to display: Projects, Project Types, and Project Tags. That’s why it’s important to keep your categorizations tidy.

Select which projects, types, or tags you want to link to from the main navigation on your website

Once you’ve added your portfolio, you can reorder and rename the pages/links/categories that appear in the menu. When you expand the portfolio dropdown, you can change how the label appears on your site.

I chose to keep my label as “Portfolio,” but you could choose “Projects” or any other label you want.

Save your changes before exiting the theme customizer. Now, when you go to the home page of your website, you should see your portfolio show up in the main navigation menu.

Don’t forget to test out your site as you go to make sure your portfolio is displaying how you want it to.

That’s a few quick tips for setting up your writing portfolio in I didn’t cover designing a compelling project page in this post—let me know if you want to see a post on that topic.

For now, I’ll turn it over to you:

How have you used WordPress to make a great portfolio site? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Leave a comment!

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