Six Steps to Launching an Advertising Portfolio Website

Image Credit: scottkellum via Flickr

For those of you looking to break into the advertising or public relations industry, it’s absolutely essential to have an online portfolio of your work. The task may seem daunting but it’s definitely worthwhile. And it’s especially important for aspiring copywriters, graphic designers and art directors. Creative recruiters like to see what job applicants are capable of before inviting them in for interviews. So a portfolio site should reflect the best possible version of you. Here’s how to create one in six simple steps.

1. Define your Career Focus

Before spending upwards of 20,000 dollars on portfolio school, consider making your own website. I’ve spoken to copywriters and designers who have created their own websites on a budget. Some of them are even employed a large ad agencies now. So don’t worry, your career aspirations aren’t a pipe dream.

2. Secure a Domain Name

Now that you have some content to work with. It’s time to secure a domain name for the portfolio website. I highly recommend including your full name in the website’s URL so potential employers think of you when they look at the site. To search what domains name are available and to purchase one, visit Go Daddy’s website.

3. Brainstorm Ideas and Possible Executions

After defining your career focus, it’s time to brainstorm some possible executions. So for copywriters, write down some of your favorite products and brands on a sheet of paper. If one of those products is Kleenex, then look at their past campaigns. See where there’s room for improvement and if there’s any content gaps to fill. Experiment with the tone and personality that the copy emulates.

4. Create Solid Campaigns

Once you’ve narrowed down ideas for campaign executions, create more formalized versions of the advertisements. Consider the advertising medium whether it’s print, outdoor, direct mail, digital etc… Save images in a file folder on your computer that correspond to copy for your ads.

Aside from six to seven campaign executions, many creatives also include a short biography and a resume on their website. Of course it varies based on individual preferences and career aspirations.

5. Ask for Professionals to Critique Your Work

A copywriter once told me this a key step in fine tuning your portfolio. So go ahead and ask professors, designers, copywriters, art directors and even creative directors to critique your work. Ask them what they would do differently. Show them a polished rough draft of a few campaigns you’re working on. Don’t be afraid to email people from agencies whose work your admire.

6.  Launching the Site

To launch your website’s, you’ll need the guidance of a graphic designer or developer. If you have a friend or family member who fits either of those roles, then they may help you launch the site. If not, then you may have to pay a designer to do it for you. Unless of course you are a designer. Depending on the coding and design work your site requires, it may cost you anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 dollars. That’s a rough guess…

Here are a few examples of solid advertising portfolio sites to model yours after:

A Copywriter’s Portfolio
An Art Director’s Portfolio


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