Your Portfolio Site: Taking It Up A Notch…or Two

Well I may as well finish off this series about online portfolios and the like.

Then those of you who are digging it can know all the information I want to share. And those who are bored to tears can say, “Uh, thank Gawd that’s over with!”

So there was the online-presence stuff with the warning not to be an ass on the internet and why are you hiding on the internet?. Then some online portfolio stuff with why you have that blog to begin with and what to do with that portfolio blog you already have and some other free website options you have available.

Which takes us to the last steps in an online portfolio.

The ‘Not Free’.

Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds. We’ll take it in baby steps.

If you have a bit of money to spare, I would suggest you invest in a domain name. It could be your name, a business name or something else. For a personal portfolio, it’s probably a good idea to have your own name registered.

But it’s up to you.

If you go with something else, just make it easy to remember and easy to spell.

Don’t be clever, be clear.

The best test is to tell the name to someone and see how they would naturally spell it. Using “2” for “to” may not be the best idea. And dashes can be a pain in the ass too.

Put some thought into this before you buy one.

Then when you’re ready, you can use any number of domain registrars. There are tons of them. You can get a domain for a year for under $10.

One word of caution is to find out what the second year costs.

I got burned on this when a certain company *coughyahoocough* suddenly decided to up their renewal costs to $35 a year! Out of nowhere!

I switched to a much saner hosting service, Dynadot and am quite happy with them. And no hidden costs looming about. Check them out and shop around.

Like I said, there are many others.

Now put that domain somewhere.

If you are quite content with your Blogger site, you can point it there and look a little more professional. Here’s how you can to that. I believe it’s free.

Or you can point it to your site for $10 a year (that’s in addition to your domain name cost). Or to your site.

Now, without getting too technical, you should know there’s a difference between FORWARDING a domain and MAPPING a domain.

When you forward it, you’re just telling your domain to point somewhere. But then the actual domain will still show up in the browser (like “”).

When you map it, you change more settings so that your registered domain name will show up in the browser (the one you bought).

You need to do more technical things to map it, but it’s really not as difficult as the free services make it out to be. They tell you that so you will register your domain with them (usually at a much higher cost than Dynadot or GoDaddy. Don’t fall for it).

Yay, you have a domain! Now what?

Well, if you have a little more money, you can make the jump to paying for hosting and truly owning your site. You have full control over your portfolio and can do whatever you want with it.

I think it’s a good idea if you are serious about your career.

Hosting costs are really reasonable when you shop around. I’m quite happy my hosting service. I use Canadian Web Hosting and not just because they’re based here in Vancouver (which I think is great).

The price was right. It’s Canadian dollars, so it’s good for Canadians (and maybe Australians too? Aren’t we in the same boat money-wise?).

And Americans can save a bunch with the crappy (for us) exchange right now. It has one-click installs for WordPress and other applications just like GoDaddy has. And it starts as low as $3.95 a month.

But shop around and find one you like. Don’t think you can afford that? For your career?

I mean, come ON.

How much was that new iThingy you bought?

Uh huh.

Once you have hosting, you can stay cheap by using as your platform. This is different than (the free hosting site). You have to install it yourself and upload stuff and use an FTP thing and maybe work with a bit of code and all that.

I found it really helpful to start with the free site to get my feet wet. You can’t really screw it up.

Just keep in mind there’s a bit more to screw up in the self-hosted one. There is definitely a learning curve there!

But the up side is there are lots more features and many free themes to choose from. And premium themes too (which cost money).

They lay the groundwork for your content though. You don’t need to know much about web design or hire a designer to get a decent looking site up quickly. And you can edit everything yourself.

This is what my site is built on. I figured it all out and I’m old. Ish.

And I didn’t know squat about HTML.

So there you go. It can be done!

There is tons of information for at its own site, at and all over the internet.

Got a bucket of money laying around?

Then you could hire a web designer and get something unique and very cool done for your portfolio site. Or maybe you know how to do all that yourself. Cool!

Just remember to still keep it clean, easy to navigate and not overly complex. All that Flash stuff can look nice, but it’s also a pain in the ass sometimes.

Don’t use it just because you can.

Oh my.

This post is long enough isn’t it? Hmm…maybe I’m not totally done with this subject.

But I’ll take a break from it for a while, okay?

Just remember you don’t have to run out and do all this now. Get your feet wet with a free site if all this scares you right now.

You can take those baby steps when you’re ready. Or not.

It’s alright.

The important thing is get something up. That works and looks nice.

Okay? Good.

Back to some ‘story stuff’ next time so I can stop feeling like a “blogger who blogs about blogging”.



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9 thoughts on “Your Portfolio Site: Taking It Up A Notch…or Two

  1. Lorin Wood

    My afore-mentioned friend Ty Ellingson and I had a discussion about this subject a few years back before I bought my domain name (incidentally, MY name…I love the fact I had to pay for its use). He personally wanted his,, to convey something about the nature of his work crossed with his personality. Granted, he’d been in the industry longer than myself and had a healthy following that afforded him some flexibility to name his online site whatever he wanted. I tried something similar, but it became a pain (to maintain as well as spell out for prospective visitors) and I lost focus on the purpose for an online portfolio. Focus on my work. To market my talents to clients. In my case, sticking with my name was the logical choice.

    So, what am I looking at here? Oh, whoops, I thought this was a creative writing forum. Did I just post an opinion on something?

  2. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Yeah, that’s a pretty good racket…getting people to pay for their own names. 🙂
    The name choice is a personal one but if you’re just starting out and it’s for professional use, you can’t go wrong with using your own name. It’s what people will search you out with, so why not?

    I think you made the right choice and your buddy probably feels he made the right one too. As long as it works and you get it out there.

    (And opinions are always welcome here. Keep ’em coming.)

  3. chris kawagiwa

    haha…those shiny “iThingies”. So true.

    So what happens when your name might be as easily misspelled as a made-up domain?? 😛 Mine is totally phonetic but I’m constantly entertained with variations of my last name addressed in the mail~

    though, that being said… I’ll still likely register it and just learn to pronounce my name slowly and loudly when introducing myself 🙂

    I have a flashsite almost ready to launch, but want make sure it doesn’t take too long to load. I found myself sighing waiting for a restaurant’s fancy flash to load the other day, simply wanting to get directions…
    i may just opt for using an iweb template (even after all the time time i’ve put in~).

  4. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    And how many shiny iThingies does Chris own? 😉

    Yes, the hard-spelling name could be a conundrum, couldn’t it? You could still register your name. Then maybe get a simpler domain for your site and point the harder name at it too (or vise versa). Then people could use both to find it.

    A good rule of thumb could be that if people are ‘clicking’ the name to get to your site, you’re OK with harder spelling one. But if you have to ‘say’ it to them or for marketing purposes, you could use the easier one.

    My blog address is ‘’ but I also use ‘’ for marketing purposes. Easier to remember and spell. (It seems a LOT of people can’t spell Lloyd. Just ask my past students).

    And I hate to say this, but…Flash sites. Eeesh. Pain. In. The. Ass.

    I have little patience for them myself. There was one famous animator that has one and his site irritates the crap out of me. It’s ALL Flash and I can barely navigate the thing. So I don’t go back.

    Just be careful with that stuff.

    Here’s a great link about that very subject.
    Do I Need A Flash Intro? Enjoy.


  5. Rufin Lutao

    There is this one guy.

    Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso .COM?

    I would consider one extremely lucky if a particular .COM domain name of your choosing is not yet registered. I’m stuck with .CA (not that it’s bad) until I come up with $2,440 , to bid on a .COM of the same domain name. AIYA!

  6. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    But you can call him “Pab”. 🙂

    You’d be surprised what domains you can still find available. You just have to be a little inventive. I’ve discovered quite a few just by grouping unrelated words together.

    But I would never pay that kind of money to get a domain! Gaa, I’d pick something else. And a .ca still works just fine.

    It’s kind of your own little Molson “I’m A Canadian” ad. 😉

  7. Pingback: Interview With A Recruiter: Part One | Karen J Lloyd's Storyboard Blog

  8. Bec

    Hi Karen!

    I just came across your blog and am loving these articles, very helpful! I use Blogger just for sketches/inspiration updates. I mainly use it to keep track of other blogs I like, most of which tend to be on Blogger too.

    I haven’t really focused on making a professional portfolio yet as I’m still studying, but I was wondering if you’ve seen the new portfolio system Deviant Art has released? Users can create quite a nice portfolio space that is disconnected from their DevArt account, with a personalised domain add on as well. You can make several seperate galleries too. I made one just to play around with it ( There is a small ad in the bottom left corner, but paid accounts are ad-free and have more control over the design. For example, one I really like is .

    Just wondering what you thought about the layout and if it would be suitable for professional applications. Thanks again for all the insight!

  9. Karen J Lloyd Post author

    Hi Rebecca and welcome!

    I think those Deviant Art portfolios look just fine actually. They are professional looking and easy to navigate, so I think they can work great.

    If it comes down to having a site like that that’s easy for you to create and get on the web and between trying to do it on your own and it’s hard and time consuming and driving you nuts…then by all means use a service like that!

    My only caution is to read the fine print with sites like that to make sure you retain all ownership and copyright of your work (which I assume Deviant Art does).

    Thanks for the links. Your site looks great and I really like your character designs! 🙂



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