What You Need to Create an Online Engineering Portfolio
In the 21st century where everything is connected, it pays to have some form of digital interface where you can show off your work. If everyone from hairstylists to lawyers has digital presences that show off just what they can do, then you as an engineer or an engineering firm probably should too.
As an engineer, chances are you have worked on some pretty cool things. Even if your projects may not feel inherently interesting to you, chances are if you frame them the right way, they can be intriguing points of interest for colleagues or potential clients. One of the best ways to present what you have worked on as an engineer is by putting together some form of a digital portfolio. Rather than a manually presented "death by PowerPoint" deck, why not try putting together your own website portfolio where anyone at any time can look through your past projects?
With modern tools, you can set up a stylish and well-hosted website in the matter of a weekend no for practically nothing. Let's take a look at what process one might go through to do this.
Why you want an online portfolio
Like we mentioned before, creating an online portfolio can be a great way to generate clients or garner interest in your business without doing a ton of work. Having an online engineering portfolio can also be a great resource for interviews if you're looking for a new job.
It can also be a great reference point for business cards. Why spend 5 minutes walking someone through an extensive list of the various types of projects you've worked on when you can quickly mention what industries you work in and reference your website portfolio if that person wants to learn more. It will not only save you time in networking conversations, but chances are it will leave more of an imprint on that person – perhaps a potential client.
At the end of the day, having an online engineering portfolio website is a great way to network, make yourself look professional, and even just keep track of what you've worked on for your own sanity. That said, in order to create a portfolio, you're going to need a website and domain to host it. Let's take a look at what that would take and how easy that is in 2020 and beyond.
How to set up an engineering portfolio website
At the core of what an online engineering portfolio is, it's essentially just a deck of pictures with captions. You could organize it more like a blog with different articles for projects, or you could go as simple as a simple page that has pictures people can click through.
Depending upon how you want to lay the site out, one of the easiest management platforms to run it through is WordPress. WordPress is used by many if not most DIY and even professional websites on the internet. It has the power to run massive content management sites, so it can certainly handle your portfolio.
That said, WordPress is for managing what's on/in your portfolio. In order to actually launch the portfolio, you're going to need a domain and a platform to host the website. While WordPress does have some options for that, their main focus is content. One better solution that integrates with WordPress is called BlueHost. This site lets you easily pick a domain name and set up your site, all the while having WordPress hosting as well. Thanks to its cheap monthly plans, you don't have to make an upfront investment more than a trip to Starbucks for coffee might cost you.
Getting as much traffic as possible to your site
Once you go through the hopefully painless process of getting a domain name, designing your site, uploading your projects, and launching it, you'll have to take care of the next step: getting people to see it. The first thing you'll want to do with your engineering portfolio is to add the URL to your LinkedIn profile, your business cards, and any social media or business pages you have for yourself. This will help you develop your brand image as you try to present yourself as an experienced and capable engineer.
Another avenue you can go down in getting traffic to your site is working on SEO. SEO means search engine optimization and it's a tool that website owners use to rank on the first page of Google and Bing searches. Doing this means that whenever someone searches for a related topic to one of your projects, Google might naturally decide that they want to see your portfolio.
This can be great for generating passive interest in your skills and abilities as an engineer. For example, if you specialize in wastewater treatment plant design, then if you develop good SEO for your site, someone looking to build a new plant might stumble across your website and contact you to get a quote.
Developing good SEO for your site really comes down to having a good keyword strategy and good content on your site. For any given project, you'll want to determine the keywords most related to your topic and try to write a description that naturally uses those words.
Drawing back to the wastewater treatment plant example, when feature a similar project, you might want to use the words/phrases "waste management solutions" or "municipal water treatment," among a plethora of others. SEO is all about getting into the mind of a potential client and thinking about the words they might search for. After you get a list of potential words potentially used in searches, work them into your portfolio and Google will slowly rank you higher (if your content is good).
And there you have it. To set up a successful engineering portfolio online, all you have to do is determine a domain name, host the site, build out the content on WordPress, and then try to spread the word about your collection of awesome projects. After you do that, you're sure to become the next most famous engineer in the world, or at least in the municipal wastewater treatment plant community... a win is a win!