7 Best WordPress Portfolio Plugins in 2021 – Free and Paid Options
In this post, I’ll dig into the seven best WordPress portfolio plugins, including both free and paid options. All of them are great options in their own rights, but some are better suited towards different types of portfolio content, so you’ll want to do some digging to choose the right option.
Let’s get started so that you can be showing off your work in no time…
Seven Best Portfolio Plugins for WordPress in 2021
1. WP Portfolio
WP Portfolio is a premium WordPress portfolio plugin from Brainstorm Force, the same team behind the massively popular Astra theme (our review), as well as other tools such as Schema Pro, Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg/Elementor/Beaver Builder, and others.
WP Portfolio really shines when it comes to creating a portfolio of websites that you’ve built for clients. This makes sense, as a lot of Brainstorm Force’s customers are people who use Astra and those other tools to build websites for clients.
With that being said, you can also use WP Portfolio for generic images or video galleries, so it’s certainly not limited to just website portfolios.
Fun fact – the functionality in WP Portfolio is actually based on the importable demo site library for the Astra theme. As such, you’ll get the option to add multiple Ajax filters, a search box, and more.
Beyond that, the coolest feature, especially for websites, is the Quick View feature. If a user clicks on a portfolio item, it will open the full website/image/video in a full-screen lightbox (no page reload required). Visitors can then close the preview to return to the full portfolio list.
It also includes other user-friendly features such as infinite scroll, combined with lazy loading for performance.
Overall, if you want to showcase a portfolio of websites that you’ve built, this is definitely one of your top options. You should also consider it for a generic image or video galleries.
Price: $49 – or get it as part of the Astra agency bundles
Visual Portfolio is one of the most popular free portfolio plugins at WordPress.org, where it’s active on over 40,000 sites with a near-perfect 4.9-star rating on 64+ reviews.
It offers a really nice modern design with different types of layouts including:
In terms of visual effects, you get lots of eye-catching hover effects to show more information about an item when a user hovers over it.
You can also add real-time Ajax filters and sort options to help visitors find relevant portfolio items and you’ll get lots of other options to control things like Ajax load more, infinite scroll, pagination, view counts, and more.
Visual Portfolio adds its own portfolio post type to help you manage your content. However, you can also use it with any other post type (including regular blog posts).
Overall, if you want a clean, modern design, Visual Portfolio is a great option that works especially well for image and video portfolios.
Price: Starts free. Pro version from $39
Elementor is the most popular WordPress page builder plugin (and theme builder). It’s also what we use here at WPLift, which is why we like it so much.
Because it gives you a powerful visual, drag-and-drop editor, it makes a great option for creating a portfolio.
First, you can purchase Elementor Pro to get access to the official Elementor Portfolio widget (plus tons of other useful features). With this widget, you can display any type of content on your site in a filterable grid. The widget lets you display content from posts, pages, and custom post types. If you want to separate your portfolio items from other content on your site, you could use the free Portfolio Post Type plugin to add a new portfolio content type to your site.
So you would:
- Install the Portfolio Post Type plugin
- Add portfolio items by going to Portfolio → Add New
- Display those items in a front-end portfolio using the Portfolio widget in Elementor Pro
Another option would be to use a third-party Elementor add-on plugin, many of which include their own portfolio widgets. Two good options that add portfolio support are:
Price: $49 for Elementor Pro. You can also keep things free if you opt for third-party add-ons.
Portfolio Gallery is a popular freemium portfolio plugin that’s available at WordPress.org. It helps you create a good-looking gallery with real-time Ajax filters and a search box.
The free version lets you create a basic grid/masonry portfolio, which should be fine for most use cases. For more layout flexibility, you can upgrade to the Pro version to access more advanced masonry layouts and more options when it comes to features such as Ajax load more, hover effects, lightbox popups, and more.
For reference, the screenshot above shows what you can build using just the free version, but I’ll also include a link to the demo for the premium features at the end of this section.
Overall, this one makes a good option for image or video galleries, especially if you’re on a tight budget and you’re happy to just use the basic grid.
Price: Starts free. Pro version from just $29
Essential Grid is the most popular grid gallery plugin at Envato’s CodeCanyon marketplace, where it’s been purchased over 45,700 times with a solid 4.71-star rating on over 1,400 reviews.
While Essential Grid isn’t specifically for portfolios, it includes all the features that you need to successfully create a portfolio.
First off, you can display any type of content in your gallery, including images, videos (including YouTube and Vimeo embeds), audio files, or content from your WordPress site.
If you use the free Portfolio Post Type plugin, you could get a new Portfolio content type on your site to manage content on the backend. Then, you could use the Essential Grid to display those portfolio items in a grid gallery.
To actually control how your content displays, you’ll get a drag-and-drop builder that lets you customize every single part of your front-end portfolio. For advanced users, you have the option to include custom field information in your portfolio layout, which opens up a lot of possibilities.
Beyond supporting lots of different content sources, Essential Grid also includes other useful portfolio features including real-time Ajax filters and infinite scroll/Ajax load more.
Overall, Essential Grid is going to be a little more complicated because it’s not exclusively dedicated to portfolios. However, if you’re willing to put up with a slightly bigger learning curve, the payoff is that you get a really flexible portfolio tool that will work for pretty much any type of content.
Price: $69 with lifetime updates
Next up, we have GridKit Portfolio Gallery, which is another popular freemium gallery plugin at WordPress.org.
The free version lets you create a basic grid gallery from different types of content, including images, portfolio items, and more. There’s also an option to show portfolio items in a popup.
The free version is good for basic portfolios, but most of the flexibility is in the premium version which adds:
- 12+ new layouts including masonry
- More popular styles
- Support for video in your portfolio gallery
- 100+ hover effects
- Social media sharing
- Category filters
So if you want to create those types of more advanced portfolios, you’ll probably want to upgrade to the premium version.
Price: Starts free. Pro version from just $30
7. Go Portfolio
Finally, there’s Go Portfolio, which is another popular premium WordPress portfolio plugin for sale at CodeCanyon. It’s been purchased over 8,200 times with a 4.53-star rating on over 440 reviews.
Go Portfolio lets you create a flexible portfolio from any type of content on your site, including blog posts and custom post types. It also comes with over 38 importable demos to help you get started. There are some really unique layout options, like the screenshot I featured above.
You can also use direct content sources, such as images, videos (from YouTube or Vimeo), and audio players (e.g. a SoundCloud player).
You’ll be able to choose from a variety of different layouts, add real-time category filters, and include lots of eye-catching hover effects.
While it only comes in a premium version, Go Portfolio is quite affordable, which still makes it a good option for those on a budget.
Price: $26 with lifetime updates
Which Is the Best WordPress Portfolio Plugin?
Now for the important question – which is the best WordPress portfolio plugin for your needs?
Well, one of my personal favorites is WP Portfolio, especially if you’re building websites for clients. I think that, in terms of UX, it goes beyond a lot of the other plugins and the “Quick View” feature for websites is really neat.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a free WordPress portfolio plugin, Visual Portfolio is the best free option that I’ve tested – the designs look great and it’s pretty flexible even in the free version.
If you want a lot of flexibility and you’re willing to deal with a higher learning curve, consider Essential Grid. It will take a little more time to get up and running, but you’ll be able to easily include custom content in your portfolio, which is useful.
Finally, if you’re already using Elementor, you might not even need a standalone portfolio plugin as Elementor already has everything you need. You can use the built-in Portfolio widget in Elementor Pro or consider a third-party add-on if you only have the free version of Elementor.
Still have any questions about choosing the best WordPress portfolio plugin for your needs? Ask away in the comments!