Wouldn’t it be great if we could just tell clients “I’m really good, trust me!” and have them throw piles of money at us? I think so.
Unfortunately, life is often not that easy. Clients typically like to actually see that you’ve got some chops before they hire you (how selfish of them!).
So how can you show them you’ve got the skills? With a portfolio. And how can you create a portfolio in WordPress? With one of these awesome plugins.
These plugins aren’t just for freelancers, either. I think it’s always a good idea for everyone to show off their work. Even if you’re completely happy at a full time job, it never hurts to be wanted! And given that switching jobs is just about the only way to get a raise these days, it’s good to attract new opportunities sometimes.
So with that out of the way, keep reading and join me as I show you some of the best WordPress portfolio plugins.
WordPress Portfolio Plugin
This free plugin is number one on the list because it’s what I use on my personal site. It makes implementing a portfolio with thumbnail images really easy. For example, here’s what it looks like on my site:
For creating the thumbnails, WordPress Portfolio Plugin integrates with a service called ShrinkTheWeb to automatically create thumbnails. Full disclosure - I couldn’t get this integration to work. So what I did was manually create and upload images (super easy) and then the plugin automatically turned them into thumbnails. If you can figure out how to make ShrinkTheWeb work, it will be even easier to create thumbnails.
Adding a new portfolio item is really simple. Just enter a name, website, and description. You can edit the Advanced Settings if you want (that’s where I added the custom thumbnails), but they’re not necessary:
It’s also easy to customize how the portfolio looks with some basic HTML:
For instance, I edited the HTML template to remove the description. That’s why, if you go back to my site example above, there’s no description. Just the thumbnail and link to the article.
If you want to add something to the template, you can also do that very easily if you know a little HTML.
I think this plugin is definitely best for people doing work that isn’t entirely visual. E.g. if you’re a photographer, you’re going to want to pick something else. If you’re a writer, web developer, or maybe even web designer, I think this is a really great plugin.
Portfolio by BestWebSoft
Portfolio by BestWebSoft is a free plugin that looks pretty similar to WordPress Portfolio Plugin. What’s the difference? It offers some extra functionality, but at the price of an inferior design (at least in my opinion):
In the screenshot above, you can see that you get added features like multiple screenshots, completion dates, and more. But, you’ll also see that the design is a bit awkward. A lot of unformatted text in a row. Definitely not horrible, but I think it lags beyond WordPress Portfolio Plugin in that aspect.
Real3D FlipBook WordPress Plugin
Real3D FlipBook is definitely the most unique portfolio plugin in this list. Instead of displaying portfolio items in a gallery or list, it utilizes a flipbook interface (as the plugin name so aptly suggests).
This probably won’t work for most portfolios, but if you want that artistic style, it’s definitely a cool plugin. You can also add HTML to each page to make it interactive. For instance, embedding a video into the flipbook. Or, if you don’t know HTML, you can just upload your portfolio in PDF or JPEG form to create a normal flipbook.
Here's an example of a portfolio flipbook with an embedded video:
Real3D FlipBook is a premium plugin available for $32 at the Code Canyon store.
Portfolio for Professionals
Portfolio for Professionals is a relatively new free offering. But what it lacks in history, it makes up for in regular updates and great features.
Unlike the previous plugins, Portfolio for Professionals creates a grid-based layout consisting mostly of images. So if you’re a photographer or a graphic artist, I imagine this will be pretty perfect for you:
It features three different grid layouts:
- Fit Rows
You can also lazy load images (great for big portfolios!), add titles and tags, group by different projects, and a lot more.
I think it’s a really cool plugin for anything visual - it just doesn’t fit my needs as a writer, which is why I don’t use it.
Portfolio Gallery by Huge IT is another great option for photographers or other visual creatives. It’s a freemium plugin, but the free version is plenty functional.
You can add both images as well as videos from YouTube or Vimeo. So if you need to incorporate any video into your portfolio, this is the plugin for you. You can also give a title and description to each entry.
Another cool set of options is sorting and filtering. Filtering is only in the pro version, but it allows potential clients to filter down to only the most relevant portfolio pieces. You’ll also get access to a customizable lightbox in the pro version.
The personal pro version costs $40 and is available at Huge IT. They also have developer versions that are a bit pricier.
Go Portfolio - WordPress Responsive Portfolio
Go Portfolio is one of the most popular premium portfolio plugins at Code Canyon.
As a premium template, it’s gonna give you a lot more functionality out of the box.
You can expect:
- 38 templates to make getting started easy
- Support for touch devices
- Compatibility with Visual Composer
- Lots, lots more.
They have templates for a variety of different portfolio types, so getting started should be pretty dang easy. Some of the templates also allow you to easily create an “As seen in/As featured on…” box. This is a great way of displaying social proof in conjunction with a more standard portfolio.
Go Portfolio is available for $23 at the Code Canyon store.
Bonus Portfolio Option - Themes!
So before you go rushing off to a find a plugin, make sure that portfolio functionality isn’t already included in your theme! In fact, we have a whole post on portfolio themes for freelancers and Vishnu also put together a great list of modern portfolio themes back in 2014.
Portfolios are a necessity for freelancers or anyone else looking to show off their body of work. If you’re working in a primarily non-visual medium, I think WordPress Portfolio Plugin and Portfolio by BestWebSoft are great options.
If you’re a photographer or graphic artist, check out Portfolio for Professionals or Portfolio Gallery.
Finally, Go Portfolio is a good all-purpose option, though it costs money. And if you want something completely different, check out Real3D Flipbook.
Do you have a favorite portfolio plugin? Let me know in the comments so I can add it to the list!