SquareSpace is the real deal. When I first got started, I had very little knowledge of web development except for the occasional HTML coding (thank you, MySpace). What I loved about SquareSpace is its easy interface, the professional looking templates, and their detailed blog that answered essentially any question I had about designing my own website. I was given a two-week free trial to set up my website before publishing it live on the web and purchasing a year long subscription.
Now, why do you need to create your own website? Because it will boost your personal branding efforts into high gear, and really make your stand out professionally.
Select a SquareSpace template.
The great thing about their template list is that it includes layouts that will work for any type of website and industry. For my own site, I chose the Five template because I liked its compatibility with hosting a blog, and its layout is very user-friendly, especially on mobile. (All the layouts look great on mobile though.)
Another great template for portfolio purposes is York, which has a visually appealing set up to show your photography and link to your projects and articles. This template might be better for you if you want to quickly set up a website to showcase your professional work. If you need help deciding on a template, I like this guide on the best and worst templates.
Once you have your template selected, SquareSpace will prompt you with some questions. You can skip the questions if you want, but I recommend answering them because they will help you tailor your site to your specific needs. The last question asks you to name your website. Generally, for portfolio purposes, you should make your domain your first and last name with a .com at the end. It will help recruiters find you!
Familiarize yourself with the home page menu.
Here's what you'll see when you're logged in. The menu options for editing your template are on the left-hand side. The rest of the screen will look like the template that you selected.
The Pages link is where you can create menu bars, add content, design pages and so on. Design is where you can change your template, edit fonts, and choose colors. Commerce is there for online business owners. Analytics is a useful tool to let you know how well your SEO is doing, and how people are finding your site, and which links they click on when they visit. Settings is the place for adding details to your account, and Help is a handy tool provided by the SquareSpace team to answer any questions you might have.
It's time to start designing your site and adding content.
Click on Pages. This will take you to the different pages that are already set up through whichever template you picked. Here is what is set up in the York template:
They have a ton of page layouts already set up! If you like the way that they look, you can simply go in and change the content to fit your needs. It's also simple enough to delete the ones you don't want.
The best part about SquareSpace is that you can edit from "behind the scenes" but also see what the page will look like when it's live as you edit. This feature has helped me tremendously because I can see what fonts look good together, which colors match, and I can double check all the links that I use to make sure that they work.
Write content for your about page first.
This blog post is a great resource for how to write your about page. Your about page is probably going to be the first impression somebody has of you when they visit your website, so make it count! Here are some key things to include on your about page:
- An introduction - who are you and what do you do?
- A fabulous picture of yourself
- Links to your social media accounts
- Contact button or your email address
SquareSpace has a variety of "Content Blocks" that you can add to your pages. This allows you to get really creative and make your template fit your own personal style. They show you their entire list of blocks here.
Add a portfolio page to your menu.
When you click on the "+" link near the top left-hand corner, this menu board will pop up:
If you want a page specific for photography, then go ahead and select the Gallery option. However, you can add a gallery plus more under the Page option so that's the one that I would select. After you select the type of page you want, SquareSpace will ask you to title the page. That's the name that will show up on your menu board at the top of your website.
What I like about this feature is that you can then select the layout. On the left-hand side, it will show you several different types of layouts, and how they will look. Once you pick the one you want, it will automatically merge into your new Page. Here is where you can click on certain sections and start editing with the Content Blocks.
Organize your content.
When you have your portfolio work uploaded to your current page, make sure your most recent and most relevant work is at the top. First impressions count here too! Curate your content by skills. Place all of your written work together. Place all of your design work or photography into a gallery. Add a link to your resume if you want.
If you need some inspiration for your own site, here's a good resource of beautiful websites designed on SquareSpace. I also like this guide for customizing your template. If you need a visual guide to help you, here's a video on YouTube that's about an hour long, but it gives great instructions.
Make it easy for visitors to contact you.
Don't forget this part! You can insert a "Form" under the Content Blocks for people to be able to email your directly and send a message. Connect your social media accounts under the Settings menu. To do this, go back to the main menu board on the left side of your screen. Under the settings menu, select "Connect Accounts." Most of the templates will include the social media links either at the top or the bottom of your website.
If you don't automatically have a space for social media links on your selected template, you can add them manually through the Content Blocks. For example, at the bottom of your page, you can hover over and select "Editor Footer." When the Content Block shows up, the option for Social Links is towards the bottom of the menu. Remember that you need to connect all your social media accounts in your Settings before you can do this.
So what are you waiting for? Start working on your portfolio today!