T he final step to setting up your professional portfolio is to integrate your other interaction on the Web into your portfolio with services, plug-ins, links, embedded objects, and images in order to begin spreading the word about your site.
You have already done some integration when you began participating through blog entries and comments. Some of you have already embedded YouTube videos and photos from Flickr. This is part of what I’m talking about when I say “integration.” I’ll discuss these further below, but first you need to set up some additional services.
You should already have some experience with RSS, “real simple syndication” or “rich site summary.” Whether you know it or not, if you are using WordPress, you already have an RSS feed for your portfolio which allows Web users to subscribe to your portfolio updates with an RSS reader, like Google Reader or Bloglines. However, the built-in feed in WP is rather basic, so we want to jazz it up a bit with Feedburner, a service that allows you to add all sorts of options to a simple feed. See Feed 101 for more information and guidance. I’ll leave the configuration of your feed up to you, but leave your new feed URL in a comment below when you’ve set it up.
Next, it’s convenient to know just who is visiting your portfolio. For this, Google has the Analytics service. Not only does this service give you an incredible amount of information about who’s clicking through your site, it also analyzes that traffics and gives you tips on how to improve it. In order to install Analytics on your site, I suggest using the easy WP plugin. You might also consider a Google webmaster account. It will help with further optimization.
The more traffic that comes to your site, the more possibility you have of landing a job. However, you also have the potential to earn money right from your site with affiliate accounts, like Commission Junction, Amazon, and Google AdSense. I recommend starting with one, like Amazon, and getting a feel for advertisements. The trick is to use these ads subtly. Remember, you are putting together a professional portfolio, so it should not have garish ads on every page. This will turn prospective employers off, as it will your casual reader. Avoid pop-up ads at all costs. Try to incorporate ads into your site so that they are unobtrusive. Now I’m not suggesting you be deceitful and try to hide your ads, as this is dubious at best. Just be subtle. Don’t go nuts.
I already pointed you to the Google Analytics plugin for WP, but you might be interested in more. Plug-ins are an easy way to spiff up your site and integrate our other Web accounts, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Delicious, and Flickr (to name but a few). Your choice of plug-ins will, of course, depend on what you do. One generic plug-in that illustrates integration through plug-ins very well is Lifestream. This plug-in displays the feeds from your social networks (yes, even Facebook has RSS) in a post or the side bar of your site.
Most, if not all, media sharing sites, like Vimeo and Flickr, all you to embed content you have posted on their site to your own. If you are a videographer, it would make sense to have YouTube videos embedded in blog entries or pages of your site. If you are a photographer, embedded images from Flickr would be more apropos. If you are an educator, you might have PDFs from Scribd embedded in your site. These are just examples, and, again, it’s up to you and the nature of your site. Everyone should have some embedded material in their portfolios, in side bars, footers, entries, or pages.
Don’t Go Overboard
One final thought about integration: moderation should be practiced. Yes, most of us have a Facebook account, but that personal material might not be appropriate for a professional portfolio. Consider integration carefully, just like you would anything you post to your portfolio. In evaluation, I will look for the appropriateness and execution of integrated services, plug-ins, and multimedia.