Advice for Getting Hired as an Instructional Designer or eLearning Programmer #6: Set Up a Portfolio Page
We get so many requests from visitors on the best way to break into the field of instructional design or eLearning design and programming. Our advice so far has been around being learner focused, be completely comfortable with adult learning concepts, learn an authoring tool (beyond the basics of course), learn to write good objectives and to be positive that your efforts will see results.
However, the last thing we need to add to the list is this: build yourself a portfolio page. It needs to be online and accessible and show off only your very best work – no filler ever – only the very best. A lot of people want to show off every piece of work they’ve ever created, including the stuff they did in college, on their first job and for clients who just wanted something finished without a fuss. These elements are not portfolio worthy.
Think about artists and photographers. These creatives take 10,000 photos at a wedding and deliver 250. Why? Artists paint hours every day, but only the top 10% make it to their web site and 1% ever get sold. Why? Because only the best will do. Be a merciless cutter and culler and pull down everything that doesn't make you a unique start.
At Five Square Learning, we complete hundreds of learning programs a year for clients. Most is traditional, safe, stable, quality work. But, it’s not portfolio worthy. A rotating 3d building with clickable assets, a video game build in the Unity Game Engine, a wheel of points game, a simulation with changing variables that works differently based on learner input – these are portfolio worthy! Show them off.
But remember, what works in our portfolio probably won’t work in yours. Your portfolio needs to be the things that you are most proud of. But, don’t upload the entire program. Highlight only what you want the reviewer to see. No one is going to go through your sixty-minute sample to find the good stuff – remove everything else but that cool interaction you built or the cool video segment you created. Cull, cull, cull and focus only on the very best.
We were asked to mentor a group of budding eLearning developers and our President, Thomas Toth, created this process for creating a portfolio. It’s here for your reference.
Setup a Wordpress site
- Go to Godaddy.com and find a cool URL. Try your name with and without hyphens.
- Buy the domain.
- Either buy the GoDaddy web hosting or find and setup hosting. For a long time we used https://www.siteground.com because they are cheap and easy to use
- Follow the tutorials on your hosting company’s site to link your URL to the new web host
- Install Wordpress on your new host.
Setup your Theme
- Pick your favorite color
- Go to https://themeforest.net/category/wordpress
- Choose the Creative category and search for your favorite color - my favorite color is blue and when I searched, this one came up. Coincidence? I don’t think so: https://themeforest.net/item/milton-multipurpose-creative-wordpress-theme/20351024
- Pick one, any one. Seriously. You are going to beat it up pretty good. Ignore all the obviously stock images, you are going to replace them with your own.
- Set up the following pages: Home, About Me, Portfolio of Work, Contact Me
- Home is a cool picture, a paragraph about your work, your passion, what you like to do, thank you for visiting etc.
- About Me - who you are and what you do and the ability to view and download your resume
- Portfolio of work - two sections - eLearning and traditional work – have two pages. Create a thumbnail image of the work with a brief description of what they are about to view. Include the client name/employer name if appropriate. A description of the project and exactly what YOU did. On click, show the work in a PDF or if eLearning, launch the program or the snippet or the select slides. I would recommend at least six of each samples - six eLearning samples and six traditional samples
- The Contact Me page has your contact information and a link to download your resume
Don’t overthink it. Don’t wring your hands. And don’t expect it to be perfect. But, GET something UP so that you can show your work. The only way you are going to get hired by anyone is by having samples of your work. The method above will take you a day to get it done, especially if you know WordPress. Later, you can add more samples, maybe add a blog, maybe add a section of photos of you speaking or working, but the 9 steps above is the bare bones basics that will get a portfolio up and running.
Good luck and we hope that this series has been helpful for you! Contact us if you would love a portfolio review of if you have any other questions about becoming a great ID or eLearning developer!