A green juice box saying "Link Juice" in front of a quote bubble and a fountain pen nib.

Why You Should Combine Your Portfolio and Your Blog

Running a blog and working on a separate portfolio of your work can be rewarding, but getting people to visit both isn’t easy.

While you can publish blog articles as often as you want, it rarely drives people to see your design work unless they are really invested in you. For this reason, I decided to merge my blog and my portfolio. Here are my reasons for doing so.

You Can Scoop More Link Juice Out of the Internet

When I first heard the term “link juice”, I started to wonder: what does it taste like?

According to Moz, link juice is a term digital marketers use to describe the authority and relevance a website gains in the search engine rankings when someone links back to it. The more juice your site has, the higher in the search rankings it will get and the better it will perform.

As I was planning my new portfolio site, the answer struck me: link juice tastes like a passion fruit because that’s how it works.

The first time I had a passion fruit was in Cuba. After my study abroad media team dealt the large bag of these we got from the farmer and artist we were helping, one team member said that many people open the fruit to scoop the juice inside of it. She also said that some people drink from the fruit.

Naturally, I jammed a straw into mine.

Yes, I really did this. Photo by Ethan McElvaney.

This was a miserable experience and dumb in retrospect. As I kept sucking on the small straw, I was lucky to get a drop of juice every five minutes and kept pulling up the occasional seed. Eventually, I got frustrated and decided to open the fruit.

That’s when I realized that the juice was attached to the seeds.

The links and ranking are attached to the content. Without making your site a large enough tool to serve enough content with, you can’t build as many links that give you juice.

This is how building authority and relevance on search engines work. When you only suck out link juice with the thin straw of your best five works, you can’t get as many seeds out of Google’s fruit because there is not enough quality content.

When you use the spoon of articles and portfolio work, you get a lot more juice.

You Might Not Have a Constant Flow of Portfolio-Worthy Work

Many of us designers make tons of work in a year. However, hiring managers such as David Feldman of Heap only want to see a few of your greatest works. Most of our work is not portfolio-worthy and sometimes, clients don’t allow you to share your work on your website.

This can damage your page views and engagement because you aren’t guaranteed a constant stream of content related to your field. I know with my old portfolio, getting three views in a week was good because I wasn’t constantly giving my audience a reason to come back.

If you add a blog to your portfolio and post often, you can maintain your site viewership during periods where you’re not showing off as many great projects.

You Can Talk About Your Process More

It’s a common piece of advice to show your process, but there is only so much of it you can mention. Most employers only look at your portfolio for a minute. It is vital to create articles on for your blog on a consistent basis, but it can be challenging to come up with ideas when you’re working on other projects.

To solve both problems, you can give your audience updates on your projects whenever you can. By doing this, you get to share your progress on whatever you’re making with your audience to keep them engaged. This also lets you keep your process descriptions in your portfolio brief for employers and possible clients.

Overall, Doing This Depends On Your Content

I’ve said my reasons for merging my blog and my portfolio, but what you decide to do will depend on your blog’s content.

For example, if you are an illustrator and your blog is about drawing and concept art, you should have your portfolio and your blog on the same website because both are relevant to each other and the audience for both overlaps. If you are a car insurance marketer but you blog about Hatsune Miku, it won’t make sense.

I know I had to shave off a few articles from my blog because I no longer wanted to blog about memes and internet drama.

Where to Go From Here?

If this is the best approach for you, I highly recommend WordPress since its self-hosted version has great customizability and Built With says that 98 percent of all blogs are hosted on it (including mine). 

As with everything about SEO, this is just one part of the equation. Google’s experts and algorithms look for multiple measures of site quality and relevance that require many different site improvements and constant vigilance. At the same time, combining your blog and portfolio can be a great first step to making your site as successful as it can be in the search results. 

Ethan McElvaney

A eLearning developer and civic tech designer with several years of digital media experience. I aim to make engaging training for healthcare, civic, and education professionals so they can do their best work. I also like volunteering with Code for America, hiking, and playing action role-playing games.