For those freelancers in the world of development who want to start building a portfolio, knowing where to start can be tricky.
Whether you want to share your work with a non-technical client or you’re a junior developer who started to learn to code but haven’t worked on any projects yet, what’s the best alternative to a website portfolio?
Some of our YunoJuno freelance developers recently shared how they have showcased their development skills and how they felt about various industry tools.
Is the most obvious option the best?
For anyone outside the developer community, you may not be familiar with GitHub, the open-source code-hosting platform that lets developers store and show their code. GitHub is often suggested to new or more junior developers as a good starting platform to flex coding muscles. It can however feel a bit confusing or overwhelming for the non-techy hiring managers or potential clients.
There’s an ongoing conversation within the community about the use of GitHub as a portfolio. Freelance Web and App developer, Darren Barklie shared his thoughts about using GitHub for his professional development: “ I use my GitHub account for both private and public work."
"I publish public repositories to complement blog posts, which I have recently started authoring as I learn and adopt new technologies. It can showcase many skills an employer/hirer might assess: technical ability, written communication, willingness to learn, and pace of delivery.”
In contrast, Senior developer Paul Hammond feels GitHub is valuable but limited in representing the type of code he encounters in real life: "It's an interesting conversation. I can see the value for some people, particularly developers newer to the industry when it comes to using Github as a form of a technical CV. However, for many more senior developers, the trend to see Github in this way is a bit frustrating. GitHub is an extremely valuable tool, and people like myself often use it not only during work but also sometimes outside of work when we're experimenting with new tools and techniques. This is one of the ways I use the tool, and it results in me having a lot of code on there that isn't representative at all of the kind of code I would produce in a professional environment.
Paul adds: “The frustrating thing is some people will read through someone's GitHub and not know about this context and will therefore come away with potentially the wrong impression.
My own opinion on this is that it should be fine to point to certain repositories in Github as representative of professional work if the developer in question has explicitly given permission for that. Otherwise, I think it's wrong to treat Github as a technical CV, at least in all cases.”
Darren adds that GitHub doesn’t have the right level of control for creating an expansive portfolio of work: “I suppose the control mechanisms that ARE available are to make a repository either private or public and to pin a repository to your Top 6 repositories. Not a great amount of control but some.
I agree that “Public and Promoted” would be a good interim status for achieving something closer to a dev CV. Probably having a homepage where you link to your best work is the strongest option offering complete control.”
Fellow freelance Lead Full Stack Developer, Jacob Bennett, agrees with Darren and shares his own experience combining LinkedIn and GitHub for his personal portfolio:
”The pinned repositories help with this, and as well just keeping low-quality repos private."
"Also in my case as I’m mostly a backend developer, as basic as it sounds, just detailing out the projects I’ve done on LinkedIn seems to go a long way”.
So, if you’re a more senior developer, or don’t code front-end and perhaps find GitHub a bit more restrictive, what are the alternatives?
Alternative solutions for building a dev portfolio
There are some other other ways to share your great work or start a portfolio. Some of the more popular options are:
A portfolio website.
A great way to share your skills online is by designing and developing your own website. It doesn't need to be a complicated website with loads of pages, having a simplified version would work and still show off your coding skills without overwhelming or confusing potential clients.
Having a simple website is a great option for junior developers or anyone looking to go freelance and they’re not restricted to developers too. There are lots of different options available for simpler CMS sites such as WordPress, Squarespace and Wix that allow coders to get creative as they’re all open-source.
Using other open-source platforms.
There are lots of different open source platforms available for the more technical people who want to write their own code and showcase their skills in a different way.
Sites like Dev.to combine social media with portfolio features to encourage freelancers to get creative with their own work as well as share other content like podcasts, posts and links. Dev.to runs on an open source platform and, like GitHub, lets developers either contribute to the existing codebase or host their own.
If you’re a freelancer looking to network with other developers or have techy clients who will appreciate clever features etc. it might be an option worth trying.
Social media profiles.
If you’re looking to appeal to lots of different types of clients, hiring managers and fellow freelancers, using your own social media channel to promote and share your own work is another great form of a portfolio. As they’re free to use, and have millions of daily users, sharing your latest work or best project on LinkedIn or Twitter may work just as well as investing time and energy in a website.
Here's what Hannah King, Creative Frontend Developer, says about it:
As a developer, using Instagram as a platform for showcasing your work isn’t the most obvious choice, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Instagram enables me to highlight more detailed work, such as showing the way a particular element interacts. Using a mix of content like animations and testimonials can provide a great overview of your skills.
Create a YunoJuno profile.
YunoJuno profile allows you to link to your CV, Linkedin, portfolio and Github in one place and by signing up you get access to great freelance/contract job offers - and you can share it with clients who are not on YunoJuno yet. Set up one here if you haven't already.
Ultimately, portfolios are important to invest in as they show off your best pieces of work and as a freelancer or junior looking to gain more experience, a portfolio is also great practice. Being able to demonstrate your skills to clients from all industries is important if you’re starting out or want to attract some exciting new projects, so getting the platform right matters!
Got a great alternative we haven’t covered? Join in the conversation with our community of elite freelancers and contractors on Slack or social media!