Portfolio on a Budget: Tumblr

Tumblr is a microblogging platform that is similar to WordPress in some ways, but without the hassle of using a content management system. On the other hand, you have less control over how your portfolio site looks and functions, though there are many themes for you to choose from. If you’re just looking to upload your projects, then Tumblr is worth looking at.

Tumblr is also a social networking site, allowing you to connect with fellow graphic designers and build a following. The ability to reblog your content is one of Tumblr’s most powerful features — it’s possible to reach out to thousands of people with a single post and turn your brand into an overnight success if one of your designs goes viral. As such, even if you already have a portfolio site, it’s never a bad idea to include Tumblr as part of your marketing strategy.

Let’s go through the steps to create your portfolio site on Tumblr.

Creating an Account

When creating your free account, be aware that the username you choose will be used as part of your address. So if your username is fraphicus, then the address you link to clients will be fraphicus.tumblr.com. In other words, you should use your brand name as your username.

Choosing Your GenresCheck out Related Posts

You will then be asked to select 5 genres that you’re interested in. Naturally, choose those that involve the visual arts, such as design and illustration. From there, Tumblr will personalize your dashboard so related posts are displayed to you. Each post also allows you to follow, share, like and reblog. You can also Talk to a Tumblr and reach out to designers and illustrators that inspire you.

Edit AppearanceEdit Theme

With the social aspect out of the way, it’s time to focus on creating your portfolio site. A default theme (Optica in this example) is already chosen for you, but you definitely want something that looks more professional, so go to Edit Appearance and Edit Theme.

Browse ThemesThemes Page

Here, you will be able to customize appearance and theme options. However, the focus for now is to browse through the many free themes available and pick one that works best for your site. You can see a few on the sidebar, but most of them are displayed under Themes. There are categories to narrow down your search, while price tags differentiate the free and premium themes. You also have the ability to preview each theme before installing.


In this example, we will be choosing a theme with a Grid layout, since it’s great for displaying images and photos — ideal for a portfolio site. Bazice is clean and has features such as infinite scrolling, so let’s go with that.

Add Post

After installing the theme, notice how empty your site looks at the moment. It’s time to upload a few projects. Go to your dashboard and Make a Post (located on the top right). There are 7 post options to choose from, but Photo will probably be the best one for you.

Add PhotosCreating a Project

You can then upload the images and photos related to the project, and add a caption if desired. Also, be sure to include relevant tags so your post is easily searchable. Once done, you can either post now or schedule it for later.

Customizing Appearance

After adding a few projects, things look more substantial, making it easier for you to edit the theme. Again, go to Edit Theme and play around with the options to get the exact look you want.

It’s easy to create your portfolio site for free on Tumblr. In addition, the social features makes Tumblr a great choice, especially if you’re just starting out as a freelance graphic designer and looking to get the word out there about your services.

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