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Building My Portfolio Website Using Divi

Posted on July 7 by in Customer Spotlight | 36 comments

Building My Portfolio Website Using Divi

This post is part of our Customer Spotlight series. If you have an interesting story to tell and would like to share your experience with WordPress and Elegant Themes on our blog, please contact us!

My name is Dan Carr and I’m a British­-born commercial, editorial and fine art photographer from Whistler in British Columbia. Nearly ten years ago I completed a degree in Aerospace Engineering on the South Coast of England but shortly afterwards, a trip to Canada changed my whole life. That trip was to the ski resort town of Whistler, alpine host of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and it was there that I discovered my passion for photography. The dramatic natural landscape of the Canadian mountains just begged to be photographed so I bought my first digital camera and haven’t looked back since.

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The Need For A Portfolio Website

When I decided to pursue photography as a career I quickly realized that I needed some sort of online portfolio website, the modern day business card. I picked up the dummies guide to Dreamweaver and cobbled together a simple HTML site with my contact details and, at the time, a Flash based gallery slider to display a few images on the front page. It was a simple site, but the design was quick and clean and as I made a name for myself in the industry it proved to be an invaluable tool to get peoples attention with when I sent them a first e­Mail introduction. Short of the slider, a quick bio and my contact details, there was nothing else on the website.

SEO Optimization Leads To WordPress

After a few years working with the simple portfolio I began to be interested in the potential benefits of Search Engine Optimization. At the time there was a lot of talk about blogging and the increase in SEO that you could get from more frequent site content with targeted keywords. Much of my work back then was in the winter sports industry and I set out with the goal to rank highly in Google for the term “ski photography” by switching to WordPress and starting a blog to detail my winter adventures. Within 6 months I ranked #1 in Google results for my chosen keywords if you searched in North America and it brought in a number of great new clients for me. Much to my surprise, it also began to generate a lot of traffic from people who were curious to see my latest images. Note that now my work is far broader I no longer target that specific keyword though just in case you went looking.

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The power of WordPress plugins allowed me to capitalize on this traffic quickly by easily monetizing my blog with affiliates and AdSense, as well as driving people to the then newly­-developing social media sites. Not only did WordPress help me to reach a wider audience and generate new photography business leads, but it also turned into a great passive second income as well. A totally unexpected benefit, and a welcome one at that for a self­-employed freelancer.

Mobile Optimization and Divi 2.0

When I first switched to WordPress, Smartphones were still a thing of the future but these days even a cursory glance at your site’s analytics will tell you that a large proportion of your site’s visitors are coming from mobile devices. Over the years, I’d taught myself the basic ins and outs of WordPress by slowly modifying my original theme but it wasn’t responsive so the mobile viewing experience was very poor. I knew I needed to change to a mobile responsive theme at some point but it took me a long time and many months of research to find the perfect solution; Divi. In fact when I did find it, Divi 2.0 was on the horizon so I held back on an update until it was launched.

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Why Divi 2.0 though? I wanted to created a site that was unique! In my research for a new theme I browsed hundreds of websites and after a while it became easy to pick out which themes people were using. I’m a creative person and I wanted to use some of that creativity to craft a site that was really mine, not just drag and drop images into a template. The page builder in Divi 2.0 was the key to this, allowing me to put together creative effects like that which you can see on my “About” page, or quickly add full width maps like that on my contact page. Remember, I’ve never had any formal web development training so to be able to create eye-­catching and unique designs like this with creative use of simple modules is an incredibly powerful concept. After only a few hours of installing Divi 2.0 I’d already got 95% of the way to what you see on there today. Much of the remaining 5% can be attributed to the excellent support forum here on Elegant Themes.

A little advice…

If you want to create a more customized look to your Divi site then learning the basics of CSS is a real time­-saver when it comes to changing simple things like sidebar widths, font sizing and colors. It’s also important to apply these changes to your own custom child theme and there is an excellent tutorial on the blog here which is how I learned all about that. Take a look around my site, and head to the blog section as well which has a slightly different look to it. Everything you are seeing on the site has been created by me, someone with only a basic knowledge of WordPress and CSS and no formal web development training whatsoever. With Divi and a little creative thinking, almost anything is possible!

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Follow­Up

I’m sure that a lot of you will head to my site and take a look around. If you’re anything like me when it comes to snooping around people’s WordPress sites then you’ll probably be curious about some of the plugins I’m using. The extra icing on top of the already awesome Divi 2.0 cake. There isn’t enough room here to go into all the details about that but to preempt this question, I’ve put together a follow­-up post on my blog where I list all the useful plugins that I’m using.

If you have any questions at all, leave them below and I’ll come back regularly to answer them.


36 Comments

  1. I love the photography and the website is yet another example of how powerful this theme is. Good call on creating the follow-up post about the plugins too, because I was going to ask what you were using :)

    Rock on!

    • Haha I knew it! Thanks Adam.

      • Great post and agree about the follow up post great to have an idea of plugins etc. I have bookmarked to come back to later!!

        Thank you!

        • You are very welcome.

  2. Very nice Page! I just start working on my page with Divi, hope I will get such a amazing page like yours….

  3. Great website Dan, looks uber-pro (did I just actually write such a pretentious hybrid word, oof!)

    I’m working on changing our site to this theme and this has inspired me to get with it, once I get some client work out the way. Tremendous site,

    J

  4. Great post, had already found your site Dan and was already in awe of your work, great to see such a nice interpretation of Divi2.0. Thanks also for the follow up link, useful plugin list, a few there I just might try;)

  5. I love how Divi’s subtle design doesn’t steal any attention from your photos. Loving the pic of the 911.

    Off to check out your site!

    • Thanks William! 911 is such a classic shape eh?!

  6. I love the use of the conditional use plugin, I actually discovered that plugin last week. It very helpful :)

    • Very handy isn’t it James! My blog and portfolio section are quite different because of it.

  7. Hi Dan
    “…cobbled together a simple HTML site with my contact details and, at the time, a Flash based gallery slider to display a few images on the front page. ”

    Those were the day eh.

    I pretty much started the same way, seems like I spent most of my time looking for CSS hacks for all the bugs in Internet Explorer.

    Looks as though we’ve both come a long way since then but one thing I do miss about the old html sites… boy were they fast.

    • They were that!

  8. Awesome work, Dan. I´m really impressed. Thank u for showing it!!!

    • Thanks for the kind words Miguel!

  9. I love your blog part, so intuitive and the valued plugins you shared. Cheers :)

    • Thanks I’m glad you enjoyed the additional information :)

  10. Beautiful interpretation of Divi 2! Good job!

    • Cheers Elise!

  11. Oh! I am going to test this plugin for my new site, i hope it will be stable! Thanks!

  12. Great use of Divi, Your site looking simply with awesome look. Such a nice creation Dan.

    • Thank you Dipak, very kind of you :)

  13. Thanks for the advice and I learn a lot form your post and blog especially the list of plugins. I also found Divi to be very helpful and easy for a non-developer like me. Great post.

    • Thanks Danzel! Have fun experimenting with Divi!

  14. Great Post Dan, love the site, love the follow up post and most importantly really felt your enthusiasm coming through.

    GREAT POST :)

    • I’m glad you thought that Mark! I really an enthusiastic about what Divi has enabled me to do. Not so long ago this is the kind of site I could only have dreamed of, or paid tens of thousands of dollars for! Divi is empowering if you look at it with your creative cap on.

    • Thank you Laurel, you’re too kind :)

  15. I really like your site. I’ve converted my own site over to Divi recently. It’s not up to par with yours, tho. I have been using CSS based on the snippets the support team puts in the support forum. Is there a CSS manual somewhere that just has the code and what it is supposed to do? That would be very beneficial.

    • I don’t think there is so much a “manual” but there is a TON of information out there on the internet.

  16. Discovered Dan’s website this weekend and spent some time on it (and looking at the source code and a camera he recommends). Divi is an extraordinary WP theme perfect for showcasing Dan’s extraordinary photography. Thanks Dan for sharing the plug-ins, your work and your story.
    Cheers!

    • Thank you Barbara!!! So kind. I’m glad you found the plugin post useful too :)

  17. DCP and Shutter Muse are both really, really nice. I’m new to Divi and it’s fun to see it put to such great use. On the DCP home page, may I ask where the images came from, the ones you use in the blurbs?

    • Nevermind, found them!

  18. Nice site Dan! Divi looks interesting from the article and the theme demo… hmmm :P

  19. Dan this is probably the most useful information I’ve seen online in months!! I’m using Divi now and just getting into it and it’s great! I’ve been looking for more users to get tips from and I found your site today. Thanks!

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