Building My Portfolio Website Using Divi
￼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.
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.
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.
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!
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.