Austin, TX

How (and Why) to Build a Free Google Portfolio Site for Your Austin Side Gig

Melinda Crow

It’s one more building block in your marketing plan

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You need lots of pieces to build a marketing plan.Photo by Xavi Cabrera on Unsplash

AUSTIN, TEXAS--I recently wrote about managing the digital gatekeepers (bots) that control how many eyeballs your business attracts. Rule #7 of that story advises you to Be known. Building a Google writing portfolio is an easy step you can take toward that objective. Promoting your side-gig in Austin is rarely free, but this option is.

Why bother?

I’m of the “be seen everywhere” school of thought. When Coca-Cola launches a new product, do they simply put it on store shelves and wait for sales? Of course not. They launch with billboards, television ads, social media fanfare, and maybe even a sweepstakes. They know that to reach the widest audience you must increase your visibility in every way possible.

And you can scrap that old marketing rule that a customer must see your product seven times before they commit to you or your product. With today’s multitude of platforms and short attention spans, you could potentially need hundreds of encounters before your small business name sticks in a human mind and thousands before you are “known” by bots.

But if we live under the assumption that the best way to scatter your image across the greatest number of places revolves around Google, why not start there, using their own product to show them exactly who you are? And even if it only helps a fraction, since it’s both free and easy, there’s really no reason not to give it a go.

I built mine in under an hour.

Here’s the step-by-step

The first step obviously, is to have a Google account. If you have Gmail, you’ve got an account. If not, start with that.

Step 2

Visit https://sites.google.com/new. You’ll have an option to start with a blank site or use a template. If you’re new to web design, or if you just want to speed the process along, choose a template. I used the Portfolio template. Don’t fear the template, because you’ll have plenty of customization options once you get rolling. The tools on the right side of the page are pretty intuitive but start with something basic like adding your own image in place of the one the template provides and a sentence or two about yourself.

To delete the image, click it. A small toolbar appears above it. Use the garbage can to delete. Add yours using the Images tool under the Insert tab in the right-side toolbar.

Step 3

Clear out the stuff in the template you don’t plan to use right away. I used the garbage can button on the left to delete most of the pre-made sections, primarily because I didn’t intend to create a presentation at the time of my build. Maybe later. I saved the second empty section under my headshot for my social links (see Step 4)

I also hid the About and Project pages to simplify things. Do that by clicking where it says Pages at the top of the right sidebar. Then click the three vertical dots beside each page and either delete if you never intend to use them or choose Hide from navigation to keep them in the background.

Step 4

Use a text box with links to your social accounts or anywhere someone looking for more of your stuff can find you. I put mine near the top; you may decide to add them at the bottom. Either way, simply use the text box feature from the right sidebar tools. Type your text, highlight, then click CTRL + K to open a link box to insert your hyperlink.

Step 5

Play with the themes, fonts, and colors now that you have a smidge of content in place. Do that by clicking Themes at the top of the right sidebar. Find a design that works for you and compliments the photo of yourself you inserted near the top of the page. You did that, right? Don’t be bashful. This page is about you.

Step 6

Start adding some examples of your work. You can insert images and text, linking them manually as I did for the two Medium stories beneath my social links, or you can use the tools provided.

I inserted a couple of YouTube videos on using the tool for that from the list in the right toolbar. All I needed to do was search for my name and it found my videos.

For my podcast link, I used the Embed <> tool with the code provided by Anchor on my home page. Next to that (or below if you are viewing it on a small device), is a link to a Medium article for which I again used the embed tool and provided nothing more than the link. It preformatted the image and text for me and automatically linked it.

This option works with some sites, but not all. You’ll notice the link to one of my Cruise Critic stories is essentially a miniature version of the entire page from that website. You’ll be presented with that as an option in most cases when you enter hyperlinks with the Embed <> tool.

Step 7

Play with a header and footer if you want. Neither of these is necessary, the site will work fine without them. For the header, scroll over the top of your page where an Add header option appears. You’ll have choices of header type and the ability to add an image. For simplicity’s sake, I opted to use my Twitter header for now. It’s a little narrow, but it adds a nice splash of color to the page until I can create a targeted header on Canva. I chose the large banner option to take full advantage of the size of my image.

You can skip adding an image and simply use text or add a logo using the option that appears for that when you scroll over the left upper corner.

The footer works the same way. All I added was a copyright notice. The space can be built out later with additional contact info or navigation links if you expand the site.

Step 8

Hit the Publish button in the upper right corner. Have no fear, almost no one will find the site anytime soon, so you’ve got plenty of time to play around more and to proof your copy.

And you’re done

That wasn’t so bad, was it? There are tons of additional options like using a custom domain name and linking the page to your Google Analytics page. Those are found in the settings.

The more I play around, the more I find that I’d like to work on later. What I produced in under an hour is by no means a top-notch website. But for now, I have accomplished what I set out to do: I’ve told Google who I am, what I write about, and I’ve created one more billboard with my name on it. Hopefully, you will too.

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Available as an accomplice to your capers. Let's break out of our chains together. Writing about #travel, #business, #writing, #publishing, and #life.

Waco, TX
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