Photographers Attention! Move Your Portfolio to ‘CLOUD’ in 2020!

Say goodbye to boring website templates!

Let’s tailor-made your unique professional online portfolio on CLOUD!

Along with the innovation of technologies, and under the outbreak of COVID-19. ‘Go Online’ become a must in various types of businesses, which is including the art & creativity industries. ‘Art Tech’ became a hot topic starting from late 2019. So, as an artist,a photographer, how can you start apply technologies onto your professions? In this article, I will share how I create this online portfolio from nothing to everything on Alibaba Cloud with WordPress.

Before you continue reading, I have to emphasize, this method is the hardest way to construct your online portfolio, especially when you compare it with Wix.com, Adobe Portfolio, Format, SquareSpace, or any other ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) platform. These platform either too expensive, or only provide limited and boring templates. And you can’t expand any unique further functions in the future.

However, the method that I am going to show you, it can truly provide unlimited possibilities on how you expand your portfolio. So, if you want to know more about how to tailor-made an unique and professional online portfolio, I highly suggest you take a few minutes to keep reading.

Choose A Domain Name

First of all, once you are decided to build up your online portfolio. A domain, is a must before you begin doing anything. A domain, is the most important signature of your online portfolio. So, think carefully, and choose the perfect domain name for your website. Then, you can purchase your domain on many platform. For me, I purchased my domain on GoDaddy, because somehow I found it is a little bit cheaper when compared to other platform.

Buy A Cloud Server

There are many cloud solution service providers on the market. For example, Alibaba Cloud (Alibaba), Huawei Cloud, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services Cloud (AWS), Microsoft Azure. After a brief research and comparisons, I decided to use Alibaba as my cloud service provider. Why? There are two main reasons, first, it is cheaper! Second, it allows my online portfolio can be access from different regions and markets.

Receive an unbelievable discount offer from Alibaba!

When you access to Alibaba International website, you will need to register an account. Go to the page ‘Elastic Compute Service’ (ECS), and click into ‘Free Trail’. Then, you will see there are two options for ECS, select ‘Burstable Type t5 – 1 Core CPU – 1 GB Memory – 12 Months Free Trial’.

Or, if you decided directly purchase an ECS for future usage, click ‘Buy Now’. Please refer to the following image for quick launch settings. First, select your region. I suggest you select the nearest location from you, to ensure the speed and user experiences of your online portfolio. Second, select the type of ECS. Again, go for the basic one, ‘1 vCPU 1 GiB’. Third, select the Image, this part please choose ‘CentOS 7.7 64-bit’. The rest can simply follow the setting in the image below. For duration, I will suggest directly go for 1 year, rather than pay by month. It is because if you select 1 year, it just cost you around US$110/year and you will enjoy 15% off discount.

That’s it, now you can have a personal cloud server ready for the next step!

Set Up Your Server

After you got your own server ready, it’s time to set up your server environment. In this point, I highly recommend a panel called ‘aaPanel’, because it is free of charge and you can manage many setup within ‘One Single Click’. But, how to install aaPanel onto your server? No worry, it’s simple! Go back to Alibaba and login to your account.

Go to your account console, select ‘Elastic Compute Service’ (ECS), then you will see your server control panel. Go to ‘Security Group’.

And fill in the following security group rules as shown in the image below:

Go back to the server control panel, click ‘Connect’:

Login to your server SSH (login name & password should be refer to the setting when you purchase the server).

Once you are successfully login to your server SSH, you will need to import the following command:

yum update

yum install -y wget && wget -O install.sh http://www.aapanel.com/script/install_6.0_en.sh && bash install.sh

When it appears ‘Do you want to install aaPanel to the/www directory now? (Y/N):’, please type a letter:

y

Wait for the basic installation process of aaPanel until it is finished and a success message appears like this:

===========================
Congratulations! Install succeeded!
aaPanel: https://000.000.000.000:8888/rprprp
username: rprprp
password: 123qweasd

Afterwards, you can setup the LNMP / LAMP server environment in one mouse click, personally I prefer LNMP. Then you can go to the APP store menu and look for WordPress installation. For further steps and actions on ‘aaPanel’, please kindly refer to the article on PC-Mind (click here), it will explain the whole process in an easier way than I do, including setup LNMP, install WordPress, and apply for SSL. Or go to Google and search ‘install WordPress on aaPanel’.

Remark: Before you apply for SSL, remember to point your domain to your server IP.

Point Your Domain To The Server

Now, I suppose you will see the WordPress install page when you access to your IP address on the internet.

Simply follow the instruction to complete the installation process.

After you completed install WordPress, hold on a minute, because you have to point the domain you have bought to your server IP. This step is very important, otherwise, you will be unable to access your online portfolio from your domain name.

Take GoDaddy as an example, go to your domain, and get into ‘DNS Manager’. Press ‘ADD’ in the bottom right corner. This will add a new row to the list of DNS records which will allow you to choose which type of record you want to add.

Choose ‘A’ from the drop-down.

After you choose ‘A’, three more fields will appear – Host, Points to and TTL. The ‘Host’ field should only contain the ‘@’ symbol, while the ‘Points to’ field is where you add your Hosting Server IP. You can find the IP of your hosting server at your Hosting Provider’s dashboard. If in doubt, reach out to your Hosting Provider’s support team.

The TTL is the abbreviation of Time-To-Live. In this case the TTL is 1 hour which means that this A record gets re-validated every hour. You should leave this at 1 Hour.

Regardless of the TTL value, it might take some time for the changes to take effect. This can last up to 36 hours and this is something we call the ‘propagation time’. It was named like that because it takes some time for the DNS change to propagate through the network and get updated in all registrars.

Back to WordPress backend, go to ‘Settings’, change ‘WordPress Address (URL)’ and ‘Site Address (URL)’. Now, you will be able to access your online portfolio from your domain name. And you can also go back to ‘aaPanel’ to apply for a free SSL certificate.

Time To Design And Create

Now, everything is already, you can say goodbye to those boring templates and begin to design and create your unique online portfolio. For me, I had chosen ‘Astra’ as the theme base of my website, and I recommend use it with the following plugins:

  • Akismet Anti-Spam
  • All In One SEO Pack
  • All In One WP Security
  • Easy Yandex Share
  • Elementor
  • Elementor Pro
  • Elementor Timeline Widget
  • GDPR Cookie Consent
  • Health Check & Troubleshooting
  • Hide/Remove Metadata
  • MC4WP: Mailchimp for WordPress
  • Post SMTP
  • ShortPixel Image Optimizer
  • Site Kit by Google
  • TranslatePress – Multilingual
  • UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
  • W3 Total Cache

It’s easy to install plugins directly on WordPress. Go to ‘Plugins’, ‘Add New’, search the plugin you want, install it, activate it, and done. Please noted that you will need to pay US$59 / year for ‘Elementor Pro’, but it’s worth. The rest plugins just go for the free version are absolutely fine.

Besides, remember to register an account on Google Analytics (GA) and Mailchimp. GA allows you to track and analysis the performance and data about your online portfolio, such as the number of people who visited your website, the location of these people, etc. For Mailchimp, it’s an external customers relationship management system (CRM), you can enjoy a free package for the first 2,000 customers contact. It allows you to manage your online portfolio subscribers, create e-mail direct marketing campaign (EDM), and analysis the performance of each campaign.

I suggest you better spend more times in experiment on this part, study and try out some basic functions of each plugins. Of course, there are so many other useful plugins on WordPress. You may search on Google and find out the best plugins to create your online portfolio.

So, enjoy yourself and have fun!

Speed Up Your Online Portfolio

If you are only target a small area of people, or people who are living in the same country, you may skip this part. However, if you are intended to share your online portfolio around the world, you will need to ensure the speed of your website, because site speed will directly affect the user experiences of your online portfolio. Content Distribution Network (CDN) is one of the best solution in this case.

Go back to your Alibaba account console, go to the list of all products. Under ‘Storage & CDN’, you will see ‘Alibaba Cloud CDN’. Activate the CDN service, add your domain, verify the ownership of your domain name by edit a DNS CNAME record to your ‘DNS Manager’.

Remark: Once you added a CNAME record to your ‘DNS Manager’, you will no longer need the ‘A’ record. Otherwise the CDN will not accelerate your website if you keep both ‘A’ & ‘CNAME’ records on your ‘DNS Manager’.

All Done! Congratulations!

You had successfully tailor-made your unique professional online portfolio. Now is time to upload your projects, images, and related contents onto the website. Then you are ready to showcase your awesome portfolio to the world through different online channels within a second. And you can always upgrade your cloud server and online portfolio anytime you need to, basically you are taking full control of your online portfolio with a super low cost! The disadvantage is you need extra time to learn something originally beyond your professions, but it’s worth to do so!

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