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How to Generate Dozens Of Data Analytics Portfolio Project Ideas In 30 Minutes – Even If You’ve Been Through Free Coding Programs But Still Feel Stuck

Today, I’m sharing the simple 5-step framework that you can use to generate dozens of data analytics portfolio ideas in 30 minutes or less.

All you need is 5 good projects for your data analytics portfolio. Then, your portfolio can be working for you online 24×7, showcasing your skills to recruiters and hiring managers while you sleep.

But they must include the 6 critical elements:

  1. Include skills that employers want to see
  2. Solves a real-world business problem
  3. Focused on your dream industry
  4. Uses a portfolio-ready dataset
  5. Looks great online
  6. Good writing

Unfortunately, most data analysts don’t take the time to generate project ideas for their portfolio. They just work through tutorial after tutorial and don’t bother to think about their portfolio when just starting out.

Stand out from the crowd of data job seekers by creating high-quality data projects for your portfolio.

People think that it’s hard coming up with the perfect portfolio project:

  • Feeling distracted and overwhelmed with the work
  • Not sure where to find good data sets
  • Bouncing around between tutorials
  • Trouble staying motivated
  • No clue where to start
  • Time-consuming

This guide will help you quickly generate tons of ideas so you can finally get your data analytics portfolio checked off your to-do list once and for all and be ready for what’s next for your data career.

Let’s dive in!

Step 1: Focus on In-Demand Skills

The first step is picking a data analytics skill that will land you a job.

Here are the skills I recommend, based on my 15+ years working in the data industry for global financial services firms:

  1. SQL
  2. Tableau
  3. Excel
  4. Python

Not sure where to start? Pick SQL. Not into programming? Pick Tableau. Want to keep it basic? Pick Excel. Want to go more advanced? Pick Python.

What about skill XYZ?

I’m not listing every skill here. Just the ones I think are most useful.

If you have some other skill you want to showcase, that’s great! For example, PowerBI is similar to Tableau and very popular in data analytics today. Another example would be switching R for Python. That’s fine!

These are just the skills that I personally am familiar with and recommend.

Protip: get more specific

One tip if you are more advanced in your career is to get more specific with your skill.

For example, if you are looking to land a job as a Microsoft SQL server admin, then focus on T-SQL and SQL Server topics in your portfolio.

Another example would be if you wanted to be a CRM analyst. You can focus your projects on Salesforce and HubSpot data analytics.

As long as you pick a data analytics skill to showcase, you will be good.

Your assignment for Step 1:

  • Open a new note on your phone
  • Add your in-demand skill at the top

This should take you 30 seconds.

Step 2: Solve a Real-World Business Problem

Many analysts that are trying to build a data analytics portfolio get lost at this step.

Instead of solving a real-world business problem, they pick something random like the Titanic Survivors data set or something from Kaggle. While those do show off your skills, they have NOTHING to do with the real world and employers simply don’t care about what you know, they care about what you are going to do for them.

Business owners pay experts thousands of dollars every single day to solve their problems with data.

Why not you? Showing that you know how to solve real-world problems in your portfolio substantially increases your chances of landing a job in data.

Here’s a short list of example real-world business problems:

  1. Employee turnover
  2. Customer complaints
  3. Bad company reviews
  4. Operational efficiency
  5. Supply chain analytics
  6. Low sales performance
  7. Marketing performance

You get the picture. And you don’t need to overthink this step.

Your assignment for Step 2:

  • Pick one of the real-world problems listed above
  • Add it to your note

This step should take you 30 seconds.

Step 3: Pick Your Dream Industry

Now you get to bring some creativity and personality to your portfolio project.

And this is where it gets fun! Because what’s the point if we can’t have some fun along the way as we’re working? This step is where you get to research and dream a little bit.

Think about what kind of work you want to do. The great thing about data analytics is that every industry needs data people. And demand is growing!

The investment in your online data analytics portfolio today will pay off for years to come.

Here are some example industries you can pick:

  • Retail
  • Sports
  • Energy
  • Gaming
  • Fashion
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Non-profit
  • Healthcare
  • Automotive
  • Government
  • Entertainment

Next, pick your #1 favorite company in that industry.

For example, if you are interested in automotive, you might pick Tesla.

You can find out the EXACT skills that Tesla is looking for in their data analysts by looking at job descriptions.

How to find the exact skills you need for any data job

  1. Go to and search for “data + [company name]”
  2. Scan job descriptions for the skills they are looking for
  3. Write them down somewhere

For example,

Here’s exactly what Tesla wants to hire for. If you want to work at Tesla, this is what you need to know:

  • SQL
  • Excel
  • Python

Simply reverse engineer existing job descriptions and start with that.

Your assignment for Step 3:

  • Go to indeed․com
  • Search “data + COMPANY”
  • Browse job postings
  • Look for skills required
  • Add those to your note

This should take you 2 minutes.

This should be a huge motivation to help you finish your portfolio:

  • no more endless tutorials • no more random projects • no more bouncing around • no more listening to expert opinions

If it’s not in your note, you can COMPLETELY skip it!

Here’s what I mean:

One of the most common questions is which data tech is better:

  • R vs. Python
  • Tableau vs. PowerBI
  • MySQL vs. PostgreSQL

The answer is in RIGHT the job description.

You want to work there. They want to hire you.

Your portfolio is the key that unlocks the opportunity.

Step 4: Find A Portfolio-Ready Dataset

There are zillions of free datasets online but most of them suck for portfolio projects.

Instead, you want something that solves a real-world business problem like we reviewed earlier.

Rather than search endlessly for the “perfect” dataset you can use one that’s “portfolio-ready” and save yourself a ton of time and frustration (and actually get your portfolio completed!)

Your assignment for Step 4:

Not sure where to start? The HR data set is a good one.

At this point you should a note on your phone with:

  • One in-demand skill to focus on
  • One business problem to solve
  • One dream job posting
  • One good data set

Remember: this isn’t a “marriage decision”. You can change things up in the future. But for now, it’s important just to get this first project completed and added to your portfolio.

Here’s what our example looks like:

Step 5: Generate Dozens of Portfolio Project Ideas

The final step is to mix and match all of the work you did in the first 4 steps.

  • Pick a tech
  • Pick a skill
  • Pick a data set
  • Combine

Here are 4 example project ideas I generated using this method in less than 5 minutes.

Project Idea #1:

Use SQL to create a data pipeline (ETL):

  1. Import the HR dataset into MySQL
  2. Create some metrics
  3. Export to CSV

Project Idea #2

Use Tableau to:

  1. Connect to the call center CSV
  2. Create a few charts and graphs
  3. Combine them into a dashboard

Project Idea #3

Use Excel to:

  1. Import the help desk dataset
  2. Combine with another dataset
  3. Create an analysis

Project Idea #4:

Use Python to:

  1. Import the complaints CSV
  2. Create some data frames
  3. Export to a PostgreSQL database

Now you have a long list of project ideas.

Just be sure that every idea has the critical parts:

  1. In-demand skills
  2. Solves a real-world business problem
  3. Dream industry

Once you get rolling, you should be able to generate a new idea in 2-3 minutes. With a bit of practice, you’ll have dozens of ideas for your portfolio project.

From here, you can narrow down to 5 projects that you’ll actually create. To do this, listen internally. Which project ideas jump out to you?

Listen to those and dig in.

As I was going through this exercise, I landed on project idea #4:

  • I want to share more advanced skills
  • Python is mentioned in the job posting
  • It combines two skills (Python & SQL)

You should now have 5 perfect project ideas. And you can generate dozens more any time.

That’s it – see you again next week!

Whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:

  1. View all past issues of my newsletter here.
  2. If you’re ready to build your online data analytics portfolio, my 14-day Data Analytics Portfolio Playbook is for you.
  3. If you want actionable data analytics advice on your specific situation, book a 1:1 coaching session with me today.

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