I'm building a writing portfolio and need some ideas for a nice theme. What would you suggest?
you could take inspiration from here - 20 Fantastic Portfolio Designs « Designussion: Design discussion, Inspiration and More…
or use 1 of these free templates - 11 Free Wordpress Portfolio Themes « Designussion: Design discussion, Inspiration and More…
I think it would look a bit desperate or cheezy to put ads on your protfolio. But thats my opinion.
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I hate telling other exactly how to design their website, as we're all web designers and we all have our own preferences for design. However what I would say for your portfolio is to Google inspirational porfolio sites or collection of portfolio web designs, you'll find tons and tons of articles pop up for inspiration. There are so many web design blogs which post these list-style posts to their site to draw in traffic, but in reality the collection of designs they showcase really can help whenever you've got some creative block with web design.
Post up for finished design if you can, I'd be interested to see it. Best of luck