Posted by Fred Galik on February 16, 2016
If you’re a creative professional looking for work, you know that the first (and maybe the last) thing a potential employer or client is going to want to see is your portfolio. The quickest and simplest way to create a professional looking and visually appealing platform for your work is to register for one of the many portfolio-hosting websites out there.
Which one? Well, that’s tough to say. When we spoke to some of our own designers, we got a range of different answers. However, the most common answer was to try to put your work on more than one of these sites.
Not only are most of them easy to use (i.e., you don’t have to be a web designer or know how to write code), but many of them already have a built-in network of potential clients and employers who come there to find top creative talent for specific roles and projects.
These Aren’t the Only Sites You Need to Be On
A presence on a portfolio hosting website is only one component of a well-rounded self-promotion and career advancement strategy for creatives. While there’s a greater chance that a wider audience will see your work on an online hosting portfolio site than on your personal website, if you also have the ability and the time to buy your own domain and build your own site, it can really go a long way towards helping you look even more professional and allowing you to express your individuality.
In addition, it’s crucial to have an active social media presence. You can and should use platforms like Facebook and Instagram to showcase your latest and best work and build your personal online brand. And, of course, it’s essential to be on LinkedIn, where you can also display your projects and connect to a massive network of creative recruiters, prospective clients and fellow creative professionals.
But for now, let’s take a look at some of the top portfolio hosting websites to help you decide which are best for you.
If you need to get your work hosted online ASAP (but still want it to, you know, look good), Carbonmade is a good choice. Over half a million creatives use their easy interface to quickly post work on a somewhat limited selection of clean, modern and appealing templates. However, to get all that simplicity, you give up a lot of control. So, if you’re looking for a platform with a ton of customizable templates that lets you choose every single color and font, it’s probably best to keep looking.
Pros: It’s sooooo easy to use; you can get your stuff up there quickly; the templates look really nice; connect with a large network of colleagues and prospective clients.
Cons: Very little room for customization; with a lot of people and not a lot of templates, your page looks like a lot of others.
Dribbble calls itself “Show and Tell for Designers,” and is a highly effective tool for designers to connect with one another. While a lot of creatives use Dribbble to host their portfolios, it was really conceived less as a traditional portfolio-hosting site and more as a social site where designers can share projects, give and receive feedback, and get inspiration to improve their work. Unlike similar sites, there is a barrier to entry—you can sign up for Dribbble as a “prospect,” but you need to receive an invitation (be “drafted”) to become a full member. Some critics of Dribbble say that quite a bit of the projects are designs for design’s sake, and often would not be practical or functional to help clients overcome real-world challenges. However, as of a few years ago, the site boasted close to half a million members, so all criticism aside, Dribbble’s model seems to be working.
Pros: Connect with and get inspired by tons of talented peers; opportunity to be part of an “exclusive” community; easy to designate yourself as “for hire.”
Cons: Need to score an invite to the party; more of a sharing community and less of a traditional portfolio hosting platform.
Behance combines Carbonmade’s ease of use with Dribbble’s networking platform. The result is a perhaps the most well-known of all portfolio hosting sites (Behance’s popularity also gets a boost by being part of the Adobe family of products). Setting up and organizing your page is super simple. Plus, the site is fully integrated with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social sites, and allows creatives to easily share their portfolios potential clients and peers. In fact, designers can follow one another and publicly “appreciate” each other’s work. Behance also offers “ProSite,” which gives designers a higher level of customization. Bottom line: Behance is simple to use, incredibly popular and lets creatives connect with one another and with prospective clients.
Pros: Easy to set up and share your work; huge community of creatives helps you network and get feedback on your work.
Cons: Not much customization, so your page pretty much looks like everyone else’s; there’s a lot of people and a lot of work on there, so fighting for eyeballs and “appreciation” can be challenging.
Of all the sites we checked out, Cargo Collective allowed the most customization. The portfolios on this site really pack a high level of “wow” and there are a number of highly talented professionals who choose Cargo Collective to showcase their work. The site also does a good job of integrating networking and social sharing into the experience. Sounds great, right? Wait for it. Here comes the “but.” 3…2…1…But, the customization is only available to those who choose to upgrade their accounts (it’s relatively inexpensive–less than $6/month), and the base model isn’t quite as simple to use as on a site like Carbonmade.
Pros: Express yourself with more customization; if you’ve got the time and the skills, you can make your page look fantastic.
Cons: You’ve got to pay if you want to play (with the customization tools) and the basic account only lets you choose from 10 templates.
Coroflot has been helping creatives show off their work and connect with employers since 1997, and has built a fairly large community. It features a pretty simple interface and integrates with a job board. Anyone can be a member (this can be a “pro” and a “con”) and the site offers free unlimited storage. However, customization is pretty limited and it doesn’t necessarily have the same aesthetic appeal as some of its competitors.
Pros: Pretty easy to connect to potential employers, clients and freelance opportunities; anyone can join.
Cons: If looks matter (and, hey, you are a creative professional), it might not be the best choice; anyone can join.
These days a portfolio-hosting website is a pretty critical tool for creative professionals looking to expand their networks and further their careers. Some are simple to use. Some are simple to join. But the answer to the question “which one is best for me?” might not be so simple. In fact, the best move might just be to join and maintain a presence on a few of them as part of an overall career-advancement strategy.
Which portfolio-hosting websites do you use? What do you think of the ones on our list? Let us know your thoughts on which sites have and haven’t been most effective for you.