Online Portfolio Sites


Whether you already have your own website and domain name to showcase your work, or you’re just getting started building your online presence, there are a myriad of existing free and paid portfolio sites to help you get your work in front of people. Some of these pre-fab portfolios are suitable to stand on their own, while others are great ways to direct an audience to your own website.

Free Portfolio Sites

These are great places to start — what do you have to lose?

Behance is a multi-disciplined creative community that provides an easy to use, robust and well-designed WYSIWYG portfolios with built in audience feedback, community sharing and networking.

Carbonmade quickly creates flashy portfolio slideshows and allows for some customization (ie. choose black or white, serif or sans).

Cargo Collective is just out of beta, and offers a free basic site which Clint is trying out. “I think it’s great. It’s super easy to set up a a really nice, clean site, load images and actually keep it updated.”

Coroflot is an integrated portfolio site and job board for creatives in various fields – Clint found his current gig listed here! Good organization and search tools, and a pretty good looking site.

Flickr was created for photography and displays content more as a slideshow than a portfolio, but with a sizable community of illustrators (including us!), extensive tagging and search tools, favoriting and commenting, it’s a great way to share your work and get feedback. Several clients have found James via his Flickr photostream, “I use it kind of like a blog, sharing stuff that doesn’t really fit into my site yet.”

Paid Portfolio Sites has advanced search tools and a good looking site. They put out ads in industry magaziness like Communication Arts and Print, keeping themselves and the artists they host top-of-mind. A portfolio of 24 images starts at $650/year.

FolioPlanet is probably the worst looking, least feature-rich site listed here. $99 gets you a thumbnail and a link to your site. $449/yr gets you a 12 image portfolio and preferred placement in listings.

Directory of Illustration is the online companion to the catalog of the same name, freely distributed to 20,000 art buyers annually. Single pages with a 20 image online portfolio starts at $2600.

Similarly, Workbook Portfolio is the online companion to the catalog Workbook. Prices are not publicly disclosed, but likely in line with the Directory of Illustration.

We haven’t tried any of the paid portfolio sites, so we can’t speak to the return on investment. What we can speak to is a comparison of traffic metrics reported by

Behance vs TheiSpot vs FolioPlanet vs Directory of Illustration vs Workbook

Behance vs TheiSpot vs FolioPlanet vs Directory of Illustration vs Workbook

N.B. Those bumps along the 0% of all internet users line? Those are the paid sites.

I know we’re comparing apples to oranges here – the paid sites focus only on illustration, target only art buyers, buy advertising and even publish books to reach those buyers. In the end, it’s not being seen by the most people that matters, it’s being seen by the right people.

In my research, I noticed a lot of the big names in illustration on the paid sites. Does listing in a directory make you a big name, or does being a big name generate enough income to justify the price of listing? Or do these sites simply give special offers to these big names to create these correlational quandaries?

Do you use free or paid portfolio sites? Have you gotten good return on investment – for either your time or money? Any ones we left out? Let us know in the comments!

7 thoughts on “Online Portfolio Sites

  1. says

    Great article but I have a question. Why would you want your art on Flickr for anyone to take? I have spent a lot of time getting my art taken down from there over the years as people would upload my pieces to that site and use it for almost everything with no credit or permission.


  2. Great question, Jim.

    The more you spread your work around, the more potential there is for people to use it without permission or credit. But really, no image online is safe from this. Sure, there are scripts that prevent right -clicking or that obscure your source code, but they can all be easily defeated with Print Screen. If people want to steal your work, they will.

    For many illustrators starting out, obscurity – being unknown and unseen – is a greater threat to their career than piracy. Showing their work online is worth the risk of losing control over low-resolution copies of it. It’s better to have an official presence on these sites than to leave it up to pirates to post your images.

    It’s imporant to post only low-res images unsuitable for print, and to include your name and website on the image so interested parties can find the original source. Include a watermark if you want, but these can often be removed with a little work, so it may not be worth defacing your image for little added protection.

    If people DO use your images without permission, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides a process for copyright owners to force copyright infringers to take down materials that they have no right to use. These takedown notices put the liability on infringers’ webhosts to take action, so you don’t have to deal directly with self-righteous pirates.

    My two cents ;)

  3. BTW can find copies of your images being used online. It’s a reverse image search engine, meaning you upload your image or paste its address and it looks for matches. This is one way to find infringers.

    As well, most webhosts provide leech stats in their control panels, to show you if other sites are sourcing your images.

  4. You might also want to mention as a good pay site to try out. I’ve had my work on there for a couple of years and it has paid for itself several times over.

  5. says

    I’ve considered most of the pay sites at one time or another. The problem I’ve always noticed is that there never seems to be anything on them in the style of technical illustration, it’s most editorial or fine art illustration, so I couldn’t imagine an art director going to one and looking for a technical illustrator.

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