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?
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
TheiSpot.com 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 Alexa.com:
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!