You’ve been taking time to regularly practice your craft, and you’re producing work that you’re happy with and you’d like to start sharing? Thanks to the magic of the Internet, getting your work in front of people just requires a little bit of work and a lot of patience.
The purpose of this piece isn’t to point you on a singular path. Sharing your work online isn’t just about one solution, there’s multiple pieces to the puzzle. It’s not all about reaching the biggest audience however, and spreading yourself too thin can make it harder to engage on the platforms you use.
Your Own Site
When sharing your work, I think it’s best to start with your own website. While a website by itself isn’t going to get you a lot of traffic, you should treat it as the foundation of your web presence. Everything else you do should branch out from here, and lead your audience back.
Unlike the other sharing solutions I’ll mention, a website is the only one I’d classify as “must have”. Your own site will give you the control that a platform owned by someone else just won’t. Your site can be a simple portfolio, but it really should be more than that. For my site, I not only have a portfolio, but information about who I am, how I work, a blog, and a way to get in touch directly.
Dribbble is a popular service among designers, and if you have an invite to join it can be a valuable asset. If you’ve never used it, it’s like an Instagram for design. You can upload and share images of what you’re working on, and what you’ve created. But the most valuable piece in my opinion is the interaction.
Every post on Dribbble, known as a ‘shot’, has a section for comments. People can leave comments on your shots, and you can leave comments on other people’s. This creates a community where you can not only build a following, but interact and follow other designers who’s work you enjoy or admire.
Carbonmade (+ other portfolio services)
I can’t really say much in the way of positives for online portfolio services. The only one I’ve had any extensive experience with is Carbonmade, and while it is a very solid service with a solid feature set it has a lot of disadvantages. It works more like a website, but with none of the advantages of running your own platform. You’re beholden to their rules, and you’re not going to get a lot in the way of exposure.
If you’re job hunting and just need a simple portfolio to send to prospective employers then this would do the trick. If you’re trying to build and engage with an audience and grow your freelance business I’d pass on this.
Even if you have a Dribbble account, social media can be a powerful tool for building and interacting with an audience. I’m talking the obvious ones like Facebook and Twitter, but even Instagram can be useful. Millions of people use these social networking platforms every day, and the potential for audience growth is immense.
The only downside is that it can get a little much if you find yourself trying to open accounts on every social network. I think Twitter and Facebook are musts, so start with those and branch out to Instagram, or even Periscope if you want a great way to engage with your audience.