A polished, well-presented portfolio is key if you’re looking to make it big in the visual/creative market space. But all too often, creatives (designers , developers, photographers, artists) sabotage that critical first impression with portfolios that simply don’t impress and ultimately send potential clients looking elsewhere. But you don’t have to spend a bundle to display your work — because there are good, free online portfolio websites out there.
An online portfolio is your digital calling card.
Beyond a convenient online storage space for your completed work, your portfolio becomes your calling card, portraying your creative identity in the best possible light. Having the right platform to showcase your work can be as important as the work itself.
If you have your own website featuring your portfolio, hooray for you. But the third-party solution can be an equally attractive option if you’re short on the time, skills or budget to make that custom website happen.
Get more work with these 5 free online portfolio websites
- Adobe Portfolio.
Let’s take a look at five of the most popular free online portfolio websites.
One of the best free online portfolio websites is Behance. This theme provides a number of ways to slice-and-dice the deep-dive views into a collective showcase of creative work. Group your work by creative field or profession, country, school, Adobe Creative Cloud tool or other parameters.
Behance powers creative networks for top schools and organizations, and distributes work to other online galleries. Many top creative brands and companies use Behance to find and hire top creative talent.
Mission: “To empower the creative world to make ideas happen.”
Your portfolio URL: behance.net/username
Design options: Standard top-level page layout, with options to customize per-project pages
Cool bonus: Additional exposure for you if your portfolio is featured by their team of curators
2. Adobe Portfolio
Adobe Portfolio is included free with the paid Adobe Creative Cloud plans, allowing you to quickly and simply build a website to showcase your work. Features include elegant layouts, flexible customization, responsive design and live editing. Seamless integration with Behance imports existing projects, and new work added to an Adobe Portfolio site can be shared with your Behance account as well.
Mission: Adobe’s overarching mission for their entire product line is to “provide creatives with the tools they need to create their best work, while empowering them to get the exposure they deserve.”
Cost: Free as part of Adobe Creative Cloud
Your portfolio URL: You can use your own domain name
Design options: Choose from eight standard layouts
Cool bonus: Seamless integration with any existing Behance portfolio
Coroflot is used by design-driven companies worldwide to recruit across many design disciplines. Members must apply to join, and applications are reviewed to determine acceptance. This rigorous screening contributes to Coroflot’s reputation as a trusted, go-to site for the talent marketplace. Since 2001, Coroflot has collected and reported salary info from tens of thousands of design and creative pros around the world.
Mission: “Providing the space and opportunity for creative professionals and hiring companies to find each other.”
Your portfolio URL: coroflot.com/username
Design options: One standard layout, with an option for a Profile page
Cool bonus: Access to salary survey information
Cargo offers members free-standing websites with a large selection of customizable design templates. The gotcha here is that members must be invited to join—but rest assured, you can still apply for a Cargo account and hope to be accepted through their review process. Application involves explaining what you’re all about and why you think Cargo is the right fit for displaying your awesome portfolio of work.
Mission: “Creating accessible tools and a networked context to enhance the exposure of talented individuals on the Internet.”
Your portfolio URL: You can use your own domain name
Design options: 40+ templates available
Crevado makes it easy to set up and manage a free online portfolio website. While the free plan limits the number of images and functionality, the Plus and Premium plans provide additional features such as custom domain name, selling work using PayPal and custom CSS.
Cost: Free for a basic account, with the option to pay for additional features
Mission: “To become the defacto online tool to allow creative people to showcase their work online.”
Your portfolio URL: Free accounts use username.crevado.com. The Premium plan supports custom domain names
Design options: 9 basic themes, each available in a dark or light option
Cool bonus: You can sell work from your portfolio using PayPal, as part of an upgraded account
Which one is right?
Can’t decide which free online portfolio website may be right for you? Answering these questions may help you make a final choice:
- Are you looking for a portfolio that will only be seen by select clients and prospects, or one potential employers/clients can find on their own?
- Are you looking for membership in a virtual community of creatives with discussion forums or other interactive features?
- Do you require absolute control over the entire look and feel of your portfolio, or are you flexible when it comes to overall design?
- Do you want features that will improve your job prospects, such as job listings or partnerships with known employers?
- Are you interested in complementary information such as salary survey results?
- Do you want to use a custom domain name?
Pro tip: If you’re concerned about branding, it pays to have your own domain name rather than a username tacked onto someone else’s web address (e.g. coroflot.com/username). Ready to buy a domain? Read this before you search.
Just remember: Swagger sells
No matter which solution you choose, don’t forget that stellar portfolio sites share common features. The best portfolios:
- Feature only the owner’s best work.
- Focus on quality over quantity.
- Cover the complete spectrum of work, including personal projects, volunteer projects and work for hire.
- Showcase the owner’s ability to deliver work to customer requirements, while also demonstrating their ability to create independently.
- Are organized in a way that will make sense to viewers.
- Show only complete work, omitting in-progress or partially-completed work.
What are you waiting for? Check out our recommendations and get your portfolio started today!