A look into personal branding and the big, bad web
If you’re in the artistic or entrepreneurial industry, you know that hard-copy portfolios are declining as steadily as paperback novels. Digital, digital, digital. If you want to get your name out there and break into your field, chances are you better get your ass online. Personal branding, professional websites, twitter, all of that digital hoopla is spreading at an unprecedented rate. Creating an online persona and sharing your work across a network as massive as the Internet is the easiest way to land clients or a job.
Usually it means big bucks to hire a website aficionado to create a professional website to pair with a slick business card. Online portfolio websites are popping up left and right to accommodate a new type of client seeking a basic website to host their work. They’re affordable, user friendly and eliminate the grunt work of working with html code. Have you tried learning a computer language? After completing a course in web design, I still think it’s like trying to hack into the Matrix.
The benefit of these websites is that they’re more advanced than a blog site—they allow you to upload and display your files, keep multiple web pages and edit the content and layout. The perks each come at their own cost though.
I did some research and got a lay of the land. Here is a list of online portfolio websites reviewed by yours truly.
The website interface looks like the inside of a toddler’s bedroom. Cartoon icons of a lighting bolt and heart. Really? To be fair, the portfolio examples look radically different from the main site. The template displays your name, industry and uploaded works. Each user has an identical design, the work itself being the only unique element. Seeing as the site is limited to visual work, having the option to individualize your site seems like a no brainer. Guess not.
Think of a Carbonmade website as a parking space. Your Rolls-Royce will still look sexy, but the parking lot is… well, nothing more than a parking lot.
393, 450 users, easy to use, simple layout, free demo.
$0/month: 5 projects, 35 images.
$12/month: 50 projects, 500 images, 10 videos.
This site is geared toward established artists. The designs are slick, professional and completely customizable. Features include Google Analytics integration to boost your site visits and multimedia upload capabilities including MP3, flash, video and PDF. Nothing good comes for free with impact. After a free 30 day trial, they charge a $50 set-up fee and $21 monthly. Not the best option if you’re starting off.
Sleek designs, supports an array of media uploads.
+ $50 set-up fee
* Amount of space for uploads not listed.
Based in Holland, this company combines the affordability of Carbonmade with the elegance of Impactfolios. Featured designs are similar enough that the basic layout is recognizable, but each site has been tweaked and altered to give it that personal touch. A free 30-day trial is available as is a site tour.
One thing Viewbook offers that no other site does is the Ipad portfolio application. Ever viewed a digital magazine on an Ipad screen? This could be the perfect bait to reel in that dream client or employer.
Setbacks? The more you get, the more you pay.
The Ipad portfolio application.
Gallery Basic: $4/month (1000 images)
Portfolio Standard: $9/month (2500 images, customizable)
Website Pro: $19/month (5000 images, domain name)
One word: Impressive. As soon as I clicked on the website, I found a detailed overview on what the site has to offer, why and how. None of the other websites I scrolled over provided this.
Taking that web design course taught me a thing or two. Key components to successful personal branding include search engine optimization, Google Analyics, key word placement and user accessibility. In laymen’s terms, ensuring that your website attracts users, pops up in search engines and doesn’t suck up your money by becoming stagnant. Big Black Bag attends to these needs and more, ensuring that your website can and will kickass if you want it to.
It’s completely customizable, allowing for changes in aesthetic, layout, usability, tracking and search engine optimization .
This may sound ridiculous, but the sample websites look like real websites. They’re professional, uniquely designed and aren’t stamped with a host logo which a lot of websites advertise as an expensive feature. The clientele pool is diverse too, ranging from creative directors and copy writers to event planners and restaurants.
Nothing is perfect of course. The templates are limited to eleven choices, but colour, style, size, font, backgrounds and placement are all customizable.
Informative, offers Google Analytics & SEO, viewable on mobile devices such as the Iphone and Ipad.
Basic: $8.99/month (100MB, 3 galleries)
Premiere: $14.99/month (200MB, 8 galleries)
Pro Proofing: $22.99/month (500 MB, 15 galleries)
Pro Unlimited: $29.99 month (Unlimited space, unlimited galleries)
At the end of the day, finding the perfect fit for your work will take time and research. Don’t sign up for the first shiny layout you feast your eyes on. Play the field and get to know a few websites first. Big Black Bag is my knight in shining armour, but it may not be yours.