Getting in to the creative freelance business can be hard, whether you are a graphic designer, a writer, a videographer, an animator, or some other kind of creative genius. We’ve put together a list of 15 websites that can help you showcase your work, build your portfolio and get some experience (and money) under your belt when you are first starting out.
One of the most frustrating things when you are just starting out as a freelancer in a creative field is getting those first few jobs under your belt. After all, you may have a portfolio of work you’ve done in school or independently, but you may not have a lot of client work to share with potential employers and new clients.
One of the best ways to get the experience you need is through crowdsourcing and job sites for freelancers. These sites often let you submit a design, video, or concept, rather than your personal resume and portfolio. If the company who submitted the project likes yours best then you get paid. If not, it isn’t a total loss. You’ve still got a great new design or project to add to your portfolio!
Here are a few sites that can help you find work, start building your client portfolio, and get your name out there:
Donanza is great site for freelancers looking for jobs they can do from home. The site offers opportunities in a number of categories, from graphic design to writing, programming, social media and everything in between.
At Donanza you’ll find a couple of varieties of projects. You may find someone looking for your services and you can “bid” on the project by sharing your previous work and how much you would charge to do the job. There are also contests, where you create something (a logo, a written piece, a video, etc.) and if the client likes your work the best and decides to use it then you receive the contest prize (which is usually money).
Donanza is great because, as I’ve already mentioned above, you can build your portfolio and gain experience by working on projects, even if you don’t end up winning a contest or a bid. If you do end up winning, that’s even better, but it really is a win-win situation either way.
99designs is a fantastic resource for any designer just starting out, whether you are into creating logos, web design, banners, stationary, t-shirts, or anything else. As a designer, you can browse projects, see what companies are looking for and how much they are willing to pay, submit your designs and wait to see if you win! Again, even if you don’t win you’ve got something new to add to your portfolio.
Poptent is a great crowdsourcing site for video. Like the other sites we’ve mentioned so far, you’ll find contests where you can create a video and if you win you get paid. Make commercials, viral videos, branded webisodes, DIY and How To videos, and more for big name brands. What’s also cool about Poptent is that it serves as a social community where you can inspire and be inspired by other creators. If you are trying to build your freelance business as a video producer or animator, Poptent is a site you just can’t do without!
RedesignMe is yet another creative crowdsourcing website. As with the others, clients create challenges. They tell you what they are looking for (be it a logo or product design, a marketing idea, or anything else), and what the reward is. However, unlike other sites, rewards are provided in RDMs, rather than dollar amounts. RDMs are credits that can be traded in at the RedesignMe online shop for music players, game consoles, gift cards and more. RDMs can also be exchanged for cash.
Something that I like about RedesignMe is that creators can receive feedback on their work after they upload it to the site, allowing them to work on it further and make improvements in order to increase their odds of winning the challenges. Find out more in the video below.
crowdSPRING is another creative crowdsourcing website where you can find out about logo design projects, writing projects, web design and more. Their clients include Starbucks, LG and Forbes. As with the other sites, you can check out projects and rewards and submit designs to the projects that sound interesting to you. It’s another great way to build your portfolio, and possibly make some money while you’re at it!
GeniusRocket used to be the same sort of service as the others that we have mentioned so far. However, they recently changed their model a bit. Now, instead of anyone being able to submit designs, videos and ideas to projects, GeniusRocket will select certain designers and other creatives to work with them on client projects. Think you have what it takes? Create your account here.
Threadless is a cool site that gives creators the opportunity to gain experience while getting their name out – on t-shirts! Design a t-shirt and the Threadless community votes on it. The highest-ranking designs are printed on t-shirts and sold on the Threadless site. In addition to the awesome opportunity of having your design printed on t-shirts, winning designs also earn cash and gift certificates.
Showcasing Your Talent
Having a portfolio isn’t any good unless you have some place to show it off. Just a few years ago it was fine to have your portfolio in a book or binder, or your reel on a DVD. Today it is imperative that you have an online portfolio to share your work with potential clients. You don’t have to pay loads of money to have someone design a website for you or make something super fancy, but you do need some way to showcase your talents on the web. Here are some sites that allow you to share your work with clients online:
DoYouBuzz is a site that lets you create your resume online. What’s great about Do You Buzz is that, in addition to text, you can add a slideshow or embed a video to show off your work. Creating a resume with Do You Buzz is also great because you can show off your resume on your Facebook profile and on other networks, and even add the link to your email signature to share it with all of your contacts. Check out our interview with Evyenia Wilkins, COO of DoYouBuzz, here.
Carbonmade is a site that allows you to easily create an online portfolio to share your design, photography and other work. The design is great and it’s an easy way to show off your work without any programming.
If you want something a little bit more customizable and personalized than Carbonmade, check out Wix. Wix is a site that lets you design your own Flash website for free. They’ve got a ton of templates for photographers, designers, musicians and more, or you can start with a blank page and use the Wix library of images, fonts and more to create a website from your own vision with no understanding of programming necessary.
While Flickr doesn’t really constitute an official online portfolio or website, it’s still a great play to showcase your skills, especially if you are a photographer. By posting your pictures to Flickr you can make a name for yourself and show off your work to other photographers in the community. You can also send potential clients a link to your Flickr account, if you don’t have an online portfolio in place yet, to show them your work and how people are reacting to it.
If you are a video producer or animator then YouTube and Vimeo are great sites to showcase your talent. Create accounts on one or both of these sites and upload all of your work. You can share links to specific videos (like a reel), or to your channel if you’d like to share all of your videos with potential clients. If you are a designer or photographer, it doesn’t hurt to create a video slideshow of your work and upload it as well. The more places you showcase your talent online the better.
Tumblr blogs are great for showcasing artistic talent. You can add pictures, designs, videos and writing to your Tumblr whenever you come out with something new. What makes Tumblr great is that other people can like and share your work on their own Tumblr blogs, giving you more coverage and free promotion (yay!).
Once you have some experience under your belt and a great online portfolio to showcase your work, it’s time to start promoting! Just like promoting any business online nowadays, Twitter and Facebook are key.
Create a Twitter account if you don’t already have one. Twitter is great for professional networking, as well as for getting your work out there. Make sure to follow talented, creative people that you look up to and tweet to them. Ask them questions, comment on their work, and share your own work with them. Maybe they will never respond but you never know – they could see your tweets, love your work and give you some advice on how to build your business and get more work!
Aside from using Twitter for hunting down people who can help you out professionally, you can use Twitter to get people to discover you. Tweet about interesting work, articles and videos in your field. People will start following you because they are interested to see what cool thing you’re going to tweet about next.Â Be sure to do a little self-promotion too, tweeting about projects you are working on, but don’t tweet about your own work too much or you’ll sound spammy.
Create a business page for yourself on Facebook. Link to your online portfolio, your Twitter and any other relevant web pages. Upload pictures and videos to showcase your work. Write a great description about what kind of work you are available and make sure you let people know how to contact you!
Ask all of your friends to show their support by liking your page, and let them know that they are more than welcome to share it with their friends! Having a business page on Facebook not only looks professional, but it is a great way for new clients to discover your work!
Which websites have you used to build your creative freelance business? What do you think about them?
Image Credit: Graduate Finance