One of the biggest struggles as a web designer is grabbing new clients’ attention. Any tool that helps you get your work out there and reaching people who might need your services helps. One solution is online portfolio sites, oftentimes used by designers to showcase their work and gain inspiration for new projects. However, with several options available, knowing whether to use DeviantArt, Behance or Dribbble isn’t an easy choice.
Behance has over 10 million members, and projects on the social media site have been shared more than 4 billion times. As one of the largest portfolio sites, it’s worth studying and figuring out how you can use it to build your client base. The truth is that you may want to have a presence on more than a single site in order to gain the most traction.
But Behance is a great place to start. Here are nine ways you can use the site to build your freelance career.
1. Check Out Your Competitors
As a web designer, you likely have a niche area that you focus on. Perhaps you work with small banks or you’re known for edgy, modern designs for young and hip startups. Whatever your niche, you also have competitors in that area. If you don’t know your competitors, it’s difficult to outperform them. Behance gives you an opportunity to look up your competitors and study their work.
As you look at other web designers on Behance, figure out what they’re missing in their designs that you could offer. How can you make yourself stand out from the rest of the designers in your field?
2. Get Inspired
Behance is also a great place to study the work of some of the best designers on the planet and gain inspiration. If you’re feeling blocked in your design work, studying the best designers allows you to gain some ideas. You never want to copy the work of another designer, of course, but you can certainly figure out what’s trending and add elements of current trends to your own work.
The site even offers a “Best” section that features top designers and their work. Spend some downtime browsing through the different offerings and see what other designers are doing. You’ll find everything from illustrations to photography to motion graphics, so you’ll need to filter the choices down and view the web design examples.
However, you can also learn techniques from all types of artists, so don’t automatically rule out those other mediums.
3. Feature Your Best Work
Behance gives you an opportunity to feature only your best work. On your website, you have a lot of other information. You might have the history of your company, awards you’ve won and 15 categories you design in. On Behance, you can narrow the choices down to just your best work and reach people who are interested in that type of design.
4. Utilize Tags
When you upload your work on Behance, you’ll have the option to add a few descriptive tags. Think about the words people looking for your type of design might use to search. You may even want to do a bit of keyword research on the topic and figure out what words would most likely bring a client to your Behance portfolio. Utilize keywords in a smart way to attract the traffic you want to your page.
5. Know Popular Topics
In one study, researchers discovered that 90 percent of Behance’s traffic goes to certain types of projects. Graphic design was the most popular category, following by illustrations. Knowing this, you can include projects you’ve completed that tie into your web design work but attract the most traffic. For example, if you designed a new logo for a business as part of your web design work, upload that logo and share your graphic design on the site.
6. Integrate With Adobe Creative Cloud
Behance is actually part of the Adobe Creative Cloud platform, so it’s easy to integrate your designs with the platform. If you use Adobe Illustrator CC, you simply log in to the Creative Cloud, open the .AI file, and go to File/Share and choose Share on Behance.
Because Creative Cloud and Behance integrate, users can also use the platform for project sharing and collaboration, which works well for those working with a team of designers located in different areas. If you take your own photos and want to feature those in your Behance portfolio, you can share your entire Lightroom collection from Lightroom to Behance.
7. Go Pro
Don’t want to be bothered with creating both an online portfolio and a website? You can use your Behance profile as your website by upgrading to pro and integrating a domain name with your profile. The pro option comes with Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions, and since you can easily integrate your designs to Behance from Adobe, this is probably your best bet.
Plans start at $9.99 per month, and that will likely be all you need if you’re just starting out. You can upgrade later as needed.
8. Link to Social Media
Take the time to link your Behance account to your online social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook. This allows you to share your designs with all your followers and create more traffic and traction than ever before. You can share directly from Behance, which saves you time, since you don’t have to hop back and forth between platforms. People can like or share your work from Behance on other social media sites, further expanding your exposure.
9. Enter Contests & Join Curated Galleries
Behance offers contests from time to time. Go ahead and enter your work if it matches the theme of the contest. This gives you even more exposure, especially if you win. Take the time to study the work of those who do win, as it will show you the level of design you must reach if you want to be one of Behance’s top designers.
You can also join curated galleries, which are sponsored by organizations such as ADWEEK, SCAD and Pantone. Joining the gallery allows the sites to feature your work.
Behance as a Tool
Behance is another tool in your arsenal to get your work out in the general public and gain new clients. Be patient as you build a following and treat the site like any other social media platform, making connections with non-competitor artists. Behance is the largest of the portfolio sites at this time, so it’s a smart choice for web designers.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.