A Behance profile is pretty much standard amongst creative professionals nowadays. The platform, founded by American entrepreneur Scott Belsky in 2006, has grown to become one of, if not the, online destinations for clients seeking creative talent.
When Adobe bought Behance earlier this year for a reported $150 million, it brought the portfolio platform (along with ProSite - the custom portfolio tool) to the heart of its Creative Cloud subscription service - meaning uploading to Behance and sharing your work to prospective clients and collaborators around the world got even easier.
"Exposure through platforms like Behance are the best form of lead generation for the best opportunities," exclaims Alex Krug, Head of Business Development at Behance.
"Also, we believe great work should receive the credit and attribution it deserves," he continues, before similarly enthusiastically telling us that the creative world updates their work on Behance to broadcast it widely and efficiently, and companies explore the work and access talent on a global scale.
Not much we didn't know, but you may be surprised to learn of the scale of Behance. It now has over two million members ("growing fast," according to Krug) with over 150 million page views per month. A ticker page at Behance demonstrates the massive scale of the platform.
With all this in mind, there are an amazing amount of opportunities for making money through Behance. For starters, its network opens up your work and portfolio to a previously unreachable amount of people - people in the right places. Art directors, advertising creatives - you name it - they all look to Behance to find talent. And similarly, your peers may be looking to Behance for their next collaboration. What's more, you can sell your work directly from your Behance profile (well, in a way). But more on that in a bit.
Check out the glowing testimonials on the site. From both clients and designers, you begin to get an idea of how having a Behance profile - and regularly updating it with both personal and commercial projects - can get you a better, if not dream job. And see freelance commissions come flooding in.
When creating your Behance profile, there are certain ways that you can give yourself the best chance of being featured - and therefore attracting the attention of perhaps peers to begin with, and indeed clients. Behance, like Facebook, has a 'like' system - in this case called Appreciation. Most appreciated posts have their own category on Behance with a prominent dropdown from the homepage. Meaning if you get a lot of appreciations, you will get seen.
A great, and very on-trend way, of attracting appreciations (and indeed media and peer attention) is to re-imagine popular brands - whether the logo, site or app design and so on. We reported on Fred Nerby's Facebook redesign back in January; but it was Barton Smith's re-imagining of the Facebook UI that got him noticed by the company. "Three years later, I was sitting in their Menlo Park office, interviewing for a position. They hadn’t forgotten about that design," he recalls.
Including personal projects such as this in your Behance portfolio - especially ones that are going to cause debate - are a great way to start getting appreciated by the community, and bring your work and portfolio to the Most Appreciated page on the platform.
The truth is though, as long as you categorise your work and be thorough with adding tags when you upload, you have given yourself the best chance of being discovered. Clients search by creative fields on Behance - and they can filter the results in many ways (by date, most appreciated etc etc). So to make your work grab their attention further, it's imperative that you have good thumbnails. It can be the determining factor whether or not a client clicks through to your portfolio when they are searching through hundred of creatives looking for the perfect style. You can also, obviously, share your projects directly from Behance to social media to drum up a bit more attention.
"Behance has been super-important when it comes to getting work, I would go as far as to say that I get more work through Behance than through any other online platform," says Tobias Hall, an illustrator who has been commissioned through Behance many times. "The potential exposure available is huge, especially if you make the front page: one of my projects alone is currently sitting on 46k views, and I've had 270k project views in total."
He continues: "I've only recently really started reaping the rewards from a few font page features, but already I've been asked to work on a logos, murals and lettering projects including a front page and centre spread for TV Magazine. I'm currently working on a logo suite for an events company, who asked me to help them after seeing my own branding project on the front page of Behance."
Before Hall started getting featured he didn't get nearly as many commissions, and it took the illustrator a good couple of years before that started to happen. "But that's more likely a reflection on how my work has improved over that time," he says.
"Behance have a full-time curation team to decide who makes the front page, and they claim that every project get's assessed, so I'd suggest that it's the quality of the work that will get you the recognition in the end. There's no doubt an element of luck involved too, but as with most creative platforms, being active through posting plenty of work and commenting on other people's projects certainly doesn't harm your chances of getting noticed and gaining followers."
Once your work starts being seen, your traffic can begin to skyrocket - and from there it's only a matter of time before you're called on for a commission, job, or can begin to start making money from your products.
Just take Georgia Roussos for instance, who developed the Primary Sans typeface. After uploading to Behance and providing a free copy in return for a Tweet or Facebook like, she started to exceed her own personal portfolio hosting bandwidth. Soon, she started charging a small, fair amount for the typeface (£1 for non-commercial, £10 for commercial). Roussos has since had 250 downloads and it's exceeded 17,000 views on Behance. You can read the full story here.
As well as using Behance in this way to grab the attention of clients, you can also sell your work directly from the platform. Well, like we said earlier - you can, kind of. Firstly, go to the Work For Sale page. Here you can see designers who have work for sale through the platform.
But how do you do set this up? Well, when uploading or editing your project, you can use the options available to link products from other sites - maybe a print of your work, a typeface or anything that relates to that work. Simply add it to a free e-commerce platform (perhaps Etsy, Society6 or SupaDupa) and then add your link along with a category, description, price and so on.
When people view your work a button appears at the bottom of the image enabling your visitor to link through and buy your product. It will also appear on the Work For Sale page in the category you've chosen.
Behance is undoubtedly the best platform for sharing your work - just look at the amount of users it has and the page views it gets. As we've explored, if you're smart when creating your portfolio, savvy about sharing and create personal projects that divide opinion, you could quickly have your dream client messaging you for work. The fact that you can make every piece in your portfolio for sale (or at least link to external shops) is another huge bonus - and one that could bring you a steady income that only requires fulfillment of the products. It's win-win!
Words: Rob Carney