With the presence of different social networking sites that allow anyone to easily create a web presence, as a graphic designer do I still need a personal website? What is the pros and cons of having a personal website? Is it worth the cost?
Before you put yourself through the trial that is creating your own website (and it is, just in the amount of time it takes), you have to ask yourself what reason you represent yourself online.
Do you really just need a portfolio for potential employers? Then worry not, because having your work on those major sites is enough for employers to get a feel for your talent and abilities.
Are you just looking to get freelance work? If so, then having other reputable sites displaying your portfolio work is a solid way for people to see if you're worth hiring. But if you are looking at expanding ever, you should be thinking about my next question.
Are you looking to create a brand for yourself? If you want to go beyond just a guy who does freelance, it's important to have a space that is 100% you. People respect brands, and it shows a professionalism that will likely lead to increased rates, if it's reflected in the quality of your work.
The cons of having a personal website is that it's just one more place to keep your work updated, and it costs however much for a domain. Domains like JustHost and BlueHost charge like $3 a month, so it's not a pocket wrencher.
As stated this all depends on how you want to brand yourself but the real question is "how much time do you want to spend on branding" and "how can you manage your time working on networking". Each area has their pros and cons and you need to weigh them accordingly:
Great for networking with potential companies and some individuals. I would encourage you to post thumbnails of your work, and link back to your website.
I find this better for peer review but I've rarely seen clients indicate they have seen me on Deviant Art so I omit this area personally.
Use it wisely, use that is a tease. Unless you want to folder your entire project I would encourage you to take small snippets of well designed areas and link back to a personal site. Dribbble is a great place and several clients I know like browsing there plus they have meetups where you can get together and discuss design and know your peers.
Its great if you are going to spend the time and utilize their application. You could link your LinkedIn account back to your Behance and you can even sell through them. Some clients do navigate through there and Ive gotten some work off of the site but I find if Im not going to make a nice presentation for the design and simply just use a screenshot I wouldn't be utilizing it well.
When it comes down to personal domain this depends on where you want to spend your time. By all means you do everything to get your name out there but use the other areas wisely. You will spend numerous amounts of time trying to wrangle communications. I would encourage you to have your own site and a link to your contact form. Always post the relevant, quality designs on the sites but in your personal site you can technically display everything that you consider is great. Someone did make the comment that it can be a headache and that may be true if you develop the site yourself but there are plenty of solutions out there for print designers to illustrate their work on the web with web companies that offer hosted website solutions.
So all of this comes down to what you want to invest your time in. The way I would set it up is join them all, post URL site link and thumbnails to LinkedIn, post tease images on Dribbble with a link back to the full information on your site, post on Deviant Art if you want to collaborate with your peers and same could be said about Dribbble and if you are going to do a full design mockup for display purposes posts on Behance. So to answer your question, do you need a personal site? Absolutely, more areas to communicate about yourself the better. The question is how can you invest your time wisely to make it profitable and do you have the write domain name. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong in using a pre-paid theme. Some print designers want nothing to do with code and that's their choice but that doesn't mean you should omit something that could generate revenue.
I made my own website and I own my own domain and I'm pretty sure it has a bigger impact on clients and people who could hire me than a public portfolio like deviantart. It also shows that I can do some coding. If you want a website made by others and fast I would recommend something like squarespace. I also update some work on behance to reach out to more people.
The cons would be that you have to update your website yourself and pay for domain and host, that is not really expensive for a modest portfolio website.
Personally I would try and stick with just a LinkedIn and a one personal website/showcase website e.g DeviantArt. I use LinkedIn so I can keep my connections but also add a link to a personal website to showcase work.
Maybe you could create your own website that then groups any other websites you're associated with? Instead of having your work spread around.
Edit: In regards to cost, I just use a Tumbler website with a custom theme and didn't spend a penny, apart from the domain name which is about £2 a year. Just took a little HTML/CSS know how: www.adammcmanus.co.uk
If you are just showcasing your artwork or talents you can probably get away with just hitting all of the social media staples. For me I find it comforting to have a website as a hub for all of the social media sites. That why if Twilpher gets purchased by Diloopal then your site still rocks strong with all of your content. Plus it also gives you another outlet to show off your organizational and create talents.
I have been running a personal website for 15+ years together with the usual Behance and Linkedin profiles. In my case i constantly (weekly) get new project quotes via Google searches that land people on my website.
Only a few times (under 2%) did i get contacted via Behance and almost never via Linkedin, although i am also keeping these accounts updated and posting the same items as on my personal domain website.
On the other hand i landed massive jobs via my personal website including a lot of corporate work which turned out to be ongoing, 3 up to 7-8 years of constant work from the same local or EU clients.
So yes 100% worth investing time and money into a proper website, but only if you give it a proper SEO treatment.
My 2 cents as a programmer: personal website is most meaningful when you blog things which might help others. I don't think many people would be terribly interested in going to a website only to check out somebody else's portfolio/past work. Not sure if this applies that well to designers, of course.
With the presence of different social networking sites that allow anyone to easily create a web presence, as a graphic designer do I still need a personal website?
This can depend on your goals and what you want to show, but in general, yes.
What is the pros and cons of having a personal website?
The con is the need to maintain it. The cost is negligible. The pros however are plenty:
- Analytics, Keywording, Sitemaps, etc is the first thing you should be considering. You have total control, can run campaigns, optimize things, etc. Some of the other websites like Facebook might give you some statistics but very minimal and no control. On your own website you can see much clearer image of language and projects people are most interested in of yours. Facebook likes and Twitter shares supplement but don't replace this.
- Identity. Which would you rather give someone on a business card behance.net/blokdesign or blokdesign.com?
- Innovation is difficult to do on any of the social networking sites. But if you do create something unique like an interactive visualization with d3.js that ties into some video and animation just as example - you can present that on your own website.
- Control. You have complete control over the ebb and flow. You determine and refine what people see, how people see it, and when people see it.
Is it worth the cost?
The real cost is negligible compared to the time cost. Is the time cost worth it? If done right.
Are you wanting to be found?
This is the most important question. I think Peacockerie may have meant this but didn't really say it in his first point. If you're only applying to companies and contracts and then need to show them some work - a website might be something you can do without. But, if you want contracts and companies to start coming to you then a website is much more important.