Instagram Should Be Your New Portfolio
Being a designer today, it's easier than ever to get your portfolio together. There are endless services and tools, most of which are free. Where should you focus your energy though? Behance, Dribbble, your own site?
Honestly, you should put the time into all of them, but this past year or so I've found a "new" platform shining past the others and that's Instagram. Now obviously Instagram is nothing new, but this past year I've noticed more and more designers using it as a portfolio and it makes sense. Instagram has a huge audience. While Dribbble and Behance's audience is mainly designers, Instagram's audience is a much larger variety of people, companies, start-ups, and brands. Most of whom probably are not on Dribbble and Behance. Here are a few reasons why I'm focusing more of my energy into Instagram rather than Dribbble and Behance
The grind is mentally exhausting.
I've had a portfolio on Dribbble (7 years) and Behance (10 years - holy fuck) for a long time. Now, I'm no Bill Kenny. I can't post on Dribbble every day, but I was making sure to post at least 1-2 shots per week. The problem on Dribbble is everything is so damn polished and buttoned up. It's become incredibly time-consuming to keep updated. It seems like a big departure of what Dribbble originally was.
"What are you working on? Dribbble is a community of designers sharing screenshots of their work, process, and projects."- Dribbble's Footer
Nothing is wrong with posting finished projects. I've just always been a fan of seeing the process from the start to the end result. It was a way to get a lot of work up quickly, you take 15 minutes and shoot a quick shot. Now I've found myself taking at least an hour to design a Dribbble, or if it's an animation a couple of hours, just to have a chance of getting a decent amount of views and when that effort is met with 800+ views and 10 likes it's a little unmotivating.
Brands and clients don't use Dribbble or Behance.
Brands don't have a Dribbble page, but you can bet your ass they have an Instagram. In fact, in 2019 people started searching brands more and more on Instagram than google. (source). That's fucking crazy, and it shows you big or small every company/brand you could ever want to work on and will work on are on Instagram.
I have 160 Instagram followers to my design account...be easy I just started it 3 months ago. I have 3x as many Dribbble followers (454) and 7x more followers on Behance (764). While I have gotten work inquiries through those platforms it's not even close to the amount I've gotten through Instagram, and the engagement I've gotten on Instagram with my work (comments, direct messages, follower rate). It's better than my Behance and Dribbble combined.
Post the work in progress
Instagram is similar to Dribbble and Behance in a sense that consistency in post frequency is important, but I feel that it's not as important to polish everything up before posting it. Show the process, the sketches, the rejected ideas. Instagram's stories feature is great for this. Behance recognized this as they introduced a stories UX into their platform about a year ago. It's all great content and Instagram's users visit your profile from posts and stories a ton. So they're likely to see more of your work.
An engaging design community
I've talked to more designers on Instagram via comments and direct messages in the past 3 months than I've ever talked to on Dribbble. I'm not sure why that is exactly. Another social mystery I've found on Instagram is designers sharing other designers posts in their stories. This is usually done as share for share type deal, but you would never see something like that on other platforms. Shit, even the most popular shots on Dribbble with 12K views only have 2 comments, and they're typically something like, "Cool!" or my personal favorite "Great design, please take a moment to check out my portfolio."
What types of posts are working, what aren't? What hashtags are people finding you from? What day of the week and time seems to be the best to post? What are the demographics of people looking at my work? What days and even hours do I seem to gain the most followers? These are all questions that Instagram gives you answers to when you make your account a business account, which is free. While other platforms have stats on your posts it's nothing compared to Instagram's.
Listen, I'm not telling Dribbble and Behance to go pound sand. They're great platforms for designers and I'll continue to keep them updated, but you know who uses Dribbble and Behance? Other designers and other designers aren't going to reach out and ask you to make their next logo or design their new app. They're probably going to rip one of your designs off if anything.
You know how many people use Instagram...