flavors.meErica Moss is the community manager for Georgetown University’s online nurse practitioner degrees, which partner with Nursing License Map to offer RN to MSN resources. She enjoys blogging, TV, pop culture and tweeting @ericajmoss.

Nobody ever said freelancing was easy — and if they did, they clearly never tried it! Freelancers don’t always enjoy smooth sailing, but it can be a tremendously rewarding career choice when all of the proper pieces are in place.

One of the biggest challenges freelancers face is finding a place to share their work with potential clients. Having an online portfolio is essential for today’s freelancer, and having that portfolio be easily accessible and shareable by people on various social networks like Facebook and Twitter is all the better. Luckily, there are plenty of online portfolio websites that can help you out here. Let’s take a look at a few:

About.me

About.me is a great catch-all site that can showcase links to your work on other outlets. This is almost a must-have portfolio for freelance writers and bloggers as it will automatically update with your latest posts, as well as provide your contact information on as many social networks as you connect to it. This makes it easy for potential clients to not only see your work, but also see your activity and reach on whatever social networks you participate in.

Creating an About.me profile is very simple and doesn’t require any coding. You can simply upload a background image (or choose one of the pre-existing ones) and a profile photo, and start plugging in links to your online writing samples. If you are a freelance blogger, About.me will recognize and pick up RSS feeds of your work so that it’s constantly up to date.

The choice of “Apps” (what About.me calls social media networks) is extensive; all the most popular sites (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.) are there, as well as some more specialized social networks, such as Github, Fitbit, Smarterer, TrustCloud and Behance.

Vizify

It probably doesn’t get any easier to make a basic online portfolio than Vizify. When you sign up, you are taken through a step-by-step process to connect each of your major social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Foursquare), then it throws together a very modern-looking, attractive profile automatically from the information gleaned from those networks.

While not as comprehensive as some of the other portfolio websites out there, it can be customized to show and highlight the information that you prefer. Thus, within 10 minutes of editing, you can have a unique profile that makes it easy to get a glimpse at your social media activity and contact information. Right now, Vizify is invite-only, but if you agree to share a link about Vizify on Facebook or Twitter, you are automatically accepted.

GitHub

If you’re a freelance developer, there is no better place to showcase your work than Github, which has become the de facto standard for coders to share their work. Github allows you to upload anything from code snippets to entire projects, and includes a variety of options to share or hide your work with certain people. If you’re a freelance web developer or coder, Github is the place to be right now.

Behance

For artists and web developers, Behance might be the portfolio site that connects you to a larger potential audience. Behance is designed around getting more jobs for artists and has many tools (including relevant job searches) to that effect.

You can upload your work, protect it appropriately and use specific tags to help others find your particular style of art. Tags include a wide variety of art forms, including video work, photography, graphic design and web development; there are even niche tags, such as street art and packaging design.

Behance requires a bit of work to customize and doesn’t do any of the work for you like Vizify or About.me, but the customization and presentation options are quite comprehensive.

DeviantArt

DeviantArt is a longstanding online community that has grown into a comprehensive and widely visited place to showcase artist portfolios. The focus of the DeviantArt community has generally been drawing and painting, but there are also quite a few photographers and more niche arts, such as cosplay and poetry, on display as well.

DeviantArt makes it relatively simply to get an account going, upload your work and share it with your social networks. One of the biggest advantages of DeviantArt is the sheer size of the community, although sometimes that can make it a challenge to stand out from the crowd.

DeviantArt is a fully realized social media network in its own right, with a large and vibrant group of regular and long-time users calling it their online home.

No matter which online portfolio site you choose (and there are many more that we haven’t covered here, such as Hi.im, Flavors.me, Dooid, Flickr and RebelMouse), the most important thing is that you do more than just create a default profile and hope it gets found. You need to utilize all of the features of the portfolio site you choose, make sure you customize it to help you stand out and share it with your social networks using the integrated tools. It can also help to ask a friend to take an objective outside look at your portfolio and see if they have any questions or concerns.

Photo credit: jessica mullen on Flickr