About 2 months ago Andrey Tochilin, one of the main people at 500px, offered up some free 3 month Awesome memberships. “Awesome” being the level of the membership. They also offer “Plus” memberships. The difference between the two levels is the ability to have a subdomain (ie: brianwdowns.500px.com), use google analytics, and to setup a portfolio. Being interested in checking out the portfolio option, I jumped on board to try it out.
I’ve been a member of the site for about a year and have used it sparingly. Mainly because the timing your photo upload seems to directly impact the response, or lack thereof, that your photo usually receives. That is true for any social photo sharing site, but timing seems to have a more significant impact on 500px.com due to the large amount of uploads. Without having the timing portion figured out, the draw of the portfolio was enough reason to try out the upgrade.
The creation of the portfolio was surprisingly straightforward and simple. Setup in under 10 minutes simple. There was minimal hassle, and the result was very clean. See mine while it lasts here.
There were 18 layout themes available and they all looked professional. Settings are broken down into four categories: Display, Personalize, SEO, and Tracking. The ability to make the portfolio mobile ready with a click of a button was nice to see. As was the option to fill in three SEO forms for title and metadata information. The ability to add google analytics and webmaster tools is going to be handy for anyone focused on maximizing their portfolio data.
Sections for “About” and “Domain” were left alone. The About section contains the same information as was already plugged into my profile. No change needed there. The Domain section wasn’t used either. Since this was a test run, there was no need to mess with pointing my domain towards the portfolio. However, that is a nice option if someone were wanting to run the portfolio as their entire website.
Finally the Organize option was as simple as you can make it. Simply drag the image you want to add to the section you want it in. You can then go into the section and reorganize the images.
Final impression: Easy. Unbelievably easy. Definitely professional looking in an insanely small amount of time. One is more likely to screw up the appearance by adding their own bad pictures. There isn’t as much customization as you can do with your own site, but of course that would cut down on the ease. The price is a bit much in my opinion however. For $75 one can get two years of a domain registration and hosting for a wordpress site. You’ll have to get your hands dirty though. Compared to a squarespace site, which runs ~$8/month, it’s a better deal. But, once again it must be mentioned you can do more with a site there as well.
Since I don’t need another website the result will only stand as an experiment. It was an impressive and worthwhile experience though. If you don’t need the blogging aspect and don’t want to get your hands dirty, then I’d highly recommend it.