August 17th, 2010 by

By now everyone knows I don’t like keeping secrets. I mean, what’s the fun in keeping everything all bottled up inside. If I’m excited about something I’ll tell the world about it. So, without further ado, I’m here to tell the world about something I found recently. I actually didn’t think it existed, but then there it was, right on my screen. Free portfolio websites using your own domain name.

That may not sound like a lot to some but let me explain. Let’s say you’re an actor, artist, model, or filmmaker. At some point very early in your career you need a web site to show off your portfolio. Many sites offer this for free. The de facto standard is that they’ll give you a website that looks like this: http://mylittleband.TheirSiteLookAtMeInstead.com

The gimmick here is that you get a “free” website that has the host’s name included in the URL. Oftentimes the host will also display their own content as well further watering down your little slice of the web. It’s great to start out, but eventually people will want their own custom domain.

http://www.TheBandOfTheCentury.com

These always and only come with a monthly fee. Up til now.

Mixform

Mixform uses the freemium business model. The difference between their pricing and everyone else’s is that their baseline service includes the ability to use your own custom domain name. The domain name can be purchased from any number of vendors and readily integrates with Mixform. This sets Mixform legions ahead of anyone else. The only remembrance of Mixform on your site is a small link in the footer, which is hardly noticeable. In fact SlapStart has a similar link in its footer in recognition of the site designer.

Once you get past the initial shock of the ability to host a custom domain for free, Mixform has a great set of tools to quickly build your website. Their Ajax based pages allow you to upload, resize, and crop pictures, edit titles, summaries, biography, projects, albums, and a variety of different event types. The available sections are Home, News, Events, Projects, Videos, Resume, About, and a Contact form that sends mail straight to your email address. To those who aren’t familiar with the benefit of Ajax based tools, it basically means you can click and drag the sections around, putting things exactly where you want them. It’s slightly reminiscent of iGoogle in how you edit the home page. They also have a series of templates to choose from, all of which are professional grade. It’s easy to find one that will match your taste, and can be switched later if you like. Here are some examples.

By default all sections are available, and tabs visible on the top of the page. These can be hidden according to your needs. So you have the option to create events, and let people know about upcoming shows or exhibitions. You can also place widgets on the home page that list the event information and link to the page with all the details. It’s a very easy to use website designer which will have you up and running in minutes. After spending a little bit of time, you can have an extremely good looking professionally designed site.

One particularly useful feature is the resume option. Information entered for your shows, projects, events, etc, is carried over to the resume page. This resume can display your Agencies, Music, Awards, Festivals, Broadcasts, Performances, Publications, Bibliographies, Skills, Education, References, Employment, or any subset of these. You can essentially pick the sections that are relevant to you.

The distinction between various pricing plans is the quantity of pictures, albums, and videos you can have. Everything is included in the free plan, except for the videos. Upgrading gives you the option to upload videos, and then more pictures and albums. Prices currently range from $5.99-$25.99 dollars.

Beyond the novelty of offering portfolio websites with your own custom domain name, there are actually two other notable features to Mixform- their referral program (now discontinued…) and their intellectual property policy. Many businesses or websites will give you a penny or a little star, if you refer a customer. Some will even say thank you. Mixform bypasses this nonsense and came up with the idea of giving you 40% of the monthly payments of anyone you refer. I’m having a bad math day, but I think that means you need just 416 people to sign up for the Premium account, and you will be making a clean $5K- per month. It adds up pretty quick.

The other standout feature is their intellectual property policy. It reads as follows: They make no claim over your intellectual property rights over the material you provide to the Service. To those who aren’t aware, when you upload a video to Youtube, guess who now has distribution rights to that video? Youtube. With Mixform, you relinquish none of these rights, retaining full ownership of everything you upload.

A few other bells and whistles that are worth mentioning
- Once you get the videos rolling they can be made available on podcasts.
- The service is integrated with Google Analytics to track your traffic.
- Everything is editable. So you have the flexibility to make adjustments whenever you like.

I could go on at length, but I’ll just add one last passing observation. Although Mixform is built and targeted for Actors, Filmmakers, and Visual artists, there’s no clause requiring you to be one. In fact, I read the TOS and it clearly states, “You must (only) be a human.” The additions are my own. Given how customizable the various options are it would be pretty easy to configure an attractive home page for many purposes.

Mixform is a rare instance of a site that breaks the status quo in so many ways. From free hosted portfolio websites, allows custom domain names, an overly generous referral program, to not making any claim over your content, it truly is a diamond in the rough. Starving artists and seasoned professionals alike can enjoy this remarkable service.

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