Dropbox targets freelance pros with Showcase portfolios and Professional pricing tier

Showcase is designed to make it easier for freelancers and small teams of professionals to share content.

Credit: Dropbox

Dropbox has launched a new portfolio feature, Showcase, designed to help independent workers and small teams of professionals display and share documents more easily.

The idea is that freelance workers such as architects and designers can store content in Showcase before sharing information with clients. Documents are arranged in a branded portfolio in a “secure and polished way,” with customizable layouts, said Dropbox director of product, Vishal Kapoor. It is also possible to add text captions to files to introduce content topics to help create a narrative around what’s being shared.

Dropbox, which recently rebranded to appeal to “creatives,” has identified a large target audience: it is estimated that 35% of the U.S. workforce is now freelance, a group that as of 2016 totaled to 55 million people.

“Dropbox has quite a following in creative and media companies,” said ESG senior analyst Terri McClure. “Showcase complements that really well – it’s really nice for when a story needs to accompany files or other collateral. In the creative space, it is really important to control the narrative and set the stage for discussions.”

Showcase is aimed at overcoming some of the problems users face when sharing documents. For example, a marketing consultant might want to know if their client has actually opened more than just the first of a batch of five files. With Showcase they can track who has viewed, downloaded or commented on documents within the portfolio.

Files stored in Showcase are synced with Dropbox, meaning that any changes are instantly updated.

While Showcase is targeted at independent workers, it is just as suited to small teams of people within large companies, said Kapoor.

“Say a large enterprise has sales and marketing that are collaborating with each other. When the work is done they share it internally within the organization or externally outside of the organization,” he said. “We think that Showcase is not just limited to independent workers, but scales very well.”

Showcase is launching as part of a new pricing tier: Dropbox Professional. This also includes Dropbox Smart Sync, unveiled earlier this year, which lets users view all of their Dropbox documents from a single device, whether they are stored locally on a hard drive or in the cloud.

“There are millions of freelancers and self-employed small business users that need many of the features previously available only in the business plans,” said ESG’s McClure. “This fixes that.”

The Professional tier is available for $199 a year and includes 1TB of storage. It offers data protection and security features such as two-step authentication and remote-wipe, as well as priority chat support.

“Two-factor authentication and remote wipe are two features that are important to business users, as they can protect data and wipe devices if lost or stolen,” McClure said. “It’s one thing to deal with making decisions about protecting your own data, but when you are dealing with client data it’s a whole different ballgame – your business often depends on you keeping client data protected and secure. So independent workers will really welcome these features.”

McClure said that targeting self-employed workers offers a point of differentiation for Dropbox in a competitive cloud storage and file-sharing market.

“Dropbox’s rivals are going in all different directions,” she said. “This move wouldn’t make sense for everyone in the market, but for Dropbox it does. It gives significant value add and helps broaden the appeal for independent workers to use the same tools they know and love in their personal life for work.”

McClure added that the market has become fragmented “with people like Box going after cloud ECM, Egnyte going after security and compliance, and Google continuing to invest in complementing the Google ecosystem.”

It wouldn’t make sense for a smaller company with a smaller user base to target large numbers of independent workers, said McClure. “But given Dropbox’s half a billion users, giving a few million of them a reason to pay, or pay more, makes sense.”

Showcase, which launches for Professional users today, is also available in early access to Dropbox Business Advanced and Enterprise customers.

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