5 Steps to Create a Professional Journalism Portfolio
Building your own website can open the doors to new job and networking opportunities
After talking with recruiters and journalists from national news organizations such as Vox Media, Telemundo and ABC News at the NABJ-NAHJ Virtual Conference, there was one comment that I kept hearing: I love your website.
As a journalism student, I’ve heard dozens of times that having a professional and up-to-date website is imperative in journalism so seeing that my web design was paying off was great. In the case of journalists, having all your work in one spot makes it easier for future employers to go over your reporting without having to dive into dozens of websites to find you. You can add your website to your resume or put it in emails to editors that you’re pitching. It also makes it easier for you to keep track of all the good stuff you’ve written.
Here I share five steps to create a professional journalism portfolio that will catch the eye of recruiters and do justice to your extraordinary reporting.
1.Select your best work
Your website shouldn’t be a dumpster of everything you’ve ever written, filmed or photographed. It should showcase your best work. Take some time to go over all of your clips and select the pieces that you’re most proud of. Maybe they explore a topic you really like or maybe they show how great you are at writing, shooting, editing, etc. Keep all links, videos, photos, etc. that you’ve selected in a folder in your computer (we’ll come back to them).
2.Choose a website builder
Now that you have all the content you want to publish, you have to choose where to do so.
I built my website using Adobe Portfolio, a free service that comes with the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. I got a free subscription thanks to my college so check out if your institution has the same benefit. I chose Adobe Portfolio because it’s free for me, but from my experience in web design, Wix, Squarespace and WordPress are great options too (you’ll have to pay for a plan in those sites if you want to go ad-free and use your own domain so check the prices and see what’s suitable for you).
3.Define the sections/pages and upload the content
After getting familiar with your website builder of choice, it’s time to start building the website. You can choose to organize your work based on the medium (written, video, photography, audio, etc), based on the topics you cover (culture, food, sports, fashion, etc.) or you can use both. In my case, I do multimedia journalism so I decided to have three big sections (editorial, graphic design and photography) and then have subdivisions within those categories to organize my work by topic. Choose whatever makes sense to best showcase your work. When you’re ready, upload your content. Even if you’re mostly a writer, try to include as many related photos/illustrations as possible to create a visually attractive website. Always include an “About Me” page describing your background and objective and add links to your professional social media either on that page or in the footer.
Pro tip: Instead of uploading a PDF resume to your website, add a button with a link to a view-only Google Doc version of your resume. In this way, whoever is in your website will always see the most updated version of your resume without you having to constantly change the file.
4.Buy a domain and link it to your website
I got my domain from GoDaddy a couple of months ago. Purchasing was really easy and they had many options including the common .com domains as well as .live, .net and .us. Prices start at $1 for the first year. Try to buy a domain with your full name because it looks professional and will make your work easier to find in search engines. If your full name isn’t available, try including a hyphen between your first and last name (that’s what I did) or putting your last name before your first name.
After you bought the domain, go back to your website builder settings and look for the option to link your personal domain. In Adobe Portfolio that is: Settings>Domain Name>Custom Domain Name. The website builder will verify that the domain belongs to you and will associate it with your website.
5.Keep your website updated
You never know when you will meet a recruiter or a freelance gig will come up and you’ll need to show them your work on the spot. The best way to always make a good impression is to keep your website updated so that you can share it with anyone at any time.