Polish your online portfolio — or create one from scratch — with these tips
In the spirit of Groundhog Day, it's time to tackle a topic that comes up over and over when I talk with student journalists: presenting your work in an online portfolio.
Collecting your work doesn’t have to be an intimidating process. Free platforms like Wordpress, Wix or JournoPortfolio will handle the technical side — you just have to collect and organize your work, no coding required.
Even if you’re not actively applying for internships or jobs, take some time to check in on your portfolio, make sure it reflects the work you’re currently doing, and remove anything that’s out of date. I’d argue that the best time to polish your portfolio is before you’re applying to opportunities: Next time you’re filling out an application, you’ll have an up-to-date site that you won’t have to scramble to overhaul.
These tips, adapted from a presentation I gave last year to a group of high school journalists and advisers, will help you create a portfolio from scratch or refresh your existing one.
Design your portfolio around your best work.
Sit down and think about what medium you’re focusing on: Text stories? Photo? Design? Graphics? Figure out what format will best showcase your work and find examples you admire from people who do similar work. A photojournalist’s portfolio will be more visual than a reporter’s, and free sites like Wordpress have plenty of template options to help you make your site your own.
Add context to your work samples.
Tell the viewer why you’re including specific work samples and what makes them significant. Don’t just include links and headlines — use your storytelling skills to tell your own story as a journalist. A few questions to think through:
What challenges did you face in working on this piece? What makes it significant?
What steps did you take in the reporting process? Did you file public records requests or push to get a sit-down interview with a school administrator? Explain those.
Keep it organized.
Your portfolio should be as easy to navigate as possible for the viewer. Think of the method you want to use to organize work samples — publication, type of work, date published — and stick to one system.
You don’t need to have a separate page for every type of work. Scrolling through one long page is easier for the viewer than clicking through a bunch of different tabs.
Your contact information should be easy to find, but be careful about what you include publicly on the internet. (This goes for whatever’s on your résumé, too — do not include your address, and you probably don’t need to include your cell phone.)
Link to relevant social media accounts, but only ones you’d want your future boss to see. If you don’t use Instagram for journalism, it doesn’t need to be on your site.