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How to Create a Strong Editor Portfolio (in 6 Easy Steps)

There are some writing jobs that don’t lend themselves well to the format of a traditional portfolio. Editing, for example, is one of them. As an editor, you’re less of a content producer and more of a content strategist, which can be difficult to showcase with a set of clips alone. 

To create a strong editor portfolio, you need to do more than show off your prowess for correcting grammar and polishing syntax; you need to demonstrate your analytical approach to developing a story and coaching a writer through it. To create a winning editor portfolio, follow these six steps. 

1. Showcase what makes you unique

Writers are expected to adapt their voice and style to suit the piece at hand, but it’s the editor’s job to mold that voice and style. Thus, it’s important to lead with your own unique voice when building your portfolio. 

What’s your philosophy on writing? How do you approach a new assignment? What makes a piece interesting to you? You can use a short bio at the top of your portfolio to answer these questions. If you have expertise in a specific area, like healthcare, finance or any other niche subject, this is another major selling point to show off in your portfolio. 

Clippings.me makes it easy to set yourself apart with an intuitive, user-friendly interface for building your editor portfolio. You can add a photo, tagline and bio to grab readers’ attention, then share additional links to your website and social media profiles where readers can learn more about you. 

Signing up for Clippings.me is free and only takes a few minutes. Register for an account and start building your editor portfolio now by clicking here.  

2. Demonstrate your thinking

To show your strength as an editor and connect with the right jobs, it’s important that your portfolio shows potential clients and hiring managers how you think through a story. Sharing links to story clips on their own doesn’t accomplish this. 

Instead of merely using story links, consider structuring your editing portfolio a little differently with customized files that offer comments on the behind-the-scenes work that went into a story. For example, you might share the PDF of a completed piece with sidebar notes highlighting the decisions behind the structure, flow, and selection of details that made it into the final draft.

With Clippings.me, you can build your portfolio by linking to URLs and by uploading a wide range of file types from your computer, so the options for how you format your clips are endless. 

3. Showcase your work across platforms

More than 70% of digital users browse content across multiple devices. Of those, 90% of them use multiple screens sequentially to accomplish a task, like consuming a piece of content, over time. In light of this content consumption shift, today’s hiring managers are looking for editors who can strategize multi-dimensional content that bridges many different platforms, mediums and devices. 

A story might have a full-length version that appears in print, a slide-show format that appears online, and a video that is exclusively shared on Facebook. All of these pieces and their unique angles must be planned in the early phases of a story for proper execution. For many editors with experience in the digital world, this has become second nature, but it doesn’t make it any less important to document as an editing skill. 

Use your online portfolio to feature work that spans platforms, taking advantage of rich media like photos, video and audio where applicable. With Clippings.me, it’s easy to share multimedia files like audio and video by linking to them on a platform like SoundCloud, YouTube or Vimeo.

In addition to showcasing multi-platform work, it’s also a good idea to also diversify the category of edited content you include in your portfolio. For example, you might include copy editing on an advertisement, long-form editing on a magazine profile, and investigative editing on an exposé. 

4. Discuss how you coach writers

A key piece of your job as an editor is to work collaboratively with writers, coaching them and shaping the story based on your vision and what will resonate with your audience. You can strengthen your editing portfolio by showcasing this aspect of your work. 

How can you do this when only the final version gets published? By using before and afters. A side-by-side comparison between the first draft (complete with your notes) and the final published version is a powerful way to show your advisory skills in action. Uploading documents that show tracked changes is another good way to do this. If you deal with mostly long-form pieces, pull excerpts of the parts with the most dramatic transformations. 

This brings up an important point editors must keep in mind not only when building a portfolio, but all the time: always keep good records. Because so much of an editor’s work is based in the process of developing a piece of content, it’s necessary to save not just the final piece, but the stepping stones that got you there. 

The last thing you want when you come across an intriguing job post is to be frantically combing back through years of emails looking for ‘before’ samples you can pull. Instead, keep a dedicated folder for each individual project where all of its associated documents and correspondence can live. 

5. Show how you solve problems

When developing any meaningful story, challenges are going to crop up along the way. Interviews fall through, sources back out, the story takes an unexpected turn that renders the original angle moot. It’s part of the process. The strongest editors use their portfolios to convey how they work through these problems over the course of a story. 

One Clippings.me feature you can use to do this is the caption tool. Any time you upload a clip to your portfolio, you can add a short description to accompany it that shares a bit more about how you developed the story. You can also add a caption post-upload by mousing over the clipping and clicking ‘edit.’

Another way to do this is to add a cover sheet to the PDF file of a clip. The cover sheet can function as a short overview of where the project started and the challenges you overcame as it unfolded. 

6. Document your process 

We’ve already touched on the importance of demonstrating how you work through a story with a writer, but you don’t have to rely on the written copy of the story alone to do this. You can further bolster the strength of your editing portfolio by documenting and sharing your process. 

Clip snippets from emails and text messages where key editorial decisions were made. Share drafts of headline options and explain why you went with the final option you did. If you did some heavy lifting in researching a story, share key documents or other source material you uncovered. 

Building a great editing portfolio is a lot like telling a story. It takes the reader on a journey with you and shows them your skill in advancing a story from a mere idea to a fully fleshed out piece of writing, and everything that happens along the way. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box beyond the traditional portfolio format to make the best case for your strength as an editor. 

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Want to win more pitches?

Tired of hearing crickets after sending your query letters?

Grab our free ebook "Winning Work with Query Letters" and learn how to craft the kind of pitch that gets editors to get back to you.