Every once in a while you read a story that sticks with you. For some reason or another it resonates with you on a personal level and you know you’ll remember it for a while. Have you ever read something like this? These are the kinds of feature stories you want to include in your Clippings.me portfolio.
In this article, we’ll explain how feature stories can set your profile apart and show you five types of features to include in your writing portfolio.
Dynamic Feature Stories Can Make a Portfolio
A feature story is a piece of long-form writing that goes in depth on a particular subject. Unlike hard news stories, which are objective, to-the-point and often short, feature stories are characterized by being longer, memorable and highly illustrative. They leave the reader with a greater understanding of the subject matter, introduce one or more central characters, and aim to elicit emotion.
Feature stories are an ideal medium to showcase your dexterity as a writer. When used as the cornerstone for your Clippings.me portfolio, they can make a strong case for your abilities and demonstrate how your writing style is unique.
Feature stories aren’t only for news journalists; you’ll find features across all genres of writing, from magazines to online outlets and even publications dedicated to niche subjects. Below you’ll find five ideas of different kinds of features you can adapt to your skills and use in your portfolio. Each one is accompanied by a strong example from a Clippings.me writer.
Five Great Feature Story Ideas for Your Portfolio
A profile is an in-depth examination of a person, usually in the context of a particular area of their life like their career or a noteworthy experience. A profile typically includes an interview with the subject and one or more other people who know him.
A profile feature not only allows the writer to show off their exposition skills, but also their abilities as an interviewer. This is a key skill hiring managers and editors are looking for. A profile can showcase your capacity to connect with audiences and develop a central character, both components of a well-rounded writer.
For a great example of a profile feature, check out the item titled ‘Bit by Bit’ in the Clippings.me profile of freelance writer Richard Moss. In it, Moss profiles filmmaker Chris Blundell in the context of his years-long quest to produce a feature-length 8-bit animated comedy.
This profile piece allows Moss to highlight two distinct skills. First, he shows us that he can take a highly niche topic (8-bit film production) and make it interesting to a mainstream audience. And second, he demonstrates his ability to take a long, winding story that unfolded over several years and distill it into an easily digestible narrative. You can use profiles to showcase similar skills within your Clippings.me portfolio.
Not all news is covered on the front page. Some current events are best unpacked in long form as a news feature. A news feature allows the writer to go deeper than he or she might otherwise be able to in a regular news spot.
A news feature lends itself to in-depth reporting, which might be conducted over the course of months or even years. News features are effective for showcasing a journalist’s ability to develop trustworthy sources, discover facts and convey the deeper implications behind a news event.
Journalist Ryan Lowery has an excellent example of a news feature within his journalism portfolio on the prevalence of sex trafficking in New Mexico. In this sample, Lowery takes a newsworthy topic and dives deep, gathering interviews with victims, law enforcement officials and community stakeholders.
This example is effective because it highlights Lowery’s keen ability to build trust with vulnerable interview subjects (i.e. victims), work sources in high places (i.e. law enforcement) and uncover shortcomings among the people we’ve put in place to protect us. This is one of the core goals of journalism, and you can manifest it in a news feature.
A live-in feature is exactly what its name suggests: a piece meant to take you behind the scenes of a place and show you what it might be like to live there (or work there, travel there, and so on). A live-in is where a writer’s descriptive abilities shine. It’s the perfect place to show how you can take words and use them to make a scene come to life.
For a strong example of a live-in, check out Sebastian Herrerra’s piece on the Katy, Texas facility for juvenile delinquents found in his Clippings.me profile. From the sounds of boys’ voices shouting back and forth on the basketball court to the vaguely nostalgic smell of lunch wafting from the cafeteria, Herrerra brings the facility to life in the reader’s mind.
He also demonstrates another highly nuanced writing skull: the ability to use the description of a place as a jumping-off point for a larger exploration of the issues, in this case, those related to detaining minors.
As you know, a journalist is expected to remain objective in the majority of his or her reporting. The review feature, though, is one place where it’s acceptable and expected for a writer to editorialize. A review shares the writer’s critical assessment of an event, work of art, business, etc. If your goal is to do persuasive writing, review features can be highly effective for displaying your knack for persuasion.
Writer Tiffanie Wen shows us an example of review feature writing in her piece titled ‘Artful Endeavors.’ In it, Wen shares her take on the new expansion at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and in the process, shows off her chops as a writer on art, design and architecture.
In addition to being a great way to highlight your persuasive writing skills, reviews are also an excellent spot to demonstrate your expertise in a specific subject, be it art, video games, Manadrin Chinese, or almost any other interest under the sun. These are unique and will help differentiate you in a sea of other qualified writers.
On-the-spot writing centers around the writer’s firsthand account of a noteworthy event. While we typically think of on-the-spot features as pertaining to breaking news events like the aftermath of a tornado or a blazing wildfire, they can work for any kind of event from parades to press junkets. One of our favorite things about on-the-spot writing is that it leaves plenty of room for a writer to flex his creative muscle.
Freelance writer Grant Howitt gives us a shining example of this in his on-the-spot piece on a Panasonic event titled ‘Sneaking a Man With No Fashion Sense Into a Hip Headphones Launch.’ A writer could get hired based on that headline alone! In the piece, Howitt shares a colorful account of sneaking his buddy into a classy tech shindig, showcasing his talent for spinning a lively, highly amusing narrative from an otherwise commonplace PR event.
A few carefully selected features can greatly strengthen your online writing portfolio. By using the feature types outlined above, you can highlight your abilities as a writer and show off unique skills that will set you apart in the eyes of readers, editors and potential future bosses.
Musings and updates from the content management team at Clippings.me.