How to Write a Journalism Portfolio In 10 Minutes

The face of journalism has changed dramatically in the last ten years. The internet is where news breaks first and where the world turns to get its updates on current events. As a journalist, it’s never been more important to have a strong presence online. 

Even if you work primarily in print or broadcast journalism, you need to have a way for readers, editors and hiring managers to find out more about you, and the place they’re going to want to do that is on the internet. 

In this article, we’ll explain how to write a journalism portfolio in 10 minutes, give you some examples of strong journalist portfolios, and introduce you to a free service that takes the hassle out of setting up your portfolio online. 

Before You Start: Why Build a Journalism Portfolio?

As a journalist, you’re your own biggest advocate. Whether it’s landing your next assignment or defending the freedom of the press, the responsibility falls on you to make a strong case for yourself and your work. To do this, it’s essential to have a journalism portfolio. 

For starters, a journalism portfolio can help you keep track of and categorize your best work. If you’ve been in the business for a number of years, you likely have countless clips from different publications, so many that you may have forgotten about some of the stories you’ve covered. A journalism portfolio ensures you don’t lose track of your best pieces and have an easy way to find and showcase them. 

Next, a journalism portfolio helps display your versatility as a writer. From crime stories to human interest pieces, short blurbs to in-depth profiles, you can give each one an organized place within your portfolio. This way, someone interested in hiring you or browsing more of your work can easily find what they’re looking for. 

A journalism portfolio makes it easy for your readers to find more of your work in one place. Even if a reader remembers and Googles your name (which is already a tough feat to accomplish), they’re likely going to find a random smattering of your work with no user-friendly way to browse it. 

A piece of work from five years ago might show up above a piece from last week, and so on. Setting up a structured portfolio gives readers an intuitive way to read more of your reporting. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a journalism portfolio can help you get hired. In journalism, your resume can only take you so far. In fact, we’d argue that your portfolio is the most important factor in helping you land new work. As such, you’ll want to make sure it’s readily available online and frequently updated with your newest pieces of reporting. 

Get Inspiration For What To Put In Your Journalism Portfolio

Your journalism portfolio should serve as an at-a-glance overview of your best work. In addition to selecting pieces you think show off the quality of your writing, you’ll also want to select pieces that show your range. 

Here are a few shining examples of journalist portfolios: 

Bianca Silva – Environmental Journalist

Bianca’s journalism portfolio bio reads like a narrative, drawing you in with the story of her personal journey as a freelance reporter. She makes it easy to get a feel for her writing style and interests. Bianca separates her work by publication, which gives the viewer an idea of her journalistic accomplishments. She also includes a section for her own blog, which is a great way for journalists to show a bit of personality. 

Tina Lofthouse – Journalist and Editor

Tina’s portfolio takes a tone similar to that of a cover letter, giving a brief overview of her skills and highlighting some of her strengths. You can see her journalistic skills right off the bat with her objective, straightforward voice. Tina categorizes her writing by topic (food and drink, travel, legal, etc.) which works well for showing off her versatility as a writer.

Alastair Mandonald – European Affairs Reporter

Alastair sets up his journalism portfolio much like a Twitter bio: succinct and matter-of-fact. He wastes no time getting to the point, which is a desirable quality in any journalist. Alastair groups his coverage by news event (Egyptian elections, Libya coverage, etc.), demonstrating his strong subject matter expertise. Finally, Alastair makes it easy to learn more about him, linking out to his Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. It’s always a good thing when you can connect with readers on more than one platform. 

Hugues Makaba Ntoto – Journalism and Blogger

Hugues leads off his portfolio with a first-person introduction and conversational tone, which instantly gives the reader a grasp on his voice as a lifestyle and culture writer. He structures his portfolio much like an online magazine, with strong images that accompany each clip and draw the viewer in. You can instantly tell from a glance at Hugues’ portfolio what types of stories he excels at covering. 

Your journalism portfolio is not only a way to showcase your best work and help people find you, but to give viewers an instant impression of who you are as a journalist and your style as a writer. Think of your portfolio as a piece of editorial work in and of itself, the subject at hand being your own unique voice, writing style and journalistic prowess. 

You can browse many other examples of journalist portfolios here for inspiration to use when setting up your own. 

Select Samples For Your Portfolio 

The samples in your portfolio need not be limited to big-name publications like The New York Times or People Magazine. These days, editors understand that smaller publications, niche websites, and blogs play their own significant roles in the distribution of news and the demonstration of your skills as a journalist. 

Bear in mind, also, that your journalism portfolio doesn’t have to be limited to solely print work. The beauty of the internet is that you can link to audio clips, video clips, and even photojournalism as it suits your strengths.  

Here are some ideas for the types of journalism to include in your portfolio: 

The bottom line is this: if you’re proud of a piece of your reporting and it conveys your strengths as a journalist, you should include it in your portfolio. 

If You Don’t Have Samples, Create Some

If you don’t have many samples to build your journalism portfolio, don’t get discouraged. Many contemporary journalists get their start as bloggers or freelancers doing their own independent reporting before their work gets picked up by a major outlet. If you don’t have samples, consider starting a blog on a platform like WordPress and creating fact-based posts on a topic you’re passionate about. You can link to individual posts as samples. 

You can also start building your portfolio by covering news events close to home and using those yet-to-be-published drafts as samples. Write a profile on an interesting person you know. Put together a synopsis on a political rally or a community event. Interview leaders who are looking to make a difference and explain why it matters to the public. Nearly anything can be turned into a piece of journalism if you only look for a unique angle.  

By getting creative, you can quickly build a journalism portfolio even if you haven’t landed a byline in your dream publication just yet. 

Creating an Online Journalism Portfolio

You’re great at writing, but coding websites? Not so much. But in order to attract new customers, you need something online you can share with them. To that end, a slick, tightly-organized online portfolio might just be what you need to attract more outlets and get more work. 

Create Your Bio And Upload Your Clips

Once you’ve signed up, you can create your bio (remember the strong examples we referenced above?) and start adding clips of your best work. It’s a drag-and-drop interface, so if you can use a smartphone, you can use this platform. 

Once you’ve uploaded or linked to clips, you can add media, like photos and video, to accompany them and group them into categories of your choice. 

Set Up Categories For Your Work

Now that you’ve made your writing samples accessible, you’ll want to organize them into categories so readers can easily find them. Here are some ideas for how to categorize your samples:

  • By publication
  • By topic (sports, lifestyle, politics, etc.)
  • By medium (print, broadcast, digital, etc.)
  • By geographical location 
  • By time frame

Don’t get boxed in by what others are doing; categorize your work in the way that makes the most sense for your specific samples. Just like that, you’ll have a professional, searchable, and shareable journalism portfolio to help you land more work and cement your reputation as a journalist. 

Add Bells And Whistles with Clippings.me

That’s where sites like Clippings.me come in. Clippings.me is a free online service that enables journalists to build professional-looking online portfolios in minutes, with no web development required. You can get up and running on Clippings.me in ten minutes or less. While there are a lot of online portfolio websites out there, 

Head to Clippings.me and begin by signing up for a free account. 

The free version of Clippings.me is guaranteed for life, but if you want additional features like the ability to use a custom domain (www.yourname.com), further personalize the look and feel of your portfolio or access in-depth analytics, you can upgrade to a premium Clippings.me account for a small monthly fee. There are no contracts; you can cancel a premium membership at any time. 

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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.