Portfolio Websites for Journalists: Where to Begin
By Jennifer Nicole Sullivan
During the SPJ National Conference in 2010, I realized my folder of photocopied newspaper clips was so antiquated. I needed an online portfolio. Unfortunately, I never learned how to create a website in school. But I didn’t want to pay someone to design one, so I decided to tackle this project on my own.
Today—although I’m still in the process of uploading clips—my portfolio website, www.jennifernicolesullivan.com, is up and fully functional. And I did it all without taking an HTML or web design class. So if you’re in the same position I was in, just follow these simple steps to launch your own website:
1. Buy a domain: As Claudia Amezcua mentioned in her Gen J post “WhyYourDomainNameIsImportant.com” on November 3, 2011, select a domain that reflects your name and/or byline. My byline is Jennifer Nicole Sullivan because there are hundreds of Jennifer Sullivans in this world. I bought my domain at Dreamhost.com for $9.95 a year.
2. Select a web host provider: After polling my friends, I selected Dreamhost to host my website for $119.40 per year. So far, so good.
3. Select a publishing platform: I chose WordPress.org to create my website and to use as a content management system (not WordPress.com which supports and hosts blogs). WordPress is free.
4. Select a template: You don’t need to design a website from scratch. Just select a free template from WordPress or from the thousands of free templates online. Some templates are available for purchase only (mine was purchased).
5. Find a friend who knows WordPress: Luckily I knew someone who helped me upload my template onto WordPress. My other good friend is the book, “WordPress for Dummies.”
6. Play and explore: I figured out how to tweak the HTML code in my template and upload content to my site simply by putting in the hours. My method was trial and error. If I didn’t know a certain HTML code, I searched Google for information.
It takes a lot of patience and persistence, but you’ll feel great when you have a nice, professional portfolio to share with future employers. These are the basic steps I took, but I’m certain there are better routes to take.
Know of a great journalism portfolio you can recommend? Have any portfolio tips or tricks? We’d love to hear your ideas and see your portfolios!
Jennifer Nicole Sullivan is a copywriter for Real Simple magazine in New York City. She’s also a fashion, arts and entertainment contributing writer for the weekly newsmagazine Newport Mercury in Newport, R.I. The Dallas native is a former features reporter at Corpus Christi Caller- Times. She has degrees in theater and radio-TV-film from The University of Texas at Austin and an M.A. in English from The University of Rhode Island. Visit JenniferNicoleSullivan.com and follow her on Twitter @trendyjenny.
Unfettered access to those in power, a push for government transparency and a vigorous defense of the First Amendment are perhaps more important now than ever before. Join us as we fight for the public’s right to know as an SPJ Supporter. Or, if you’re a journalist, we welcome you to stand with us as a Professional, Student or Retired Member.