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.

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