January 25, 2018

We often pump out so much work that we forget or don't have the time to look back at what we've done. That often means that by the time we need to reference it again, or show it to a potential new employer, it has somehow vanished from the internet.

Luckily, there's a glut of tools that make it easy to save and share the work that you've accomplished. Some even save articles in case the sites they're on go down. 

Hare: Ren. I have a late January blues (yes, even in sunny Florida.) We need some tools that will perk us all up. What do you have this week?

LaForme: January is always a miserable time for me. It’s cold and the holidays are over. And it hasn’t been an easy couple weeks for the journalism industry, has it?

Hare: It hasn’t. Layoffs. Trouble at the top levels. It’s scary to watch and easy to feel like you could lose your job at any moment. I wrote a few years ago about some advice for people recently laid off from people who’d been laid off. But those tools were emotional and social ones. Are there tools we can suggest that solidly help people feel a little bit more steady in unsteady times?

LaForme: One of the best career moves you can make, whether you’re employed or unemployed, is to make and maintain a solid portfolio that really shows off your work. There’s sort of a twofold benefit there.

One, the obvious one, is that that you have this compendium of your best stuff that’s visible to the public. That’s an obvious and probably necessary boon if you’re applying for new jobs or just looking for a more stable one.

The other big benefit is that putting it together feels great. It’s an opportunity to reflect on your work and realize that you’ve done some cool stuff. Whether you’re in the middle of the job hunt or just feeling a little unsure, that can be such an important boost.

So I thought we could take a look at some of the portfolio sites that cater specifically to journalists today. How’s that sound?

Hare: Like something we all need. Tell me more.

LaForme: Before we even start, I should say that you can obviously design your own portfolio site and have full flexibility and all that and blah blah blah. But there are plenty of people out there who don’t know how to do that, don’t want to know how to do that or don’t have the cash to do that. That’s why I’m sticking with pre-existing platforms here.

It seems to me that the big ones for journalists are Muck Rack, Clippings.me, Contently, Pressfolios and Journo Portfolio. They all allow you to set up a little landing page where you can drop your clips. Some sites limit your clips if you’re on a free account, and they all arrange them in various artful ways.

My favorite general portfolio of the lot is Muck Rack. It’s not the prettiest, but it asks a lot of great questions and puts all that information out there in an easy-to-read way. They put you on lists of media people so you’re easily findable, though if you’re already inundated with pitches that might not be a good thing. And the free account for journalists is awesome, mostly because they make their money by linking journalists to PR folks who pay for the connections.

If you’re looking to freelance, Contently might be better. You get unlimited clips and it’s also free for journalists. Their whole thing is connecting you to companies and organizations who are looking for freelancers, so that’s a good place to go for that.

Hare: So it’s as easy as setting up an account and then dropping links?

LaForme: Yes! On all of these, the whole deal is that you sign up and fill out your profile and then start dropping the links to your articles in. You’re allowed a limited amount of articles with Clippings.me, Journo Portfolio and Pressfolios, but it seems like Muck Rack and Contently allow for as many as you’d like. In most cases, these tools are grabbing the images and headlines from the article links, but you may need to add them manually depending on how each tool sees your site.

Hare: (Sidebar reminding you to save your own archives off the sites where you work. Because you never know.) Okay, who do you think should do this? Any reasons not to?

LaForme: It seems like something we could all benefit from. Whether you’re looking for a new job, are in one you’re happy with but might be considering a promotion or a side gig or if you just want to keep a handy list of your articles, it’s good to get in the habit.

One thing I like about Clippings.me is that it accepts PDFs of your articles, which you can grab right from most browsers. That means they’ll be there even if your site goes down (ahem, Gothamist) or an “upgrade” to a new CMS wipes out some of your old stuff (ahem, just about everyone). But you can absolutely do that without using Clippings.me, too, which we’ve talked about before.

Hare: Anything you don’t like about these tools? Are they kind of “LinkedIn for Journalism?” Do they get a bit crowded or hard to stand out on?

LaForme: I mean, the biggest issue for me is that some of them charge to gather clips. And I totally get that they need to pay the bills and keep the lights on or whatever, but it’s a little bit hard for me to recommend a $15/month service to a journalist who might be out of work. That’s why I like Muck Rack so much — it’s free and does a great job.

Also, yeah, they’re a whole lot like LinkedIn. If you’re not looking for pitches or side gigs, some of them can be a little bit much. I’m sure, on the other side of the aisle, that having thousands of journalists in one spot can be a bit much. How do you know which one to pick? It can be hard to stand out.

I’ll go back to my disclaimer. Some people can’t or don’t want to make their own portfolio sites. But it might be the best way to go if you’re looking for flexibility or a bit of extra pizazz.

Hare: Lord knows we all need some pizazz right now.

LaForme: The word “pizazz” reminds me of some 90s commercial from Nickelodeon that I can’t quite remember. Something to do with hair. Anyway!

Ultimately, the most important thing is to get in the habit of highlighting and elevating your best work and saving it for posterity. You’re your own best advocate. Make sure you’re doing a good job, you know?

Hare: Seriously. We need you.

Journalism Portfolio Sites Need-to-Know

Features: Add clips from URLs, upload PDFs, add multimedia and create sections. Upload clips via Facebook Messenger bot. Arrange order of clips. Customizable header. Link to social profiles. 
Price: Free for up to 10 clips. $5.99/month for unlimited clips, custom URL, Google Analytics stats, a password protected page and spam-protected contact form.

Features: Add clips from URLs, upload PDFs, sort clips by type. Link to social profiles. Allow premium Contently clients to contact you for freelance work.
Price: Free for journalists.

Journo Portfolio 
Features: Add clips from URLs, upload PDFs, upload images, write articles directly on site. Create multiple pages (contact, about, etc.) on paid account. Various pre-formatted content blocks, themes and fonts available. Allow user subscriptions. Basic analytics.
Price: Free for 10 clips and one page. $10/month for unlimited clips, unlimited pages, custom URL, article backups, privacy options, HTTPS. 

Muck Rack
Features: Add clips from URLs, upload PDFs, link to RSS feed. Link to social profiles. Custom URL. Share awards. Designate a best way to pitch you. Answer a series of interview questions.
Pricing: Free for journalists. 

Features: Add clips from URLs, upload PDFs or via Google Chrome plugin. Full-text backups of every clip. Link to social profiles. Custom URL. Make yourself available to pitches. 
Pricing: $9.99/month for up to 250 clips. $14.99/month for unlimited clips, expanded story backup (includes screenshots), custom domain name, custom Pressfolio access, analytics information.

Editor's note: This is the latest in a series of articles that highlight digital tools for journalists. You can read the others here. Got a tool we should talk about? Let Ren know!

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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