Create a top-notch journalist portfolio website

So, you’re ready to showcase your best work online?

Many of the students attending our WordPress workshops this January Academy wanted to learn how to customize WordPress themes to create portfolio sites. But styling and coding can only help you execute your vision. First, you’ll need a plan.

Before you dive into building your online portfolio, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What are you selling? In other words, what is your specialty?
  • Who is your audience and what do you want them to know about you?
  • What type of media do you want to include (e.g., articles, photos, audio, videos, graphics, multimedia packages, social media feeds, etc.)?
  • Very important: how much time can you devote to updating the site?

By answering these questions you’ll identify what you need for your site’s content and the tools to display it.

While you’re setting up your website, consider these tips:

  • Be your harshest editor: Only include work you want to show off. If you’re not an avid tweeter, then why include a Twitter feed?
  • Think clean: Keep pages to a specific subject or media type and use clear language for your navigation menu.
  • Avoid the dreaded broken link: Upload media files to your server whenever possible to retain complete control of them. You should also offer the option to download .pdf versions of linked articles in case the original site changes its URLs.
  • Make it your own: Use colors, fonts and writing that reflects your style. It’s also a good idea to apply the same aesthetic you use in your portfolio sites on your other social media pages (e.g., YouTube channel, Twitter, etc.).
  • Include contact information.
  • Job Hunting? Be Bold: Impress a potential employer by customizing a site (or sub-domain) just for them. Think of it as a multimedia cover letter. The people at 37Signals posted four excellent sites that helped prospective employees land jobs at this Chicago-based web company.

Next, let’s take a look at the different ways fellow journalists have used WordPress to establish their online presence:

Abby Niezgoda, Student Multimedia Journalist

Abby Niezgoda‘s portfolio site features a short bio and head shots slideshow on her home page. She also includes her recent work and blog posts, social networking links, a (now defunct) Twitter feed and links to recommendations and her resume.

Bob Sasha, Multimedia Producer & Instructor

Bob Sasha‘s portfolio site is all about his work. This award-winning producer uses a large rotating slideshow in the center of the screen to showcase his work. The main navigation menu organizes the work by categories including photos, video and teaching. Other features are a photo blog (an excerpt of the most recent post appears on the footer of the homepage), an about page, a (broken) Twitter feed and drop-down archives navigations.

Andrew Burton, Multimedia Journalist and Photographer

Andrew Burton chose a simple slideshow for his homepage. Users can’t control the slideshow nor click on the images to zoom or learn more about them. His portfolio is organized by galleries and each gallery can be accessed using the navigation menu on the homepage. The about page includes his contact info (also located above the slideshow on the homepage), his portrait and a pdf of his resume.

Kelly West, Photojournalist

Photojournalist Kelly West‘s site navigation is on the sidebar. The simple slideshow on the homepage only features four images but allows the visitor to navigate between them.

Gabriel Dance, Multimedia Journalist

Gabriel Dance‘s website is a little different from what we’ve seen so far. The homepage is a static page featuring an image and two del.icio.us feeds of his recent work and interesting articles he comes across on the web. The top navigation is missing a direct link to his WordPress-powered blog (you can find it by going to his About page).

Chris Jordan, Multimedia Producer and Photographer

Chris Jordan‘s homepage features an embedded video and thumbnails linking to other multimedia clips. His video and photo galleries display thumbnails and blurbs for each of his projects. The footer has an “about” sentence, and Twitter and blog feeds.

Have a portfolio website you’ve been working on? Leave a comment with a link and we’ll give you feedback.