Online self-branding – building a web presence with a digital portfolio

Fancy a career in the media? Be warned – it’s getting tougher
The industry as it was 15 years ago
The industry as it is today
[DISCLAIMER – images are subjective, conceptual and unscientific]

How can you stand out and succeed in such a market?

You need two key things:

  • Visibility
  • Credibility


  • Digital portfolio
  • Blogging
  • Web sites
  • Social media
  • Online networking

Digital portfolio
Create an e-magazine calling card
Digital services such as Issuu allow you to upload digital files to the web and create magazine-style content in an interactive Flash-based player.

  • Looks slick
  • Shows off your print publishing skills
  • Shows creativity and initiative


  • Not everyone likes the format
  • Not a tool for developing relationships – passive calling card

  • Free, or very cheap, to set up
  • Easy to learn, user-friendly technology
  • Can have a wide reach
  • Can be very targeted
  • Useful platform to demonstrate expertise


  • Needs commitment
  • Long-form blogging is in decline


Blogger (

WordPress (

Which is best? There’s a useful debate here:

  • Instant monetisation through Google Adsense and Amazon affiliate links
  • Can use Javascript


  • Better upgrade path to sophisticated self-hosted site

WordPress journalism blogs – young and ambitious journalist – established professional
Web sites
Use as a static portfolio/calling card/CV

  • Can be more attractive than a simple blog
  • Tailor it to your key selling message
  • Less time and effort to maintain


  • Won’t get you found by search engines as easily
  • Static sites are a bit 1990s
  • Doesn’t help you interact with web users


  • Create your own pages and upload to a web host
  • Use a web service such as

Standalone Flash site
VisionWorksTV – difficult to update; difficult to find online
How a static site backs up a blog
Social media and online networking
Increasingly the forum for journalistic exchange within the industry.

Facebook is much less useful – transfer your Facebook skills and drive to other platforms where you find your target audience (ie employers).
Seek out opportunities to interact with potential employers/media professionals:

  • Blog comments
  • Twitter
  • Forums

Engage • Respond • Interact

Journalism is a conversationtake part!
Integrate your efforts
Tie all these together in a site with

  • Regular updates
  • Relevant content
  • Social media links
  • Porfolio pages

Web hosting and domain names

What is web hosting?
Here’s a downloadable guide.

  • Web hosting = where all your content is stored – the words, images, video and everything else that makes up your site

Where to get your hosting?
I use Bluehost

  • Reliable
  • Good support
  • Pretty easy to use – especially WordPress set-up
  • Not too expensive (try to wait for its special offers)


  • Can’t use domains

Some of my students recommend Just Host

  • Cheap (especially for three-year-plus contracts)
  • Can use domains


  • Slightly less easy to set up WordPress

What’s a domain name?

  • Domain name = the web address of your site.

Where to get your domain name?
Can register a name with your host – simpler to set up, usually get the first one free with your contract
Many others offer domain registration – biggest seems to be (adds complexity to set-up – you have to link the domain to the web host)
[NOTE: These companies will pay me an affiliate commission if you follow the links here to buy domains or hosting of your own. Feel free to go elsewhere – or visit them without going through this site.]
Free services such as Blogger, WordPress and Wix do all the hosting for you.

  • Free (obviously)
  • Simple
  • Reliable


  • Limited functionality
  • Can carry advertising/branding for the host so less professional for you
  • Less control over look and functions
  • Free service limits your domain name (must include or

Sources for jobs (Now arguably the de facto journalist bible – a good online success case study in itself)
Media Guardian (Biggest and most high profile – but needs filtering)
Jobs4Journalists (Linked to former journo bible Press Gazette, which also has a jobs wire of latest vacancies)
HoldTheFrontPage (Niche journalism site from Northcliffe Media)
Gorkana (“Media database and portal for PRs and journalists” – getting more important)
Other possible sources
CiB – British Association of Communicators in Business (internal comms and PR)
PR Week jobs (PR)
People Per Hour (online freelance marketplace – not really recommended: pay is very low, job briefs are inept)
Fleet Street Blues (regular posts about jobs – sometimes ones you won’t have seen elsewhere)
Freelance Unbound (I have posts on tips for freelance success and surviving recession etc)
Check your contacts on Twitter etc – I’ve had a feature writing commission and responded to a request for freelance sub-editors on Twitter.