Using a third-party clipping/portfolio service for freelancers

This post originated with some online discussions with my freelancer peers on keeping track of your clips or portfolio spurred me to do further research. There are six major providers that I know of, broken into two rough categories. I have provided links to my own sites in the case of the free providers, and showcase those who have paid for their sites.

Those that are mostly about the clips:

Those that offer a bunch of other features besides tracking your clips: 

I went overboard with my page in Contently, putting more than 400 article links together.  I think they have the best of the three systems. Not sure that after you have more than 25 stories in your portfolio if it really matters and then you still have to weed out the dead links manually.  I was into them early on, when they offered a decent wage (defined as >$1/word). They mostly offer much, much less. A recent inquiry from an assignment editor for this rate resulted in no real response back from the actual client, so consider that before you invest much time here.

I was also early into Skyword, and they have suffered much the same fate as Contently, including moving to the cheap side of the fee structure. So steer clear if you can. 

MB has a bunch of different services, including a database of FL opps, a page of links to your published work (which you have to manually construct), links to various editorial mastheads and edit cals, tons of online courses (such as fact checking for journalists, essential digital journalism skills, and building your brand voice), and ways to build your career. You can sign up for a 14-day trial. Here is Esther Shein’s site. She told me that like Contently and Skyword, she got a lot of business early on but now uses it mostly for maintaining her clips. 

My recommendations? First, if you haven’t built a portfolio page somewhere online, now is the time to get started. Take a couple of days, find 10 (or whatever) of your best pieces, and just collect the URLs (if they are still online) or construct a page of PDFs (if not, if you can reconstruct them somehow). Find some images that would be relevant to attach each piece, and decide how you are going to present yourself. Dan Dern has a lot of comments about different ways to do this that could be helpful if not overwhelming.

Besides the vendors mentioned above, you have a few other choices. I still recommend you set up your own clips website outside of these systems for complete control (I use my own hosted WordPress for this:  blog.strom.com, and a mailing list hosted using mailman.) You also can construct various LinkedIn pages that showcase your work. 

Second, if you want to maintain a historical and automatic archive of your work, look at either MuckRack or Authory. The other four require you to manually enter your piece, which wears thin after the initial effort to get things setup. MuckRack is free, it mostly will find your bylined pieces (there doesn’t seem to be any method to what gets found and what doesn’t), and you don’t have to do anything once you set up your page. Authority will cost you, and you have to tell them what pub to look for your stuff, but then they collect the piece and preserve it forever, even if the pub moves or deletes your cheese (that is a problem for the other four providers, where you have to manually maintain the links). Todd Weiss’ Authority page can be found here for reference. Also, both Authory and MuckRack will connect to your social feeds and display what you post there. 

Another use for these providers is to track who views your purple prose. Contently, Skyword, and MediaBistro don’t have any. The other three have some — MuckRack has the best analytics, Clippings.me integrates with Google Analytics, and Authory has some data. 

Finally, and I can’t emphasize enough, this effort for building a portfolio should be complemented by constructing and regularly writing an email newsletter. That is the single best thing that I ever did to build my business, and continues to pay dividends 25 or so years later. 

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