If you’re a working journalist (or even an aspiring one), you’re probably getting tired of hearing that it’s important to build your personal brand. Now, leaving aside the obnoxiousness of the phrase “personal brand,” I suspect we hear it so much because it’s kinda true. A startup called Pressfolios aims to make it easy for journalists to build that brand through an online portfolio.
“Journalists probably best served by adopting the mindset of entrepreneur rather than a serial employee,” said co-founder Marc Samson. ”If they can put their best foot forward, they’re going to be better served in their careers, and a big part of that is keeping track of your published work and developing a professional identity.”
There are some obvious questions: Isn’t an online portfolio just a website? And aren’t there already tons of website-building tools? Well, yes, but there are some unique challenges for journalists, like the fact that old articles can be taken offline, and that you may be generating new content constantly but you don’t have time to add it to the portfolio.
For example, there’s a section of my personal website where I highlight some of my past work, but I haven’t updated it in a year, and one of the articles is no longer online. Samson told me there are “three core components working in symphony — our platform simultaneously serves as a personal repository, a cloud backup service, and a website builder, all wrapped into one.” So instead of just linking to the stories that you want to highlight, Pressfolios creates a backup version, as well. The profile is also specifically designed to highlight the kinds of things a journalist would want to highlight — the links to past content are pretty prominent, and there’s also a space for listing skills and a detailed biography. You can see my (very basic) profile here.
The site is leaving private beta today and adding a $12 per month pro version. New features include the ability to include RSS integration (making it easy to add your latest stories to your portfolio, and to even do it in bulk if you want); custom domains (so your Pressfolio doesn’t have to be a Pressfolio.com URL); and private Pressfolios (which makes it less obvious to your bosses that you’re looking for a new job).
What Pressfolios doesn’t offer is significant integration with social networks — you can link to your profiles, but that’s it. Samson acknowledged that a reporter with an active account and a significant following can attract a potential employer’s “curiosity,” but he argued that reporters probably aren’t going to “get hired based on their social media accounts.”
I like the product and I plan to build out my profile even further (though check back in a few weeks). However, I did wonder whether there’s enough of a market to build a big company here — after all, journalism is neither a lucrative nor fast-growing profession. Samson countered that journalists sometimes sell themselves short, and while he doesn’t necessarily think Pressfolios will become a big, venture-backed company (which is why it’s self-funded), he does see a real opportunity here.