How to stand out online as a student digital journalist

Student journalist working on his online presence

These days, it feels like breaking into journalism is a more competitive landscape than ever before. So what can you do to rise above the status quo as a student digital journalist?

If you want to be taken seriously as a digital journalist in the 21st century, having an online presence is not only recommended, it is a must. Here are some tips for how to stand out with your online presence:

Clean up your social profiles

A student clicking on mutliple social media profiles
Credit: NorWood Themes

When you’re striving to be a digital journalist, you should have a strategy when it comes to your social media profiles. Your online profiles are how employers will try to get to know the ‘real’ you, and showing you already have a good command of online media will set you apart from the rest of the student digital journalists.

Don’t forget to consider things like your profile picture, cover photo, and most importantly, your bio! That small character count is your chance to make a good first impression on whoever looks at your profile.

Of course, it goes without saying, (but we thought we’d remind you!) that you should refrain from posting anything online that you wouldn’t be comfortable with a potential employer seeing.

Extra Tip: Look at the social media profiles of people you admire or aspire to be like, and see how they present themselves to help inform your own social strategy. Maybe even create a Twitter list!

Find your ‘beat’

A guy finding his beat
Credit: Aravind Kumar

A ‘beat’ is a niche or specific topic you’re interested in. Developing a beat is good for your online presence because it shows what you’re passionate about and will put you on the pathway to becoming an “influencer” in the field or topic you want to work in.

For example, if you apply for an arts and culture job, the hiring manager may peek at your Twitter or Instagram profile. If your posts frequently discuss arts and culture related material, or if you have your own blog on the topic, they will see that you have a genuine interest in the topic.

Extra tip: Developing a ‘beat’ for yourself can also be good for your online searchability! Find out more in our SEO article here.

Prioritise quality over quantity

A good quality Instagram profile
Credit: Jakob Owens

Have a Twitter account? Great. Want to create a LinkedIn group? Even better. BUT, when you create social profiles or launch online projects, be sure you can update them on a regular basis with quality content and information.

An employer will not be impressed if they Google your LinkedIn account, only to find that you don’t have a profile picture nor any work experience listed. When someone Googles you, they want to see content. No matter what channel you are on or where you have an online presence, ensure that there is good, professional journalist-level material for people to see.

Extra tip: Whatever you do with your social profiles, always remember consistency is key. Whether it’s the topics you talk about or the style of the images for your online profiles, make sure it all seamlessly flows together. You may even want to have a mentor or fellow journalism colleague take a look to give you critical feedback.

Create an online portfolio/website

Online portfolio
Credit: Jens Kreuter

If you are a digital journalist, having an easily accessible online portfolio is kind of a big deal.

There are a lot of websites where you can quickly and easily create an online portfolio if you aren’t web-savvy, such as Wix and Atavist.

If you are looking for a more robust option for displaying your work (and maybe have a blog on the side) WordPress and Squarespace are some of the most popular CMSs used by bloggers and individuals.

Learning your way around of these CMSs will also give you valuable skills for the workplace, as you may have to be plugging in content into the CMS for the company you end up working for.

Take your visuals into consideration too when creating a portfolio. Much like your social media profiles, you should be considering themes, color codes, and font styles. While these things may seem minor, they all contribute to having a succinct style that will make your website easier to navigate.

Extra tip: For your online portfolio and blog, create a content calendar for yourself that works for your schedule, so you can post new content on a regular basis for readers to see.

Do you have any other tips that are good for student digital journalists? Leave us a comment!

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