Writers and artists: It's time to digitize your portfolio
If you're a writer or someone who works primarily online, you likely rely on live published examples to keep your portfolio afloat. Whether that means you're a writer, an artist, or even a developer, it's important that you can point to these examples to ensure your portfolio remains relevant. But for writers and artists especially, days', weeks', or even years' worth of articles can be lost if a website is closed down and subsequently wiped of its content. Proving that you did the work you say you did on your resume by way of clips then becomes very difficult. Luckily for you, there are simple ways to get around the pitfalls of working online. Here are some simple and reliable ways to digitize and archive your online work, no matter your budget. Keep in mind, however, that the best way to put together a bulletproof archive is to use a combination of these methods instead of relying on just one alone.
Save everything locally
This may come as a no-brainer, but if you're creating work meant for the internet, you should never write directly in a CMS, create images and upload them without saving the original, or submit anything at all without having the original on your hard drive. Whether you write in Notepad or spend time in Photoshop before publishing your work to the internet, save a copy of it. Whether that means you need to put it in a folder that "DON'T DELETE," toss it on a USB drive or portable hard drive for safekeeping, or even print it out, make sure you have another copy saved. You can always type something again from a hard copy, but if the text is lost to the ether, then that's a problem — a big one.
Don't trust that cloud storage like Google Docs will always be there or work flawlessly. Treat cloud storage as another choice, not your only option when it comes to storage. If you establish a baseline here by doing this for all your work, you'll make it far easier on yourself later on when you have, say, a few hundred pieces under your belt compared to just a few things to keep track of at the beginning.
If you're looking forward to seeing a finished piece published online, you obviously will want to see the entire thing in flashing lights, so to speak. Say your artwork is seen on a prestigious gallery site, or republished on a Tumblr you enjoy. Maybe you finally made it on to Time's digital edition or published a story here at Mic. If you want to preserve the site exactly as it is, story and all, opt for Archive.is. Simply take the URL of the website you want to save, paste it into the URL bar, and let the website do its work. Your article or page you'd otherwise like to save will now be available to share online, even when the original host server goes down. Best of all, this is a free service. While the uptime is pretty decent and links here do seem to last a long time, though, it shouldn't be used as your only archival solution.
Alternatively, you can also use sites like Archive.is and The Wayback Machine to find websites that previously hosted your work to dig up your old clips. Even if you think there's no way your page got saved, it's always worth looking.
JournoPortfolio is a full-featured way to collect your work on a customizable online portfolio. The free plan includes plenty of cool features, including themes you can personalize, multiple page setup, and the ability to upload PDFs, images, or even via URL. This makes it a great option for writers especially, but artists can make use of it too.
Once you spend some cash for the premium service, however, it becomes even more useful. It costs $5 a month for a Plus account, which comes with unlimited articles and pages as well as a custom domain such as "your name.journoportfolio.com." For $10 a month, you get the Pro package, with all of that as well as a real domain ("yourname.com") plus automatic article backups and a password-protected portfolio. This option is clearly for creators who have a bit of money they don't mind parting with, but the tradeoff is brilliant: You get automatic backups of your work, so even if a website stops working, you can retrieve it via JournoPortfolio. You can also set your portfolio to point to your backup instead of a live link to make sure visitors see the actual content you made, not a 404.
WordPress is the crème de la crème of the online writing and blogging world. You can set up your own free account, set it to private, and even customize how your page looks however you wish. You can pay for a custom domain name, hosting account, and make things look uniquely "you" when it comes to this useful blogging tool. Most importantly, it's quick and easy to set up. If you don't mind shelling out a few bucks a month, you can purchase your own server space, then start posting your articles and other content regularly online for safekeeping. You can share it with the world as a type of digital portfolio, or you can instead opt to lock it down with a password.
No one can take your servers down (without you knowing about it, anyway), and your WordPress can serve as your base of operations for you to store all of your awesome clips. They're definitely going to come in handy someday.