How to Build a Portfolio When You Have No Idea Where to Start

If you ever want to be a creator of any kind, you will need a body of work to prove your skill. But let’s face it, getting an internship at your favourite magazine or publishers is tough, and even if that golden offer dangles itself in front of you and you eagerly snatch for it, something else might yank you back by the scruff of the neck.

You might find yourself juggling exams, schoolwork, paid work, and a whole host of other uncontrollable curveballs that life decides to throw at you.

You might be willing to sacrifice time and money to dedicate yourself to an opportunity that might bolster you CV, but what about the other ways to build up a portfolio?

Here’s an easy fact. A portfolio is evidence of your work and skill. Who says you must be directly hired to prove you can do your job? Here are a few easy hints to get you started.



You can groan that everyone and their mother has a blog, but really, why don’t you? Your blog is an open workspace where you can rant and rave and tell as many stories are you like.

You don’t need to write long lengthy essays on the human condition in order to satisfy an employer, but convincing someone is much easier if you can point to your blog and prove you’re doing something. See? You weren’t even getting paid to do this, but you did it anyway!

Sites like Blogspot and WordPress have free blogs which you can design to your hearts content, but if a nice clean interface made for writing and images with online magazines and like-minded creators is your thing, try

Don’t underestimate the power of good blogging! Some people have made careers and book deals out of their stories, which proves a good story is a good story, no matter where it comes from.

To help decipher which website and blogging options are best for you, check out for reviews.



Before your imagination reels off an Instagram-worthy image of a loft apartment with perfect Feng Shui, realise that freelancing is especially hard when starting out.

Thankfully, no one is asking you to start a business from the ground up, because websites like Upwork exist. While you might not be charging much for your services, if you’re a native English speaker, or you can design, illustrate, translate, make apps or transcribe audio, Upwork is your haven.

While the work isn’t very interesting most of the time, the website does allow employers to leave starred reviews, which can really bulk up your profile page and lead to better-paid jobs.


Submit Work to Publications (You Might Even Get Paid!)

Most magazines, online and offline, work in similar ways. From the smallest literary magazines to magazines like the New Yorker, freelance writers often make up the bulk of the content for each issue.

Want to work for a certain publication in a certain industry in the future? Put your money where your mouth is and start creating and submitting!

The bigger the name the less likely you’ll get accepted, but starting small and building up experience is better than simply deciding to create when you get “good enough” (this simply does not happen,) even the cartoon editor of the New Yorker, Bob Mankoff, took three years to get his first cartoon published in the magazine!


Social Media

While you may laugh at employers asking for “Social Media” as a skill (if only we could get addicted to teamwork like we could Instagram), you would be surprised how powerful certain platforms are for building up an audience.

If you’re a film student, Youtube is a fantastic starting place to prove your skill, and for artists and writers, Instagram is surprisingly strong. It’s certainly not impossible to build a small empire from your artwork on Instagram, or if you’re a budding poet, why not try a few small stanzas to get your creative juices flowing? Hashtag it correctly and you might eventually find yourself an impressive fan base and some interest from big magazines.



All of these techniques are simple ways to get your feet off the ground in a world that often takes creative work for granted. While you might not be rolling money yet, starting while you have time is the best way to find your own style, voice, and technique.


Kitty Lai is a tea fuelled English graduate with a severe book buying habit. Find her on LinkedIn

Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs, visit their website.