All Your Writing Clips on One Site: Cuttings.me Review and Interview

by John Soares on November 21, 2011

Freelance writers, journalists, and bloggers need to show editors and prospect clients examples of their work. It can be a hassle though — you have to attach clips to an e-mail, or put them up on your own website, or try to direct that editor/client to several different websites.

But British journalist and fellow freelancer Nicholas Holmes has come up with a brilliant way for you to easily showcase your clips in one slick portfolio on one website. That website is cuttings.me. (Why “cuttings”? Because that’s the British term for a published clip or other writing sample.) He kindly agreed to an interview about his new service.

Interview with Founder Nicholas Holmes

What inspired you to create a site for freelance writers and journalists to feature their published work?

I started cuttings.me because as far as I could see, there was nothing like it out there — I needed a simple way to collate my clips as I was sick of sending over a collection of URLs/PDFs etc to anyone who requested them.

I didn’t want to set up a whole WordPress/Joomla site for what I thought should be a relatively simple page, so I thought I’d have a go at creating something fresh which other people could use too.

Journalist Nicholas Holmes profile on Cuttings.me.

Cuttings.me profile of site creator Nicholas Holmes

What are the top features of cuttings.me?

Cuttings.me is really about creating a beautiful, personal journalism space to be proud of — it allows people to write a bio, add their social media links, upload clips and theme the whole thing as they want. It takes just a few minutes to create a great space with a personal URL (e.g. cuttings.me/yourname).

I would say the customization options and the file upload features are among the most powerful. You can really personalize a page by selecting your own colors or images, helping to put that unique personal brand on there. Once that’s done, you add clips either using a link or by uploading a PDF file, which makes it great for print journalists to showcase their work.

How can cuttings.me help a freelance writer/journalist who already has his or her own website?

Cuttings.me is designed to be easy – it takes under a minute to add or edit a clip and you can rearrange them just by dragging them around. Plus, there’s no need to worry about the design as it’s all done for you. So if you have a website that’s a hassle to maintain, a cuttings.me page will definitely prove an easier way to showcase your portfolio — lots of users choose to link to their cuttings.me page from their website.

You allow links to the writer’s website and social media profiles. Which social media links are allowed, and are you open to expanding those in the future?

At the moment you can add Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and a blog. I’ve already had a bit of feedback on this and the options will be expanding shortly — if there’s enough feedback, I’m always open to something!

How do you address potential permissions issues for both uploaded PDF clips and photos?

Users are required to ensure that they have permission to upload copyrighted material, whether that’s a PDF clip or a photo, in the same way that I would hope they would if they posted it on a personal blog.

Right now the site isn’t set up for a visitor to see the writing portfolios of people who’ve joined. Will it stay that way, and what are the pros and cons of that?

Good question. There’s a balance to be struck here I think – while many users want to share their portfolios far and wide, some are more private. Your cuttings.me URL stays private until you decide to share it at the moment, which I think is the best option. That said, the latest addition is an opt-in ‘gallery’ of profiles on the front page which people have been very keen to join.

In the future, people signing up to the site are likely to be asked whether they want a public or a private profile, which should keep everyone happy.

How Can People Give You Feedback?

I encourage people to get in contact using the contact page on the site.

END of the interview — thank you Nicholas!

Setting Up My Profile and Create My Portfolio Was Easy

It took about ten minutes to set up my writing portfolio on cuttings.me, and after that it was about a minute or less to add each “cutting” (clip or publication). I chose one post from each of my main blogs, plus a guest blog post I wrote.

Your Take

What do you think of cuttings.me? What are its advantages? Potential disadvantages? Any questions or suggestions for Nicholas?

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    { 39 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Nicholas Holmes November 21, 2011 at 1:27 AM

    Twitter: @cuttingsme

    Thanks for the piece John – I look forward to hearing what your readers have to say!

    Reply

    2 John Soares November 21, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    I know a lot of smart people read my blog. I’m looking forward to their thoughts.
    John Soares recently posted…Should You Edit As You Write?

    Reply

    3 Barbara November 21, 2011 at 9:15 AM

    Twitter: @nightwriter

    Sounds like a good portfolio site. Thanks for the heads up John. It probably does well in terms of SEO for one’s name too.

    Reply

    4 John Soares November 21, 2011 at 9:24 AM

    Good point Barbara. Over time you could rank quite well for your name on cuttings.me. The site also gives links to your blog and clips, which could help your own website improve in search rankings.
    John Soares recently posted…Why Freelance Writers Must Be On LinkedIn

    Reply

    5 Anne Wayman November 21, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    It is easy – but I’m unclear on why I need a portfolio site that’s different than my website – just to avoid setting up a full site? Or is there more to it that I’m missing?
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Shut up! One Key To Successful Freelance Writing Contract Negotiation

    Reply

    6 John Soares November 21, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Anne, the key advantage is for writers who either can’t build or pay for a good looking comprehensive website that can easily feature all their writing samples.

    I’ve seen many a writer site that doesn’t have clips, or where the clips aren’t easy to find. With cuttings.me, all the clips are in one place, and they’re attractively displayed and easy to view.
    John Soares recently posted…All Your Writing Clips on One Site: Cuttings.me Review and Interview

    Reply

    7 Nicholas Holmes November 21, 2011 at 10:47 PM

    Twitter: @cuttingsme

    Hi Anne/John – I think John has hit the nail on the head here. Another use case is for people who have an existing website that was built by somebody else and is hard or just time-consuming to maintain — keeping your work up to date using cuttings.me is really easy (and it will get easier).

    That said, I’d be interested to know if there were any functions that writers really need which their existing sites *don’t* provide – I have a couple of ideas but would welcome any others.

    Reply

    8 Anne Wayman November 22, 2011 at 7:40 AM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    so if I were to promote this as “can’t get your website built or just don’t want to” I’d be on the right track? Makes sense. Thanks
    Anne Wayman recently posted…30 Ways To Generate Writing & Blogging Ideas

    Reply

    9 Nicholas Holmes November 22, 2011 at 7:49 AM

    Twitter: @cuttingsme

    Hi Anne, yes, I think that would certainly be fair – and if you were to promote it at all I’d be hugely grateful!

    Reply

    10 Dave Doolin November 22, 2011 at 8:56 AM

    Twitter: @doolin

    Nicholas, I should not make promises I haven’t already kept, but I will say you’re already in draft for my pitch deck for a similar (but not at all overlapping) service.

    Reply

    11 Nicholas Holmes November 22, 2011 at 9:21 AM

    Twitter: @cuttingsme

    That’s really great Dave – if I can be of any help to anybody, do give me a shout!

    Reply

    12 Dave Doolin November 22, 2011 at 9:30 AM

    Twitter: @doolin

    Excellent, thanks!

    Reply

    13 Dave Doolin November 22, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    Twitter: @doolin

    Anne, it’s sort of like having a studio full of art versus showing your best stuff at a gallery. People who know you are going to be at your studio commissioning work. For people who don’t know you, being in a gallery is a way to increase the size of your audience.

    As it turns out I have a vested interest in answering this question for myself, from both sides.
    Dave Doolin recently posted…Ask Anca: How Does WordPress Work? An Infographic

    Reply

    14 Anca November 21, 2011 at 7:04 PM

    Twitter: @techliminal

    This is an interesting site, but I think it’s distracting that the cuttings use links that take you to another website.

    What happens if that site goes down, or they replace your article with something else? Would you regularly go back and update your cuttings?

    Reply

    15 Nicholas Holmes November 21, 2011 at 10:51 PM

    Twitter: @cuttingsme

    Hi Anca

    If you upload PDFs you will stay on the cuttings.me site – otherwise it would be a question of opening the external link in an iframe which would be something of an ugly solution (IMHO). For some, the presentation of the work on the page will be as important as the text (and nearly impossible to replicate cleanly/legally on another site).

    Out of interest, would you prefer a text-based solution on cuttings.me? Because that’s an idea I toyed with…

    Reply

    16 Ruth - The Freelance Writing Blog November 22, 2011 at 7:46 AM

    Twitter: @rzive

    Interesting concept, but not one that I think I would use. Since I do very little editorial work – and mostly corporate communications, there are pretty definitive confidentiality considerations. I prefer offering a sampling of clips on my website (ones for which I’ve received permission to share) and then sending the prospective client other samples if they request them. Also, I have mixed feelings about navigating my reader away from my website to another URL. I suppose I can see the value for someone who doesn’t have a website….but it’s so easy today to put together a simple site, I would still recommend that route.

    John, are you using cuttings.me?
    Ruth – The Freelance Writing Blog recently posted…Free Content Marketing & Social Media Resources to Grow Your Business

    Reply

    17 John Soares November 22, 2011 at 8:22 AM

    Ruth, I agree that cuttings.me is not suitable for many writers. I did set up a page with links to four of my blogs: http://cuttings.me/johnsoares.

    However, the bulk of my work is for college textbook publishers, and those publishers hold the copyright to my work. (Besides, much of my work is test questions, and we don’t want those public!) I do send samples to interested editors, but only as attachments.

    For people like you that are web savvy and have good sites, yes, you can easily add your own clips on your own site. For other writers, though, that’s not such an easy proposition.

    And sending people away from your website to another is a concern in some cases. However, having clips on an external site like cuttings.me could also have benefits in the long run as cuttings.me increases its page rank and draws more searches. An editor could find a writer on cuttings.me on page 1 of Google, but the writer’s own site might be on page 5.
    John Soares recently posted…The Best Way For Freelance Writers to Hold Themselves Accountable

    Reply

    18 Dave Doolin November 22, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    Twitter: @doolin

    John, as I understand fair use, you should be able to post short excerpts for anything you have written. I’m in the same position as you are with respect to my best writing: copyrights are owned by John Wiley, Balkema, Elsevier, etc.

    You make an *excellent* point about page rank and drawing searches. I have thought a bit about this, and as I mentioned in email, have a partial solution.

    One thing which I consider critically important is Google author/rel linking for attributing ownership in search results. I have implemented that myself in one of my projects, on a couple of my websites and blogs, and will be rolling it out across all of my blogs and websites. I haven’t posted on cuttings.me yet to find out if author/rel is implemented, something to do after the holidays!
    Dave Doolin recently posted…Ask Anca: How much site maintenance do your clients do on their own?

    Reply

    19 John Soares November 22, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    I’m interested in learning more about this “author/rel” concept.

    I had a situation on another of my blogs a couple of years ago where I wrote a post, then put the post on ezinearticles.com, and then had a site that used the article outrank me in the search engines. (And they stripped my link, of course)

    I’m done with ezinearticles and other article sites, but I want to know more details about claiming authorship. I’ll have a look at your blog.
    John Soares recently posted…The Power of a Small Website

    Reply

    20 Sharon Hurley Hall November 22, 2011 at 10:12 AM

    Twitter: @shurleyhall

    Well, it never hurts to have another showcase for your work, John, so I’ve signed up. I haven’t filled in the profile yet, but may follow your example (and also include a link to my list of guest posts).
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted…Getting Into Commercial Copywriting

    Reply

    21 John Soares November 22, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    Sharon, I think using cuttings.me as a showcase for guest posts is something that would benefit just about anyone who’ written for another blog. It would build up the page rank of your guest posts, and that in turn increases the Google juice that goes from your guest posts to your own site.
    John Soares recently posted…Why Freelance Writers Must Be On LinkedIn

    Reply

    22 Dave Doolin November 22, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    Twitter: @doolin

    Sharon, that is a brilliant idea.

    Part of why I dislike guest posting so intensely is that my work gets buried elsewhere, outside of my control. This could be a partial solution to that.

    Reply

    23 John Soares November 22, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    I’ve only done a handful of guest posts Dave, in part because of what you say, in part because I’m so busy with my own blog and projects.

    That may change in 2012 though, and I do think that cuttings.me is an excellent option for putting them all in one place.
    John Soares recently posted…How to Minimize Interruptions So You Can Get Your Writing Done

    Reply

    24 Sharon Hurley Hall November 22, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    Twitter: @shurleyhall

    Dave, I did a page on my site (linked via my name in this comment) to list all my stuff for that very reason.
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted…By: Blog Posts I’m Proud Of – August 2011 | Sharon Hurley Hall

    Reply

    25 Dave Doolin November 22, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    Twitter: @doolin

    Nicholas, if you’re still reading along here, two things I would really appreciate:

    1. Please charge at least a nominal amount, and make it subscription. Even $2/yr. It will eliminate 90% of crap listings (i.e., spam) immediately, and filter in people who take their work seriously.

    2. An RSS feed would be stupendous. I would *love* to be able to drop such a feed into a sidebar on my blog.

    Reply

    26 Nicholas Holmes November 22, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    Twitter: @cuttingsme

    Still here! I think those are two excellent suggestions Dave – they say of startups that if people are asking to pay you for it, you know you’re doing something right ;-)

    In the future, it’s likely that there will be a paid option of some sort, but it’s about achieving balance I think. As a freelance journalist myself, I understand it’s tough for lots of people out there. So far, there has been no problem with spam entries, although I’ll certainly keep a close eye on it.

    On RSS, it’s an idea I was also toying with… Watch this space, in other words ;-)

    Thanks for your feedback – really appreciated.

    Reply

    27 Dave Doolin November 22, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    Twitter: @doolin

    Nicholas, I managed to get a server error which looks suspiciously like what Heroku serves up (which is very cool, btw). If you check your logs, you will see that I was requesting my profile link in xml format.

    We’re about to kick off huge Thanksgiving weekend holiday here, so I’m out of commission from about now until Monday. Expect to hear from me next week!

    Reply

    28 Nicholas Holmes November 22, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    Twitter: @cuttingsme

    Haha yes I got an alert on the error and saw what you were up to – I put it down to a healthy curiosity! Look forward to connecting with you soon – enjoy Thanksgiving!

    Reply

    29 Dave Doolin November 22, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Twitter: @doolin

    Excellent, next week then.

    Reply

    30 Anne Wayman November 22, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    If I re-post my guest posts or if I re-post the guest posts on my blog how do I avoid google’s duplicate content penalty?
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Why Freelance Writers Need More Than One Client

    Reply

    31 John Soares November 22, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    At cuttings.me you only give the links to your guest posts; you don’t actually reproduce them on the site. The only time your writing actually resides at cuttings.me is when you upload a PDF file of something you’ve written, likely a print piece or something else that hasn’t been published on the web.
    John Soares recently posted…The Power of a Small Website

    Reply

    32 Dave Doolin November 22, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    Twitter: @doolin

    Gaaak. This thread won’t leave me alone…

    Anne, that’s a stupendously relevant question, and in my opinion, the only people who can answer “correctly” are Google engineers and professional SEOs. Given the complexity of a ranking algorithm with thousands of signals (per Google’s documentation), the professional SEOs probably understand as well as the Google engineers. (Complexity induces emergent behavior.)

    That said, from what I understand from reading Google, there is no “penalty” per se. It’s a matter of what Google decides is the most relevant result of similar results, and that’s what gets displayed.

    You infer properties of the algorithm from this. For example, I once ranked for “practical wordpress tips,” having written 19 articles leading with that in the title. Never mind the tips were all different, Google only showed the most relevant, hiding all the rest under a “Show similar results” link.

    But…

    This works fine for me. I don’t see it as a penalty, I see as Google helping me out by delivering more results than asked for.

    I could write more, but I have a lonely bird looking for an oven and flock of hungry birds winging down this evening.

    Reply

    33 Anne Wayman November 22, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    Dave, maybe penalty isn’t the right word… I don’t pretend to know what google does. What I can tell you is that duplicate content did prevent a listing for aboutfreelancewriting.com back in the beginning until I emailed an explanation… I’d moved content from what had been my writing site at about.com and about didn’t get it down very quickly even tho’ they said the would.

    Once I wrote google, although they never responded, my new site started showing up. So I take the duplicate content thing seriously.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Why Freelance Writers Need More Than One Client

    Reply

    34 Dave Doolin November 22, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    Twitter: @doolin

    Argh… properties of the algorithm: titles really matter, a lot.

    By “professional SEO” I mean someone charging at $100/hr and delivering solid results for clients.

    Reply

    35 John Soares November 22, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    Nicholas, question for you. Are the PDF clips people upload to cuttings.me visible to search engines?
    John Soares recently posted…How to Minimize Interruptions So You Can Get Your Writing Done

    Reply

    36 Nicholas Holmes November 22, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    Twitter: @cuttingsme

    Hi John – yes, they will be, at the moment. That said, it would be a very simple thing to stop if required. Google has been really good at picking up the structure of the site so far though (displaying clips under names hierarchically, etc) so I don’t see it as a tremendous problem. Anyone disagree?

    Reply

    37 Jessie Gamble February 20, 2012 at 1:40 AM

    I suppose I can see the value for someone who doesn’t have a website….but it’s so easy today to put together a simple site, I would still recommend that route. John, as I understand fair use, you should be able to post short excerpts for anything you have written.
    Jessie Gamble recently posted…Many Mops

    Reply

    38 John Soares February 20, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    Jessie, one of the benefits of a site like Cuttings.me is that it will eventually draw a lot of search engine traffic, which makes it more likely your work will be viewed by an editor. Most writers’ websites have little visibility in search engines.
    John Soares recently posted…25 Ways to Boost Your Freelance Writing Business in Under 5 Minutes

    Reply

    39 MeganWrites Media February 23, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Twitter: @MWritesMedia

    Good share! I will have to give that a shot. Thanks, John!

    Reply

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