DIY websites for journalists

sally_duros_-_Crazy__writing_coach
Here’s what my site looked like in 2002. My first site went live in 1997.

Luckily, setting up a website has gotten a lot easier than when I set up my first website. Back in 1997, I had to print a form downloaded from the Web, fill it out and mail it in with a check to retain my domain name. That domain name purchase was made from the agency that became Web giant Network Solutions, which today manages  more than 7 million domain names.

sharing
By the early oughts, I was tapping into the sharing power of the Web by connecting with the Tech world, women’s networks, nonprofit community and others through a scrollbar on my site.

After purchasing my domain name, I then had to find a company that could “host” my domain on the Web- basically make it “live” on the Web. For a Web host, I selected  a company called Pair Networks, which ultimately became too expensive for me. The  first recorded image of SDuros.com in the Internet Archive was in August of the year 2000. By then I had learned rudimentary HTML, was a member of the International Webmaster’s Association and was reporting on venture capital and technology.  I had ambitions to set up my own domain registrar for NPOs. Didn’t succeed or I’d be a millionaire now.

Now that I’ve told you all that, forget it.

DIY for journalists
Setting up a site so you can retain an archive of your articles is 1000% simpler today. Although there are many ways to set up a portfolio online with live links, I believe the best approach for a  journalist is to set up an archive just like I have here in my WordPress site. I learned fairly quickly that I am not a Web designer and WP, SquareSpace and others take care of that shortage of talent.

Here’s what you need to know. Buy your domain name from a registrar.  Also know that you are not actually “buying” your domain name. You are “renting” it for a period of time. Mosts registrars give you a discount when you rent for a number of years so that is what I’d recommend if you can afford it. Here’s the list of the largest domain name registrars from WebHosting.infoLargest_ICANN_Registrars

The largest on this list are GoDaddy, Enom, Network Solutions, Tucows and Schlund+Partner. This list says nothing about price or reliability. I have had personal experience with GoDaddy, Network Solutions and Tucows.

These days, the larger domain registrars are also hosts. And many of them offer an easy user interface with WordPress, which is basically what your “design” on the Web will look like – no hand woven bad html design for lucky you! You can have an interface that looks like this site you’re reading on, which I’ve set up on WordPress.org, the commercial imprint of Word Press. Here’s a sampling of what the bare bones designs look like.

WordPress_›_Popular_«_Free_WordPress_Themes

 

The basic designs are free but many folks choose to jazz them up by hiring a great designer to assist. My feeling is that site design for us sole proprietor/journalists is less important because the quality of information is what is important. And with the way  information is read and distributed on the Web, I think less and less about my site as a destination. In fact, many journalists are experimenting with site-less news models these days.

One-stop shops aplenty
It’s easy to find a one-stop shop that provides domain registration, Web Hosting and WordPress interface. But buyer beware. A company like GoDaddy seemingly makes it simple to buy your domain name and put it on the Web. But I ask at what cost. Me, I dislike GoDaddy.  Their early marketing was offensive (it was like Hooters) and they nickel and dime you for every little service you need. As your use and sophistication grows you might find yourself disgusted pretty quickly .

A couple of years ago I moved to MediaTemple. The $250 per year fee plus the cost of my domain name rental seemed like a good deal for me since I “play” on the Web a lot with various domain names and often establish and run sites and social media for clients. I’ve been pretty happy with them and their services. But now that Media Temple has been purchased by GoDaddy, I am preparing to flee if the extra fees get onerous. One option I have been considering is Bluehost, which is often played off against GoDaddy in articles like this from a site called WebHostranking.com (which by the way offers lots of useful info for those of you getting started.)

The important thing for a journalist to get from one of these services is 1-click set up for WordPress, which MediaTemple, BlueHost and GoDaddy all have.

Added kudos for Bluehost
When I asked  my friend, colleague and digital expert Courtney Hunt who she would recommend for Domain registration and hosting, she said she is leaning toward BlueHost.    “I typically recommend Bluehost (one of 3 recommended specifically by WordPress). I have clients who use GoDaddy (trying hard, but not the best option) and InMotion (seems to be good) as well,” she said.

I hope this is helpful. Courtney and I are discussing doing a joint session for journalists moving to the Web. Let me know what you’d like to learn about at SallyDuros AT gmail.com and we’ll see what we can do for you.

 

Your digital brand — journalism ethics

acts of journalism

Committing acts of journalism—  What’s that?

The Web and digital technology have made it possible for anyone to commit an act of journalism.

Today, more people than ever are participating in journalism. People are breaking news on Twitter, covering their communities on Facebook, livestreaming, distributing news via email and writing in-depth blogs on issues of civic and community significance. Some of these people are what we’d consider “traditional” journalists working on new platforms, but many are not. — Josh Stearns, when working at The Free Press. Read the Free Press Report on defining press freedom in the digital age.

That’s why as an independent journalist it’s important that you hard-wire certain attributes into your brand from the beginning.

Among others, these include:
transparency
trustworthiness
credibility

These attributes will become increasingly important if news outlets evolve into a platform for our talent as some of us are predicting.

Continue reading Your digital brand — journalism ethics

Your digital brand 101 — identity as journalist

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you’re doing it.

acts of journalism
When your brand and your purpose are aligned, you have passion working to your advantage, pulling you forward and drawing others to you.

Getting started on your brand
If you haven’t  established a strong Web presence yet, it’s a great time to get started.  So many tools are available now to make it easy to establish your digital brand and identity as journalist.  In addition, there’s a community of  helpful people on the Web to assist. The biggest challenges these days for building your digital brand and identity as a journalist is doing the work upfront to identify your brand attributes — the kind of journalism you want to be known for, your beat and niche as well as the audience for your niche.

Your brand is about what the audience thinks. Writes Nick Bilton in his book, “I live in the future & here’s how it works”

“It’s an editors job to reduce what a readers brain has to wrestle with.”

That’s the work of your brand. It’s a short cut to the identity that you are co-creating with your audience.

A cautionary tale
Andrew Sullivan is an early blogger, a former New Republic editor – who started his blog, the Dish in 2000. Because his brand as a political commentator had earned him a following at an existing platform, The New Republic, Sullivan’s persona was solidly established when the Dish was hosted by TIME, The Atlantic and finally, The Daily Beast. Continue reading Your digital brand 101 — identity as journalist

Prezi – Your digital brand as a journalist 101

screen one

Here’s a link to the Prezi.

Here’s the transcript.
Your digital brand as a journalist: Showcase your strengths, find your niche to stand out online authentically

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou

That is really what a brand is about – how you make people feel. In real life and online, your brand is how people feel about you.

Steve Jobs hated the word “branding” but his brand as a creative perfectionist was iconic . The brand he created, Apple, continues to reflect his core attributes – smart, creative, genius .

To get started
Develop  one word or a phrase —  enthusiastic, passionate, energetic, confident — to express the best of who you are. Express that in all you do and say online and Continue reading Prezi – Your digital brand as a journalist 101

Branding on the Web 101 for Working Journalists

savingsChicago journalists, join me for a conversation about practical ways to move your journalism career online by building a personal brand and using the social Web.
The first step to getting found on the Web is knowing who you are and what you have to offer that is unique to you. These days, this expression of our identity, this knowing who you are, is called our “personal brand.” It’s basically how the world experiences us. Visit our event page on Facebook. 

About Working Journalists

Working Journalists is a start up by the Chicago Newspaper Guild. Membership is Continue reading Branding on the Web 101 for Working Journalists