Whether you're a professional reporter, citizen journalist or j-school student, it's more important than ever that you create an online presence for yourself, and the best way to do that is to start your own website or blog. Once you've done that, create a Facebook page and start Twittering. Here are some cheap and easy ways to do that.
A blog is probably the easiest way to start creating your online presence. Free blogs like some of the ones listed below can be created in just minutes. Once your blog is set up, you can post your resume there and create links to your online articles.
- Blogger allows you to set up a free blog within minutes. A variety of templates are available, and since it's run by Google you can integrate its operation with your Gmail account.
- WordPress also allows you to set up a free blog. If you want to get more sophisticated you can use WordPress templates to create a website on your own server.
- LiveJournal is another free blog that can also be used as a private journal, a discussion forum or a social network.
- Tumblr is another free blog service that allow you to send posts from your e-mail.
Creating your own website can take a little more time and effort than a blog, depending on how professional you want it to look. But with some of the free services listed below you can have your own site up and running within minutes. Then make your site more sophisticated as you acquire more web[age-making skills.
One tip: Spend a little money to register your own domain name. That will give your site a professional polish.
- Google Sites allows you to create web pages quickly and easily for free.
- Webs allows you to create a free website. Hundreds of different templates are available.
- Homestead is geared toward e-commerce sites. It has a 30-day free trial.
- Weebly allows you to create a free website and blog.
- Wix allows you to create more sophisticated-looking Flash sites.
Free Webpage Creation Software:
- Nvu allows you to create web pages and manage a website with no technical expertise or knowledge of HTML.
- PageBreeze is another webpage-making program; it includes a drag-and-drop form builder.
Tools for Archiving Online Clips:
If your stories are online, archiving them can be as easy as posting a link on your website or blog. But if your publication doesn't maintain a web archive or deletes online articles after a few weeks you'll need to create your own copies. The programs listed below allow you to create jpegs or PDFs of webpages.
- Pearl Crescent Page Saver is an extension for Mozilla Firefox that lets you capture images of web pages that can be saved in PNG or JPEG format.
- HTML to PDF Converter lets you convert the webpage that contains your story into a pdf file.
Social Networking Sites:
It's easy and free to start your own Facebook or MySpace page, and once you've done that you can easily post links to your online stories and solicit feedback from your friends and followers. There are dozens of these sites, but for maximum exposure it's probably best to stick with the two biggies - Facebook and MySpace.
Once derided, Twitter is now being hailed - and used - by journalists everywhere. Reporters use Twitter to find sources for stories and to get the word out when those stories are published.
To get started go to Twitter.com, create a free account and start "tweeting." As you use Twitter more and more you'll gradually gather more followers, and the more followers you have, the more powerful a tool Twitter becomes.
Also check out Muckrack, a site that aggregates Tweets from dozens of reporters at major news organizations.
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