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Monday, February 6, 2012
Generation J Toolbox

Create a website in under two hours

By Victoria Reitano

If you're at all interested in journalism in today’s world, you need a brand. A brand can be many things — it can be your name, or a pen name, or one of your interests. It becomes your Web calling card, and that is something you want to be consistent, strong and presentable.

The best way to start this presence is with a website, the bulk of which you can set up in two hours or less. How? With some patience, some confidence and these tips.

1. WHAT IS YOUR BRAND?

This may take you more than two hours, but I’m going to assume you’ve already got an idea of what you want to write about, what you feel represents you and how you’re going to go about cultivating that image. (If you’re interested in more on that, you can check out SPJ’s Generation J session at the upcoming College Media Advisers conference.) If you don’t know, go with your name.

2. BUY A DOMAIN AND HOSTING

Find a domain register and hosting company and buy your name and whatever other brand you’re using. I’m the “Giornalista” and call my newsletters The Giornalista Files, so I bought victoriareitano.com and thegiornalistfiles.com. You have to buy your name. If you have a common name, add your birth date (the day of the month in which you are born) and/or your city to separate yourself.

3. SET UP TWITTER AND FACEBOOK

If you have a personal Twitter account already, switch the username to your new domain and tweet as yourself using your new name so your followers are aware. Set your Facebook user name to that as well. It is OK if you’ve done this in the past and set it as your own name; that’s why you buy two website domains — so people identify you with your overall brand (which always includes your given name).

4. BUY A TEMPLATE

ThemeForest has great themes for all sorts of profiles. Search WordPress themes (or other themes) and purchase the one you like. Add money to your account before you purchase in order to avoid an additional fee.

5. SET UP AN EDITORIAL CALENDAR

The best way to ensure that you stay on topic — and keep updating the content — is to create an editorial calendar. Create different “beats” and set up categories in WordPress to represent each one. Make sure you have at least two or three updates per week in the beginning to increase your following.

6. SET UP A NEWSLETTER

A great way to tell your contacts what you’re doing is to send a newsletter. I really like Mailchimp — it’s free and relatively easy to use. The best way to send out a “first” newsletter is to write about 200 to 300 words about what you’re doing, why you think your connections would be interested, and how they can go about influencing the type of content you post.

Make sure you remind everyone that subscription is optional. You don’t want a bunch of angry network connections on your hand. The second newsletter should include a few summaries of blog posts — two sentences and the title in order to get people acquainted with the content.

Happy blogging! And don’t forget to share your blog on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and any other relevant networks.

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