Build a site like this

Below, the first two sections will show you how to post your resume quickly and cleanly on the Web. That will only take a few minutes, and you can stop right there if you want. But the next parts will walk you through getting your own domain and email, because most advice for journalism grads and job-hunters includes staking out your own literal name as a Web domain and getting a professional-looking e-mail address.

There are many ways to do this — this one’s just fast, clean and easy.

For today’s purposes, I will assume you already have an e-mail address, a credit card or PayPal account, and also a resume somewhere on your computer, or a LinkedIn account with your work resume filled in. Optional: A 700-pixel by 182-pixel photo at 72dpi or more, to use as a header in this blog theme, which is Pilcrow. (I’ll offer some placeholder images you can use, and you can edit your own images for free at Picmonkey.com.)

Choose a domain name before we start, and check to make sure it doesn’t already exist. I will use “yourfullname” as my example here.

Crack open a soda and poise your hand over the mouse: Go!


Get your domain (7 minutes, $17)

Go to WordPress.com and open a free account. (There are many free blog sites, but WordPress is professional-looking and also makes the next steps very easy.)

As you are creating your account, check the “Gimme a blog” button. Enter “yourfullname.wordpress.com” for the URL and “Your Full Name” as the title. A window will come up telling you “yourfullname.com” is available (if it is) — and offering to automatically register that domain for $17, payable through credit card or PayPal. Do it, baby!

That should, really, be it. In case you mistakenly click past the “yourfullname.com” window, here is the old way to buy your domain, which might still work.

WordPress might suggest that you wait a little bit before “mapping” your blog to your new domain name. If so, here’s how you do it later: Come back to your Dashboard, find “Settings” on the left side and go to “Domains,” and when you’re there change “Primary” from “yourfullname.wordpress.com” to “yourfullname.com.”

My guess is this whole process should take no more than seven minutes. But lemme know if I’m wrong!  Now…


Make it pretty and post your resume

Your blog is bland and doesn’t have stuff on it. We can fix that fast. WordPress has some really nice themes, and you can have fun browsing through them. I picked Pilcrow ’cause it’s swanky and it permits widgets (more on that below).  Also, I recommend you turn off time stamps and comments on all posts and pages. Folks don’t need to share their thoughts on your resume or know you were up at 2 a.m. finishing it.

On your Dashboard, go to “Appearance.” Search for “Pilcrow” and select it. A preview will come up — click in the top right corner to “Activate” the theme.

Choose your photo! In “Appearance,” click on “Header” and upload an image that is 770 × 182 pixels (or a bigger image, which WordPress will let you crop after upload). WordPress says 700 x 200 for Pilcrow headers, but that is (oddly) incorrect. Suggestion: Lay out a collage of your clips on the floor and snap a photo of that? Be sure to color-correct or remove color cast — pix of newsprint snapped in incandescent light tend to appear very yellow. A reasonable resolution for Web display is 72 dpi. You can use one of the generic images I made for this purpose — they’re here. In fact, you can use a different image for every page, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Picmonkey.com is a great free Web-based photo editor — upload your pic, monkey with it (crop, adjust exposure, other useful tools) and save the edited version back to your desktop.

Turn time stamps off:  In your left-hand Dashboard rail, go to “Settings.”  Under “Time format,” click the button for “Custom” and delete the text “g: i a” — this should make the time stamp invisible on your posts and just leave the date.

Turn comments off: In the left-hand rail, under “Settings,” click on “Discussion.” Unclick the button next to “Allow people to post comments on new articles,” and then scroll to the bottom and hit the blue “Save changes” button. YAY. This should keep comments off every page and post that you create from here on out. If you’ve already created a page (or post) that has comments, “Edit” the page and look for the pale-gray “Screen Options” box near the top left corner of your screen. Click that, and among the options that appear, turn off “Discussion,” then click “Apply.”

Add your resume: Find “Pages” in your Dashboard menu and select “Add new.” Use “Resume” as the title, then paste your resume into the text window. Notice the “Page Attributes” menu to the right. Leave this page as “Main page – no parent,” template as “Default template” and Order “2″. We’ll mess with this on other pages, though. Hit “Publish.”


Tidy up and add cool stuff

Add “Welcome,” Contact” and “Clips” pages: Click again on “Add page” under “Pages” on the left-hand Dashboard menu. This time, call your page “Welcome” and write a short greeting to welcome people who’ve just arrived at your Web site (you can easily change the wording here later).. Under “Page Attributes,” set the “Order” to “0″. Then hit “Publish.”

Create a new page, call it “Contact,” and enter whatever contact info your prospective employers will need there. Check that commenting is off (in “Screen Options”), make the Order “3″ and hit Publish.

Create a new page, call it “Clips,” check that commenting is off, make the Order “4″ and hit Publish. You can upload PDFS and JPGs here later. Or, put a bunch of links to your clips online. I have more specific recommendations on putting together your clips here.

Delete the standard “About” page that came with your blog. From the Dashboard left rail, go to “Pages” — hover over the title “About” and then click the “Trash” option that appears.

Change the photo for each page:  Sexytime!  With Pilcrow, you can set a different featured image for each page, use the same one throughout, or use none at all (faster). Here are some images I made that you can use; just save them onto your desktop and upload them from there. But there’s a weird thing: Pilcrow, for some reason, wants to save every photo you upload as no more than 500p wide — the width of a blog post. The ONLY way I’ve found to load a 700p wide photo and have it stay 700p wide is to upload it initially as a “Header” image.
Short version: Upload your pic first as a “Header.” Go into your page and set it as the “Featured image” and save changes. Reset your “Header” to what you wanted it to be, and “Save changes.”

Long version: Under “Appearance,” go to “Header,” upload the image and save your changes, as above. Then “Edit” the page you want to place this image on, click on “Set featured image” at bottom right, and a window opens up. Above where it says “Add media files from your computer,” click the tab that says “Media Library” and find the pic (which Pilcrow renames “cropped_yourphotoname.”) Next to the pic is a hyperlink that says “Show”; click that, then scroll down to where it says “Insert image into post” and WHOA, don’t click the button it looks like you are supposed to hit, “Insert into post.” Instead, click on the hyperlink that says “Use as featured image,” then on “Save changes.” (Now when you get back to your “edit” page window, hit “Update.”) Giant pain. But your header won’t look freaky short on the page.

If you don’t want to start blogging now:
Click on “Posts” in the left-hand rail. You’ll see there’s a generic post titled “Hello world” there, with some ungrammatical dummy type. If you don’t plan to blog just now, go ahead and delete this post. (Hover your mouse over its title — some links appear like “Edit” and “Trash.” You can trash it now and then later decide to blog — no problem.)

If you DO want to start blogging now:

  • Create a new page, call it “Blog,” and don’t enter any content/text. Leave the template as “Default template,” make the order “5,” and hit “Publish.”
  • Next, we’ll make your front page the static “Welcome” page  and set “Blog” as the page where posts will appear:
  • In the left-hand rail, click “Settings” and when more options appear beneath that, click “Reading.” Set “Front page displays” to “a static page” and choose the “Welcome” page as “Front page.” Then set “Posts page” to the page you titled “Blog.” Scroll down and hit the blue “Save changes” button.

Adjust your widgets: The doodads on the right side of your page are widgets, and you can do pretty much anything with them you want to. For example, if you have a Twitter account, you can pop a Twitter widget there to show your last five tweets. (Remember future employers may see your tweets, which you should be keeping in mind anyway…) In your left-hand rail, go to “Appearance” and look down for “Widgets.”  You can drag widgets from the central area over to the boxes on the right to install them on your page.

Get the dummy type “Just another WordPress.com site” out of your title and footer. In your left-hand rail, go to “Settings” and replace the “Tagline” with whatever you want to say. Leaving it blank seems to work fine too. remember to scroll all the way down to the bottom and hit the blue “Save Changes” button.
View your site: Is it ready for prime time? No little random bits of type or links that don’t work? Congratulations. You’re done. I’ll estimate that took you about 40 minutes, but your mileage may vary. (Leave me a comment and tell me how fast it went for you!)


Get your own e-mail address

[Warning: These instructions are from March 2010. I haven’t updated them because I didn’t want to actually pay for another domain just to check these. So, if you see anything wrong or out of date, please let me know!]

Now’s a good time to check and see if your “mapping” works — that is, if your blog is showing up at your new domain. Just open a new browser window and type in http://www.yourdomain.com.  If your blog appears, everything’s good.

Next, go into your Dashboard, find “Settings” on the left side and go to “Domains”; when you’re there change “Primary” from “yourfullname.wordpress.com” to “yourfullname.com.”  Click “Update primary domain.” Then, to the right under where it says “Email,” click “Help.” Follow the steps to guide you through setting up a free Google Apps account. As part of this process, you’ll choose what you want your email address to be (i.e. you@yourfullname.com or yourname@yourfullname.com, or something like that).  You’ll get to a screen that says this:

Select one of the methods below for verification instructions

  • Upload an HTML file to yourfullname.com
  • Change yourfullname.com CNAME record

Choose “Upload an HTML file” — you won’t really have to because WordPress has made this real simple. The next screen will show you a verification code that starts with “google” — copy this. Open another browser window and navigate back to your Dashboard, then Settings, Domains. Enter your verification code and hit Save.

Now go back to the browser window where you have Google Apps open. Tell it “I’ve completed the steps above” and launch or skip the setup guide. You will land on a Dashboard here too: Click on your “Inbox” in the upper right-hand corner and log in with the password you just created. Send a couple of test e-mails to make sure everything works.

To get back to the login page:

If you haven’t used it before, Gmail is awesome. You might want all your old e-mail to come to this account, so that you can search and sort it with Gmail’s tools.  Or if you like the e-mail service you already use, you can forward these new messages to that address.

Here are directions for both options:

  • Forward e-mail to your new you@yourfullname account: Directions
  • Forward you@yourfullname e-mails to another account: Directions


There! You’ve done it!

That probably took the better part of an hour — at least it took me that long to type it all out! — but now you have your own Web site, customized e-mail and your resume up online.  Tell me if it worked for you! I would love nothing better than to hear from you, and to include your site in the Examples section, if I may. Please e-mail me at sue (at) sues-news (dot) com.

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2 responses to “Build a site like this

  1. Bob

    Pretty cool website – never knew setting up a website (pretty good looking website, at that) could be reduced to just over two screens full of great info and instruction.

  2. Sue

    Journalistic ethics compel me to confess that the above comment is from my DAD 🙂 🙂 I love you so much.
    Everybody else, please stick comments here indicating what steps of the process are fuzzy or out of date — that will be incredibly useful for others and for me too, because I’ll use them as my checklist when I update the site. Thank you!!

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