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Yuck! My blog is the first page people see! Help!

Ah, isn’t it wonderful that WordPress will let you move your blog to an inside page? I love being able to have a simple, unchanging front page that greets all visitors.  But the blog is still right there in the navigation tabs, if people want to go look at it.

Here is a repeat of the instructions for setting up a secondary WordPress page as your “Blog” page, and setting another page as your site’s static home page.

Click on “Add page,” under “Pages” on the left-hand Dashboard menu. Call your page “Blog,” and don’t enter any content/text. Leave the template as “Default template,” make the order “5” (or wherever you want it to fall in the navigation bar) and hit Publish.

In the left-hand rail, click “Settings.” When more options appear beneath that, click “Reading.”

Set “Front page displays” to “a static page” and choose  one of your pages as “Front page.” Then set “Posts page” to the page you titled “Blog.” Scroll down and hit the blue “Save changes” button.

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Why set up your own domain and e-mail?

Most current advice for journalism grads and job-hunters includes starting their own domain and getting a professional e-mail address. The most common recommendation is to stake out your own literal name.

It’s extraordinarily useful (and professional) to simply send someone one clean Web link that has your resume, clips and accomplishments. Another thought: If you’re applying for an online position … and you don’t have an online resume/presence… do you think you’re gonna get the job?

And since reportedly 72 percent of bosses will Google you during the hiring process, this gives you a way to shape what they see.

In addition, every time you send an e-mail from you@yourfullname.com, you’re subtly advertising that you do have your own Web site. Some percentage of people who get your e-mails will be curious enough to go check it out. (At the very, very least, please get an e-mail address from Gmail or another reputable-sounding place, with a reasonable facsimile of your own real name rather than “foxxxykitn295.”)

For myself, I registered sues-news.com awhile back, but this “staking your claim” thing began to sound like a good idea. When I checked and saw that sueowenwhaley.com was still available, I thought, OK, I’ll time the process and make it into a tutorial.  Bear in mind, this is only one way to do it. I use these services myself and I know they work.

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Images you can use for this theme

I made these myself — they’re the right size for the Pilcrow theme, 700 × 182 pixels, and I hereby give whoever’s reading this total permission to use ’em. Save ’em to your desktop and upload away. Or, use them as a jumping-off point for your own inspiration — it always looks better when the header is one you shot yourself. And there’s nothing fancy about these (as you’lll see); I just snapped a bunch on my way to and from work, and on a lunch break.

Once you start snapping textures, you see them everywhere.  It’s really fun.  And the best way to make sure it’s copyright-free is always to shoot or paint it yourself!

Be aware: You’re not covered, though, if you take a photo of something that IS copyrighted, like, say, Mickey Mouse or that Pop Art portrait of Marilyn Monroe. It might be unlikely that Disney or the late Andy Warhol will come after you, Joe Blogger, for one ittybitty photo, but the real danger for a journalism job applicant is that the editor you’re trying to impress looks at your blog and right away sees something that would get the paper sued. It’s just best to look like you are taking the proper issues into account. Oh yeah, don’t libel anybody in your blog, either.

 

 

Note that Pilcrow’s instructions say 700 x 200. I’ve recropped and uploaded these suckers three times now, and I can assure you, when they say “200” for this theme, they mean “182.” Makes a lot of difference if you care about your images.  But anyway — I have spared y’all that effort (I hope).

 

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To blog, or not to blog

I have some very definite opinions on this, relating purely to people who are seeking journalism jobs. So here they are.

Yes, you should blog. Don’t write about your freaking cat or where you got drunk last night. Also, don’t blog long essays on your personal opinions about the world. (Unless your essays are of the same quality as Leonard Pitts’. Which is not terribly likely. Sorry — but hey, mine aren’t that quality either.)

Here is what I suggest, because this worked for me: Blog news-like items about stuff that interests you. This is the equivalent of giving yourself your own “story assignments” — which is a joy beyond measure. Write things that are useful, interesting, clear, stylish; illustrate them with photos, videos and hyperlinks; show that you respect proper protocols about using images or materials from other sources. I’d say you don’t have to nail yourself to AP style, but be clear, clean and well-spelled; never write anything libelous or sketchy; use the blog as an excuse to try out bits of online media gadgetry like Twitter, Instagram, Dipity, whatever’s hot.

This says so much about you. If you are normally a photographer or a copy editor, this gives you a chance to stretch your writing skills. If you’ve been an assigning editor for years and don’t have any recent clips, this can be a warmup exercise.

Your employer might require that you give them first refusal on anything you write. Great — do it. If they run it, you’ve got a published clip!  If they don’t, you still have a good blog post.

Are blog posts legitimate examples of your writing that you can show to a prospective employer?  Sure — as long as it’s clear what they are. They are obviously not pieces of work assigned or accepted by a major publication.  But if writing is good, it shows.  If writing rambles on and on with crappy grammar, irresponsible snarky comments and no real point, that shows, too.

And, ever so possibly, writing about your greatest interests gives you an excuse to connect with people in that field or hobby, which could benefit you in ways we can’t foresee down the road. I have a friend who’s very knowledgeable about green building, and I so much wish that she would start blogging about it, because that is such a fast-growing, nationwide, fanatical audience. You never know.

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Getting your clips together online

Design: You’re so lucky, because your PDFs look fantastic onscreen, even better than on a dead print page. If you do Web design, or want to include a Flash animation you made or something like that, you can link to it of course, but always bear in mind the publication you worked for might change or take down your work — I really like taking a screen shot of your work and saving that, just in case.

Writing: Again, we have the problem that your employer could take down your writing samples. But if you just post the text of your story on your own page, for example, that leaves you open to people suspecting it was never really published where you said it was, or that you cleaned up the mistakes and don’t want them to see the original version. My solution: Post the text in a place that you control, possibly with an image of how it looked on the page or website (snap a screen shot). Then link that to the story hosted on your employer’s Web site.

This accomplishes three things:

  • You get the credibility factor
  • People can see how prominently your story was played on the Web page or the Web page (which is another reason they used to make us cut clips out of the actual newspaper)
  • But it never goes away.

I would post the electronic version of the text alongside even when your image is a photo of the complete story in the newspaper — because it’s hard to read the photo onscreen. Be nice to your future employer and give ’em an easy-to-read option.

Copy-editing: I wrote a comprehensive entry on this topic, but first I want to emphasize: I STRONGLY ADVISE you don’t post some other journalist’s work on the Internet with your corrections marked all over it to show what a good editor you are. Even if you take their name off it, the original can be found — and this makes you look really insensitive and clueless. The best solution I can think of right now is just to put a line saying “Copy editing clips upon request” with a link to your e-mail.  Better, though, would be a way to host your clips online but only visible to people you give a password to, when they ask for it. (Even then I would strip any reporters’ names off completely.)

You could do that by posting all your work on a private, password-protected Blogger blog, but that seems messy…  might be doable through Flickr, or even right on your WordPress site somehow… I’m not sure. Holler if you have an idea — I’m sue (at) sues-news (dot) com.

Now, here are a whole lot of constructive ideas I’ve had for copy editing clips. I’ve been a copy editor for years, and later a copy chief, and I was the administrator of my newspaper’s copy-editing test. So you are my people 🙂 and I hope these will be of value to you.

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The old directions for buying your domain through WP

In case you mistakenly click past the “yourfullname.com” window, here is the old way to buy your domain, which might still work: Go up to the gray WordPress toolbar and navigate to your blog’s Dashboard. On the left side of your Dashboard, click on “Upgrades” — click on “Add a Domain” and follow the prompts to register “www.yourfullname.com.”

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.”

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