Developing a website – we’re giving it a go, why don’t you?

Helen Payne is one of 10 branch members who attended the recent session on setting up your own website. She reports here on what she learned.

Before the last Thursday branch meeting, Simon Minter of nineteenpoint.com graphic design ran a teaching session for branch members wanting to raise their online profile. As well as his professional website, Simon runs a local music website (http://www.musicinoxford.co.uk/).

Simon’s main point was that potential clients will look online first when seeking a freelancer or wanting to learn more about you. If you have created an online presence, clients will find what you write about yourself, not what others have said about you. He recommended having a website, a LinkedIn profile, and finally a Twitter account to add some warmth and personality to the professional details you provide elsewhere.

Among the many useful suggestions that Simon made were several ways of launching your own website; he suggested starting with the simplest, the use of a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress. This website, the Oxford NUJ website, is hosted by WordPress’s free blogging platform, http://www.wordpress.com. You can also use the WordPress CMS with your own hosting provider (‘self-hosting’), in which case you’ll need to download the CMS from http://www.wordpress.org.  Penny Kiley, who wrote a recent piece about starting your own website for the Oxford NUJ blog and was also at the session, has done this for www.pennykiley.com.

I and the other participants found the session very helpful, and over the next few weeks we’ll each be finding the few hours necessary to start our own sites. We hope to share tips with each other and to start talking to freelancers in digital industries with the eventual aim of collaborating to expand what we can all offer. In the meantime, I’d recommend this training to other freelancers who don’t yet have an online presence.

Google group

The branch has now set up a google group where members in the early stages of building their own websites and developing social networking can share their experiences, and offer and seek tips and advice. New members are welcome. Email oxfordnuj@gmail.com if you would like join.

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