Why You Need Your Own Academic Website – Guest Post by Adeline Koh

by Adeline Koh

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The first thing that anyone interested in your work is going to do is to Google you (See Dr. Karen’s recent Vitae post on that subject). It’s a hard, bitter truth to accept, but our online presences are increasingly becoming stand-ins for our professional selves. If someone is looking for a contributor for a special issue of a journal, if someone is looking for a speaker, indeed, if a search committee member is interested in a candidate–everyone will go to Google first, because it’s easy, and because it gives the researcher a sense of who you are and how you present yourself to the world.

Your own professional website is going to be one of the first landing pages that you want them to find. Yes, you should also have a professional presence on social media, but having your own website in your own domain presents you as a serious professional, and allows you to craft some of the first impressions you make to others most strategically. If you don’t have your own website, you are letting the little bits and pieces about you on the web dominate your professional identity.

Think about it: is your personal Facebook profile the first thing you want someone interested in you professionally to find? Of course, you’ve probably locked down the majority of your settings, which means that this person won’t be able to find out much. And therein lies the problem–said person won’t be able to find out more about who you are as a scholar, what interests you, what your theoretical trajectory is, what you think about teaching.

The webinar I’m running on Wednesday, June 17, will give you the tools to get started building your own website.

What I’m going to cover:

– how to make a beautiful website even if you have zero programming knowledge;

– A comparison and evaluation of different types of content management systems (WordPress, Tumblr, Wix, etc.) for academic use;

– the importance of having your own domain name vs. using your university’s webpage,

– a quick comparison of hosting services and

– a guide to finding good and professional-looking designs, how often you should update your site, and more frequently asked questions.

The webinar will end with a hands-on workshop which will get participants started with purchasing their own domain name and hosting, meaning you should plan on walking out of there with your own domain, something like: www.janedoephd.com.

What qualifies me to give this webinar? I’ve ten years of experience with web design and am passionate about how people construct their online identities. I’m also the director of a digital humanities center (DH@Stockton) at Stockton University, and an associate professor of literature. I’m self-taught in technology, meaning I taught myself how to do all of this while pursuing very traditional humanities academic training.

Also: why take this webinar rather than taking some free tutorials online? What I can give you is information that is tailored to you as an academic, rather than someone appealing to jobs outside of academia. I can provide for you the kind of shortcuts and evaluations of software, hosting services, and content management that is ideal for a professional academic.

You might still have doubts in your mind:  isn’t creating your own academic website self-promotional in the worst kind of way? Isn’t it essentially vanity publishing? It might be both to some, but having a professional website is one of the best ways to get your name out there. My own website was responsible for getting me invitations to speak and to write when I was an unknown assistant professor teaching at a small school in New Jersey. Without my website, I would not be in the professional position I am in today.

So take a deep breath and get started. Come join me on June 17, 2015, 2-4pm EST. I would love to have you and will make it worth your while.


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