By Kathy Ehrich Dowd | September 28th, 2007
Marketing myself isn’t really my thing. Frankly, it terrifies and intimidates me. But after a year and a half of freelancing full-time I have finally come to the realization that simply willing editors to come to me with work isn’t the most proactive way to approach my career. So after much procrastination I have finally begun a project I should have tackled ages ago: creating my own Web site. In a further exercise in self-flagellation, I have agreed to document the process on SPJ’s independent journalist blog. Here’s a rundown of what I have done (and not done) so far:
STEP ONE: Like any assignment I approach, my first step is research. In this case it seemed logical to begin by studying the Web sites of other freelance writers. Truth be told, this is something I have done informally for a long time. I primarily freelance for PEOPLE Magazine, and when I’m working with a new reporter I sometimes Google him or her just out of curiosity and am always impressed when folks have taken the time to create an Internet space to show themselves off. My husband, who is in public relations, has also helped with my research. He has been on my case for months to get a Web site going, and to kick me in the tail he occasionally sends me the sites of freelance writers he knows through work. I almost always think they look great. Despite my informal research, I knew more was needed. Once I committed myself to creating my site I began to study other writers’ sites more closely. SPJ’s Freelancer Directory and mediabistro’s Freelance Marketplace both proved to be excellent resources and provided links to a number of sites I admired.
STEP TWO: Step one was easy. Checking out other people’s sites wasn’t so scary. But step two forced me to step out of my comfort zone and do something more drastic–register a domain name and pick a program to design my site. For help, I turned to a couple of freelancer friends and the mediabistro forums section. I must credit the anonymous posters on mediabistro’s forums with providing me with the information I sought. I posted a new thread asking for advice on starting a site. I received several messages back and was interested to discover that most people recommended using Yahoo Small Business to both register a domain name and design the site. I checked them out online and took the easy-to-understand “tour” of their Web site design program. I was impressed. It seemed relatively easy to use—even for a technophobe like me. Also, the price was right: for only about $10 a month they will keep the site active AND provide me with the basic tools I need to design my site. I was sold and immediately signed up. I am now the proud owner of www.kathyehrichdowd.com. Registering my own domain name was surprisingly exhilarating. And as dorky as this may sound it also felt empowering—I enjoyed taking that important step for my career.
STEP THREE: My exuberance was short-lived when I quickly discovered that designing the perfect Web site is hard work. I needed to figure out what to say, if I should include a photo of myself, which clips to include, etc. Eeek! I am in the midst of step three now—mulling over what to put on the site and forcing myself to stay focused on it. Stay tuned to see how it progresses. Also, feel free to drop me a line at Kathy_ehrich@hotmail.com. Thanks for reading! — KATHY EHRICH DOWD