The Digital Writer’s Journal

Today is all about setting up your digital writer’s journal — your website / blog — putting  all the pieces in place to make your weekly updates easy and routine. The more work you do to establish an effective platform for your posts now, the easier it will be to find the time for these weekly sessions of reflective creativity.

blog-writing

Each of you will need to set up a website with a blog page, ready for weekly posts. For our purposes here, a basic plug-and-play platform with built-in templates will do the trick: if you’ve never set up a website before, I strongly encourage you to use such a platform, such as WordPress, Tumblr, or Blogger. If you have some experience building websites, and would like a little more creative freedom, you’re welcome to use a site builder such as Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace. If you’ve set up a website for another class, you can continue to use that site for this class, as long as you can structure it as I’ve outlined below. If you plan on using the site for more than one class simultaneously, you’ll want to make sure you master categories or tags, so I can easily navigate directly to your Writing for Digital Media content.

Here is what your website needs:

  • A static “About” page that contains a short biography of you and the purpose(s) for the website. Make sure to include your full name, references to the fact that this is an class website, and a description of the blog’s subject as it relates to digital media and writing. Feel free to use material from your questionnaire; your readers might be interested in knowing what kind of tech you enjoy or are working with.
  • A separate page for your weekly journal entries / blog posts. This should NOT be a static page; if you aren’t sure what the difference is between a static page and a posts page, maybe Google does! This page should be updated every time you make a new post to your blog, without deleting or replacing any of the posts that came before.
    • Note: Your website’s homepage, or landing page, can be either the static “About” page, the posts page, or a separate static homepage. Different platforms have different methods for establishing the landing page, so research your options via Google.
  • A title and a subtitle. These can be as creative or as straightforward as you like, but at least one of the two should include your full name, to help search engines find the site, and to clarify to any visitors who is responsible for the content.
  • Effective visual design. That is, your site should be easy to read and to navigate. A new visitor to any page should be able to figure out how to get around the site, and shouldn’t have difficulty making out the text. Make smart choices in terms of colors, fonts, and background images. Your site should appear welcoming to readers, which means they shouldn’t struggle to make out your content.
  • A professional, yet conversational, tone. Since you are using your full name on the site, making it search engine accessible, this site will come up when people Google you. Make sure it looks and sounds like something you wouldn’t mind your parents, your friends, or your potential future employers reading. Let your personality shine! But write clearly and carefully, proofread, and be aware of your audience.
  • This is optional, but if your site has the capability, you might also consider linking your public social media feeds to it.

Take your time doing this. You have most of the class period to do so. Once we begin reading and discussing work in earnest, once you are making weekly posts, and once you have other assignments for this class, you won’t find yourself with a lot of time to make the site functional. Set it up well and effectively now, so you don’t get bogged down making changes later.

Once you’ve set your website up, visit this document. Add your name and website URL to the table you see there. Then, click on a few of the other websites your classmates have included. If you can view the site, and it has both a posts page (remember this page may be blank, but should at least exist) and a static about page, return to the document and add a “Y” in the Works? column. If you cannot view the site, or receive an error message, add an N and a note about what’s not working. At the end of class, check out your name. If you’ve got an N,  check and see what needs to be corrected about your site. This makes sure your site is functional before I visit it to grade your first blog post. If you have questions about how to fix your site, ask your classmates, or research them via Google.

If you have time remaining after your blog is up and running, go ahead and get started on your first blog post (the prompt for this is in our course calendar for today). Remember, this and every blog on your blog should include some multimedia element and some hyperlinks. Your blog post is due by Friday, 5pm; at that time, I’ll cruise through our class document and check each of your blogs to make sure you’ve done the post on time and that your site is functional.

While you are all working, I will be reading your digital role model profiles and questionnaires and sorting you into houses — errr, groups. Next Tuesday, I’ll announce the working groups for your first project, the platform presentation.

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