Jason Puckett With great power comes great bibliography.

16Jul/08Off

Promoting Yourself With a Personal Website

These are my slides and notes from a talk I gave on July 12 at the Atlanta Emerging Librarians meeting at Georgia State University.  I had a great time presenting, despite having a 101 degree fever and a voice rather like Dr. Girlfriend's.  I promised that when I posted these I'd also include a link to Creative Commons, which came up during the Q&A.  Grab the Powerpoint file, or the slides are also up on Slideshare.

Slide 1

Hi, I'm Jason.

I'm a library instructor specializing in technology. I have a website at jasonpuckett.net that I use as a blog and a portfolio for my library work.

I set up my website several months ago as a way to showcase my skills and ideas while I transition into professional librarianship, and today I'm going to talk about why and how I set it up and how I use it.

I do not have a marketing or human resources background. This presentation is based entirely on what has worked well for me so far.

Slide 2

Several months ago I took advantage of the ALA New Members' Round Table free resume review service. The reviewer had this to say....

He saw the URL at the top of my resume and went there first...

Slide 3

...before he even read the rest of my resume!

This has turned out to be a rewarding and fun project for me. I've had librarians write to me and ask to use my work in presentations. It's gotten me involved in online conversations with new librarians and other MLIS students. I've been invited to submit conference proposals. I've learned some new tech skills to go on my resume.

Slide 4

Prospective employers are googling us.

I want to make sure that when they do, there's someplace they can find my ideas about libraries, my professional activities, and my online projects.

Not have to figure out if I'm one these guys.

Slide 5

To that end, your website can serve as a one-stop info point for people looking for your work. This is particularly useful if you've got online projects all over the web.

Slide 6

This is Brian Mathews' site. He's a librarian at Georgia Tech who's very active in a number of online venues.

(Disclaimer: since I grabbed this screenshot, it looks like Brian is redesigning his site, so if you go there now it is a lot more minimalist.)

His site is basically just two pages: this home page and his CV.

Take a look at all the info he's aggregated onto this one page:

  • His schedule of public appearances
  • Four of his online projects, all on different sites
  • Two of his blogs

He can point anyone to this one URL to find all of this stuff.

Slide 7

This is a tiny snippet of my friend Beth Gallaway's site. Beth is a library consultant and trainer, and she actively uses social networking sites in her work. For example, she often posts links from her presentation under a Delicious tag.

She's basically consolidated her online presence here on her site, so that it's easy to do that disambiguation I was talking about.

Slide 8

And my friend Karin Dalziel has done something similar here as a sidebar on her site.

So far I've just been talking about making yourself visible to prospective employers, but this is also a great way to make yourself visible to other online librarians. If you're active on a lot of social networking sites, a list like this can be a great way for other librarians to connect with you.

Slide 9

A lot of the online projects I do for work end up on the Emory library's website, but naturally I want to promote them on my site as well.

I've added a couple of items to my site that show off work I'm doing at Emory and take no effort on my part to keep current.

I produce an instructional podcast for undergraduates, and it was extremely easy for me to add a link to the RSS subscription feed to my site. Clicking that link takes you to the latest podcast episodes as well as subscription info.

Second, a lot of my online work takes the form of web guides. We've got a new program called Libguides that generated this widget for me, and all I had to do was drop a line of code into my site and it automatically updates itself with links to my guide pages....

Slide 10

...All of which leads to this point, and this is kind of what I'm getting at with this whole discussion.

You can put a lot into a website that you can't ever put on a resume.

Slide 11

Obviously I have a lot of interest in podcasting. Beth Gallaway invited me to contribute a review for a podcast she works on, Games in Libraries.

I mention this in a line on my resume, but it's entirely different to see a mention of it on a resume and be able to click a button and actually hear it. It also puts me in the google results when anyone's searching for "libraries" and "podcast."

You also can't put Lego Darth Vader on a resume! I get to have a lot of fun with what kind of stuff I show off. I keep in mind that employers and colleagues will see it, but it's not my job -- I feel free to post what I think is interesting and cool.

Slide 12

Here's another cool trick - I embed slideshows from presentations and classes in my pages. This is a widget from a site called Slideshare for sharing slideshows.

Since a lot of my work is in instruction, this is a great way to share my presentation materials and give people an idea of how I teach. I haven't done a lot with this yet, but I'm planning to put up several of my workshops.

Slide 13

And quite simply, having a web site is a practical demonstration of the fact that you know how to set up a web site.

Slide 14

A lot of what I've been talking about is stuff you could do with a free blog on a site like Blogger. I started out doing that, in fact, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with it - lots of librarians have them.

I decided to move to my own site so I could do more with it. You're generally limited in what you can do with a free blog.

I did ultimately set up WordPress blogging software on my site, but I can upload as many of my own files as you want, I get an e-mail account, and basically I can do whatever I like with it - I can delete WordPress and set up a wiki or Drupal site if I want to.

And again, building the site myself shows that I can do it.

Slide 15

You'll need to pay a web hosting company for server space.

I host my site via a company called Laughing Squid. I'm on a ten dollar a month plan, and have gotten good service from them.

Slide 16

If I were setting up my site today, I'd probably go with LISHost. They're a small web hosting company that caters specifically to librarians. For ten bucks a month you get essentially unlimited space and bandwidth.

I can't vouch for them them personally, but I know several people who do, and they all rave about the service. I have never heard anything but stellar reviews of LISHost.

Slide 17

I use WordPress to manage my site. It's blog software, but it works well as a content management system for a simple site like mine.

The software is free, and you can get it from wordpress.org. Installing it took about five minutes with the instructions I got from Laughing Squid's website.

This is the WordPress control panel - creating a new page is very easy...

Slide 18

As you can see, the interface to create a new page looks a lot like typing a document in Word. You don't have to do any coding, although there's an HTML editor as well.

Slide 19

I've been talking about how easy it is to set up a site without having to tinker with the HTML, and that's true, I rarely have to go into my site and write code.

The fact is, though, if you're going to set up a web site you should have some idea of how HTML works. I think of it as like knowing how to jumpstart your battery or check the oil if you're going to own a car.

And I'll briefly get on a soapbox and say that my personal opinion is that it's a good thing for new librarians to know some HTML anyway. If you're working with public services or metadata or digital archives or any number of areas in a library, you'll probably end up needing to do something to your library's web site at some point.

So I do do a little HTML editing on my site. I've gone into my WordPress templates and adjusted them the way I wanted. I've added a license statement at the bottom of my pages, for example. If a blog post isn't displaying the way I want it to, I can switch to the code view and tweak it.

Slide 20

So once you've actually got a site set up, what do you actually put on it?

I post anything I've created, basically. If I've done a web guide, a podcast, a slide show, an article, a class outline - anything that I can conceivably share, I put it up. At worst, no one cares and they don't see it, and I've got a personal archive.

If you don't think you've got anything you could share, you're wrong - all of us here are working on or have recently finished an MLIS, which means we've all done dozens of projects. This is a report I wrote for a class at FSU (which so far I've reworked into a committee newsletter article and a conference presentation).

Here's a slide show that Karin put together for a technology presentation - I stole the slideshare idea from her.

Slide 21

If you're active in professional activities, let people know where you're speaking or what meetings you're attending.

Beth is a trainer who does a lot of public speaking and presenting, so she's done something cool with her site - she's set up her Google Calendar as a widget on her upcoming appearances page.

...and you bet I posted a plug for today's meeting.

Slide 22

And on the blog part of the site, I feel free to kind of go nuts. I post tech ideas, links to good articles I've run across, half-baked opinions and fun stuff.

Frankly I think this is what attracts more hits to my site than anything else, and it has occasionally started some good discussion.

Slide 23

Once you've got some content up, of course you want people to read it.

My personal system for attracting traffic has two parts to it.

First: Keep it current. I post regularly.
A site with old content is not going to attract much attention on its own, although some of my older stuff gets hit by search engines pretty regularly, like my Zotero workshop materials. I try to make a blog post roughly once a week on average. If I get busy and don't get around to it, I don't beat myself up over it.

Second: I post links.
Every time I make a new blog post, I post it on Twitter, Facebook and Friendfeed.
Every time I comment on a library blog, I include my URL.

I also use a feature called Google Alerts that e-mails me whenever there's a new mention of my site somewhere.

Slide 24

And when I'm feeling motivated I keep half an eye on what content is attracting hits. Let me show you a little data.

...

This is a monthly graphic of my web traffic. As you can see, I posted some things on June 7th and 13th that attracted more hits than usual. (Podcast episode and info about Cory Doctorow's ALA appearances.)

Slide 25

When I e-mailed Tom from New Members Round Table to ask his permission to quote him today, he wrote back and said this.

I told him, "Dude, I am so quoting that."

Slide 26

Thank you - these slides will be available on my site under a Creative Commons license, meaning you're welcome to use them as long as you credit me.

Comments (6) Trackbacks (3)
  1. This is great, Jason. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us. Perfect timing as I’m starting to think about my personal branding/reputation mgmt. presentation at IL in October.

  2. Thanks for for the kind words Jason!

  3. Greg — Thanks! I take it as a real compliment if you find it useful.

    Blake — Just repeating what I’ve heard! I’ll probably be setting up hosting for a new podcast with you guys this fall.

  4. It’s funny that you’re talking about this. In my industry, graphic design, everyone has personal websites to showcase their work, experience & talent. It’s a great (and easy) way to let potential employers see your work and learn about you without physically meeting you. This can prompt interviews & spark conversations all around the world.

    I’m glad you found my blog and used a screen shot for your slide. I am ‘one of those guys’ with the same name as you.

    Continued success to you at Emory.

  5. Ha — terrific, Jason. Thanks for posting a comment.

    Librarians talk a lot about how we’re notoriously bad at self-promotion. I’m not surprised that in your field it’s common practice. We could learn a lot from other professions.

  6. I’m closing replies on this old post since it seems to be a spam magnet.