I spend a lot of time guiding educators as they create and curate a space of their own online. Many times it can be a scary, nerve-racking experience as they build up an online home. I learned how to build up my digital identity through trial and error(s). I have built and broken so many places online it’s hard to count. As you get started, it’s important to be flexible, self-reflective, and willing to iterate over time.
I’ve written frequently (here, here, & here) about why you need to create and maintain your one space online. In this post I’ll share my thinking about why and how you should build and maintain your one space on the Internet.
A domain of your own
You need one web address that you build up and share all of your content. This is one website or blog in which you write, share, and archive everything that you create. This is one place that you can direct followers, students, colleagues, friends, and family. This is also a place that people can review if they just met you. Where can they go to learn more about who you are, what you’ve done…and what you’re currently working on? Having one web address (that you control) saves everyone the hassle of tracking your digital breadcrumbs all over the Internet.
I recommend paying for a URL and hosting your own site. Paying for a domain of your own and hosting a website is not an insurmountable challenge. There are free tutorials available online for most of this work. I’ll also soon start offering classes and guidance to get you started. The first question that you need to consider is how (and by what name) do you want to be recognized online?
Your website is your space online. Just the same way that you pick out clothes that match your style, a specific color paint for a room, or the perfect shoes to match that outfit/room….you should make your space your own. Search online to find specific ways to customize your website or blog to meet your needs.
Start creating and archiving your work at your site. Do you make awesome Instagram pics? Embed it on a blog post. Are you a Vine virtuoso? Save it on your website. Have syllabi, worksheets, videos to share? Share them on your blog.
You may already have a lot of content that is hidden in the nooks and crannies of old hard drives or Internet silos. Set all of that content free and archive it on a space you control.
Share all of the things at your site
As you create content online, you should embed/archive it on your site and then share it out. This builds your digital identity, but it also helps your intended audience and they see other content you’ve shared. You also have the opportunity to include other materials and reflections with the content that you’re sharing.
Once you have your work archived on your site, you can also share it out to the other spaces online (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter, Google+) that you frequent. By only utilizing spaces and places owned by businesses…you have to be concerned about if/when their business model will change. Additionally, by adding your work to their space, you benefitting these businesses with your identity. I have lost a lot of content in the past as other online tools have changed business models or shut down. Find ways to archive copies of your old content on your one space on the Internet.
This is only a primer and lessons learned as I reflect on the latest round of participants I’ve ushered through. The biggest key is to take the first step. Start up a blog or website. Continue to build, write, make, and share content. Don’t be afraid to build up your digital identity.
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Also published on Medium.