Creating an online presence: tools for journalists

Posted June 9th, 2011 by in

Launching your online presence. Image credit: lapideo

The launching your online presence session at the Walkleys 2011 Freelance Conference looked at how freelance journalists can create and maintain a successful online presence. The panel discussed effective use of social media platforms and how you can harness it for story ideas as well as important things to consider when using online tools to market yourself and your services.

Renee Barnes, an online journalism lecturer at RMIT, opened the session with a look at the top online tools used by journalists. Renee said it’s important for journalists to understand the online world because this is where the industry is heading, and in order to understand it, we must operate in it. Here are her top 6 online tools to assist with your day-to-day job as a journalist:

1. Twitter
Connection and engagement are key. Twitter enables journalists to tap into a huge network of other journalists, editors and potential sources. It also allows you to create and build your own audience. Twitter can be used to find stories and leads but can also be used as an effective marketing tool to drive readers to your stories.

2. Google Reader
Subscribe to RSS feeds and keep up to date with all your favourite blogs with Google Reader. Renee referred to Google Reader as her “personal media monitoring service” because rather than visiting hundreds of different websites each day, you can have them all delivered to one site.

3. Delicious
Also known as social bookmarking. It works in conjunction with Google Reader in that it saves stories and static websites to one account. It eliminates a large list of browser favourites and can be accessed from any computer. Renee said the most important feature is being able to save the bookmarks under relevant tags so they can be easily searched at a later time.

4. Flickr
The image sharing service could prove invaluable for freelance journalists seeking licensed images to use alongside blog posts and articles. It’s also a great tool to get high resolution images to editors without overloading their inbox.

5. Linked In
In it’s essence, Linked In is an online CV. But it’s real value lies in the ability to keep in contact with previous and future professional contacts in your field.

6. WordPress
A free blogging platform that is really easy to use. It allows you to create a blog and therefore an online presence in a few minutes. Now there’s no excuse not to be online!

Renee has complied a more comprehensive look at how the above online tools can assist freelance journalists: A journalist’s guide to developing an online presence

Editor-in-chief and founder of Anthill James Tuckerman, shared four key tips for journalists and content creators looking to develop an online venture. If starting anything online, Tuckerman suggests making it:

>Measureable: Don’t do anything online unless it can be measured. Measurement tools and metrics allow you to constantly improve what you do online. This largely refers to tracking web traffic, and learning how to produce more traffic via out-going links, for example.

>Findable: Your website or online presence needs to be easily found via search engines so building Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tactics into everything you do is crucial for developing and maintaining your online presence. According to Tuckerman, 40% of traffic comes directly from Google searches.

>Shareable: Gain an understanding of social networking tools to grow your freelance business. Make it really easy for your readers or your audience to share your links and content. Provide social media sharing buttons on your stories and blog posts so it makes it simple for your readers to share your content quickly. Get your followers to assist with your marketing efforts through online sharing.

> Manageable: Tuckerman said we need to create processes to automate our online activities, especially if you are someone who has several social media accounts and a website. Use available tools and technology to save time and help you with managing your online presence.

Do you agree with the above points? Are there other online tools that journalists can benefit from using?