1. 2. Building a professional identity online

2. Building a professional identity online

In this module, you will explore why scholars might want to build and control their professional identity online.


  1. Increased understanding of the benefits to establishing a professional website and consistent online persona.
  2. Ability to sign up for server space on the web.
  3. Ability to install and launch open-source software (WordPress) to create a new website or blog.


Do you currently have a personal website? Do you have a professional social media account for networking and communicating with your peers?

For advice on digital research, teaching, writing, and life management, subscribe to these blogs, we recommend:

The readings below are from ProfHacker and GradHacker will give you some ideas to get you thinking about how to develop a consistent and professional online presence.

Questions to Consider

  • Established scholars: Have you ever Googled a job applicant or a conference co-presenter and were confused about which sites or online persona represented your colleague?  Do the readings make you reconsider the look or consistency of your online professional identity?
  • Graduate Students: How are you preparing to go on the job market? Do you have a consistent, up-to-date online portfolio?

Digital Project Lens

Today, review 3 different approaches to academic websites before building your own. What kinds of content is found in each faculty and student site? What types of academic work is visible through these sites? Is there anything missing that you would like to see?

Activity: Signing Up for Web Hosting

These activities will help you to sign up for server space on Reclaim Hosting and Install WordPress. The purpose of this exercise is to get you more comfortable with going online and installing free open-source software. You do not need to maintain a site or a WordPress installation, but it is a good place to play around, and your WordPress site can offer you a a place to journal your experiences while taking this online course.

Sign up for server space on Reclaim Hosting

Why do I need a personal web domain when I have a faculty or graduate student page in my college/university’s website?
Control, portability, and space to experiment

Your faculty webpages serve a good purpose, but they are limiting. For a long time one of the real challenges of working digitally was finding someway to get server space inexpensively. For web publishing that sometimes trapped people in services that offered little or no opportunity to customize websites or little server storage. Access to server space is much easier and cheaper. Additionally, some universities have pushed back against hosting free open-source software, making it challenging for scholars and students to experiment with digital methods and tools that rely on Linux server operating system.

We suggest that you use Reclaim Hosting, a web hosting service for educators and students, providing simple one-click installation of a variety of web applications, including WordPress, Omeka, MediaWiki, and many others. Launched by Jim Groom and Tim Owens, who developed University of Mary Washington’s “Domain of One’s Own” initiative, Reclaim can offer students a digital space that is their own, for creating portfolios of their work that then they take with them when they graduate, and for faculty and researchers to launch their own sites. The other reason we like Reclaim is that they have absolutely extraordinary customer service and support. Their small staff will answer your questions quickly and will fix any problems you encounter.

If you’re ready to jump in, go directly to http://reclaimhosting.com and sign up for a $30/year account–it costs about the same as buying 1 academic book.

Activity 2: Install WordPress

Why WordPress?
Approximately 25% of websites run on WordPress. It is an established, free and open-source web publishing platform. The platform offers many out-of-the-box designs (themes) and ways to extend the basic functionality beyond launching a web log (blog). There is a large developer community committed to WordPress, which means if you need help tweaking a website chances are there is a WP developer nearby. It is an attractive platform for academics, because you can share your research, you can easily write and publish, and you can host a network of sites (great for teaching) within one application. It also offer plugins and themes that increase the accessibility of your sites to insure those are available to students and peers with disabilities, or who might only have access to the Internet with a mobile device.

WordPress also offers the digitally-curious and the digital-doubters an easy place to experiment with writing and publishing online.

If your web domain is ready, go back to Reclaim to install WordPress: http://docs.reclaimhosting.com/wordpress