This blog post was written by Seanna Viechweg and Katie Gemmill a Girls Write Now mentee and mentor pair about the Web Presence Workshop on May 16, 2015. The workshop focused on developing your presence online as a writer and featured two incredible speakers Bridget Todd (@BridgeMarie) and Tracy Clayton (@brokemcpoverty).
You would think after spending the past ten years of my life surrounded by social media and frequently having to give technology tutorials to my parents I would know everything there is to know about web presence. And oh how wrong you would be—well, how wrong I was.
Web presence means more than I thought. I assumed I understood web presence through the on-and-off Facebook account I own, my Instagram, and the Tumblr page I keep like a secret diary under my bed (without following any people that I actually know).
It wasn’t until discussing potential writer bios with other Girls Write Now mentors and mentees that I realized I need to set up an entirely new web presence for myself—a professional one.
Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to have a web presence that is both personal and professional. At the Girls Write Now Web Presence Workshop craft talker, Tracy Clayton, demonstrated this with the Twitter bio she uses personally, as well as for her work at Buzzfeed: “Thirty-something from Louisville, KY. Made of bourbon and awesome.” However, as someone who is self-conscious and overthinks every little decision that I have made or have yet to make, I prefer to have two entirely separate web presences.
I felt inspired by what mentors around me listed as part of their web presences—accomplishments, jobs, awards, and lots of other credentials. I realized that I currently have nothing on the web that potential employers or professors could read to get a sense of who I am as a developing writer.
Before the workshop, I did not consider LinkedIn as an important social network for me to be on—but now I’ve started thinking about creating a profile as a first step towards building my professional web presence. I want to start early. I want to start adding my experiences and the pieces I have written, and keep it updated throughout my college career. I like to think of my professional persona as an online resume that I can continue to build as time passes.
Everyone should start somewhere and start soon, no matter how inexperienced she may be. One’s professional web presence should be built organically, as that is the best way to truly show potential employers (or publishers) who you are becoming, and how you are developing what you have to offer.
Tracy Clayton is a writer and humorist originally from Louisville, Kentucky. She currently works as a staff writer at the news and entertainment website BuzzFeed.com, and is also a contributor at PostBourgie.com. She recently launched a podcast called “Another Round with Heben and Tracy,” which she co-hosts with her colleague Heben Nigatu, also a writer at BuzzFeed.
Bridget Todd is a political strategist, educator, writer and community organizer. Her writing on race, politics, and culture has appeared at the Atlantic, msnbc.com, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, BuzzFeed, the Aerogram, Talking Points Memo, DCentric, Racialicious and several other outlets. Her work organizing digital trainings for progressive political organizers and activists has been covered by the Washington Post.