Sports media – you need a website

Posted on by Gail

{This post originally appeared at nationalsportsmedia.org, previously National Sportsbroadcasters and Sportswriters Association, as it made a website transfer.}cropped-logo-NSSA2016

Sportscasters and Sportswriters: you need your own websites

Sportscasters and sportswriters that have taken buyouts or were released in media organization downsizings ask, often in a panic, “how do I stay relevant in sports media circles when I don’t have a newspaper or station to display links to my work?”

Gail Sideman

Gail Sideman

My answer to them is the advice I provide corporate or contract media: build your own website.

Regardless of where you work, your website will follow. Jobs may come and go, but a website is essentially your personal storefront, and is there as long as you want it.

A personal website showcases your voice, writing and story-telling skills. It may be used as a marketing tool or simply be a place where people can find you. After all, media professionals don’t typically remain in one role forever.

There’s good news for those who feel overwhelmed by the thought of doing anything tech-related beyond using Microsoft Word. It’s never been easier and more cost efficient to create a website that showcases your talent and skills as well as tell the story of you. And if you don’t feel comfortable creating a site yourself, freelancer fees are more competitive than bread prices. Shop around!

Elements to include on your website, whether it’s a multiple page display or one-screen/one-page blog style include:

  • Descriptive domain
  • Contact information
  • Must-read biography (short and long)
  • Clean, attractive design
  • Visuals
  • Clips

Master your domain and find an accommodating host

.com, .info, .tv … there are dozens of suffixes with which you can use to secure your personal domain. If possible, create a domain that includes your name and what you do, e.g. joesmithscribe.com or davegorensports.tv. You may visit websites such as godaddy.com or hostgator.com to see what domain names are available and purchase them there if you’d like.

Host features vary from service to service, and most offer discounts on host packages throughout the year.

My most important advice when you shop for domain or host locations is to use one that has 24/7/365 phone or chat support. Little is more frustrating than to find your site isn’t operating properly and the host and domain service is closed for a long holiday weekend.

Include contact information on each page of your site

Next to your domain and host, contact information is what people should prioritize but often remember last, if at all. Someone recently sent me a media website to critique that looked super and navigated perfectly, but there was NO contact information on any of the pages.

While some have a separate page for contact information and call it a day, I like to Include it on every page of a website. As a member of the media, you’re in the information business. Provide it and make it easy to find.

Your contact information should consist of a phone number and email address at the very least. I further suggest a snail mail address if you have one, and links to your social media accounts.

Make people want to read your bio

Leave your resume in a drawer and tell your story. Who are you? How did you come to work in sports media? What’s your most challenging or favorite part of the job? Share a couple of your outside interests. All of this paints a picture of who you are, and it’s much more interesting to readers than a resume.

In an effort to be prepared for anything, write a brief three-to-four sentence bio with basics of who you are now, and include a link to a longer version that better tells a more complete story.

NO ONE should have an ugly website!

From WordPress to Squarespce to hosting companies that provide their own tools, there are hundreds of options with which to build easy-to-navigate, great looking websites. Use one of these sites’ complimentary templates to build your own beautiful site, or find an expert who’s capable of modifying one to fit your needs and style. Like I wrote above, freelance designer and programmer fees are extremely competitive, so there’s someone that will likely fit your budget.

If you have a website but it takes more than a few seconds to load or has rainbow color squiggly type, you’re past due for an update!

Photos and video are like wardrobe accessories

Rare are days when you want to wear just one color from top to bottom. In a similar vein, photos and video clips add variety and help describe elements on your website. The site isn’t meant to be a scrapbook, but tight pictures of you working or something that visually describes your page topic is appropriate. No one wants to look at pages with straight copy.

Show them what you’ve got

Include a page that samples your work. If you’re a sportscaster, include clips of you talking on camera (you may need permission from the media outlet if you produced it for a station or network, but you can always link). Hotlinks to written work should credit the outlet for which it was produced.

As you build a website or engage the help of someone to do it for you, remember to produce it so that it’s mobile friendly. More people than ever use smartphones as their primary Internet access tool, and Google’s search engine won’t list sites that are not mobile friendly.

If I can help you with the contents of your website and lead you to talented and budget-friendly designers, please let me know.

©NationalSportsMedia.org; Gail Sideman; PUBLISIDE.com 2016

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About Gail

Gail Sideman is a self-described news hound that hustles to meet the needs of an ever-changing media universe. While the way that news is delivered has changed and expanded, Sideman insists that the basics and value of a great story are as entrenched in our desire to know, as ever. Stories that people want to share and hear, she says, is why delivery speed and social media has grown so popular. View all posts by Gail →

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