As I spoke about in a previous post on demo reels, the use of personal websites showcasing the works of broadcasters is becoming more and more popular. For my needs, I have alexrawnsley.com which showcases some of my play-by-play, radio and television stories and some feature articles that have been done on my career. It not only provides an opportunity for potential employers to scout me, but gives them a good look at my capabilities.
Having your own portfolio or demo website is a fantastic thing to have. As noted, it shows off your work but if you build it yourself, put in a bit of time to learn some basic coding and design tricks, then it becomes a valuable skill and an extra thing to add to your resume. Web design has also never been easier. There are countless services that range in cost and complexity for people to take advantage of and I’ve used a fair few of them and read reviews on many more. Here are some options to consider when building your portfolio or demo website.
Content Management Systems
A Content Management System, or CMS is the platform for your website. Think Windows, or Apple, or Linux…a CMS is a way to create and sort content, build pages and acts as the skeleton and framework for many popular websites. There are countless CMS options out there, but here’s two that I’ve used and like, and are perfect if you’re looking to create your own site from scratch.
- WordPress is an extremely popular blogging tool that has developed and grown over the last 5-10 years to be perhaps the most popular website CMS on the market. It hits all the major points for people looking to create websites…it’s free, it is flexible and it’s easy to use. Once setup, if you can create a word document, you can create a website and format it to look presentable and professional.Wordpress comes in two formats. You can create an entirely web-based website with a limited feature set by going to wordpress.com. This option is great because it means you don’t need to incur any hosting fees, however the downside is that many of WordPress’ best features are disabled and not available in the free version. It’s best suited for blogs as opposed to portfolios or business websites. It will also force you into a subdomain for your address, meaning that instead of “yourname.com”, it would be “yourname.wordpress.com”.
The second, and most popular option is through WordPress.org. It’s a downloadable, fully featured version of the CMS where nothing is off limits. You will have to have hosting, which will cost money, however you’ll have a full range of themes and plugins to select from, many of which are free to download and work with. WordPress requires very little coding and there’s not an overly steep learning curve to get started. Many hosting companies even install it for you and you can find quick answers to many questions by a simple Google search.
- Joomla was once the king, and maybe in some circles it still is. Where WordPress excelled in blogging, Joomla took advantage of corporate and business web site design. It is a fully feature rich CMS with hundreds of free components (plugins) and hundreds more of pay versions. Where Joomla has fallen behind is in its need for a minor base in coding. It’s similar to WordPress in the setup fashion, but the learning curve is a little steeper. Many hosting companies will help you install this as well.
Hosting is the physical storage of files for your website, think of it like the hard drive on your computer. There are thousands of hosting companies out there, and a little research can go a long way, however I have used two companies to host not only my website, but others for small businesses and teams that I manage.
- Bluehost is a popular hosting service that you’ll often see advertised both online and on TV. What they offer is a pretty complete package and they have various levels of commitment and service depending on what you’re after. It’s one of the largest hosting companies in the world, hosting nearly 2 million websites.The pros of Bluehost are its pricing plans, particularly for new customers. It also has a good level of customer service and a very easy to use admin control panel. As noted above, Bluehost has one-click WordPress and Joomla (and other CMS’) installs which can give you a good leg up on building your own website. Cons include renewal pricing which steadily increases and it’s been rated slower than other comparable hosts.
- Hostgator is considered “the” big hosting company, with over 9 million addresses currently calling it home. It’s very popular with a few popular YouTube personalities who operate websites for their projects and features a 99.9% up time guarantee. It’s also been rated very fast (see the link above) when compared to similarly priced hosts.What I like about Hostgator is that it has fantastic pricing promotions. I was on Bluehost for about 10 years, paying upwards of $10/month for a 3-year term. That rate would have gone to $12 had I not switched to Hostgator when they were having a Christmas promotion of around $4/month. I was able to combine that with a coupon code from a YouTube channel I watch and it cost even less. Three years on Hostgator set me back less than 2 years on BlueHost at their renewal rates.
No longer can a sportscaster be just a sportscaster. You must be able to sell, promote, market and create content. A personal portfolio website is one way to do all of that and add a valuable skill in your bag of tricks, and in doing so making yourself more attractive to potential employers moving forward.