writer platform

Why I Tweet & Why You Should Too

hOW TO bUILD yOUR hISTORIAN'S pLATFORMDo you use Twitter? Would you like to know more about how you can use Twitter to build your historian’s platform?

This post is the first in a 3-part series on how I use Twitter and how you can use it to build your historian’s platform. In this post, I will reveal why I love Twitter and why I use it.

The second post will discuss Twitter strategies you can use to draw attention to history and your research. The series will conclude with tactics for tweeting conference panels.


Why I Tweet

Twitter is my social media network of choice. I dabble on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Goodreads, but Twitter is where I prefer to spend my time on social media.

I love Twitter for three reasons:


1. Conversations and Networking

Twitter serves as my virtual watercooler. I am an unaffiliated scholar who often works from home or in cafes and libraries. This work-life offers great flexibility, but it can often be lonely. Twitter helps me cut the loneliness by allowing me to interact with colleagues when I want and need to.

John Quincy Adams TwitterWhen I need a break from my work, I visit Twitter to see who else is hanging out online. I often start with the people on my friends and family feed, but I also check in with my favorite hashtags to see if anyone is talking about topics that interest me. You can find all sorts of different conversations if you know which hashtags to follow.

Note on Hashtags: Hashtags are the words with # in front of them. They let users know that a tweet is part of a larger conversation by defining either the audience or topic the tweet addresses. For example, #Twitterstorians is a tweet for historians on twitter. #RedSox lets fellow fans know you want to talk about the team.


Chatting on Twitter has helped me expand and maintain my social and professional networks. I have met many fantastic colleagues on Twitter by sharing information about history, asking questions, and by answering the questions of others.

Drawing of a bird holding a hashtag for social media tagI frequently meet fellow historians on Twitter before I meet them in person. Our virtual relationship gives us an advantage. When we meet in person at a conference, or during a research trip, we often fall into an easy conversation because we already know what we like to talk about. Moreover, since we already know each other we are keen to introduce each other to our friends, which expands both of our professional and social networks.

Twitter Tip: If you would like to meet other historians on Twitter checkout the hashtags #Twitterstorians, #Historians, and #PublicHistory.


2. News Source

Twitter provides me with a quick and easy way to check the news. Between the news sources and people I follow, I almost always know when something big, tragic, or important has happened. The people I follow almost always share links to interesting history, news, and sports articles too.


3. Digital Public History

Twitter not only connects historians with colleagues, it also connects people who love history with history and historians.

networkingTwitter allows users to share information quickly and unlike Facebook and other platforms that use algorithms to curate feeds, anyone who follows you or the hashtags you use will see the information you share.

Historians can, and do, use Twitter to increase awareness about history-related exhibits, tours, books, events, blog posts, conferences, and news. Sharing and promoting this information helps non-historians stay up-to-date with history-related news. It also helps them feel more comfortable about asking historians questions about history, what historic sites they should visit, and what history books they should read. This type of tweeting and interaction qualifies as public history.



Twitter allows historians to connect with colleagues, get news, and practice digital public history. This is why I love it.

In my next post, I will reveal strategies you can use to better enjoy Twitter and for how you can use it to build your historian’s platform.


Build Your Platform with Freelance Writing: New Historian

New HistorianWould you like to extend the reach of your research and writing, build an audience for your blog, or increase your social media followers? If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you should write guest posts or articles for established blogs and publications.

Guest posts and articles will expose you and your work to new readers, some of whom will be interested in your research.

In this post, you will discover information about one digital publication that accepts freelance writing: New Historian.


About New Historian

New Historian is a relatively new digital publication, that has a large and growing readership; over 60,000 readers visited the New Historian website in December 2014. Readership should grow rapidly for this publication as several content curation websites like history.alltop.com have added New Historian to their feeds.

The editors of New Historian present the electronic magazine as a clearing house for the most recent news about history. The publication covers news about all periods and areas of history and many of its articles highlight interdisciplinary collaborations between academic historians, public historians, archaeologists, and genealogists.

The publication strives to present articles that convey accurate historical information with an “unbiased, apolitical viewpoint."

New Historian offers some history editorials and book reviews, but the strength of the publication lies in its present-day news about history and historical discoveries.


How to Submit Your Article

If you have a new exhibit, an historical discovery, or other breaking news about history you should consider writing an article for New Historian.

New Historian LogoEditors are always looking for accounts of new developments in the field and pieces that provide insight into historical projects and the work of historians. New Historian readers enjoy articles that provide specific details more than stories with broad overviews.

Although New Historian editors are most interested in stories about new historical developments, they will consider articles that promote new books. Editor Glynn Forsythe recommends that pieces about new books focus on a particular aspect of the book.

Forsythe encourages all submissions to be between 500 and 2,000 words.

You can submit your articles and pitches to newhistoriannews@gmail.com. I recommend placing the words “ARTICLE PITCH” or "NEW SUBMISSION" in your subject line.



Presently, New Historian does not provide financial compensation to freelance writers for their work. However, they offer exposure. If the editors accept your article they will include a link to your book, blog, exhibit, podcast, or website with your post.



New Historian offers an opportunity to expand the reach of your historical work by exposing it (and you) to its large audience of history lovers. As the site publishes multiple articles per day, New Historian editors want and need content to publish.

Like many history publications, New Historian does not provide financial compensation for writers, but the publicity and exposure the site can provide your work may make writing an article well worth the effort.


Share StoryShare Your Story

What publications do you write for to increase the reach of your work?


How to Build Your Historian’s Website & Where to Build it, Part 2

How to Build Your WebsiteYou know you need to build your platform and you have decided to start with a website, but how and where do you build your historian’s website? In Part 1 we explored Blogger, Squarespace, and hiring a professional website designer as possible options.

In this post we will investigate WordPress as design tool for your website. Wordpress offers you two options: WordPress.org and WordPress.com.




WordPress is a powerful and easy-to-use Content Management System (CMS).

As an open source website creation tool, developers have created thousands of free and premium themes (website style and look) and plugins (tools that add functionality to your website) for WordPress. These themes and plugins make WordPress one of the most popular and flexible website building tools available.

Users have two options when it comes to building a WordPress website: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Both options run on the same platform, but they have different costs, maintenance, and functionality associated with them.




WordPress.org is a free, open source Content Management System. This means that anyone can develop themes and plugins for the software.

Features: Limitless possibilities. With thousands of themes and plugins you can create a website that looks, feels, and operates the way you want it to.


Hosting: Although the WordPress.org CMS may be free, you will need to purchase a domain name and find a hosting service to provide you with server space to run the software and store your content.

There are many hosting services available and almost all of these services run coupons and specials for the savvy people who search for them.

I host this WordPress.org site and BenFranklinsWorld.com with BlueHost (I had a bad experience with NameCheap). I have found BlueHost customer service to be great and the service has reasonable hosting fees.

There are also other hosting services you could use such as HostGator, GoDaddy, SiteGroundWebHostingHub, and InMotion Hosting, to name but a few.


Functionality: Near limitless. You can add and create custom themes and install plugins that will allow you to build your e-mail list, sell your book, and earn money as a product affiliate.


OnlineHubCosts: WordPress.org sites can be as cheap as your domain name and hosting service, usually about $10 per year for your domain name and $84 per year ($7 per month) for hosting. From these base costs you can add premium themes and plugins.

To give you a more concrete picture of what a WordPress.org site might cost, I have included a list of the features that I have purchased for this website.

1. Domain Name and Hosting Fees: about $139 per year

I am on the BlueHost Professional plan (they offer a cheaper plan) and I have reduced the higher monthly fee for this plan to $10.75 per month by paying for 3 years of hosting in advance.

2. Responsive Theme: $99

3. E-mail Sign-up Widget for sidebar and bottom of page: $50 (I purchased this widget over a year ago. SumoMe recently came out with a free one.)

4. Pop-up E-mail Sign-up Widget: $30

5. Amazon Affiliate Plugin to easily add and embed products with my affiliate link into my website (if you buy a book I recommend or link to on this site, I receive a portion of the sale, which I use to offset the costs of running this website): $15

My total cost for this website has been about $195 outside of hosting and domain name fees.


Maintenance: WordPress.org sites require maintenance.

You must install updates to the WordPress software and to the plugins you add.

WordPress.org provides alerts on your admin dashboard to notify you when you need to update something. I find this process easy, but it does require time (albeit minimal) and regular check-ins with your site (not a problem if you have also decided to add a regular blog to your website).

Additionally, there may be times when the servers hosting your site go down, which will cause your website to become inaccessible. Or occasions where you break the functionality of your website by trying to add custom code to themes and plugins. These events do not happen often, but when they do you want a hosting service that provides good customer support that will help you resolve them.

Before you select a hosting service you should ask your colleagues about the hosting service they use and/or conduct a Google Search for “[Name of Hosting Service] Customer Support Reviews." You may also want to search for server outages associated with potential hosting services.



I love WordPress.org.

I like that every time I come up with an idea for a feature I can find a way to add it to my website.

I do not find the maintenance of my website to be overly time consuming, but I maintain a regular blog and check-in with my site 2-3 times a week.

If you decide to build your website with WordPress.org, you will want to check-in with your site at least once every two weeks.





WordPress.com runs the same WordPress CMS software as WordPress.org, but as a commercial website it offers free and premium services.

The free service provides restrictions on what you can do with WordPress. For example, a free account cannot add plugins, custom themes, or a custom URL.

You can expand the functionality of your site by purchasing a custom domain name or a paid hosting plan.


Features: Limited by WordPress.com and the hosting plan you select.


Hosting: WordPress.com can be a great option for beginners.

WordPress.com hosts your website and maintains its software. The service will allow you to get a feel for how to use WordPress before you invest money and time in building a custom WordPress.org website.

With that said, when you decide that you want to free yourself of WordPress.com’s limitations you will need to pay a $129 fee to move your website to WordPress.org and your new hosting service.


Functionality & Costs: Cost and functionality go hand-in-hand at WordPress.com.

The platform offers 3 levels of functionality:

1. Free Plan: This plan includes a WordPress.com address, a free blog, basic theme customization, 3GB of storage space, and community support. Additionally, websites hosted at this level may show ads that Wordpress.com earns money from. The free service does not allow you to embed and display videos, add any e-commerce, nor will it allow you to add a premium theme—you will only be able to choose from the basic themes the service provides.

2. Premium Plan: For $99 per year you get a blog, a custom domain name, advanced theme customization (at this level you can access and customize the Cascading Style Sheet or CSS), 13 GB of storage space, the capability to store “dozens” of videos, direct e-mail support, and WordPress.com will forego showing ads on your site. You still won’t be able to add a premium theme or any e-commerce.

3. Business Plan: For $299 per year you get a blog, a custom domain, advanced theme customization, unlimited storage space, a choice of 50 premium themes, unlimited video storage, e-commerce capabilities (you can sell products from your website), live chat support, and no WordPress.com ads.


Maintenance: WordPress.com hosts your website and automatically installs all software updates for you. All you have to do is maintain the information and content on your website.



If you want to work with WordPress, but don’t want the potential headaches associated with maintenance and limitless customization features, then WordPress.com could be a good choice for you.

The premium plan would put you on par with what most will pay to host a WordPress.org site and offer you more storage, no ads, a custom domain name, and a bit more flexibility with your website.

Beginning with WordPress.com also doesn’t prohibit you from creating a WordPress.org site later.


Best Practices: Domain Names & Responsive Design

personal websiteHow to Select a Domain Name

Regardless of which website building option you choose, you should purchase a custom domain name for your website.

A domain name or URL (uniform resource locator) is your web address.

The best practice would be to go with www.yourname.com. However, for some www.yourname.com may not be available.

If yourname.com is unavailable, you could opt to select a different domain such as www.yourname.org,/.net/.us or with any of the other TLDs (top level domain) extensions available.

Another way to get www.yourname.com if it is not available would be to add a word to your URL such as www.yournamehistorian.com or www.yournamewriter.com.

Having a domain name with your name in it will help search engines and the people searching for you find you.

You can research the availability of domain names at a site like EasyWhoIs.com.

Bonus Tip: Before you purchase a domain name, search for a coupon and check to see whether your prospective website hosting service offers a discount or bundle deal that includes a domain name with your subscription plan.


Responsive Design

I recommend that you design your website using a responsive theme.

A responsive theme will automatically scale your website for any screen size.

Having a responsive is important as more and more people access the web with smartphones and tablets. A website that looks great on a 27-inch desktop monitor, but is not built on a responsive theme, will look horrible and/or be inaccessible to someone who tries to look at your site from their smartphone.



I am really happy with WordPress.org. I have used the platform for over 3 years.

[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="0789752905" locale="us" height="300" src="http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41uZ-Y-CZIL.jpg" width="204"]There is a small learning curve to WordPress. I highly recommend Tris Hussey’s [simpleazon-link asin="0789752905" locale="us"]WordPress Absolute Beginner's Guide[/simpleazon-link]. I taught myself how to build and maintain a WordPress site using an earlier version of his book.

I purchased his new, updated, and very pictorial guide to use as a reference and it is even better than the earlier version.

With that said, if I were a beginner today I would seriously consider Squarespace.

Squarespace doesn’t offer limitless possibilities like WordPress.org, but it offers enough options that I might choose its easy-to-use website builder over spending the time to learn WordPress.



Here are articles that compare different website services and building tools:

WP Beginner: "Squarespace vs. WordPress—Which one is better? (Pros and Cons)"

Website Builders Critic: "Squarespace Vs. Wordpress: The Full Comparison"

Wpmudev: "WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com: A Definitive Guide for 2014"

Squarespace: “Squarespace vs. WordPress: Unbiased Comparison"


WordPress.org & Hosting

If you opt to go with WordPress.org, I highly recommend BlueHost.

I have had a great experience with their hosting service and plan to stay with them for the foreseeable future.

If you opt to give BlueHost a try, would you please signup via my affiliate button below?

If you sign-up for their service and they keep you as a client for 90 days, I stand to earn about $60, which won’t cost you a dime, but will help me earn funds that will offset my hosting and website costs.



Thoughtful-WomanWhat Do You Think?

What website design platform will you use to build your historian's website?

Do you have any additional questions?

Please leave a comment below or send me an e-mail.


How to Build Your Historian’s Website & Where to Build It, Part 1

How to Build Your WebsiteYou know you need to build your platform and you have decided to start with a website, but how and where do you build your historian’s website? If you don’t know how to write HTML and CSS code, creating a website may seem daunting, but it shouldn’t be.

There are several low and premium cost options available for those who don’t know how to code in a computer language.

In this post you will discover three options you could use to build your historian’s website.

Part 2 of this post will cover WordPress and where I think you should build your website.




Blogger is a free weblog publishing tool provided by Google.

Blogger offers the ability to create a blog and to add webpages that highlight who you are, your CV, books/writing/research, teaching, news, and services that you offer.


Themes: Blogger offers a selection of themes (background designs) that you can use to customize your website.

If you have the know-how, you can customize any blogger theme by adjusting the HTML and Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) code.

Blogger also offers users several “dynamic” designs to choose from.

“Dynamic” or responsive themes automatically scale to a viewer’s device. If you pick one of Blogger's “dynamic" themes your website will look good on giant monitors, laptop screens, and mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.


Social Sharing: As a Google product, Blogger websites work seamlessly with Google+. This integration makes it easy for your to share your blog posts on Google+.


Monetization: Blogger sites easily connect with the Google AdSense revenue generation platform. This opt-in service will allow you to add advertisements to your website. If someone clicks on one of your ads you will earn a percentage of the rate Google charges the advertiser.


Mobile: Blogger has both Android and iOS apps that you can use to post to your blog and tweak your webpages while you are on the go.


Cost: Free, unless you want to purchase a custom URL or domain name. (Highly Recommended)



Blogger provides a wonderful option for those with very limited budgets. Purchasing a custom domain name from Google will be the only investment you need to make with Blogger (about $12).

Some historians have done well by hosting their blogs and websites on Blogger.  John Fea and J.L. Bell serve as two examples.

If you want to use Blogger to create a website instead of a blog, you should adjust your settings to direct web traffic to a welcome or landing page. If you don’t, those who search for you on the web will be directed to the blog portion of your site.  See Inside Tech Tricks, "How to Create a Custom Landing Page in Blogger to Increase Leads."





Squarespace is a content management system that provides a website builder, blogging platform, and hosting service.

Squarespace provides a suite of drag-and-drop tools that will help you build anything from a basic website and blog to an e-commerce store.




Themes: All Squarespace themes are responsive. This means they will automatically scale your website for different screen sizes; from giant desktop monitors or TVs to small smartphone screens.


Website Building: Drag and drop the features you want (and that Squarespace offers) into your theme layout.


Social Sharing: A built-in social share feature allows website viewers to easily share your content with all major social media networks.


Customization: Squarespace allows you to access the cascading style sheet (CSS) to customize the look of your theme.


Costs: Squarespace offers 3 plans:

1. Personal: for $8 per month you get to create one website with up to 20 pages, a blog, 2GB of storage space, and up to 2 contributors. You also receive the ability to sell 1 product, accept donations, and access 24/7 customer support.

Squarespace Website2. Professional: for $16 per month you get to create one website with unlimited pages, a blog, photo galleries, and have unlimited storage space and contributors. You also get the ability to sell up to 20 products, access the developer platform (for customization), and reach out to the 24/7 Squarespace Customer Support team.

3. Business: for $24 per month you receive all of the benefits of the Professional plan plus the ability to sell an unlimited number of products, real-time carrier shipping information, label printing via ShipStation, and integrated accounting by Xero.

If you pay for your plan in one, annual installment Squarespace will give you a free custom domain name.



Squarespace seems like a great option for beginners who aren’t interested in learning WordPress.

From what I have read, Squarespace’s drag-and-drop website builder makes website construction easy and the service offers only responsive themes. I also like that Squarespace provides its premium customer support to all of its clients.


DH HistorianHire a Professional Web Designer

You could hire a professional web designer to custom build the website of your dreams.

This is likely to be an expensive option, especially as you may need to retain the web designer and pay them a monthly fee to add content to your website (such as a new page or blog post), maintain your site with code updates, or to fix your website if it breaks. Additionally, you will need to pay for a hosting service to host your website and for a custom domain name.


Stay tuned for “How to Build Your Historian’s Website & Where to Build It, Part 2,” which will discuss your WordPress options. I will also reveal my thoughts as to how and where you should build your historian's website.


Share StoryShare Your Story

Do you use Blogger or Squarespace?

Have you hired a professional website designer? Please share your experiences in the comments below so we can help our colleagues make an informed decision about how and where they should build their historian’s website.


Website Design: 4 Must-Have Pages for Your Historian’s Website

Website DesignWhat content and information should you include as part of your historian’s website design?

Your website serves as the most important plank in your historian’s platform.

Your website serves as your online hub, the place people go to find out more information about you, your work, and how to get in contact with you.

For many creating a website can seem daunting, especially when it comes to what content you should include. (We will discuss how and where to create a website in a future post.)

In this post you will discover four pages that you should include in your historian’s website and four pages that you might include.


4 Must-Have Pages for Your Historian’s Website


1. Landing Page: The first page visitors see when they visit your website.

Landing Page ExampleThis page should contain a brief welcome, a succinct summary of who you are (1-3 sentences), an overview of the information and resources your website contains (i.e. list pages you want visitors to checkout such as your about page, blog, book page, and public speaking page), and a way for visitors to contact you, preferably link(s) to your e-mail address or primary social media account(s).

Landing Page Examples: Liana M. Silva, Keith Harris, Kenneth Owen.


2. About Page: The page that explains who you are.

The best about pages get to the point and do not stretch accomplishments.

They contain a professional headshot and contact links.

About Page ExampleSome experts recommend that you write no more than two, short paragraphs on your about page; studies reveal that people have an attention span of about 8 seconds!

You can write as many paragraphs as you like, but be as succinct as possible. Keep large chunks of text to a minimum and make the information easy for visitors to skim by adding bold section titles.

You can also add photos or embed your CV at the bottom of your page.

I opted to create a separate page for my CV. About Page ExamplesMegan Kate NelsonJarret Ruminski, Kristen D. Burton


3. Research/Writing/Book Page(s): The page(s) where historians highlight their publications.

Books Page ExampleIf you have published a book, you should create a book page.

Book pages vary.

Some historians create a web page for each book.

Others offer a list of books with a photo of the cover and a brief synopsis of the book.

Book Page ExamplesChristopher Cameron and Ari Kelman


If you have not published a book, you should still create a publications or writing portfolio page.

You publication page should list your publications much like they appear on your CV, i.e. group your publications by type and introduce each type with a bolded section heading.

Some scholars also include a brief synopsis of their peer-reviewed journal articles.

When possible, include links to your publications. Publications Page Examples: Joe Adelman, Jana Remy, and Liz Covart (I offer my page because I couldn’t find another scholar who lists publications.)

Combined Publications Page Example


Some historians like to combine their books and articles into a single publications page.

Combined Publications Page Examples: Dan Cohen and Joyce E. Chaplin


4. Contact Page: The page that makes it easy for visitors to contact you.

Contact Page ExampleUse this page to provide links to your e-mail address and all social media accounts that you check regularly.

You could also include your mailing address, phone number, publisher, and literary agent.

Some historians also use a contact form.

Contact Page ExamplesAndrew Pegoda and Danielle McGuire


5 Optional Pages for Your Historian’s Website

1. Blog: blogs provide a fantastic medium to broadcast your ideas.

If you have a blog you should either keep the blog on your historian's website or provide a link from your historian's website to your blog.

If you have a blog, make sure you update it with some regularity.


OnlineHub2. Press/Media/News Page: This page lists information about your appearances in the press, public speaking engagements, or other positive news about you and your work.


3. Resources: Resource pages provide helpful information to your website's visitors. They also serve to draw visitors to your website.

The resources you offer could be as simple as a linked list of your favorite blogs, how-to resources, or useful articles.

Other ideas include social media hashtag lists specific to your subfield, links to your favorite online databases, or favorite books.


4. Teaching: If you teach history, consider creating a page that lists and describes the courses you teach or have taught.

Provide links to your syllabi whenever possible and consider offering a paragraph or two about your teaching philosophy.


Teaching Page Examples: Joseph M. Adelman offers 4 pages about his teaching: an overview, a blogging rubric, his work at Framingham State University, and the classes he taught at Johns Hopkins University.

John Fea has a page that links to his "Virtual Office Hours" YouTube videos.

Roy Rogers provides a page that lists the courses he has taught and links to individual webpages with information about each course.


5. Services: Do you provide a professional service such as writing, editing, research, or consulting?

Create a page that explains and offers your professional skills for hire.


Share StoryShare Your Story

What pages do you have on your historian’s website?

What questions do you have about how to create a website?