If you don’t have a personal website already, part of the reason might be that you haven’t considered it necessary. In industries like marketing, visual design, writing, or software/web design, creating an online portfolio is part of the industry standards for showing your work. But websites serve a function for people in business, science, education, customer service—and the many other industries out there, too.
For any professional, creating a personal website is a smart way to establish your identity, own your own content, and speak to your audiences. Here’s more about the benefits of a personal website, and strategies for building one.
What are the Benefits of a Personal Website?
The first benefit of a personal website is that it establishes your identity on the web in a way you fully control. Even a single page of content with your name and details of your experience says more to hiring managers than no site at all. Since you know employers will be searching for you online, it’s good to get your own perspective on the web.
You might consider your social media presence and other web hits about awards or volunteer projects to be enough to impress a potential employer, but that content isn’t in your control and could disappear any time. Plus, in the best-case scenario, you are requiring the employer to do more work to learn about you than an applicant who does have a professional site.
The benefit of being able to speak to your audiences as a professional—including hiring managers and prospective employers—is a key benefit of a personal website. By writing a blog, making videos, or curating a library of your content like white papers and articles, your professional purpose can find a home on the web.
How Do I Create a Personal Website and Brand?
Creating a personal website starts with purchasing the domain name and web hosting services. Some website building services like Wix, GoDaddy, and Squarespace offer domain, hosting, and content management in one platform for a monthly subscription fee. Or, you can purchase the domain and set up hosting through another vendor. Many people turn to WordPress for a free content management system that can be used to set up the website. This allows you to install custom themes and plugins that give your site features like a real-time social media stream, polls, or a carousel of images.
It’s important to know that wordpress.org is different from wordpress.com. At wordpress.com, you can set up a personal or hobby blog without paying for a domain and hosting, but the URL will have the word “wordpress” in it. Plus, visitors will see ads that you can’t control or change, and the site can be deleted at any time. For all these reasons, it’s recommended to purchase a domain name and use wordpress.org, or one of the other CMS services we mentioned.
How to Market Yourself on a Personal Website
Once the website is up and running, then you face the question of what to include as content. The most important strategy is to be authentic. When people land on your website, make sure they know right away what you do and what you stand for. This might come through as a powerful statement you came up with as a headline, or something more narrative to introduce yourself. Everyone’s style is different and your personality should also come through. However, don’t get too detailed. Visitors want to get to know you a little on the homepage, not scroll past your entire life story.
Outside of introducing yourself and what you want in a career, the site should feature your best work. This could be through testimonials from customers, a blog describing your projects and processes, your reactions to news and industry trends, or checklists and other guides to professional success. There’s a way to feature and share every kind of experience, so think outside the box. One caveat—if you choose to add a blog, make sure you commit to update it at least once a month for the sake of consistency.
Creating a personal website is an important way to get your presence on the web, the way you want it. Though there might not be negative news about you online, that isn’t the same as having something good. Use a personal website to share who you are and what makes you an asset to the industry.