We live in a ridiculously noisy digital world. So when you are looking for work, how do you stand out? Your resume and LinkedIn profile are no longer the only professional assets that build your professional brand. Personal websites are becoming increasingly popular.
A personal website offers you an opportunity to showcase your work, communicate how your skills and experience help clients and proactively tell your professional “story”. Executed professionally, it builds your professional brand.
What is a personal website
It is a web page or series of web pages that you create about yourself. In a professional context it contains details about your professional career.
With complete control over the content, a personal website allows YOU to proactively manage, grow and optimise your professional message and brand. Much like marketing and brand building for companies, a personal website acts as your digital “shop front”. It is most certainly a personal selling tool.
Success is steady progress toward one’s personal goals – Jim Rohn
Who needs a personal website
The way that people work is changing. In addition to forging a career in permanent roles, there is a rise in the popularity of working as a freelancer, contractor, consultant, contingent worker or engagement via other flexible work arrangements. Your personal website is a digital platform to build you online reputation, credibility and profile.
With an increasingly diverse workforce, I believe personal websites are powerful for talented individuals who freelance in some way, shape or form. You can direct prospective clients to your website where you know they will find compelling, professional and contemporary content about you, demonstrating your experience, key skills and core competencies.
If you’re a media, digital or creative professional, then a personal website is a no brainer. The same theory applies if you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field or area of expertise.
Personal websites are not for everyone. I acknowledge that, in some industries, personal websites are not appropriate or helpful. This tends to include non-creative skill sets or more conservative sectors.
Why do I need a personal website? I am active on other digital platforms such as LinkedIn
I argue that you need both. Your LinkedIn profile is a pivotal professional branding digital platform. It is also a ridiculously popular social platform for recruiters and prospective employers to find you. In addition, LinkedIn allows you to network with a huge range of people in a way that a personal website cannot. On the other hand, the format for each LinkedIn profile is standardised and your ability to really stand out from the crowd is limited. That is where a personal website comes into play.
A personal website has the ability to reflect your personality and skills in a way that no digital profile platform can. You control how your website looks, the projects or key achievements you showcase and the skills, experience and core competencies you want to shine a light on.
Including a link to your personal website from your LinkedIn account, allows you to continue to tell your professional story in a more creative way.
“Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” Farrah Gray. 26.
Personal web site ideas
Building a personal website might sound overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to be. Start small.
When I started building content for my personal website, I was often tempted to “stall”. I convinced myself that I would make the website public once everything was PERFECT. But aspiring for perfection before you upload your personal website just delays your efforts to improve your digital professional profile.
Your personal website starts to build your professional profile the moment it is uploaded. Once uploaded, Google starts trawling your website to index it. It can take between 4 days and 4 weeks for your brand new website to be crawled and indexed by Google. Why is this important? Because you want to appear in relevant Google searches that relate to your skill set.
Personal home page ideas
If you are just starting out, you can publish your personal website with some very basic details. In fact, you can create your website with just a one page overview of “you”. The key components I recommend include:
- A professional summary of your experience and core competencies. This could be a short “elevator pitch” of sorts
- Your resume OR a succinct couple of paragraphs about your expertise and experience including the companies you have worked with
- Some contact details – don’t feel compelled to list your mobile phone number or your personal email address. To streamline communication, you can simply ask people to contact you via LinkedIn for example
Further (non essential) personal website components include:
- Links to your socials or the inclusion of social buttons in a prominent position
- Links to your most compelling work samples or project contributions
- Inclusion of a menu bar at the top of your website – this makes it easy for people to find what they’re looking for on your website
How to leverage your personal website
There are a number of ways that you can market your personal website. After all, it is designed to make you stand out in the crowd. Don’t miss any opportunities to promote it:
- Make sure you link to it from your LinkedIn profile
- Reference it on your resume
- List it on your business cards
- Include a link to it as part of your email signature
Making a personal website
“I don’t know the first thing about creating a personal website”, I hear you say.
Noted. But this is no excuse for stalling further. If your skill set or work style lends itself to building a personal website that optimises your online professional brand, then you either need to develop the skills to build a simple website or outsource this project.
Our new digital world rewards those who take the time to thoughtfully and professionally create digital professional branding “assets”. A personal website creates an invaluable opportunity to further develop your digital profile.
Acknowledge how your strengths and experience provide values to your clients
This article covers what you need to do to get the basics of your personal website up and running. There are many more strategies that you can use to maximise your online visibility via your personal website. Stay tuned for articles on more advanced ways to use your personal website as a powerful selling tool.
Tips for talented individuals – Building a personal website
- See if others in your sector (or with your skill set) are creating personal websites. Take a look at what they include on their pages
- If you think that a professional website is for you, start collating specific documents, content and work samples you would like to include
- Decide whether you are going to create the website yourself or outsource the task
- Don’t freeze, procrastinate or stall half way through the process – get at least a one page website up to establish your professional “digital home”
- Promote your personal website as outlined in the article above
- Diarise 30 minutes a month to review your website content, add new work samples and update your experience (eg listing the clients you work with – assuming that are not breaching confidentiality). As time goes on, you can add further pages if it is relevant to do so.
Tips for companies looking for talented individuals
- When reviewing candidate profiles on LinkedIn, check the Contact section. See if the candidate lists a personal website. Follow the link provided to get a better feel for the individual and their work to date