What comes up when people Google you? Whether it’s an article from your college newspaper or an entry inviting searchers to check your criminal background, you don’t have control over the results — that is, unless you have a personal website. However, all the steps involved in creating a site, from designing the site to keeping it updated, might not seem worth it. But creating a personal website is the best way to take control of your digital profile.
If you’re unsure about why and how to make a personal website, you’ve come to the right place. This guide covers:
- Why you need to take control over your online image
- How to design your personal website
- What you should put on your personal website
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about why you need a personal website.
Why you need to take control over your online image
According to Live Science, 57% of Americans search for themselves online to see what comes up. And why wouldn’t you? You want to know what someone will see if they’re looking you up in any of the following situations:
- Before a date
- While considering your application for employment
- To consider getting back in touch
- As they think about offering you freelance work or promotional opportunities
When people look you up online, there are a few pages that might show up right away, depending on your privacy settings and the way you enter your name. These include your social media profiles on Linkedin, Instagram, and more. However, a bit further down in the search results, strange things might start to come up: your profiles on past employers’ pages, your post in a long-dormant Facebook group with an embarrassing name, and even the poetry you wrote in high school.
If you want to take control over the way you look online, your personal website is your first line of defense. Let’s take a look at some of the specific benefits of personal info websites.
Find a new job
You may already use a tool like LinkedIn to make your work history accessible to potential employers. However, depending on your privacy settings, employers without LinkedIn may not be able to view you — and your profile may not be the best way of showing off your experience and full array of skills. As useful as LinkedIn is, it creates a one-size-fits-all page appearance that you must then populate with content.
According to Forbes, 56% of employers are more impressed by a strong personal website than any other aspect of a job candidate’s profile. Yet only 7% of job seekers have one. Put yourself in that 7% and impress more than half of employers with a resume website.
To show off your creativity and personality, or to go into more depth about the way you accomplished a specific project, your personal website is your best friend. Consider the power of the following three elements:
- Design – If your creativity is one of the many assets you offer potential employers, show off with an attractive custom webpage that demonstrates your keen visual sense.
- Customizable pages – Reading through text and numbers that relay the effectiveness of your projects and initiatives can be a difficult task for potential employers. Help them visualize the effects of your projects by placing graphics and charts directly on your page, along with any relevant plans, models, or photographs.
- Collect your links in one place – If you want potential employers to have access to your LinkedIn, some social media accounts, or other relevant work, collect those links in one place with your website.
Build your brand
Whether you’re an up-and-coming graphic designer or an aspiring influencer, you may be working on your personal brand. Your website is a great opportunity to:
- Round up your social media links for easy access
- Create a personal blog and start cementing your authority
- Create a newsletter, or connect new subscribers to an existing newsletter
The more ways you have to connect with potential fans, the stronger your personal brand becomes.
Show off your work
If you’re a photographer, designer, or another type of visual artist, creating a portfolio website has several advantages. While platforms like Pinterest, Flickr, and Instagram are easy ways to share your work, they also lack customizability. If you want your panoramas and your videos to hang out on the same page, side-by-side, you need to know how to make an online profile with a website so that you can customize the way your portfolio images appear.
Your personal website allows you to:
- Avoid making potential clients scroll through your Instagram feed
- Put a “Contact Me” form right next to your portfolio
- Customize the way your images look — individually and together
Sell your wares
If you create and sell goods or services, your personal website is an important way to connect with new customers. Whether you’ve knit a few too many hats one winter, you offer Thai massages a couple of times a month, or you’re a ceramicist looking to sell your full product line, your personal website is a great place to set up an online store.
What to put on your new website
You can keep your personal website as bare-bones as you want it, or build it out with a portfolio, blog, online resume, and your own online store. Whatever your approach, you’ll want to include these three essential pages:
- About page
- Contact page
Be sure to include the appropriate content for each one, as well as optimize them for search engines. How? Read on to find out.
Once you’ve chosen your header image and designed your logo, consider what else belongs on your homepage. The goal is to create a page that looks good on both mobile devices and computers. In addition, to make sure your homepage is the first thing that comes up in search results, you’ll want to use what marketers call Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools.
For best results with your homepage on the web, on mobile phones, and in search engines:
- Include a navigational menu – While continuous scroll pages look great on phones, you may want to provide web users an easy way to get to the content they’re looking for.
- Incorporate text – If the main purpose of your website is job searching or finding new clients, take the opportunity to introduce yourself. At the same time:
- Make sure the text appears before a visitor has to scroll
- Keep the word count under 200
- Include a “call to action (CTA)”: a button or link to indicate where users should go next to learn about your services, view your portfolio, etc.
Use your About page to introduce your unique bio and story. This can be one sentence or a personal essay. However, for the best SEO results:
- Write at least 300 words
- Include common misspellings of your name or other keywords your potential audience might search. For example, if you’re a copywriter, you’ll want to include this in your content, as hiring managers may search for this term.
You want everyone from childhood friends to potential employers to have the information they need to get in touch. Okay, maybe you don’t — but that’s where customization comes in. Considering including:
- Social media links
- Your email
- A contact form if you want to keep your email off-limits
Are you ready to start your website today?
It seems worth the effort now, doesn’t it? To start a personal website all you have to do is:
- Use a website builder to design your website
- Add content to your three main pages
- Customize your page with a blog, portfolio, and store as you develop your personal brand
From there, your personal website will start to show up at the top of the search results and give you power over your online identity.