Having a powerful personal brand not only opens up new professional opportunities, but it can also give the brands you work for - or with - a boost. But your brand is only as powerful as how visible it is. And these days, brand visibility is closely linked to your online presence. This is why it's vital to ensure that your personal branding strategy includes an on-brand, authoritative website for easy perusal by potential clients, collaborators, investors, or members of the media.
Your Website is Your Calling Card
The chances are that your brand-building efforts have involved having gorgeous business cards designed and printed, along with an evening or two of dedicated LinkedIn profile updates. But too often, leaders skip a critical component of their personal brand: a website. If you've been prevaricating over whether to launch a personal website, here's why you should.
- It's your calling card. Think of your website as a business card on steroids. Beyond your title and role, you can share your background, experience, testimonials, portfolio, and recent media coverage. It's your opportunity to show the world who you are, on your own terms.
- It lets you control the narrative. Does Googling your name bring up outdated newspaper articles, college sports scores, or worse, the social media profiles of someone who shares your own name? Having a personal website ensures that the people searching for you find you and that you are seen as how you want to be seen.
- It's dynamic. Today's websites are usually built on simple content management systems that make it easy to make changes or updates. Adding new info to your resume, uploading new portfolio items or case studies, or hosting that newest piece of media coverage requires just a few minutes.
- It's a place to speak up. Maybe you're working on some great think pieces or research that you want to share, but they aren't quite right for the usual industry or general publications. A "news" or "blog" section allows you to share your idea and establish yourself as a thought leader - without all the pitching.
- It makes finding you easy. Believe it not; the top 5 search results get 70% of the clicks! Done right and your website should land you in those top five, meaning that recruiters, collaborators, investors, or journalists can easily find you - and get in touch.
Tips For Building A Personal Website
Building a personal website doesn't have to be expensive or onerous. Providers like Wix or Squarespace let you affordably spin up a professional website without any tech know-how. All you need to do is pay for the domain and hosting, and you're good to go.
Once you're on the road to building your personal website, here's what you need to know:
- Your domain name matters. If you can, try to name a domain name with the format firstnamelastname.com - this will ensure you rank highly for your own name. If your name isn't available, look at variations on your theme, or alternatives to the .com top-level domain such as .co, .me or .name.
- Figure out your website goals. Your website can be as simple or as complex as you want. It all depends on what your goals are. Some personal websites are just a nice-looking landing page with contact details. Some are primarily interactive portfolios. Others are built around a blog. Decide what your purpose is, and design your site accordingly.
- Don't skimp on your "about" section. Your bio page is one of the most important parts of your site. Spend the time crafting a story that will resonate with your audience, then make sure it's prominently displayed and keyword optimized.
- Follow best practices. Most templated site providers are auto-optimized for SEO and accessibility, but it doesn't hurt to confirm. Make sure that your site is legible, fast-loading, well-organized, and accessible to low-vision readers. This makes life easier for your audience, and also gets brownie points from Google.
- Link back to it. Help your site gain authority by linking back to it from your social accounts, any publications, or guest articles or appearances. This will help you climb the rankings, while also making it more likely that people will find you.
- Include a media kit. If you're a regular speaker or guest presenter, make it easy for the media to show you in your best light. Create a downloadable media kit that features a high-res photo, short bio, resume, and anything else you want to come across.
- Share your contact details! Don't make it hard for people to track you down. Provide your email, social, office, or other relevant details so that if an opportunity comes calling, that call actually goes through.
- Keep it updated. Having a gorgeous website means nothing if the information on it is outdated. Set aside time every quarter or so to check and make updates to your content, bio information, portfolio, or contact details.
A personal website is one of the highest-ROI piece of marketing collateral out there. It's easy to create, lets you shape your own brand narrative, and provides a central place for people to find and contact you with opportunities, offers, or media inquiries. Need help getting started?