3 Things to Know Before Creating Your Personal Brand Website
Do you know why personal websites are trending? Because they build your career and brand by blending your experience, personality, and aspirations in one convenient location.
As a requirement of my master’s curriculum, I developed a personal website that featured my work and personality. At the time, my son was in college and asked what I was working on. I told him I was creating a personal website, and he acted like I was “out of touch.” Moments after our call, he dropped into a friend’s place and found out that she, too, was working on her website to promote her education and goals. Ah, sweet vindication!
A personal website can help you by combining your unique skills and interests to define your brand. Together, a LinkedIn profile and resume don’t have the flexibility to highlight your brand like a website. Your site will help you in a multitude of other ways, including:
Shining a professional light on your very cool personality
Combating ageism by showing technical prowess in the creation of a site
Emphasizing awards, accolades, volunteer projects, and other notable accomplishments
Supplying a comprehensive digital or creative portfolio of all your work
Adding dimension with articles or media illustrating important hobbies or personal projects
Providing links to all your social media in one place
1) MAKE YOUR PERSONALITY SHINE
When crafting the overall vibe of your site, think about what you need to convey to your audience. Review websites of people in your industry and consider ways to blend your expertise and persona. A former classmate and copywriter, Dale Lavine, did a fantastic job merging his copywriting skills, experience, personality, and aspirations into his website. Now, we aren’t all copywriters, but you can see the layering of the messaging, which will help when you consider:
Are you older and need to create a younger image?
Are you early in your career and need to convey a sense of advanced thinking?
What should the reader learn about you that they can’t see on LinkedIn or in a resume?
What will the reader do with the information? Hire you?
Do you have interests that make you more exciting than your stodgy profession implies?
According to 200 workplace studies by Randstad, there is a significant correlation between cultural fit, a positive work experience, and retention. So, while the focus of your site may lean toward promoting your professional experience, it’s essential to let your personality and interests shine. Consider how your site will promote your brand goals, uniqueness, and conversations, including:
A snappy intro about how you’re professional and fun
Blog about a significant experience (travel, etc.) that provided reflections of career goals
Information about a special event such as getting a degree or certification
Writing an informational article about a special interest like wine tasting or community service
Highlighting active physical pursuits and your musings or successes
A detailed summary of project successes that are too long for a resume
2) CONTROL YOUR SOCIAL FOOTPRINT
Recruiters don’t always review social media, but hiring managers and teams often review candidates’ social media before interviews. Make it easy for everyone to find the information using your website and link all your professional accounts. After thoroughly scrubbing your existing social media for inappropriate images and setting all accounts to ‘private,’ use your new website to link all of your social media together, and:
Create a QR code link to your site that you can use on your phone for new connections
Provide the website URL on your email signature, resume, and business card
Use the website’s blog as the nucleus between your content and social media sites
Send your network links to your site when you reference an article or image you’ve created
3) SHOW AND TELL YOUR STORY
A website gives you the freedom to explore, control, and promote your personal brand visually (in contrast to a unified LinkedIn profile). Think about the site as a hub or magazine for your personal and professional details. Big-name personal brand leaders use websites for added dimension. Your site can do the same by presenting facets of your story that resumes cannot offer.
Because I work with many older professionals, I recommend a site to exemplify tech knowledge and thought leadership. Younger workers may also benefit from featuring complex articles on a targeted industry on their site. Some options for content include:
Photo portfolios that highlight special projects and work
Industry-specific blogs that provide thought leadership
Academic research summaries and links to provide intellectual context
Personal podcast schedules to cultivate an audience
A repository of essays, speaking engagements, and slide decks
BUILDING YOUR SITE
If you’re a beginner, keep your website simple and pages to a minimum. Planning from top to bottom of each page, map out what you’ll need, including tabs for a portfolio, blog space, hobby, or resume (I use an org chart in PowerPoint for planning).
Some people like to own a domain of their name, making personalizing your site easier, but it’s not a requirement. Be sure to think about the name you’ll want on your URL, mainly if you’re using free website builders like Wix or Weebly. [other web builder options here]
After finalizing your site goals, sketch out your plan. Some elements to consider include:
Professional and personal photos that highlight your quirks
Industry- and interest-specific keywords sprinkled throughout your text to help in searches
A background banner that promotes your character
A personal brand summary that’s more than the professional summary on your resume and includes something interesting about you
Links to your scrubbed social media
A contact button linking your preferred email or other contact methods
Logos of certifications, memberships, and associations
The key to the website phase of your personal branding and career strategy is not overthinking the process. Fortunately, you can change the information on your personal website at any time, so don’t wait for the perfect copy and content.
Find a website builder, create your plan, and get your information on the web. Once everything is up and running, don’t forget to update the information periodically when new projects or interests provide fodder for posting.
As a certified career coach, Hillary guides extraordinary people and their personal brands. She’s a career solutionista that helps clients discover their unique worth to find new employment, pivot industries, or move toward cause-oriented work. When Hillary’s not busy coaching amazing people, she rides bikes, learns about wine, cooks for friends, and travels globally with her family. Find out more at www.careersolutionista.com.