The 6 Steps to Building a Personal Website
You have to market yourself.
You already understand the importance of a personal website if you clicked to read this article (or you’re curious). Minda Zetlin from Inc.com comments on a survey of 300 HR professionals that shows that 30% of them see a personal website as a key advantage for job applicants however, less than 1% actually have one. If you want a leg up on your competition, it’s time to invest in a website.
1. Buying a domain
When setting up your website the first thing the you need to do is compare the pricing options on different domain extensions attached to your first & last name. The best domain extensions to use are .com, .me, or .info for a personal website (the complete list can be found here). Once you’ve decided which extension you’ll be using the next best course of action is to choose from the large list of domain name providers. My suggestion is to either use godaddy.com, namecheap.com or bluehost.com. It is advised that you make your first purchase for owning the website for 2 years because people with your name can bid for your site and put it on hold until your subscription expires and if you mistakenly forget to renew they will grab it.
2. Hosting to go with your domain
After carefully choosing your domain name the next thing you need to purchase is a hosting package. The best ones provide these services:
- 24/7 Customer service Monthly or Bi-monthly discounts
- Server space packages
- Migration services (just in case you need to switch an already owned domain to another provider)
- Security Services
The main reason why these four aspects should be prioritized over all others is because without these aspects you will have a longer process in setting up your site and you want to avoid as many hiccups as possible to save your time.
3. Can’t code? Use a CMS!
The easiest way to build a unique & well-designed website is to use a content management system such as WordPress & SquareSpace (these are all in one packages that also provide hosting and domain purchasing). The best one is my opinion is WordPress for its ability to easily manage and customize the backend aspects of your website. For this article, I will be mainly referencing WordPress for adding your plugins and pages to your website.
There really is no reason for anyone not to have a website, regardless of your skills in coding. If you do however want to learn to code from scratch, you can use CodeAcademy for free. For a personal website all you need to know is HTML & CSS.
4. Who are you building it for?
There multiple reasons for you to have a personal website. One thing you must consider is who you are building it for, and not only why. The best thing you can do before beginning the overall design & structure for your site you need to develop a content marketing plan for your intended audience. For example, if you are a law student creating a blog based on general law knowledge you believe people should know, you can then market yourself to law firms (it’s great to have graduate from a great school but, if you don’t graduate from Harvard or Yale, you should consider increasing your edge). If you want to get into creating infographics for your blog, services such as Canva or Vengage can help. Building the website is half of the battle, marketing it is just as important.
5. Essential pages your site should have (after choosing a theme)
You can have multiple web pages on your site however, there are four that you must consider carefully. To save yourself time, make sure all the design planning is done using wireframe and then you implement everything you had in mind about the pages that you want.
The first and most important page is your home page, the one thing that can kill your bounce rate (tips for understanding that here). If you want your visitors to stay, make sure your homepage has content including your current blog posts, site news, or even your social media news feeds. After that, make sure you have a blog page. It is up to you whether you only want your posts or a sidebar/footer for your widgets. Don’t forget that in addition to these pages you should include a professional resume/portfolio. It can be the same information that you provide on your LinkedIn profile. Finally, don’t forget a contact page so people can reach you (you’re doing this to promote yourself after all).
6. Other key elements
You want people to follow you so social media buttons are vital to your promotional success. If your WordPress theme doesn’t provide this functionality you can use the plugin Shareoholic or AddThis. Having a newsletter to keep people who are interested in you updated is also very important. After creating an opt-in button (could be labeled subscribe here), utilize services such as MailChimp or ConstantContact to design your newsletter emails.
Finally, to truly manage your website effectively I highly recommend learning Google Analytics. Google Analytics will help you to:
- Manage where people are putting your links
- Understanding how people interact with your site
- Know where your audience is located and where they are coming from
- Know what sites are bringing the most referrals
It will also help you to understand what website elements are working, what colors are working, where you’re not getting clicks, where you are getting clicks, etc. Keep in mind that this is a tool to focus on after building your website; once you begin content development and promotion.
If you have around $50 you can certainly get started today. So many of us use the internet however, we do not use it to truly promote ourselves and gain opportunities to further our success. If you want to continue to learn more about marketing yourself effectively online make sure to subscribe for more articles.
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