Back in the day when you wanted to land a job, you just needed a resume, and maybe a headshot if you were in “the biz.”
And that may still be true for a few small select industries. But, for most jobs these days, employers and prospective clients are looking at you online.
They’re scouring your LinkedIn, taking stock of your Facebook, maybe even peeking in at what you posted on Instagram. And having a presence on all of those is a good thing…but you’re not in control — the platform is. Your posts can be removed at a whim, your profile shut down with no notice, and the platform disappears if funding folds.
That’s where a personal website comes in. Personal websites give you complete creative control over your online image. You can delve into your skills and showcase them in the manner you’d prefer.
If you’re an artist, you now have your very own digital art gallery with only your work adorning the walls.
If you’re a writer, you can display samples of your best work, so potential clients know how talented you really are.
If you’re in Finance, you can break down complex investment topics, showing prospective employees that you know your stuff.
If you’re a speaker, maybe splash a video of you at your latest talk across the front page, demonstrating just how impactful your spoken words can be.
When you have a personal website, a recruiter can type your name into the little Google search box, and be greeted with a professional site designed to make you stand out and display that you know your stuff — and not see those super embarrassing 2009 pics from Cabo San Lucas Spring Break.
Once you’ve decided a personal-branded website is a good idea, whether you’re in Freelance or in search of a cubicle, it’s important to know the steps to create it.
1. Register A Personal Domain Name
On some of the website builders out there, you can use your name with the builder’s branding attached. And it will work.
But…it won’t look professional. You really want to have a unique and sleek domain that you own.
For a branded website, your first go-to should be FirstNameLastName.com. However, if your name is John Smith or some other popular variation, this may be impossible to acquire. You have two options.
- You can choose a different domain extension. This means seeing if .net or .co or .me are available for that same name combination.
- You can vary the name slightly. For example, if you’re an artist maybe try for FirstNameLastNameArt.com, or FirstNameLastNamePaints.com. Just please — whatever you do — DON’T just add numbers like a bad email address from the early 2000s.
When it comes to actual registration, there are many domain registrars to choose from. We recommend one that offers around-the-clock support and ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) registration.
Some go-tos include GoDaddy and NameCheap, and they’ll cost you as little as $1-$10 for a year’s registration.
However, if the cost isn’t an issue, you may want to consider these domain add-ons:
- Register variations: If you’re registered as JohnSmithDesigns.com, you may want to consider registering the other extensions so you won’t be confused with any other John Smith Designs. This means snatching up the .net and .co extensions as well. If you do so, redirect those domain extensions to your main domain so anyone that types them in will get the same version of your site.
- Add privacy: When registering a domain, you often have to add personal information such as your address. WHOIS documents all of this and makes it accessible for anyone on the internet to browse through. That is, unless you pay a little extra to keep your personal information locked away. This is completely up to you and how private you want your information to be.
2. Pick Your Website Builder
There are literally dozens of web builders on the market these days, all offering you easy ways to build a site sans any coding or technical know-how.
But, not all builders are created equal.
At a bare minimum, your builder must allow your website to be mobile-responsive and fast to load.
But, in an ideal world, it should do a heck of a lot more than that.
Take Kartra, for example.
Kartra’s page builder is fast, mobile-responsive, allows you to add SEO keywords to your page, and incredibly customizable. And every Kartra account comes with dozens of other built-in tools that will allow you to sell your services directly through your page, schedule appointments, send emails, and more.
But, where Kartra truly shines for personal branding is in the custom branding templates. Kartra comes with almost two dozen unique templates just for personal branding.
And these pages are SUPER easy to edit. You simply select the one you like best, and then use Kartra’s drag-and-drop builder to change the text, colors, and even layout organization to highlight your work in the order you want.
If you’re only showcasing your work for prospective employers, your work is done once you’ve finished customizing!
However, if you’re a freelancer or solopreneur who wants to sell or schedule appointments directly on your branding site, Kartra can do that too.
For example, a photographer can include a “Book A Photoshoot” button on their page that links directly to a Kartra Calendar, which can be set up to require payment upfront.
And if you’re an artist or designer who wants to sell your work directly on your branded site, you can do that too by easily popping a product checkout on a “Buy” button.
With Kartra, you aren’t limited by your website builder. You can do as much or as little as your personal brand requires, and because Kartra comes with so many tools, it will help you grow as your personal brand grows.
3. Determine What You Want To Showcase
We know you’re a multi-talented and complex human being. But your website should be simple and to the point. And that means focusing on the one skillset you’re trying to get hired for.
So if you’re a Financial Planner who sings, don’t put both on the same page. Instead, choose to focus your personal branding site on your financial skills. If you want a separate site for your music, that’s A-Okay, but don’t dilute your message by including both.
Once you’ve figured out your selling point, it’s time to get down to business.
And that begins with your elevator pitch. This should be short and simple and to the point.
Try following this formula:
I help [target customer] [Goal-based verb statement] by [verb statement].
John Smith: Designer
I help new businesses break into the market by designing cutting-edge logos and websites.
Next, and possibly most important, is your portfolio. For artists, writers, designers, web developers, and actors, this should be front and center on your page. It is an exhibit of what you’ve done in your career thus far.
If you are new to an industry you still need a portfolio because the cold, hard truth, is many industries simply won’t hire you without one. This means, if you don’t have paid client work to showcase, you can show off your spec work — work that was created as if it was paid for by a client, but it wasn’t actually published. Think of it as if you had to create an ad campaign for a college class. It demonstrates your thought process and skills, but wasn’t actually published. Just make sure to note that this is spec work on your site.
Third, you’ll want to focus a bit on your about page / bio. This can be placed on your main page, or on a separate page. The thing to note here is you can be as creative and fun with your bio as you want. Just make sure you include the basics of who you are, what you do, and how you can help.
Beyond that, your bio can be a simple paragraph, a series of “fun facts,” a wacky video of you, or whatever you decide. This is an opportunity to flaunt your personality as well as your work.
Fourth, include contact information. Sometimes people will go directly searching for your website. But other times, they may just randomly stumble upon it while browsing the interwebs. And you want to make sure these people can get in contact with you.
There are two ways to go about this, and we recommend doing both. The first is to include your contact information on your site. This should include your email as well as your social media handles. The second is to include a “contact” form on your page where visitors can send you a message directly through your site.
Fifth, include testimonials. These testimonials should come from happy/satisfied clients. If you don’t have testimonials already, don’t sweat it. Just make sure to ask for client feedback and quotes at the end of each project and add them to your site as you get them.
4. Get A Pair (Or Two) Of Outside Eyes
Would you submit a resume that you hadn’t proofread? Probably not.
Because we all know the slightest spelling mistake can mean the difference between making it to step two or the trashcan.
Your website is no different…except it has a lot more content and a lot more room for errors!
Once you’ve pored over your site to make sure every word is correct and all your grammar is perfect, you need to go through and test every button and link.
And then you have a friend do it.
But, instead of just looking for errors and broken links (they should do that too), have the friend review with questions like:
- What impression do I get from the site?
- Is the site easy to navigate?
- Does it look professional?
Once you’ve got some notes, go through and make sure everything is polished and perfect.
5. Optimize Your SEO and Hit Publish
Before you dismiss SEO as something that only big companies do, know this:
93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. And the top search result gets about one-third of the total search traffic.
So it literally pays to be at the top. And the way you get to the top is by including SEO keywords and meta descriptions to your page.
Now, if keywords and meta descriptions sound like a foreign language to you, don’t worry. Let’s break down what you need and what each thing means.
Page Title: Your page title is the title that appears next to your website. The key here is to make it unique to you while keeping it short and simple (under 60 characters preferably). This can be something as simple as [YOUR NAME] [PROFESSION], or something like: Expert [PROFESSION] in [CITY]. If you can, add adjectives like “affordable” or “professional” or “reliable” to make you stand out.
Meta description: Your Meta description is that little blurb of text (under 160 characters) that appears next to a search result. This should be a summary of your page and entice whoever is reading to click.
Meta Keywords: These are keywords that appear in your page code (and not on the actual page itself) and help tell search engines what your page is about. For example, if you’re a photographer who specializes in pet portraits, you’ll want keywords like “pet photography” or “dog portraits.”
OG:Title and OG:Description: No, OG here doesn’t stand for “Original Gangsta,” but instead “Open Graph.” This is similar to your meta title and description, but instead of appearing on search results, this is what will appear on social sites like Facebook.
Fortunately, Kartra makes adding titles, descriptions, and tags super easy to do. Every single page allows you to include a title, a meta description, keywords, a page author and more right from inside the page builder.
Once you’ve finished setting up your SEO, you can now click publish and your site will be live!
We recommend sharing this out with friends on your social channels and even sending an email blast to your contacts to let them know you now have an online presence.
And if you’re using your website to help aid your job search, make sure you add your web address to your resume as well.
Want to get started building your personal-branded site with Kartra? Click here now.