Whether you’re applying for a new job, or you want to share your experience and expertise with a wider audience, creating a personal website is important. Many job roles often now ask for an online portfolio – plus, these sites are an engaging way to show who you are, as well as what you can do.
With so many personal websites online today, you might be wondering how to stand out from the crowd – but we’re here to help! From starting with some clear goals to getting your personal website seen, we’ve outlined 7 steps to get you started.
Before starting to think about content and what to write, it’s worth outlining some goals for your personal website. Why are you creating one, and what do you want to achieve?
Many people often focus on trying to build a social media presence, but it’s just as important to decide on the purpose of your personal website first – this will then inform the content you share on other channels.
Here are some factors to think about first:
- Decide on your target audience and who you want to draw in.
- Consider your tone of voice – how do you want to be perceived by others?
- What skills do you have that will set you apart? Do some research and think about what you can offer that’s unique.
What’s next? Well, once you’ve decided on the purpose of your personal website, it’s time to select your domain name. A domain name is an address that’s unique to a specific website, that you type into a browser to find the site. Your domain name will affect your website’s traffic, so choose something memorable and unique.
If you get this spot on, people will be more likely to remember your website – which is key when it comes to job applications! It’s a good idea to include your own name if it’s a personal website, but – if you don’t feel comfortable doing so – at least make sure it’s something relevant to your content.
Now it’s time to sign up for a website builder, where you’ll manage your content and choose from a range of templates with which to customize your website. There are many user-friendly, creative options available nowadays, so you’re sure to find something that works for you.
Here are the three website builders that we’d recommend for starting a personal website:
Squarespace has always been favored by bloggers and small businesses, and it’s easy to see why. Prices start at $12 per month, and it comes with impressive templates that are great for visual content, as well as effective SEO tools to help bring your website to the attention of relevant readers or recruiters. It’s often a favorite amongst artists, photographers, and those who love design.
Wix is extremely beginner-friendly. Costing around $14 per month, it’s an intuitive site builder full of built-in features and effective themes to get your personal website up and running. It’s also rich with apps and SEO tools, whilst offering a good level of support and guidance that’ll build your confidence.
Weebly is an easy-to-use website builder, and comes with hundreds of templates that work for different types of content – not to mention a cornucopia of apps and features to help your website grow. Prices for this builder at around $6 per month (that’s cheap!), while it also comes with various built-in features and an extensive app store. This makes it a favorite amongst small businesses, as well as those looking to create a site to showcase their personal portfolio.
Once you’ve picked your website builder, you’ll be asked to choose your monthly pricing plan, and enter your personal details and domain name.
Next, you’ll need to find a template that you love – this is your chance to add some personal flair. If you’re creating a website for professional or portfolio reasons, select something unique, but that’s also going to be user-friendly and easy to navigate.
Not sure how you want your website to look? Browse others with similar content for inspiration, but – ideally – pick a template that speaks to you, and suits your unique content needs. Think about whether you’ll be creating a one-page website or a multi-page one, too, and then go from there.
Once you’ve chosen a template, you can start to bulk out your website with images, content, and more. This may vary depending on which builder you’re working with, but our three favorites all offer drag-and-drop customization, allowing you to design pages easily by moving content around.
Here’s some info on how customization works on our favorite website builders:
- Squarespace comes with modern themes that are easy to edit and adapt to mobile devices. It also offers section-based drag-and-drop customization which might be confusing initially, but it still lets you get creative.
- Wix has multiple themes that are easy to customize, and you can drag-and-drop your content anywhere. This functionality gives you more freedom, which is ideal when it comes to creating a personal website, so you can make it your own.
- Weebly has a selection of simple themes that respond well on mobile, although the drag-and-drop customization is more limited. If you want your work to speak for itself within a fuss-free template, this will be the website builder for you.
Examples of templates
Once you have a template in place, you can start creating your pages, writing content and making your website your own.
Here are some tips for when you start adding content:
- Add static content first: We’d recommend adding a homepage, an ‘about us’ page, and a ‘contact me’ page with details about yourself early on. Remember the homepage creates the first impression of your website, so it’s important to get this right.
- Showcase the best of your work: Websites can serve as an online portfolio or display samples of work and link elsewhere. Add a selection of the projects that you’re most proud of!
- Include testimonials: Boost your credibility by including quotes from people you’ve worked with. This works in a similar way to how we endorse one another on Linkedin, and it’s a great way to serve up social proof that your services are to be trusted.
- Focus on visuals: Even if you don’t work in a creative industry, including visuals will make your website more engaging from the get-go.
Moving on, and it’s time to explore how you can add more functionality to your personal website. Luckily, website builders allow you to install apps – such as social share icons and contact forms – which will make your personal website even more engaging.
Here are some of the apps accessible via each builder that you might find useful:
- Squarespace offers creative design apps such as Art of Where and Unsplash, as well as a number of sharing apps – all of which will make the site more visually appealing and user-friendly.
- The Wix App Market also has hundreds of apps to choose from, such as the Pinterest Pin It button app, which is great for personal websites and social sharing.
- Weebly also offers a variety of effective apps from its in-house selection, including easy contact forms, easy pop-ups, and quick Facebook chat.
Now, how do you get your website seen by the right people? Marketing is vital for success, so putting effort into the key strategies will help you stand out from the crowd.
We’ve rounded up several of our top digital marketing tips to help you focus on growth:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimisation): Focusing on SEO helps you ensure people will find your personal website, and will boost your personal website’s rankings in Google. Most website builders also offer built-in SEO tools that will do the work for you, but it’s also worth trying some keyword research out yourself. Check out our top 7 blog SEO tips for more detailed info.
- Social media marketing: It’s important to start building your presence across multiple social channels, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Add social share buttons to your personal website, then start posting and sharing to build your online presence.
- Add relevant links: Seeking out links back to your personal website from trustworthy and noteworthy publications isn’t just good for publicity – it’s great for helping your website rank for relevant terms in search engine results, too!
- Email marketing: Try using an email opt-in tool to capture email addresses and initiate contact. This could help connect you with potential future employers, and build those all-important connections.
So, whether you’re applying for jobs, hoping to progress professionally, or simply sharing something important to you, creating a personal website will only benefit you in the long run. And remember – your online presence can have a huge impact on your prospects and exposure to the people you want to be connected with, so getting it right is important.
With a little help from us and some hard work, you’ll be well on your way to creating a unique personal website!
Here’s a reminder of those 7 steps on how to start a personal website:
- Set a Clear Goal For Your Personal Website
- Buy a Domain Name
- Choose a Website Builder
- Find a Template You Love
- Add Your Website’s Content
- Install Apps
- Get Your Website Seen