Personal websites are my secret weapon for digital (and frankly, in person!) networking. Identifying personal website uses helps ensure we make the most of our site.
As millennials, focusing on our digital footprint can’t be emphasized enough. The internet and the power of it can be overwhelming, but we should use it to our advantage. I encourage you not to turn your social media platforms to private, try to become “ungoogle-able”, and overall try to mask your presence online. Rather, embrace your digital footprint. Maintain it, make it yours, and watch it help you network in your sleep.
What’s a Personal Website?
A personal website is a website just about you. It’s your resume, portfolio, and cover letter all in one place. It’s not your blog, your business website, your travel blog, or your feature somewhere. Traditionally, your first and last name are the domain. It includes your experiences, skills, and accomplishments. It is amazing because you are amazing.
To be clear, a personal website is not a blog. Even if your blog is your first and last name or you have a lifestyle blog, personal websites are more like online portfolios and digital resumes. You can certainly have a blog attached to your site, but it’s not your run of the mill blog.
How do I make one?
Luckily the internet has given us a plethora of tutorials and videos on how to make a website on basically any platform you could imagine.
What are the uses?
1. Job Applications
Perhaps the most beneficial part of having your personal website will come along when you’re applying for jobs. With the job market more competitive than ever, you need something that will help you stand out. In a sea of resumes, all of qualified applicants, having a website on the top or your application will give you a huge leg up. All the employer needs to do is click the link to your website and in 30 seconds they have a dose of personality. You just can’t replicate that sort of value through a traditional resume. Even without exploring your website or qualifications, it’s a quick way to get noticed, stand out, and express yourself. It’s as close as you can get to meeting your future employer face to face.
You can link your social media accounts to your website and the other way around. This way you’re connecting with your peers in a professional light. Your peers are your professional network, and making that connection for them takes those relationships a step further. Imagine when you first meet someone and you connect on Facebook, you could just get lost in the social media sea. Or, they can quickly find your website and you’ll instantly be seen in their mind as your website represents and you will come to my mind if they hear of opportunities you might be interested in.
3. Freelance work
Even if you have no experience freelancing professionally, you still probably have plenty of skills and qualifications people would pay for. But, how they are going to find you unless you put those accomplishments out there? You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take great photos, and someone may want to hire you to take photos based off of the work you put your site. The same idea applies to works of writing, research awards, video editing, language tutoring, and so many more options.
I recently read about how millennials (or actually, anyone who’s applying for jobs) struggle to find the balance between following up and showing deep interest in a job versus following up and annoying your potential employer. This delicate and complicated situation is one of my favorite instances in which my personal website has saved the day. I’m very comfortable plugging my personal website URL (and sometimes my LinkedIn URL, as well) into a thank you e-mail after a job interview. I find that’s follow-up in itself. I then can see the activity on my personal website, and, if it’s high, I can gather that means the employer is interested in me and learning more about me. Then, I do feel more comfortable following up. If I don’t see any such flux, I would probably lay off.
If you’re traveling but don’t want to start a travel blog, or do want to blog but want your blog to have more than one focus, you can make your travels just one part of your website. Your entire blog can be just a section. This way, you can still keep friends and family up-to-date, but keep your online presence professional and displaying more than just that one aspect of your life.
If you have a blog, you should link your blog to your website so that those interested in you professionally can see that creative side of you. This also will give you a nice platform to advertise your writing skills without doing so in a sales-y way on your blog. If you don’t have a blog, your personal website can have a blogging section where you post pieces if and when you want to share. This is a great way to shape your online presence.
7. Creativity Expression and Web Design
Even if you’re not a graphic designer or have a complete creative portfolio, your personal website is an accomplishment in and of itself. Resumes do not stand out in that way and they certainly do not. It also demonstrates a skill (or several) that you have without having to even state the obvious. Use that to speak for your familiarity (or expertise!) on web design.
Don’t know how to build a website? I got you.
8. Your external hard drive
Previously, when I applied for job, or really, anything, it was never as easy as it should’ve been. It was a lot of me thumbing through old resumes and cover letters and copying and pasting and rewriting and filing. A mess. Now, everything is on my personal website in one pretty place. I can just pull bits of information I need depending on what I’m applying for. The best part is that I know I’m going to direct whoever is receiving my resume to my site, so what I write on that resume will be supported by my personal site.
I hope you’re at least partially convinced of the power and value of personal websites. I can’t explain how wonderful mine has been for me. Everything from creating it and learning about web design, designing it and exploring my creativity (which I rarely do), to networking and, above all, landing me my current job, which I love.
To make sure you make the absolute most of this powerful tool, grab my checklist below of your personal website essentials. And, if you make a site or already have one, show us the URL in the comments section below!