Brand Yourself with a Personal Website

By Paula Santonocito

Girl Hold ComputerSeveral friends and colleagues have done it. Your boring ex-boyfriend has even done it. Is it time for you to go worldwide, as in the World Wide Web?

Why Go There

The number of people online continues to grow. In the U.S., nearly three-quarters of the population now uses the Internet.

But it’s not only the number of people that matters. It’s the way in which online activity has evolved that should be considered.

Today, all kinds of interaction takes place online, including job hunting, professional networking, and business collaboration.

What’s more, because Internet search engines have become more sophisticated, employers and would-be employers, customers and would-be customers, business associates, and others now have easy access to information about everyone. And that everyone includes you.

Think it isn’t so?

Single-minded woman, google yourself. Go ahead: Search on your name at Google.

If you have a common name, like Jane Smith, the results returned might not be about you. But don’t kid yourself: It’s unbelievably easy to hone in on a person if you know a few details about her life. All you have to do is enter the person’s name with a city and/or state name, alma mater, job title, or employer, and you have access to information about that person.

In other words, you already have an online presence.

Creating a personal website allows you to control it.

What to Include

Obviously, some single-minded women have greater need for a personal site than others.

If you’re self-employed, for example, a website can communicate your skills and experience to potential clients. But, as important, it can tell them what it is you have to offer.

Depending on the nature of your business, you website might include samples of your work. A graphic artist, for example, may choose to showcase samples from her portfolio.

A list of clients, testimonials from clients, awards, and other forms of recognition also contribute to image building.

More Options than Ever

When it comes to the nitty-gritty of website creation, you have a lot of choices. If you are somewhat computer savvy and have the time, you might want to consider creating your own site.

Templates and other tools facilitate the process.

Allwebco Design Corporation, for example, offers a large variety of website templates from which to choose. Templates allow you to insert your text and images in designated areas. Sometimes there are color scheme options as well. However, usually the basic layout can’t be altered. Nevertheless, with many options to choose from, this may not be an issue.

Depending on your line of business and how you plan to use your site, you may want to consider a blog format. One of the most popular providers of blog solutions, Typepad, offers a number of designs that lend themselves to website creation.

Of course another option is to hire a professional website designer.

Although more costly, hiring a pro can save you time. Most designers will take care of domain registration, website hosting, and search engine optimization (SEO). They can also handle updates to your site. And, perhaps most important, by going with a pro, you will get a one-of-a-kind site.

How do you choose the right person or firm?

One way is to find a website you like and note the designer. The designer’s name usually appears at the bottom of the site’s homepage. Then visit the designer’s website and look at other work samples.

You can also search for website designers in your area and then view their portfolios online. However, remember, in this age of virtual work relationships, you don’t have to hire a local firm.

Still another way to scope out potential designers is to look at websites of other professionals in your field. This will not only provide you with possible designers, but it will give you ideas about what to include and how to present your information.

Leveraging Your Online Presence

Once your site is live, it’s time to promote it. Be sure to include your website address in all your marketing material.

What? You don’t have marketing material?

You most certainly do. Every email you send has the potential to double as a marketing piece. Include your website address as part of your email signature line.

Add your website address to your LinkedIn profile, any resume you use, and include it on your business cards.

Yes, people may find your site using search engines, but why not direct them to www.you?

Thanks to technology, it’s relatively easy to build a personal website–and build a personal brand.

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