When was the last time you looked someone up online? It could have been on Google, Facebook or any other social media platform. Either way, it’s safe to say that it probably wasn’t too long ago.
These days, the way you present yourself online is crucial. Whether you want to apply for a new job, advance in your career, or simply share your story with the world, creating a website will help establish you as a professional in your industry. And seeing as your online presence greatly impacts the way people perceive you, getting it right is key.
To put you on the path to professional success, this step-by-step guide will explain how to make a personal website from scratch, covering everything from defining your message to acing your design.
First and foremost, ask yourself why you’re creating a personal website. Determining your goals will help you figure out everything else, like which content to include and how to structure your site to best serve your purpose.
To focus your inward search, here are a few questions you should consider before creating your professional website:
How do I want to be perceived by fellow colleagues, future collaborators, and potential employers?
What skills or characteristics do I have that set me apart from others in my field?
What am I hoping my personal website will help me achieve?
Take your time mulling over these questions, as they’ll act as your guide once you get going with the actual creation of your website. In fact, your answers are the foundations of your personal brand – the thing that distinguishes you from others. A clear brand identity will ensure a cohesive and well thought-out message throughout all of your online assets.
Before creating your personal website, browse the web for inspiration. You can look up people from your industry that you admire to see what kind of content they share on their website. We also recommend checking out these professionally designed personal website examples, as well as these portfolio and CV website templates.
When looking for inspiration, take note of the website design, as well as the content itself. Is there a particular layout that could also work well for your site? Have they added a powerful mission statement? Perhaps you spotted a color scheme that matches your personal brand?
Write down your findings and save relevant screenshots in a folder. This way, you’ll be able to refer back to them when creating your website.
Once you’ve explored a broad selection of personal websites, you’ll have more of an idea of the type of site you want to create. To narrow it down and put yourself on the right path, you can browse through these designer-made personal website templates. Not only will they let you make a personal website for free, but you’ll also be able to adjust the design and focus on the content itself, while ensuring a positive user experience and optimal website navigation.
Ideally, you should pick a template that already matches your personal style and content needs. Consider whether you’ll be creating a one-page website or a multi-page one, and choose a template that fits these requirements.
At this point, you should have a clear idea of why you’re creating a personal website. Now that you’ve chosen a template to get you started, it’s time to consider the how.
While some things are best achieved spontaneously, building a website from scratch is not one of them. Before you find yourself knee-deep in web design, identify which content your personal website requires.
Grab a pen and paper, and make a list of all the content your site should contain. This will vary depending on your area of expertise and the type of site you’re creating. However, here are a few elements that almost every personal website should include:
Homepage: Your homepage is likely to be the first page on your site that visitors see. To make a positive first impression, strive to perfect your homepage design. Clearly communicate who you are and what you do with a strong mission statement and an eye-catching design.
Bio: Your bio can take the form of a short personal introduction on your homepage, or you can create a dedicated ‘About’ page. Your bio should highlight your professional career, but don’t be afraid to also express your unique personality by sharing additional hobbies and interests. If you’re creating a resume website, consider adding a downloadable version of your CV.
Your best work: Your personal website can serve as an online portfolio that showcases your scope of work. Alternatively, you can include samples of your work and link to external pages. Make sure to curate your portfolio so that you’re only sharing the pieces you’re proudest of. Even if you don’t operate in a visual field, like design or photography, you can find ways to showcase your work online. For example, if you’re in marketing, share the stories behind your most successful campaigns, highlighting your role and the end results. If you’re a journalist, mention publications you’ve written for and link to your articles.
Images and videos: Even if you’re not looking to create an illustration or artist portfolio, visual aid is always a good idea. Incorporating a photo of yourself will craft a more personal atmosphere and make you seem relatable. For an added sense of professionalism, consider including images or videos of yourself engaging in your line of work. This could be anything from you speaking at a conference, performing on stage if you’re creating an actor website, sitting at your desk in an office environment, and more.
Blog: Starting a blog is a great way to share your knowledge and provide valuable insights about your field. It will also demonstrate your level of expertise and writing abilities to potential employers. You can write about anything from industry updates to an obstacle you personally experienced in your career and more. Check out these blog ideas for plenty of inspirational content.
Testimonials: Adding quotes from people you’ve worked with in the past is a great way to prove your skills and improve credibility. Try encouraging people to write substantial testimonials that highlight specific qualities of yours, rather than simply stressing how wonderful you are. While this may be true, over-the-top bragging can end up sounding fake and having the opposite effect of what you’re looking to achieve.
Contact: If your site visitors can’t contact you, all your hard work will amount to nothing. Include all the relevant contact info in a highly visible spot, and add a social bar with links to platforms such as LinkedIn and YouTube.
Once you have all your content prepared, add the relevant pages to your site. Tie them all together using a website menu that will enable visitors to fluidly navigate through your pages.
The design of your website is just as important as the content itself. If it doesn’t look the part, visitors are likely to click away from your site without giving your valuable content a second chance.
Other than picking an expertly designed template that resonates with you and your personal brand identity, make sure your website has a clearly defined visual language. This means that every part of your website, from the call-to-action buttons to the footer, should be cohesive in terms of tone and style. Here are the elements to take into account:
Color scheme: Colors have a huge impact on mood and tone. Look into color psychology to pick a selection of colors that evoke the right sensation. Are you dynamic and energetic? Calm and sophisticated? To try out different combinations and ensure an aesthetic result, use an online color palette generator tool.
Font choice: Similarly to colors, typography also has a part to play in conveying different moods and feelings. To choose the best fonts for your website, browse other websites for inspiration and get a feel for which type of font suits your brand.
Website layout: Ideally, you’ll have already picked a template that accommodates your content, so you won’t have to adapt the layout of each page too much. Browse the most common website layouts and adopt the ones that suit your content the best. For example, a split screen layout could give you the chance to share an image alongside text on the top fold of your website’s homepage. Alternatively, if your site is highly visual, a fullscreen image layout might suit you better, as it will put the spotlight on an image of your choice.
Logo: Your logo is an essential part of your branding. If you don’t have one already, we recommend creating your own logo and adding it to your website in strategic places, such as your website menu.
With more and more internet traffic coming from mobile phones, you need to make sure your personal website looks its best on every device. In addition, since Google introduced mobile-first indexing, websites are ranked on search engine results predominantly according to their mobile versions.
There are many ways to promote your site, from social media to email marketing. However, preparing your site for search engines is something you can – and should – do in the early stages of creating your personal website.
There are a number of search engine optimization (SEO) tips that can help improve your ranking on search engines. For example, you should find the right keywords for your website and focus on them throughout your written content, plus pick a domain name that shows Google what your site is about.
Once you’ve reached this stage, preview your website to check that everything loads well and that there aren’t any typos or broken links. While you’ll probably have a comprehensive, impressive personal website by now, even the best website designers need an extra eye sometimes. Asking a trusted colleague or friend to review your site could help take it up an extra notch.
Perhaps you could improve your bio, write a more powerful mission statement or incorporate a touch of animation in your website design. Receiving feedback isn’t always easy, but it’s worth leaving your ego behind and approaching the critique with an open mind. Once you’ve made any fixes and are satisfied with the final result, it’s finally time to hit the publish button.
After all your hard work, your personal website is up and running. But you don’t want it to just sit there, lost and alone in the online world. On top of optimizing your site for SEO, there are many effective ways to promote your website for free. Here are a few techniques for getting more eyes on your site:
Harness the power of social media marketing by sharing your site on your social channels. You can link to your website on your profile, as well as update your friends and followers by posting about your new creation.
Use email marketing to craft valuable newsletters to send out to your subscribers. You can inform them about new blog posts, fill them in on a lecture you’re giving, or send them links to inspirational articles or talks you’ve heard from industry leaders.
Add a link to your website and social channels on your email signature. This simple online promotion technique means that any email you send out will automatically contain these links and increase the chances of people reaching your site.
In addition to starting your own blog, contact other bloggers from your industry and suggest you write guest posts for one another. This win-win situation can help both parties gain more exposure and bring potential leads to your personal website.