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Why marketers should create a personal website (in a weekend)

This weekend just past I built a personal website. It has been on my to do list for most of this year and it’s now September and I just hadn’t got to it yet. So, I decided to stop waiting and just start.

Making a personal website is something that has been pretty easy to put off. It isn’t directly related to my work, it won’t bring in any direct revenue and it may not even get many visitors. If it wasn’t for my upcoming book release, I’d say there hasn’t been a sense of urgency associated with it. So why do I want one?

I believe that it’s important for people who take their career seriously to position themselves for opportunities. Taking the time to explain who you are, sharing your thought leadership and having a destination where people can find and easily contact you are vital steps in this process.

It’s something that I recommend in my book, The Deliberate Digital Marketer for professionals who want to get ahead and whilst I have had several online presences through blogs and companies across multiple decades, I wanted to bring it all together in a logical way.

So why should YOU as a marketer follow in my footsteps and build a personal website?

  1. It helps to build your profile – what does a google search for your name return right now? Don’t let other peoples’ websites control the conversation, build your profile and position yourself where you want to be.
  2. Showcase your work – what are you working on that is interesting? Share your results, opportunities and ideas, you never know who might find it and have something to contribute.
  3. Share you thought leadership – being a thought leader is about creating content. A personal site gives you somewhere to house it. Simple.
  4. Be findable – how can people reach you now and how simple does it become once you have a website with a form or contact? Ensure you don’t miss notifications of people wanting to connect. Again, it’s about controlling the connection.
  5. Differentiate yourself – most marketers won’t take the time to do this step. Be one of the ones who does and stand out from the crowd.
  6. Stay fresh – take this chance to implement some basic marketing tools and processes and it will help you to stay fresh. Make sure you know the latest, have a good idea of how it is done and what’s involved. You may even have a great idea in the process that you can apply to your day job.
  7. Opportunities – Be open to opportunities that are available when you have a voice and can be found. You might get invited to speak at a conference, work on a project with a university or be interviewed for a book. It could lead to a joint project with another company for mutual benefit. The options are endless (and exciting)!

A quick plan and implementation

Like any project, deciding to create a personal website is one thing and actually implementing it is another. Start by mapping out the pages you want to include on your website. If you are like me, a few standard content pages and a blog will likely be all that you need. That was the quick bit.

The delay in moving ahead with my website was trying to decide who would actually build the website. I’ve put together a number of wordpress websites in the past like my old blog from the early 2000’s and this drawing site but I’m well aware that building a website now is not the best use of my time. At the same time I was reluctant to pay for something I viewed as fairly simple and part of me enjoys the creative process.

So, after way too much procrastination, this weekend I decided to bite the bullet and build it myself. And here it is! I have a young family so I wasn’t able to dedicate the whole weekend to this activity. Rather I did a bit each night, stole 1-2 daylight hours and by Monday morning was is live and nearly complete.

I thought I’d share the process of building it as it really was quite easy and straightforward. If you’re thinking of building a personal website too, hopefully an outline of the steps required will help you.

  1. Register a domain – I was luckily enough to get my name. Search yours now and register it (right now!)
  2. Map the pages – as above, decide what pages and content you want to share
  3. Decide what platform to use – I’m a wordpress fan, primarily because of how easy it is and how well the plugins and other tools integrate with it. I stuck with Wordpress for this site, but you might also consider Square Space or Wix or something else.
  4. Find a theme – this can be quite time consuming but I started at Envato and did some searches. I came across this theme (which I implemented) and I’m loving it and finding the documentation that came with the site has provided me with step by step instructions for all customization I wanted. For US$44 it was well priced too.
  5. Find a hosting provider – I looked at a few options here but went with Blue Host. They are well referred by Wordpress themselves, have a 1 click installation and back ups and I’m only paying  a few dollars a month.
  6. Apply theme to website – I did this through the Blue Host interface and it was pretty straight forward, the theme documentation also detailed the steps.
  7. Customise theme – this where I added my personal images and set up the pages the way I wanted. This part can take a few hours, but it is quite fun seeing it come together!
  8. Add content images and copy – I created some basic pages and copied a few blog articles I’ve written over from Interactive Minds. Fortunately I had some imagery on hand to use, but if you don’t have something custom, use a site like Deposit Photos where you can purchase quality images at a good price. Personal images are ideal, but right now, progress is better than perfect!
  9. Add plugins – I want to do some very basic search engine optimisation so I have installed Yoost which is well regarded in this space. I’m also installing an auto update so any changes to the theme will be updated to align with wordpress updates. A few other plugins were required when I customized the theme and I added a Google XML sitemaps plugin too.
  10. Search engine optimisation – I’ve simply optimized a few pages for my name at this stage (as I also have a company website that I’m on).  If you’re a marketer, you might also want to highlight your role, focus areas and city (for example). 11.    Add extras – this is where you need to think of extras that are good best practice to have included (and it gives you a chance to check out these tools too). I created a Google Analytics account, added Google Tag Manager to hold the analytics tag (you can skip tag manager if you like, but I’m future proofing!) I also install Sumo.com on any wordpress site I have, it’s free and comes with loads of tools.
  11. Delegate DNS – this is the bit I find most tricky! It’s where you connect your domain to the website you have created. Usually it simply involves changing the name servers and both Wordpress and your host will provide instructions and usually live chat should you need extra help. If you’re using the same setup as me, don’t forget to launch the website using the BlueHost button to make it live.
  12. Setup Google webmaster tools – make sure Google knows you exist! It’s a good best practice to add a sitemap to your site too and Google have a few other steps involved in this process that they recommend which are detailed on this site.
  13. Test – I’ve been doing this one all the way through but it’s a good idea to go over everything at the end too. Check that your forms work, how it looks on mobile and that all the links work and content is displaying correctly.
  14. Share – don’t forget to tell people your site is live! Add a link to your social media profiles and LinkedIn. Maybe you can even write a blog about it!
  15. Celebrate – you have a new website, it’s time to give yourself a high five!
  16. Keep Updating – we all know the value of a fresh website. Try and schedule some time to write regularly, I’d recommend an hour a week would be a good start and if you love it, do more!

The best bit about this process is that for a small website, you don’t need to spend three months building it. I completed the basic process as above in three days and whilst there are still bits and pieces I can tweak, and there will always be content to add, it is done and live!

You might be familiar with building websites and the steps detailed will be easy for you. But if it’s not, then it’s even more important for you as a marketer to get your hands dirty, have a play and see what you can come up with. You might even enjoy yourself!

If you already have a personal website or create one with this process, let me know in the comments below and share your URL, I’d love to see it.

This post is also published on louisadahl.com

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