What is the most important personal advertising tool you have as a student?
I know you’ve probably heard you need a good resume. That’s what everyone is telling you, right?
Sure… it can help to have a resume that doesn’t use comic sans but seriously… this isn’t the 80’s. It reminds me of this scene from American Psycho. (Take note of the name of the movie… This kind of thinking won’t get you anywhere.)
Here is a more illustrative version of the scene I’m talking about. In the real movie, they’re talking about business cards. This clip shows the way I think about them:
‘Let’s see Paul Allen’s card.’
Look at that subtle off-white coloring.
The tasteful thickness of it.
Oh, my God. It even has a watermark.
Is something wrong, Patrick ?
This kind of thinking doesn’t matter today.
No one can look important with the standard resume and business card. This is the way people thought 50 years ago. Times have changed for the better.
Resumes are boring. They get outdated from the moment you hand them out. You need to make millions of copies. And, seriously, handing out resumes is one of the least effective ways to find a job.
To stand out today, you need a website.
Websites make up for everything a resume lacks. I’d go as far as to say that your website is more important than your resume.
What Makes Your Website Essential To Your Career Success – 3 Reasons
1. It Makes You Google-Friendly
Your employer will google your name before they hire you. What are they going to find?
They’re going to find your personal social media accounts and everything you post to communicate with your friends.
Are you really excited about your potential employers googling your name and seeing that stuff?
What if they googled your name and found a professional personal website highlighting how awesome you are?
2. You Look Tech Savvy
The average person STILL doesn’t have a website.
A college degree used to help you stand out from the crowd because a tiny percentage of people had them. Now everyone and their dog has a college degree about something or another.
Only a small percentage of job applicants have a personal website. That’s what can make you stand out.
Achievers build websites. Smart folks build websites. Average schmucks looking to work 9-5 for a pittance and go home to drink, don’t build websites.
3. It’s All Yours – Update, Correct, And Adjust As YOU WANT IT
I’ve assisted in the hiring of dozens of employees now. Here is a bunch of what sucks about resumes:
- Most resumes are outdated.
Websites are constantly available for you to update. Your resume will never stay up to date. You can correct problems on the fly with a website (instead of hoping your mistakes don’t get caught.)
- Employers print them (and make fun of mistakes)
I’m serious. I got resumes handed to me with red marks pointing out dumb formatting mistakes. I got resumes with notes that would make any applicant feel like crap. Here is the thing:
No one will write on your website. Only you can do that. People will send links to it. People might make comments but your website gets a clean shot at making a positive impression.
Building a website gives you control over your employment prospects. Employers get to “come to you” instead of you going to them. They’re hearing your words and seeing your achievements because you can highlight them however you deem fit.
Take Thomas Frank’s Word For It
This post is heavily inspired by an article written by Thomas Frank. He’s the guy that first convinced me that I need a personal website. Since then, I’ve learned tons more about building websites and I owe him greatly. (Thanks!)
Based on his inspiration, I’ve spent a couple dozen hours putting everything I know together into a single post. My goal is to teach you the same things that years of trial and error has taught me. And by the end of this article, you’re going to have control over your web presences (and have employers knocking on your metaphorical internet door.)
Do you want some samples of awesome personal websites?
Thomas Frank’s is still one of my favorites but you’ll find tons of great examples randomly.
This is another awesome one using a similar theme.
Here is another tasteful design.
Take note of the different styles.
What do these tell you about the designers goals?
I want this guide to tell you everything you need to know to build a website that attracts employers but I’ve done everything I can to make it easy.
By the end of this tutorial, you’re going to know exactly how to:
1. Get A Domain
2. Get Quality Hosting
3. Install WordPress (which will make building the site easy.)
4. Find An Awesome Theme
5. Build The Site
6. Make Sure Employers Can Find Your Website
You don’t need to know:
- How To Program HTML (Or CSS, PHP, MySQL.) No programming required.
- Search Engine Optimization
- Graphic Design
All you need to do is follow directions well.
Can you follow directions?
Good job. You’re all ready to build a personal website. 🙂
And I’m serious! You don’t need to know how to program to build a website. It can help you later on but 99% of website owners never code anything. That’s what installing WordPress will help us avoid.
You’re only going to need to give yourself an afternoon to build this website. That’s all you need to build most of it. And most of that time will be more fun than writing a resume.
2 Important Things Before We Start
1. Ask for help if you get stuck!
You can reach us on our contact page. Please ask for help because we want this post to be as helpful as possible. If you get stuck then someone else is probably stuck too. You asking will help us make this page better.
By the end of us working together, you’re going to have an impressive website.
2. In this article, I’m recommending products that I actually use.
I’ve purchased these services to build my own websites. (I’ve also spent hundreds on crappy web service providers.) I only list services that I know and love. If you’re getting a link to it here, it’s good.
If you use the domain and hosting option I recommend then I will get a commission (and it costs you the exact same as it would otherwise.) I’ve used other good hosts and domain options. I’ve also used worse. The recommended options are my personal favorite. They’re the best value I’ve found.
Now is the time to get started!
#1 Get A Domain
You need to buy your name as a domain name (if it’s possible.)
Is your name “Jane Doe”?
Then you want to own “JaneDoe.com”
That’s the ideal domain name. Your first name and your last time at a “.com”
There are tons of obvious benefits to this domain name:
- It’s easy for someone to remember and recognize
- It’s exactly where one would first try to find it.
Less obvious advantages:
- It’s just your name (that means you can change careers and keep it.)
- It’s google-friendly. You’re going to get found way faster using that domain.
- It’s going to be worth more long term.
The problem with this domain name: you’re not likely to find it.
Quite frankly, you’d have better odds buying the domain name and then changing your name to match the domain. 😀
If you have a boring name then you’re not going to be able to find a domain name of your name because some other guy or gal has already purchased it. They saw the value of the name years ago.
That’s why you should do the next best thing. Do you have a middle name? Use that too.
If your name is Jane Rosealyn Doe then you want:
By using all three names, you’re much less likely to have a problem buying the domain because fewer people are competing for it.
What if that domain is taken?
Don’t throw in random junk. Just think about your domain with this stuff in mind:
- Your best option is first name + last name.com
- Your second best option is first name + middle name + last name.com
- Your third best option is first name + middle initial + last name.com
- Another good option is first initial + middle initial + last name.com
- Don’t use numbers or dashes or anything too clever. Make it simple.
- Use a “.com” or “.org” or “.co” or “.me” extension.
Clever just reduces your odds of getting found.
Don’t use complicated domain extensions. When an employer hears about your website they’re going to be thinking, “.com”. Don’t make them think about it too much. Make it easy.
Don’t add dashes between your names unless the dash is actually part of your name. That just increases the mistakes people can make.
#2 Get Your Domain And Hosting
There are super easy ways you can get your domain and hosting together. You can do it separately though. I wouldn’t do that unless you’re experienced.
For simplicity’s sake, I recommend getting them together.
Remember that we’re available to help if you ever get stuck.
Keep Your Wallet Happy
Getting your hosting and domain isn’t free. (Well… it shouldn’t be.)
I know you could build some standard free domain that makes your site a subdomain of someone else but that’s not going to meet the requirements of a personal website. It’s not going to impress anyone. (If anything, it’s going to make you look like you’re not at all tech savvy.)
It’s not free. That’s a good thing. You’ll get better results because of it.
That being said, it shouldn’t cost much if you’re doing it right.
I don’t recommend the cheapest services you can find because quality is important. You wouldn’t print your resume on the back of a piece of scrap paper. You’d invest in a new sheet of paper. That’s what I recommend with building a website.
That being said, I spent less than $10 a month on my website (and I splurged.)
It’s cheaper than going out to dinner when you do it right. You can save the expensive options for when your employer is drowning you in the extra dough from your massively impressive web presence. Right?
That’s why I recommend SiteGround’s shared WordPress hosting.
I’ve used all the major web hosts out there. SiteGround is one of the cheap options but it has become my personal favorite host. It’s my first choice for hosting because:
- I like affordable.
- It’s designed for WordPress and installation is nearly automatic.
- The support is unbelievably useful. They’ve saved my butt repeatedly.
- It’s fast with almost no downtime.
Remember, cheap is nice but if you go too cheap you’re risking looking worse than ever. Having a website that doesn’t load makes you worse than not having a website at all.
Imagine your employer has to wait 30 seconds for your page to load. That’s not going to help your prospects.
Worse, imagine they’re trying to load your website and they get some ugly page saying it’s not found. That’s really bad.
Spend 2 bucks extra and make sure that doesn’t happen.
SiteGround is one of the most popular WordPress hosts available for a reason.
Head to SiteGround, and click the “Choose A Plan” button.
That will take you to where you’ll see the three options. Most of you only need the far left option. That’s where I started.
After you select your option, you’re going to be asked if you’re transferring or registering a new domain. Select registering a new one and enter your first choice of domain names.
Don’t worry if your first choice isn’t available. Try your next option until you find one that works. Use the guide above to make sure you’re picking a good one.
Next you’re going to fill out your billing info and stuff.
Oh yea and it’s going to offer domain privacy. This costs a bit more. I personally started without it but it can help reduce spam you’ll get. (Buying a website puts your email on a public database. Some spammers can find your email through that. If that concerns you then buy domain privacy. It’s cheap and probably worth it.)
Last, it’s going to offer SG Site Scanner. I haven’t used it but it says it can check your site for malicious code. As a broke student, this probably shouldn’t be a major short term concern because you’re not going to be doing much to attract scammers to your site. If you have a problem, you can correct it reasonably fast without this.
Skip most of the add-ons they’re selling. Most of these features are free if you know where to look (and I’m going to point some of them out later in this article.)
Check the order and make sure it tickles your fancy (that isn’t a dirty reference but it makes me feel dirty.) Then go ahead and finish the order.
#3 Install WordPress
This is the part where we start setting up your website.
Since you’re self-hosting your site, you’re going to need WordPress installed on your website. WordPress is a popular blogging platform but it can be used for just about any kind of website you could dream up. And what makes it even better is that most of it is free.
It can take only a couple minutes to install normally. Fortunately for you, SiteGround WordPress hosting makes the process even easier.
Go to the “My Accounts” tab in SiteGround’s members area.
Then click on “Go to cPanel” (the red button near the top left.)
This is the most complicated thing you’ll need to worry about. Once you get past this, it’s gets super user-friendly your dog could do it in its sleep (but dogs don’t care about your website so just do it yourself.)
Under the “Autoinstallers” section select WordPress.
This will take you to a page describing WordPress.
Click “Install Now” near the bottom left.
Under choose protocol pick “http://www” unless you have the expertise to appreciate the difference. Most of you shouldn’t need more than this.
Make sure your domain is selected under the drop down.
Leave “In Directory” blank
In the site name fill in your “Site Name” with your own name.
Fill in the “Site Description” with a description of what you do. (Just put something quick for now. I’ll show you how to craft something awesome later.)
Next you’re going to want to fill out the admin account info.
Get creative with the “Admin Username”. Don’t settle for “Admin” because any half-wit hacker can guess it. It will start with a default random set of numbers. Keeping that isn’t a bad idea.
The admin password is defaulted to a pretty good password. Copy that password someplace safe or replace it with something you’re comfortable with.
One thing to keep note of: you’re not trying to create a super secure military top-secret site. You’re just creating a personal site. That means security is good but balance it out with simplicity for yourself.
Choose your language.
It will give you the option to limit login attempts. I’d check this for basic security but it’s optional.
It will also give you the option to add a contact forms plugin. Check that one because you’ll need it later.
Lastly, it will ask if you want to install a theme with it. There are currently two options:
None or Layers
I would pick “None” for now. This will let you dig in and learn more about the most important parts of WordPress.
Go ahead with the installation and you’re going to have access to your brand spanking new website.
You may have to wait a little while before accessing your site because the hamsters in the internet wheels can take a while to get up to speed. If you use SiteGround as recommended in this article, it should only take a few minutes of waiting.
Try and visit your new website. Enter your url and go there just like any other website.
TA-DA! Well… kind of ta-da. It’s probably rather bland at this moment but that’s the hardest part. Now comes the fun part:
Setting Up Your New Website
Once your website is live you’ll be able to log in to your administrator account at:
Replace “yoursite.com” with the domain you set up.
This will bring you to the WordPress login screen.
(Bookmark this page because you’re going to need it.)
Enter the username and password you set up during the installation and log in.
Once you’re all logged in, you’re going to be surfing the waves of basic web design my brother or sister. This is 80% of what most web designers do. For some web designers, it’s everything.
You’ll see a nice long sidebar on the left that introduces you to most of the important things you’re going to need to work on. Don’t let it intimidate you. There are a lot of options but they’re very self-explanatory after you learn the basics.
Spend a few minutes to play around in WordPress before continuing this tutorial. Navigate through some pages and if you’re feeling brave, change a few things to see what happens.
Once you get the play out of your system continue with this tutorial.
Keeping Web Design Simple
There are two main approaches to website design:
1. Designing to your inspiration.
2. Finding inspiration in other’s designs.
Do you have a crystal clear image of what you want your website to look like when you’re finished? That is your inspiration. If you started trying to work with WordPress to develop that imagined design then that would be…
Approach 1 is challenging and frustrating. In the long term, it can be more fufilling but I recommend you save that challenge for another day. You might be surprised how much better a final product you can create using approach 2.
If you don’t have a clear image of what you want then you get to design your website based on the way WordPress and its themes function. This is approach 2.
Approach 2 will give you a better product faster while you’re learning the basics of web design. (You can work on your approach 1 design after you learn the basics.)
#4 Find An Awesome Theme
In the WordPress sidebar, click on Appearance.
Then click on “Theme”.
This page will offer you a few default options for your site. You can use one of them but check out the options available on the following page first.
On the top leftish of the page you’ll see the words, “Add New”. Click on them.
This will bring you to a page showing all the featured themes. It will give you the option to search through tons of different themes.
Themes are a WordPress site’s clothing.
If you put on a business suit then everybody knows you’re planning on doing business. If you put on a robe and slippers then everyone knows you’re just relaxing. Picking your theme is picking your site’s outfit.
What do you want your website to dress up in?
Think about that as you explore the theme options you have in WordPress.
Keep in mind that some themes cost money to install. If you’re a cheap/broke student like I was then they’re probably not worth the money short term. (Long term it can improve a number of aspects of your site.)
Look for a theme that represents the message you’re trying to send.
If you’re a graphic designer then make sure the site can highlight your creativity.
If you’re going into business then make sure the site looks professional.
Explore the themes and find a good starting point for you. Once you find that starting point:
Click on “Install” for that theme. In a few seconds, that theme will be installed. That puts the new outfit in your closet.
After that, the “Install” button will turn into the “Activate” button. You press that to attach that theme to your website.
That button takes the clothes out of the closet and puts them on.
#5 Build The Website
After you activate your theme, go back to the WordPress sidebar.
Go to Appearance >> Customize
This is where you’re going to go to play with your themes options.
Every theme is different so if you don’t like the options your theme gives you then you can go back and install a new one later.
Take a few minutes to play with your theme and make it look like something you’d like to start building your site off of.
(I wasn’t a big fan of my own first theme pick. I regularly try out 3 or 4 before finding one I like. You can make any theme work but it’s much easier to start from a theme you already like.)
Take note: the site will just have filler text everywhere right now. That’s okay. I always get more inspiration having the theme designed first. The filler text is stuff you’re going to write and rewrite plenty of times. The theme and layout is something you’ll stick with for a while.
The next step is getting rid of all the extra stuff you don’t need and filling in the major holes of your site.
Click on the post button on the sidebar.
WordPress posts are typically used for blogs. Since you’re developing a personal site, you’re not going to need a blog (immediately.) Your goal right now should be to set your site up with the essentials.
The more blog posts you add, the more room you have to distract people from the purpose of your site. Blog posts are good for content marketing. They’re not good for most personal sites. (They can work well as portfolio pages but don’t worry about that yet.)
Clicking on posts will bring you to a list of posts on your site.
There will be one sample post listed. Hover your mouse over that post title and click the red “Trash” button to delete it.
Next, click on the “Plugins” button on the sidebar.
Plugins are extra pieces of code that you can download to add features to WordPress. WordPress comes with a few plugins by default.
The plugins button will bring you to a page listing the current plugins installed on WordPress.
Find the plugin called “Jetpack” and deactivate it.
You might notice “SG Optimizer” in your plugin list if you got your hosting through my link. This is SiteGround’s own plugin to help your site load faster.
Next go to “Settings” in the sidebar.
This will take you to the general settings where you can fill in and see your:
- Site name
- Tag line
- Your url (and where WordPress is located. These should be the same if you followed these instructions.)
- Admin email address
- Time zone, time format, and date format.
After filling our your general settings, click on:
Don’t worry if this doesn’t make sense immediately. You don’t have to understand why we’re doing this next step. Short version: it will help your site get found in Google.
Settings >> Permalinks
Permalinks are how links are automatically made for your site.
Under “Common Settings”, check the bullet point next to “Post name”.
Now we’re getting to the super fun part:
Creating Your Home Page
Now you’re going to learn about WordPress pages and start building your first one.
Pages are where you’re going to put most of the information on your personal site. This is where you put the content you don’t plan on changing regularly. (Posts are fun quick, dirty, and temporary content. Pages are for stuff that’s important.)
Click on the Pages button in the sidebar.
Next, click on the “Add New” button near the top left of the screen.
This will bring your first canvas to start building your site off of.
You’re free to get as creative as you like with this section. Don’t take my word for anything in this part. If you want to try something then try it. (That’s the best way to learn.)
If you’re not feeling creative then start by doing this:
- In the title, write “Home” for now. That will give you access to an option to set your homepage to this. I recommend you change this later to say what you do in as few words as possible. I’ll tell you when…
- In the post, introduce yourself, list your credentials, and talk about how you do what you do. Last, mention what you’re looking for (if you’re picky.)
- Add a picture of your smiling mug to the page.
So, Jane Doe, a graphic design student might do the following:
My name is Jane Doe and I do graphic design. I’m a junior at XYZ university with a 3.9 GPA. I’ve focused my education on results based graphic design with a heavy dose of marketing courses.
I focus on creating an atmosphere and a message with every visual representation I design. While I love creativity, I’m obsessed with putting creativity to a practical use. A great graphic designer doesn’t only make a visual, they send a message.
I’m currently seeking internships.
Smiling Jane Doe on a computer.
You now have something that can be your starting point.
Look around the page for things you can change to your liking. In many themes, you’ll have the option to have a sidebar, centered content, or your content filling the page. Try your different options and press the “Preview” button on the right of the page.
Keep previewing and editing it until you’re okay with what you’re looking at.
If you’re really struggling then you may want to go back and look for a new theme. Sometimes a different theme can make all the difference.
After you finish up the page, click the “Publish” button on the right of the page.
You now have the page but it’s not a homepage yet. That’s one more setting.
Settings >> Reading
Look under “Your Homepage Displays” check off “A Static Homepage” and select “Home” from the drop down.
After you do that, go back to:
Hover over your “Home” article and click edit. Now rename “Home” to something else like a super short version of what you do. Jane might be a “Graphic Design Student” and put that as the title.
Publish the updated article.
You now have the basics of a personal website.
On Adding Pages
WordPress gives you the option to add just about as many pages as you could dream up. Some folks would be tempted to add a bunch of extra pages for an about me page, a contact page, and a page with pictures of their cats.
Here is the thing:
On a personal website, more isn’t better. Most of the time, more is way worse.
When you show this website to potential employers, they aren’t going to read your every word to learn everything they can about you. You could write an awesome biography of yourself but that biography is worse than meaningless if they never read it.
Imagine if they skim your biography and miss the part where you got your degree.
You only have a few seconds to deliver a message to people on your website.
You need to deliver that message in as few pages, words, and images as possible.
The less you show your audience, the more you can guarantee your audience will see what you want them to see.
More stuff is just more room for error.
One page is okay for a personal website.
Some extra pages that are acceptable:
- A contact page
- An achievements page (if you have really impressive achievements)
- A published articles page (if you’re published by recognizable sources)
- Any pages related to a professional portfolio (if you’re an artist of some kind.)
- Anything that highlights something very specific and important about your career.
If you’re just graduating from college then one page is probably enough. Two pages can be done to improve the design.
(Having a separate contact page can also help you optimize your site later if you start getting SEO traffic. For now, it’s only a design choice.)
Having People Contact You
There are a number of ways you can get readers of your page to contact you.
It’s pointless to create an awesome personal page without giving readers the chance to contact you. The basic contact information you could include on your page:
- A phone number (some folks still use these. I add a note that I welcome texts.)
- A link to your profiles at other sites (think professional. Only link to things that matter to the employers.)
- An address (particularly if you’re applying to local jobs.)
- A phone number (I said this twice because it’s important.)
Notice that I didn’t say to add an email address.
Email addresses listed publicly will get found by little spam robots searching the web for people to send their get rich quick enlargement scams to. It’s easier to add a good contact form to your page and avoid the spam.
If you followed this tutorial then adding that contact form will be easy because we checked to install “WPForms Builder” with WordPress. Awesome, right!? It’s almost like a planned this or something.
In the left sidebar of WordPress, you’ll see one option called “WPForms”. Click on that.
Now you’ll be at a blank page listing all the forms you’ve created on your site. Right now, it’s probably telling you “Whoops, you haven’t created a form yet.”
Click the orange “Add New” button on the top of your screen to start building your contact form.
You’re now looking at a page with a few options.
In the form name, add the name “Contact”
Then hover over “Simple Contact Form” and click on the button that says “Create a Simple Contact Form”.
On the next page you can customize this form however you like. The default is good for most professional correspondences. When you have it the way you like, click “Save” in the top right.
By default, this contact form delivers messages to the WordPress admin email that you installed WordPress with. You can edit this in the settings menu.
After you that, click on the “Embed” button.
This will open up a window giving you the embed code and a convenient video showing how to embed it. Watch it if you need another explanation.
Copy the embed code.
Then click the top right “X” on the WPForms screen that’s open. That will bring you back to the usual WordPress screen.
Go to “Pages” and then hover over the article you want your contact form to show up and click “Edit”.
Paste the code you copied into the page you want it to show up. Then preview the page. The form should be looking pretty pretty for a contact form.
If you do run into any hiccups then please reach out to ask me about it.
#6 You Now Have A Website!
Here is how you get employers to actually appreciate the new website:
You have a website. Cool, right?
You’re now the webmaster of your own website. Treat it kindly and it will do the same to you.
Feed it. Give it water. And make sure to let it go for a run every once in a while.
I’m partly kidding but the part I’m serious about is this:
Having a website is awesome. It will get you ahead but if you want to make the most of this investment then you need to be willing to maintain it.
You need to update it whenever you complete a milestone in your life or career. If you’re trying to impress employers then you’re going to want to have regular updates showing your latest training. This shows them you’re dedicated to your professional advancement.
If you have a good domain name like first name + last name (and you don’t share a name with a D-List celebrity or better then you should rank in Google naturally. That means employers can search you name and find your website.
That won’t always be the case though.
You’re going to want to test google search yourself occasionally (preferable on other people’s computers and internet connections) to verify you start showing up. First ranking can take months so don’t worry too much about it.
There are all kinds of little things you can do to make your useful website into an opportunity magnet (where potential employers are coming to you.) That’s what this last section is going to be about.
The Final Touches
1. Rank In Google
If someone searches your name in Google, in the perfect world, the first site they would see in the list would be your personal website. That’s a top rank in Google. The higher your rank, the easier people will find you.
Ranking is difficult when you’re competing on popular names. If you want to rank for the name “Tom” then you’re in trouble. The better approach would be to rank for “Tom Johnson”. That’s a more specific query so it’s easier to compete in. There are only so many Tom Johnson’s in the world.
That being said, if your first name + last name domain was taken, it’s better to try and rank for the play on your name you fit in your domain.
If you did, first name + middle name + last name then try to rank in Google for that instead.
Because you’re almost guaranteed to get it (unless you have a seriously popular name.)
You can rank for harder versions of your name later if you want but go for simplicity to start.
Here is all you should do to give yourself maximum chances of ranking:
- Include your ranking term (first name last name or first name middle name last name) on your website at least a few times a page.
- Link out to this page from any social network profiles you have.
If you do these two things and don’t share a name with “Tom Hanks” (or any celebrity) then you’ll probably see your site in Google within months.
For bonus points:
- Include an address (at least your city) to compete for local searches about you.
- Include your profession so people searching “William Willshire Warbaucher Jr. III Doctor” would find you.
With your city and your profession, you may even rank for people searching in your city for someone with your profession.
This should be all most students need to worry about.
If you share a name with someone too popular to compete with then it’s best to just adjust your search term to something easier to compete for.
You don’t need your domain to be an exact match with your search term. It just helps. If you have the better domain and have any chance of competing in popularity then you may end up winning anyway.
2. Optimize The Site Based On Your Goals
Are you building your website to impress employers?
Then you need to design your site with that in mind.
I know it can be tempting to list all the details of your top-notch stamp collection but it doesn’t help an employer make the decision to hire you. If anything, it will just distract them from hiring you.
Make your homepage into the perfect resume for your potential employers.
Put a snazzy professional photo of yourself with a smart smile.
Write about your career interests and achievements. Link to any professional profiles you have. Link to any professional articles you’ve written. List your academic achievements. That’s the kind of stuff that can impress potential employers.
Sure… you can have a more personal section of the blog listing your hobbies and showing a picture of you and your cute 6 year old nephew but that shouldn’t be the first thing an employer sees.
If your site is for potential employers then it needs to be professional.
The day after you get hired you can go crazy and have more fun with it. 😛
3. Delete The Unnecessary
There are different kinds of websites. In a small personal website, the number one problem most people have is trying to go too big to keep it focused.
The more pages you have:
- the more pages you need to update
- the more room you have to make spelling mistakes
- the more a visitor can get distracted from the impression you’re trying to make
It’s okay to have a single page personal website. If you have a multiple page site then don’t make those pages too long because most folks won’t read them anyway.
It’s much more effective to focus your site on a very specific message like:
“I’m a talented graphic designer.”
“I’m a manager that cares about people.”
What do you want your site to say?
If you can bring it down to a single sentence then you can craft every line on your page to push towards that single point.
What will prove the claim your making?
If something doesn’t help prove that claim then it probably doesn’t belong on your site.
(Of course, proving you’re prolific requires more girth than proving you’re skilled. I’d focus on proving your skill unless you’re actually a celebrity of some kind.)
4. Dig In And Make It Perfect
Okay. Now that you have the basics of a fully functioning website, you get to learn why professional web designers still have jobs.
Creating a basic website is easy. You can do it in an afternoon. These days I could create a basic website in 25 minutes with one hand tied behind my back and the other holding a non-alcoholic beverage. It’s easy.
Web designers still have jobs because it’s only the basic stuff that’s easy.
The more you learn about creating a website, the more you realize you’ll never have enough time to learn it all.
Here are some of the things you should consider digging into:
- Explore different plugins
- Make your website faster
- Create more attractive content
- Set up analytics and keep track of what interests your readers
- Write your content with selling yourself in mind
All of these are huge subjects that could take their own 6k+ word articles to cover. They’re not 100% necessary but they’re actually pretty fun to learn (in the humble opinion of your awesome and talented author. :P)
It’s Not Over Yet
Now that you have a website, there are still a few things you should do.
Here is the list:
Get someone else to check your website.
We all make mistakes. Get someone to spell check your stuff. I may be able to get away with sloppy grammar but that’s because I’m an unprofessional doofus. Be better than me. Check your work. (By the way, thanks to all the great readers that save my butt from all my silly mistakes.)
Put your website’s url on your resume.
A website can be a huge factor in making you stand out. Don’t waste it by not listing your url on the top of your resume. It can be right below your name.
Put a link to your website on your social profiles
More links to your website increase your chances of getting noticed by people.
I don’t recommend you link to most of your social profiles from your website because that’s taking professional traffic and mixing it with personal traffic. Employers usually don’t care about what you do in your personal life but if you link to it, they might care for the wrong reasons. Keep business away from personal.
I do recommend linking your social traffic to your professional traffic. If someone already is friends with you on a social network then it can help them to find your more professional content. (That just increases your job prospects.)
Test your website on your phone
Go to your website on your phone. These days, most WordPress themes look reasonably good on a mobile device but you should check your page just in case.
How does your page look on your phone? Is there anything you can play with to try and correct?
That’s a big congratulations. You may not get it right now but I do. I just spent a week building this tutorial and trying to get everything to look peachy for you.
By now, you should have a personal website that you’d be proud to show off. More importantly, I hope you’ve built a little confidence in your own ability to learn this kind of stuff.
Remember, I’m always available to help out. I may be able to help you directly or I may be able to point you in the direction of someone else that can help you. I’d be super excited to hear from you!
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