Imagine you meet someone who seems really credible, interesting and has a lot of stories about amazing accomplishments.
What do you do when you get home?
Search for her on Facebook. Find his LinkedIn profile. Google her name. You’re bound to find something.
Is that person for real? How credible is this person? What has he or she done?
Do a Google search for your own name and see what comes up. How easy are you to find? Whatever your situation is, having your own website has numerous benefits.
Have you conquered your online presence?
There are billions of Google searches done every day. Whether it be searching for the best price for a MacBook or finding out what time the next showing of 50 Shades of Grey is, we’re each doing some sort of research on a daily basis.
If you’re applying for jobs or meeting people, don’t be surprised that your name is likely one of those search queries.
I’ve had my own website since 2004 during the old Xanga days. I jumped around a lot. Four different Xanga websites, a LiveJournal, a Myspace, a subdomain and two Tumblrs later, I ended up here with this website you’re reading right now.
Having all those websites taught me one big thing: your online presence is becoming more and more important.
You might be thinking, “I already have Facebook and Linkedin accounts AND a Tumblr that I post on regularly. That’s enough.”
If you want to be average and not appear as credible as you can, then sure. It’s enough. I’m not one for just being enough, though.
Here’s one perspective. Facebook recently hit 1 billion users. You’re 1 of a billion people. Let me put that into decimals.
0.000000001 or .0000001%
Sorry, but that’s dangerously close to 0.
In 2014, the number of websites on the internet was 968,882,453. But around 75% of websites are inactive. So the number of active websites is closer to about 242,220,613.
If you have an active website, your online presence would be four times stronger than just having a Facebook page.
It’s understandable if you don’t have a website. The idea of maintaining one sounds overwhelming. It sounds unbearable. Like extra work that might not pay off.
Don’t I have to pay to have one?
I don’t want to write every day.
It’s too much work.
No one’s going to search my name.
It’s not worth the effort.
You don’t have to pay (but I recommend that you do, you’ll see why later).
You don’t have to write everyday (but I recommend you do once a month).
It’s hardly any work. In fact, it can be fun.
Are you looking for a job? Are you doing freelance work and looking for clients? Are you starting a business? You want people to search for you.
Later I’m going to address that overwhelming idea of how difficult it is to maintain your own website (hint: it doesn’t take much time at all).
But first here are some reasons why you should have a website. As you’ll see, it’s worth the effort.
1. (Appear) To be more credible.
Imagine you’re a hiring manager and you’re looking at two resumes, both equally qualified and amazing candidates. One differece: one of them has a website. So you decide to check her website.
You see that her website is well design and there’s a professional photo of her. She even blogs about current trends in the marketing. Whoa, she didn’t include those projects in her resume. Goodness, we need to hire her now before someone else swoops her up.
You’ll probably forget about the person without a website.
To a hiring manager, a website demonstrates more credibility and capability. You took the time to set one up, keep it updated, and demonstrate your work–in addition to crafting an awesome resume.
To others, you just look like more of a boss.
2. Have a creative outlet.
A website can be a place just for you to document your work whether that be through blogs, photos, videos or any other medium. It’s nice to have a website to hold all of these things and show to others.
I’ve gone through the archives of my old tumblr page to see how I used to think back in 2009. It was interesting to read what I would write about back then. I’ve even gotten blog ideas from those old posts.
3. Showcase your work (with more than a resume).
In the case that you’re looking for a job, a website allows you to put your work on display in a way that a resume or a LinkedIn profile don’t allow you to. There’s more flexibility.
[Employers] want to get to know candidates and not only make sure they take pride in their craft, but also want to see if it’s a cultural fit, which is equally as important in many cases.
If a hiring manager is looking at your website, chances are you’re being considered for a job. What better way to make their decision easier by having a kickass website to show off your work?
Ariana Bautista, does a great job showcasing her photography and design skills through her website.
4. Make yourself easier to find.
Whether you’re applying for jobs, starting your own business or doing freelance work, you will likely want to be found.
In a world where there’s a ton of noise, you need to cut through that noise. You need to stand out. By having a website, you have more online real estate and you’re easier to find. SEO talk aside, your online presence means more than ever as people look to the internet to find out about anything and everything.
80% of people research others online before meeting them for the first time. That number jumps to 95% when talking about employers researching candidates.
5. Develop influence.
Depending on what field of work you’re in, blogging can be a powerful tool in developing influence and learning. By joining in the conversation through blogging, you not only put in your two cents, but you can become a part of the discussions that the big players are having. This goes more into outreach through blogging (which is definitely more work).
6. Increase your chances of getting a job (offer).
56% of all hiring managers are more impressed by a candidate’s personal website than any other personal branding tool. The ironic thing is that only 7% of job seekers actually have a personal website.
It isn’t just about being found, but having an impressive presence that screams “capable” and “intelligent” and “motivated.”
7. Develop writing and managing experience (if you decide to have a blog).
If you decide that you want to have a blog, congrats. Now you need to keep it updated. Set your own deadlines. Do you want to publish a post once a week? Once a month? Once every two months? Force yourself to meet those deadlines. By showing that you can meet self-imposed deadlines consistently, you demonstrate persistence. Most people give up on maintaining their website.
Better yet, if you decide that you have some extra time and learn to code, you can showcase your new found coding skills through your website! Awesome, but not necessary.
You might be thinking, BUT DAVID, A WEBSITE IS SO MUCH WORK.
NO IT’S NOT.
Seriously. Let me lay it out for you.
It takes 5-10 minutes to set up a website. Another 5-10 minutes to choose a nice layout (you don’t have to code it from scratch unless if you really have that much time on your hands). It takes about 30 minutes to figure out how to use WordPress.
Another hour to put up a nice picture and write a simple about me page and put up some of your work experience.
That’s a minimum of 2-3 hours. You can get that done in a weekend. You can get it done while watching three episodes of House of Cards.
And imagine how you’re going to feel when you can tell people you have your own website.
Here’s a tip, get a good friend to set up their own website with you. Put on some awesome music (check my SoundCloud if you need some) and grab a beer if you need to. If you’re stuck on choosing a layout, your friend can help you pick. Done. If your friend is stuck on how to write his “about me” page, you can help. Done.
As for a blog, you don’t need to write every day if you don’t want to. However, I do suggest writing a blog post once a month (even if it’s just to document what you’ve done in that month).
If you decide to have a blog, you must keep it updated. Otherwise, if an employee looks at your website and sees that the last blog post was two years ago, they’ll assume that the entire website is outdated.Just don’t fall into the trap of telling your life story.
Just don’t fall into the trap of telling your life story. No one cares about that. Sorry, not sorry.
People care about reading things that either help or entertain them. That’s why websites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy and Forbes are so popular.
But what if what I have to say isn’t helpful or entertaining?
Despite feeling self-conscious about my blog posts and thinking “who would even care what I have to write?” I’ve gained a lot of support. My friend Cody likes to say, “You never know when what you say is when someone needs it.” And gauging from the overwhelming response to my previous blog posts, I can attest to Cody’s mantra.
Writing is only overwhelming if you have visions of grandeur and expect to get thousands of shares and likes and millions of people visiting your website the moment you publish a blog post. That doesn’t happen overnight. And unless if you want to become an influencer, you don’t need all that attention.
In most cases, the purpose of your website can simply be to document your work and progress.
So, are you ready to start your own website?
Here are three places you can begin.
If you’re on a tight budget, create a free WordPress website. There are plenty of beautiful free themes to choose from.
It’s a little more advanced, but I recommend having a self-hosted website using Bluehost with WordPress.org installed.It’s paid, but it’s much more impressive as it shows that you took the time to set it up. It’s more reliable as you won’t be on WordPress’s servers and, if you decide that you want a custom theme, you can customize your website to your liking (or hire someone else to do it).
Full disclosure: If you use the Bluehost link, I’ll receive a commission and you receive a discount.
Another option for web hosting is Squarespace. It’s not free, but they have beautiful and versatile themes available. Students get a discount!
So what’s stopping you from creating a website?