5 Steps to Creating Your Personal Website

If you’re not a web guru, a designer, or good at writing grammatically perfect prose, knowing you need to develop an “online presence” can be scary. But the reality is, now that you’ve figured out who you are, it’s time to start telling the world about your amazingness. No use knowing all this great stuff about yourself if you can’t properly explain it to everyone! My favorite job is when I get to walk a founder through the journey of telling people who my client is, in an authentic, organic way that brings in new business, new job opportunities, better networking and long term success.

As a side note, if you’re like me, chances are you’re not only looking to brand yourself, you’re also working on branding your company. These can go hand in hand and a lot of what I say in my blogs will help your company as well, but for the is post, I’m going to be focusing on you as a business person rather than as a company representative. This means that when we talk about building a website or networking, we’re talking about selling yourself as a competent adult and someone to do business with. I guarantee you though, if they like you, they’ll buy your product.

The first thing you need to do is get that sexy brand of yours online. Okay, don’t freak out here. This is the part where even I have fallen prey to watching a dozen YouTube celebs telling me exactly how to be successful on social media and how to produce enough content to make your competitor’s eyes bleed. Problem is, we don’t have time for this shit. And even if we did, what the hell are we supposed to be “content-ing” about?  Most of those self-help people don’t tell us what to write, they just tell us to write often!

I want to start you out more basic than that and suggest something totally insane: don’t try to be an overnight social media success. Don’t punish yourself if you don’t blog every week or put up a “passive income” video series and send out three newsletters that remind people of how awesome you are. This stuff may happen eventually if you’re really into sending out stuff to everyone. And honestly, I envy you if you manage it. But in reality, even I can’t keep up with it and I still have succeeded at building a great networking. So, skip the high speed content marketing strategy for now, and focus on a few really important things.

“But, Christy, I have no idea how to build a website!”

Don’t worry, this part isn’t so bad. You can find a lot of free online website builders, and just plug in a bit about yourself and be off to the races. I usually recommend wordpress, and I recommend buying a $50 theme on something like Themeforest, because they are really pretty and you can just tweak a few things and be ready to go. But if you truly know nothing about websites, there are others that are even easier.

What does your website need to contain?

(Hint: You can read below, or watch my video if you’re like me and hate words!)

1. First, put a killer picture of you at the very top.

Like a big, almost full screen photo of you in action. And no, I don’t want you doing one of those “sleezy car salesman cutout in photoshop and dropped into a white background” look. And I don’t want something that is clearly from 2005. And I definitely don’t want you to have your girlfriend snap a picture of you on her iPhone and hastily throw it up there either.

This picture is the first thing people will see, and it’s one of your most important online brand elements. We all judge books by their cover, I’m not gonna lie.

Hate pictures? Well, here’s some good news: You don’t have to weigh 130 pounds, or have perfect skin or be 25 years old to look good. In fact, are the people coming to your website who would use your services even interested in hiring a hot 25 year old bombshell? If you’re trying to sell them a parenting product, they want someone who looks like a mature trustworthy adult. If they are buying your new insurance program, just look like a decent nerd. The real important thing is having the picture look like it was taken by a professional.

And when I say professional, I really mean it. Landscape size (so it fits across the page), doing something interesting and smiling at the camera. For example, you could be sitting at your really-cleaned-off desk (if your brand is a computer related brand) or climbing a mountain (if your brand relates to zen or something outdoorsy), or talking to a group of people (if you’re a motivation speaker). But no matter what, I want this picture properly set up. This is a pro shot, not a snap shot. I want you to hire someone to come follow you to the scene and take a few pictures that can be used here and in the future for consistency.

We’ll tackle that more later.

2. Give yourself a clear title 

I want it to say your name, nice and bold, but not too huge (let’s not look like you’re overcompensating).

And below that, in smaller letters, it needs to say exactly what you freakin do. No messing around or being clever. People don’t have time to be confused or think “ha, this guy is real cute trying to come up with a little silly title for himself that we have to figure out by reading through his website.” Chief Enchilada Operator? Loves life, puppies and you? Change the world?

No. Just say what you mean.

Christy Harner

Brand Strategist and Chief Marketing Officer

Basically, if you’re landed here on my site, I want you to know immediately how you can hire me, what I’m good for, and what the rest of this site is going to be about. If you don’t like what you see, go somewhere else and no one’s time will have been wasted.

3. Tell people 3-4 things you’re really good at

Create those well known columns that list off what you do. I prefer three, with titles that tell exactly what skill you have, an icon that helps people easily understand what you’re talking about (if they are too lazy to read) and a brief description of the service you offer. Make it fun and interesting! All you want is people to understand through your simple words that they need your help, and exactly how you can do that.

4. Show who you’ve done work for in the past

You can do this in one of two ways. If you don’t have a lot to “show” for what you’ve done (and you’re not in a creative field), then you can simply put a series of logos on the page. Be sure they are very clean cut. Make them all grayscale, line them up nicely (not cluttered!) and don’t place every single company you’ve ever worked for on the page. You simply need to have two rows of good logos that show you’ve done work, and above it, have a title that says “Some of my clients” so that people understand these are simply a small handful of the people you’ve worked for.

If you want to go all out and create case study pages for each one, that’s awesome! You can find some good images for each client, place them on a page, and include things like a link to their website, a description of the work that you did for them, and a quote from the client, if you can nab one.

But if this feels overwhelming, just make sure that people know you did some work for some people, and they aren’t the first!

5. Have a clear call to action

Finally, be sure to have a clear call to action. This can simply be “email me here if you want to talk” or “for consulting services, email Christy”, or whatever you want. But be sure that people understand why they would contact you, and what they will receive in return.

Okay! That’s it!

Sure, you can put up a lot more things, like a blog with regular posts, a big bombastic portfolio, an about page, and much more. However, if you can get a small website up with a good picture, your title, and some information about you and a way to contact you, you’re already a rockstar! Most people freeze up just THINKING about building a site, so half the battle is just getting started. 

Best of luck! Keep branding!