It has been well documented how important creating a personal brand is in furthering your career or business. Whether you are a job seeker, freelancer, entrepreneur, or somewhere in between, developing a brand and reputation about the work that you do is one of the first steps to success. The question, then, becomes “Where does this brand live?”
Your personal brand website.
It sounds daunting, I know, but there are many easy tools and ways to create a simple site that give hiring managers and potential clients a resource to learn more about you, see your work, and contact you if they are interested in working with you. Wix, WordPress, and Squarespace are some of the most popular website providers and they each have their unique advantages and disadvantages.
(If you’re a freelancer or business owner and have gotten stuck building your site, check out my Side Hustle Starter Kit)
Wherever you decide to build and host your personal brand website, here are the 5 key things you need to include:
High Quality Photos
First impressions are key and, online, your first impressions tend to be the graphic elements of your website. Make the most of your first impression by incorporating high quality headshots and pictures. Don’t have any photos that you’re proud of? Hire a photographer for a couple of hours to take professional photos in various locations, poses, and outfits to give yourself options when it comes time to design your website.
Before your photoshoot, brainstorm how you’d like to come across in your photos. Professional? Relaxed? Quirky? Understanding your brand will help you and your photographer create the best images for you to use. (For example, here’s my inspiration board from my last shoot)
As with any business meeting or interview, your physical appearance impacts whether you are hired, how much money you make, and how quickly your career advances. Make sure to put your best foot forward!
Examples of Your Work
One of the biggest advantages of a personal brand website is the ability to interact with visitors and highlight the work that you do (especially for freelancers!). Take it one step further than the information on your resume. Where your resume highlights results, your website gives you the opportunity to share your stories in a longer format.
If possible, link over to relevant information from your previous roles. For example, one of my clients was responsible for the launch of a new product at her previous role and she linked to various news sources that covered the launch as additional proof of the results she outlined on her resume.
Your personal site should work in complement with your resume, not just be a repeat of the same content. You want hiring managers and potential clients to be intrigued by your experience and visit your site to learn more, so give them the additional detail and information that they’re seeking.
I am a big proponent of the importance of personality and personal branding as a professional. Include personal touches and information about your passions, hobbies, and personality on your site to help readers relate to you on a more personal level. This is your opportunity to show that you are a well-rounded candidate that would fit into their organization from both a skills and culture perspective.
Do you have a passion project that isn’t directly related to your job search or business? Are you an avid sports fan? Do you spend time volunteering in your community? Sharing all aspects of your personality and interests will help you build deeper relationships with your clients and future managers.
Share your expertise and thought leadership in your field by compiling relevant articles, writing regular blog posts, or sharing research that you’ve done. Not sure how to get started? FAQs, How-To posts, Case Studies, and commentary on industry news are great ways to offer your opinion and expertise while tying in relevant events.
Sites such as Google Trends can help point you in the right direction when determining what people are interested in reading. If you’re not comfortable blogging on a regular basis, podcasts are an increasingly popular form of expressing thought leadership. Research the leading influencers in your industry and contact them to see if they would be interested in being interviewed for a podcast episode.
Testimonials and Referrals
Whether you’re looking to impress future clients or hiring managers, nothing says it better than having others say it for you. Reach out to former clients, colleagues, and mentors asking if they would be interested in writing a short testimonial about your work together for you to feature on your site. This is especially impactful if it ties into the examples of your work or case studies that you are including.
People are generally happy to write a few sentences about the work that you’ve done. The added bonus of reaching out to former clients and colleagues is that it opens up the opportunity for referrals. More times than not, when I contact people for testimonials, it results in a referral or meeting about how we can work together.
A few tips when emailing for a testimonial: Keep your request short and sweet. Include some direction for what they should write about (a certain project or aspect of your work together). Provide a deadline, but give them at least a week to reply.
Your personal brand website should be considered an asset to be used throughout your career, constantly changing and updating as you progress. Continue adding to these categories and your brand will be displayed through dynamic and engaging content – making you a must-hire, must-refer, must-follow professional.