In a digital, social networked world, it is becoming necessary to manage your personal and professional identity online. With so much information available on the Internet at a click of a button, it has gotten easier to look up any content (text, sound, video, picture, etc.) available about a person. You don't have to be a celebrity to render attention, but be mindful that you have an audience. Whether you want the attention or not, everyone from a potential employer to a potential date can look up information about you for any reason
By the way, have you Googled yourself?
1. Own your name and buy your domain
When people Google search your name, it's important that www.yourname.com is on the first page of search results. People (and search engines) associate these personal domains as official sites by and about you. Owning your domain name is key and you can register for one via an Internet domain registrar like Godaddy or through a website development service (more on this later). If you have a common name like John Smith, try using a middle initial or variation of your name to distinguish yourself from others with the same name online. The cost for registering your domain can range from $13-$15 per year.
2. Create a personal website
If you own your domain name, you might be asking "what do I do with this?". Well, you've got two options: (1) hold onto it and do nothing or (2) create a website. The former choice means that no one else but you can create a site with your personal domain name. It also means that if someone were to enter your domain name into a browser, they will get a blank page. Option 1 is not ideal...so why not put your domain to work, go for Option 2, and create a personal website.
Don't I need to know HTML or hire someone to develop my website?
The simple answer is no. No, you don't need to know coding and you don't need to hire a web developer. There are tons of website building services. They make it easy for you to pick a site template and just add content to your site.
The two services I think are reasonable in cost and have great templates and post your content in are: SquareSpace ($8-$16/mo for annual plans) and Workfolio ($10-$15/mo). The cost of these services include website hosting and offer free custom domain registration. Website services like SquareSpace and Workfolio are one-stop shops. They consolidate what can add up in terms of cost and confusion if you go with separate hosting service, domain registration, and web development for your site.
Between the two services, I recommend using Workfolio if you want a quick way to create a personal website that reflects your professional portfolio. After spending a lot of time developing content for my social network profiles and on other websites, I wanted to get my personal professional website online quickly. So I went to Workfolio, selected a template, and imported content from my LinkedIn profile. Within half an hour, my personal website was published. Thereafter, I spend about an hour each month to update and edit the content on my site.
If you have more time to build a site and develop a content strategy, go with SquareSpace. It is worth working with the variety of elegant templates that SquareSpace has to offer. You can easily add different types of content modules onto your site such as a blog, photo gallery, forms, etc. via this service. Over a year ago, I put together my mother's website on SquareSpace. My mother is a part-time Aikido instructor and after seeing content of her seminar demonstrations online, I figured the best way to centralize information about her is via a personal website. It took about a day or two to assemble content and develop a content strategy before I started building the site on SquareSpace. It was easy to set-up and I update the site when I get new content to add.
Both services have exceptional customer service and help forums.
So what are you waiting for...taking charge of your digital real estate and create a personal website!