How To Make a Personal Website
Hi there, and thanks for joining us today! Let's start with why we're were -
Why did we create this guide?
Potential clients, hires, and collaborators today are researching you online. And how they like what they find determines whether they surface on your radar for an inquiry or interview. How do you position yourself positively? In our digital age, you need a beautiful, effective digital presence to match.
Having a personal website is the best way to control what others find and learn about you online. We created this guide because YOU need a personal website. And we want to provide you with the understanding and the tools to make one.
Why do YOU need a personal website?
Are you a professional marketer or financier, looking out for new opportunities? Or are you a freelance writer or consultant, ever on the hunt for new gigs and clients? Maybe you're a student or academic, wanting to curate your work and present your projects in one steady place.
You want your online branding to be strong and accurate - that's good. But ask yourself this: What exactly are my goals with a personal website? Here are some possibilities -
Land a job or business partnership
Find and recruit new team members and collaborators
Establish yourself as a certain figure or expert
Keep friends updated with your activities
Connect and engage with new audiences out there
Keep your goals clearly in mind as you read this guide, and as you make your site. Your specific goals should guide your choices, from the tone you adopt to what content you include.
How should you use this guide?
Each section is a usable mini-guide on its own. But to get the most value here, you should first go through the whole thing, then as you start making your own site piece by piece - probably using a website builder or hiring a designer - refer back to relevant sections and ideas here.
We've intentionally created this guide using one of our actual site templates, to show you what you can do in the most direct and actionable way we can. Alright - let's get started!
Good Site Header Examples
Let's take a look at three different types of good header sections.
Just the name
Having no title in your header creates intrigue and invites curiosity. Make sure you support it with a beautiful, stimulating graphic - Matt goes with an exciting, self-made background video.
Strong Personal Branding Statements
Take a look at these three solid examples and what they convey.
Aspiring Product Designer
I knew at a very young age that technology and design weren't going to be just passions, they'd be who I am. If I could describe the past few years in one word, I would say it was an evolution. Just like a Pokemon. I enjoy building beautiful products that connect people with one another. With a goal to make the world more simple, open and connected, I'm working on making the future come faster.
Marketing Extraordinaire who solves problems.
I am a high-impact marketing executive with a track record for building brand awareness, revitalizing under performing brands, and driving powerful marketing strategies on an international scale. I've conceived and executed programs impacting 25+ countries worldwide for brands including 55DSL, Diesel, and American Eagle.
Entrepreneur | Consultant | Public Speaker
The next 15 years are an opportunity to create a new global agenda encompassing compassion, sustainable decision making, and greater collaboration between all sectors. Innovation and social entrepreneurship have no small part to play in this transition. I aspire to be a part of this global movement by bringing together different sectors to collaborate and inspiring others to pursue their passions.
For listing experiences and education, a vertical list works well because it intuitively reflects chronological order...
2015 - Current
List your position and tenure, then introduce the company, and summarize your accomplishments and contributions. Don't forget to pair a logo with your description!
Formula SAE Racecar Driver
Engineering student and racecar driver Amy Chambers list her experience in a vertical timeline. She goes into detail, and embeds a video link of her most recent project.
New York, NY
Ahmed Mirza chooses to highlight his location and activities with a more casual, unconventional vertical list entitled "some things I'm working on".
... But a horizontal list can also work nicely, if your items are few enough to fit in one or two lines. This also prevent visitors from having to scroll down in order to view the entire section at once.
New York University
2012 - 2016 (expected)
If you're a current student, briefly describe what you're studying, and your expected year of graduation.
2008 - 2012
Describe any programs or organizations you were involved in, and any honors or awards you may have received as well.
Nipmuc High School
2004 - 2008
High school can by all means be included; middle school and earlier are not typically necessary.
Projects & Passions
Whether directly related to your work or not, sharing your projects and passions is a great way to express your initiative, creativity, and that extra edge of personality and "wow" factor that potential clients and collaborators are always looking out for.
Provide an image or icon for each project, with relevant links.
Elaine showcases a series of her work-related projects, each one concisely described and beautifully illustrated.
Sam has his hand in a diverse mix of projects, from digital consultancy to career coaching to personal fitness. Impressive!
Fumi is a venture capitalist, but proudly lists his marathons - any adventurous spirit would feel an instant connection.
Skipper & Explorer
Emily's projects actually have their own landing pages - each one sounds like the exploration of a lifetime!
Let's think about content in three types - static, interactive, and ongoing - and then look at examples.
Static content - such as beautiful header photos and image quotes - is timeless and reliable. It also helps balance out longer, busier content. For instance, too much rich media will overwhelm your visitors, and probably decrease page loading speed too.
'Ongoing' content sections - like a blog or social feed, or certain apps - are ones you update regularly. These are powerful ways to keep your audiences in the loop. Give them fresh, meaningful updates based on your unique thoughts and activities.
Add a Media Gallery
Media galleries let us all tell powerful visual stories of our lives and work. Think about Facebook or Instagram - photos and videos transcend barriers. Whatever your site goals are, adding a gallery is universally one of the best ways to engage your site visitors deeply and instantly.
Categorize, curate, and add captions to guide and entertain your visitors. Keep any gallery capped at 40 or 50 items maximum, otherwise it looks too overwhelming and no one will want to touch it.
Write a Blog
A blog gives you the chance to express yourself and reach others. You can share your passion, ideas, and expertise with anyone, whether it's your closest friends or new audiences across the world.
You will attract and keep readers if they find your blog a valuable source of information. So start by having a clear idea of who your target audience is - then, produce your best writing to address their hopes and needs. Aim at a regular posting schedule, and encourage feedback and interaction.
Learn more here about how and why to blog, including some free tools, design tips, and ways to drive traffic.
You will definitely want to pair an email list with your blog. You’ll get to grow and lead your readership with it, engaging them in a direct and meaningful way.
Add a Social Feed
If you're active on social media accounts, here's a hot suggestion - social media feed. This lets your visitors see your freshest posts, grams, and tweets all in one place. Chances are your site visitors will check out your linked platforms from here, and possibly follow you as well.
Your social feed is a strong reflection of your personal branding, so make sure you're sharing valuable, proper content that represents you!
Embed Third-Party Applications
If you have quality content hosted on other 3rd-party apps, why not integrate and share it on your personal website? A good website builder or web designer can help you do this easily.
Here are some possibilities, among many more platforms you might be using -
Nancy Garcia - named one of San Francisco's top pinners - includes a minimal, straightforward Pintereset embed section on her site.
Michael Seibel presents slideshows of his advice on starting a tech company, plus an introduction of the renowned startup incubator Y Combinator.
Mike Ellison lets you stream his music directly from his page; you can also follow any of the embedded links to check out his Soundcloud profile.
Presenting Your Testimonials
Present your testimonials in a paragraph, moving slider, or horizontal listing (shown below). Include professional headshot for your referrers if possible, with their positions clearly indicated.
Strikingly is super user-friendly, free to use, and an effective way to drive interest towards you with just one link."
"With not a lot of tech skills and little time, Strikingly was the perfect option for me to bring my CV to life, and highlight the projects I have spearheaded.
Strikingly provides the tools for me to display my high-definition content in a bold and truly striking way."
Add Email and Social Buttons
Place big, juicy buttons to let people contact you via email, social media and other platforms like LinkedIn or Youtube. Make sure to embed links into the icons, so visitors can reach you in one click.
Adding a social feed helps as a form of contact CTA, but you'll still want social buttons at the bottom of your site because they're more focused and obvious, leading your site visitors to clearer actions.
Leave a Contact Form
'How can I get in touch for an inquiry? How can I tell you how much I loved your site?'
Don't waste the good vibes you've built up - leave a simple form for your site visitors to get at you directly with inquiries and feedback.
Wufoo or Google Forms lets you integrate a nice, clean contact or survey form for free.
Doing a bit of search engine optimization will make your site more highly ranked and visible on Google, Bing, Yahoo and so on. This step is important for those of you whose goal is to be found by recruiters or new audiences.
Take a look at Quicksprout's chapter or Moz's beginner guide to learn more about SEO. Otherwise, here are some easy but effective SEO tweaks -
Write a descriptive title
The title is the main thing your viewer will notice in their search results. Make it attractive - “Johnny’s Bakery – Fresh Baked in San Francisco”, not just “Johnny’s Shop.”
Add image descriptions
Since search engines don’t understand images, image descriptions help them index your images and by extension your site. Also known as adding HTML “alt” tags.
Put keywords in headings
Search engines give additional weight to headings, so you should add descriptive keywords into them. For instance, “About Johnny’s Bakery” is better than “About” .
Page description and meta tags
Fill in as much info as you can for your page description and meta tags. Your description should be several sentences long, with several meta tags.
Get a Custom Domain
What is a custom domain?
First off, a 'domain' is the essential piece of any website URL – the “website.com” part. A domain functions like a geographic address for a site on the web. We find websites by typing them into the address bar, or by coming in through links to the domain.
A custom domain refers to a unique web address, such as www.google.com or www.parkerlovescats.net.
Why get a custom domain?
We highly recommend investing a few bucks to get a custom domain name. Some of the best benefits of a having one include higher professionalism, uniqueness, and SEO benefits. When you share your site with others, you only have one chance at a first impression - and www.JaneDoe.com shows that you're invested in yourself and your personal branding, markedly more so than www.JaneDoe.somedefaultsubdomain.com.
For help on how to choose and actually claim a custom domain, read more here. But basically - keep it simple, clear, and memorable with www.(yourname).com.
Social & Email Sharing
No point playing it small, after all the work you've put into your site - time to blast it out there! Shout out on social media, send an email out to all your relevant contacts, and add your site link into your email signature as well as any other platforms you're on.
The first time you share your site is important. Pick a good timing for maximum visibility and impact, such as the weekend or a weeknight after people get off work.
Shout out on social media!
"Morning everyone - Check out new website! (www.mysite.com) "
"Here's my newest blog post - if you want more, please sign up and follow me at (www.mysite.com). Thanks guys!"
"I've updated (www.mysite.com) - how do you guys like the new layout?"
Add your site link everywhere.
From now on, your website is your online front, your office, your home. So publicize it everywhere you can!
LinkedIn, Elance, Youtube... Add your site link to your profile, on all other community platforms you're on.
Send out an email -
"Hi -- (everyone),
I've created a new personal website - (www.mysite.com). Hope you have a look, and let me know if you'd like to set up a conversation!
"Be yourself - everybody else is already taken." - Oscar Wilde
Personal branding is about telling your own story in your own voice, and your personal website should reflect that philosophy. Don't ever feel like you have to limit yourself to fit into a certain mold. Express what makes you unique, because that is what you ultimately want other to find you for, hire you for, know you for.
Our mission at Strikingly is simple - to give everyone the power to unleash their individuality. We believe that each one of us can make a difference by adding our unique talents and creations to the world. We believe that it is our innate creativity and entrepreneurial energy, that ultimately pushes humanity forward.
Keep Moving, Keep Building
A beautiful, effective personal website will bring you tangible value, whether your goals are to get hired, update friends, or share your ideas with the world. Now we've showed you how to make a good one, in the easiest way we can. But it doesn't end there - it starts there.
You'll graduate from school. You'll switch jobs. You'll move cities, even countries. Your career ideas may evolve; your whole life path may change once or twice. But amidst all these changes, your website remains a way to express yourself freely and truthfully. Keep it updated and useful to yourself and others, to always remind yourself that you're moving forward.
Strikingly Website Builder 2015