If you want to build a personal brand that puts you on the front page of all the papers and brings in clients by the dozen, you need a first port of call for these boatloads of admirers to dock in. A website is often the first thing that a business owner needs to give them a visible, professional face and launch their social media self-promotion campaign. But for someone who’s not yet top-tier with minions tending to your every need, how do you develop a website that puts a face to your brand?
Part One: Establishing A Website
These days it’s actually pretty easy and relatively cheap to design and host your own website. Setting it up will take a little time, but there are sites out there that are designed for website-building 101 without breaking the bank in the process. If you have a tech-savvy friend who gives out free advice, now is the time to call them and shout them a coffee in exchange for a little help with the following steps:
- Your domain name
First things first, you need a unique domain name. At the risk of stating the obvious, this is what people type into the url bar to reach your website. When your brand is you, the best domain name is www.yourname.com or .com.au. It’s obvious, yes, but it will make it easier to find you, and easier to remember you when your name is also your website. There are a number of different hosting sites that will allow you to purchase and maintain your own domain name. This is where you ask that techy friend of yours for their recommendation on which one to use to purchase your domain name. We recommend GoDaddy for ease of use.
- Choose a hosting site
The hosting site is that one that will actually create your website. At the moment the site of choice is WordPress. The process is fairly easy – fill in your basic details, input the domain name you’ve purchased as the domain name for your new site, and voila! WordPress will spit out a stock-standard basic website for you.
- Customise your site
The next step is to take your stock-standard WordPress site and make it reflect you. Start by choosing a theme you like – you can preview and change this an infinite number of times until you find one you like. Paying a little extra for WordPress Premium allows you more control over the details of the theme, like playing around with the background photos, the fonts and the colour scheme.
If and when you’re ready to take things up a notch, you can look at GoDaddy to host your site, and choose a WordPress theme that has a lot of functionality that can be customised for your needs, such as online stores or member areas.
- Design your header
The header is arguably one of the most important parts of your website. It’s the first thing that people will see at the top of the page when they open your site. You need a header that’s instantly recognisable and clearly shows that this is your website. Whether you choose a good photo with a bold font face, a rotating slider of images or you ask an arty friend to whip you up a ‘logo’ of sorts, make sure you have a unique and noticeable header for your site.
Part Two: Bring Your Website To Life
The next step is to fill your website with content. There are certain sections you’ll want to include to give potential clients both the reassurance that you’re the business they want to deal with, and the knowledge that you have the power to help grow their brand.
The first thing you’ll need to do is track down some good stock images, and have some professional portrait photos taken for your ‘about’ page. Invest in some decent photos of yourself, and it will pay dividends in the professional veneer it gives your site.
- Your biography
Whether you call this page ‘About’, ‘Bio’ or ‘All About Me’, the first page you create needs to have a history of you, and a ‘what’s in it for me’ for the reader. You can either do this as a Q&A or as a proper written profile, either written in first person or third person as you please. Ask a writerly friend to look over the finished product to check for mistakes and make sure it reads professionally. This is usually the first thing people on your site will look at, so make sure it presents you the way you want to be presented!
- Your professional record
The next thing you need to make sure you have on your site is your professional history. Make it easy for people to see your achievements and why you would make a great person to work with. Organise your achievements by year, most recent first, as those are the results that will attract people’s attention.
- A blog
If you haven’t already, you need to start a blog! What better way to promote yourself than straight from the horse’s mouth? It doesn’t have to be every day – once or twice a month would be enough – and it doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, just an update on your life and future in your own words. Don’t stress if your writing’s not the quality of The New York Times. It just needs to be authentically you – your life in your voice.
- Social media links
It should go without saying, but you need to have your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Foursquare and however else you share yourself online connected to your website. You need to have immediate access to all parts of your online presence so that new clients can see that you’re a fully-fledged business maestro that they can easily tap into.
- Contact form
When a potential client decides they want to do business with you, you need to make sure they can get in touch! Even if it’s as simple as an email address, make sure there’s some form of contact details on your site, or some site builders will have a proper contact form you can add. A contact form is better than putting your email address as it can’t get picked up by bots, meaning you won’t get spammed with Viagra offers.
Of course, there are other elements that you’ll want to add to your website over time, like maybe a news or media section, videos, a calendar people can book meetings in, but those are less crucial. The above is enough to get you established as a clear professional brand, both to increase your audience and catch the eye of clients. You can continue to expand and develop your site as your business evolves, so give yourself a good head start right now!