Put yourself out there…as a brand
In a world saturated with brands, it might not come as a shock that you yourself have your own brand. Yup—it’s true. Especially when your business is built on your name. Depending on where you’re at in your personal brand journey, we’re willing to wager you’ve given at least a little bit of thought to a website.
Ah, but this isn’t any old product or business-based website. Nope—a personal branded website is a very different beast. That’s why we’re here to help you put yourself out there on the interweb in style with this quick guide.
The basics behind a personal brand website
Okay—remember when we sounded vaguely foreboding a few seconds ago by saying a personal brand website is a different beast? Well, we meant it. Yes, your eventual goal with your personal brand website might be to promote, showcase or sell your digital portfolio or products, but to do that, your website needs to build a strong, trusting relationship with your audience first.
Or—to be blunt—you want your audience to know and like you. Ugh. High school, right?
With a personal brand website, YOU are the product. There are a ton of professional copywriters, yoga instructors, self-help gurus, illustrators, etc., out there. But there’s only one you. This is an opportunity to set your products/services apart from the pack with your glowing personality, your face and your unique life story and perspective.
Start by registering your personal domain
For some, there’s a real thrill to having your name in domain form! Know what makes it that much better? Having your domain name end in .CA.
Also—did we mention that we can help find your unique, personal .CA domain name? It’s true and as easy as doing a quick search. If you’re lucky and your first name is still available, be sure to grab it quick, as it might not be around tomorrow. Though, that depends on how many “Ichabods” there are…
Once you have your domain name in place, you can often purchase web hosting through the very same company. Simple, right?
Bring your personal brand website to life
Let’s go through a basic, section-by-section build of your personal brand site. By no means is this an exhaustive guide, but it should at least set you on the path to (self) respectability!
Your homepage is where the heart is
The first—and perhaps most important— component is your homepage. It’s the very first impression visitors will get, and what will (hopefully) inspire them to dig deeper into your content. So, what are the basic, must-have elements of a strong home page experience? Let’s explore!
Keep in mind: the web building platform you select will most likely come with several “homepage” templates to tweak and modify to your heart’s content. So, even if you aren’t a pro web designer, have no fear.
Start with a logo that accurately reflects your brand.
A good logo will help your content stand apart from everything else, and make it more easily recognized. Plus, logos stand for legitimacy and professionalism.
Pick a quality, high-res banner or “hero” image of yourself and pair it with a compelling headline.
It’s time for your grand, digital debut! Pick a professional-looking photo that serves as a flattering introduction and add a short, snappy one-liner that encapsulates what you provide -e.g., “Jonas T. Nelson – Recording engineer and analog tape snob.”
For inspiration: check out professional copywriter Nick Hanson’s homepage. He’s all about bringing your content to life and is (clearly) eager to share your story! With a well-chosen hero image and a few short, punchy statements, Nick positions himself as the dynamic, go-to guy for all your copy needs.
- Add a clear call-to-action. Don’t beat around the bush. Put your call to action “above the fold” and push your visitors to make a move, be it subscribing to your newsletter, getting in touch, viewing your work, etc.
For inspiration: author, speaker and life coach Lisa Canning delivers a concise, two-sentence summary of her mom-centric services followed by a personable-sounding call to action.
- Link visitors to your most important pieces of content. Your homepage should act as a content “hub” and direct visitors to visit the key parts of your site. This can include your “about me” section, your blog, portfolio, contact page and products/services.
For inspiration: Vancouver-based lifestyle creator and realtor Stephen Covic puts examples of his work and inspirations front-and centre on his site’s homepage. Along the top bar, you’ll also find links to his “about me," blog, available services, contact info and more.
Tell your story
An “about me” section is where you can share your unique, personal story with your audience. Just don’t get too long-winded! Nobody needs to hear about the time you swallowed a toy car when you were four. Well, maybe some of the CIRA folks do…but that’s not relevant here.
Focus instead on your journey, what makes you passionate and how you got to this point. You’re not writing a corporate press release, so don’t be afraid to inject your personality and genuine emotion into this section. It’s also never a bad idea to include links to (active) social media accounts.
For inspiration: Federal NDP Member of Parliament Charlie Angus provides an interesting and affecting look at how he came to be in politics. You’re taken on a photo-illustrated journey from his teenage years as a punk rocker, to his early environmental advocacy efforts in Northern Ontario and eventual run for office.
Set up a contact page
Your contact page can be as elaborate or simple as you need it to be. For instance, you could just drop in a contact form and leave it at that. Or, if you’re feeling more ambitious—include some other downloadable documents, like a digital press kit or contact card.
Showcase your products or portfolio
This is where your visitors can explore and discover exactly what it is that you do or offer. Again—this can be as simple or advanced as needed.
If the intent is to provide a digital resume or portfolio, lead with your “greatest hits,” whether that’s published articles, your catchiest tunes or most striking photographs. Your web builder of choice will provide options for embedding multimedia (videos, audio, imagery) into your page. Remember: a good portfolio page builds your credibility and provides potential customers with evidence of your sterling track record!
For inspiration: Check out Guelph, Ontario-based musician and recording engineer Andrew McPherson. His personal brand website lays out his recording and production credentials, tours you through his entire musical repertoire and even includes links to purchase select albums from his discography. As you’ll see, his site smoothly balances serving as a resume/portfolio site and an online store for his services.
Now, if you’re planning to sell products or services through your website, you may want to consider adding e-commerce functionality, which can include a shopping cart system and payment processing.
If you offer “offline” services, like personal training or—say—recording engineering, your product page can still showcase your work and then provide a call-to-action for visitors to follow—e.g., “Book a session now!”
There you have it! With our tips and the inspiring examples we’ve provided, you’re well on your way to creating an authentic, engaging personal branding site. Where to next? Start with our breakdown of all the major website builder platforms, or read our guide to stripped down (but effective) website design!