Step 1: Register your Personal Domain Name
Your personal domain name should be the foundation of your online identity. It typically consists of your name followed by a top level domain – .me, .com, etc., and might probably stay with you for the rest of your life, while the content behind it will surely change.
A personal domain speaks for itself without any further need of explanation. It’s your future proof online-me and thus should play an important role on your paper business card, email signature and social media bios (that single link after your Twitter or Instagram bio).
There are some basic rules you should follow when choosing your personal domain name:
- Use your full, real name to make it easier for people to find you online.
- Choose you domain name extension carefully. You want something that is global, standard for personal use and will make your personal address on the web look professional, while remaining very easy to remember.
- Your personal domain should directly lead to your personal hub, which could be a personal website or blog (more about this in the next step).
What if your name is already taken? Try switching your first and last name, e.g. HauserDave.me in case of DaveHauser.me, adding a middle name, or just get creative (What about “MeetDaveHouser.me”?)
Step 2: Create your Personal Website
The personal website or blog is the logical extension of your personal domain. Now that people found you, show them your best, most authentic self!
As Gary Vaynerchuck says in his latest book “#ASKGARYVEE”:
Everyone, from dates to schools to employer will rely on the Internet to see what they can learn about you before ever meeting you. It’s in your best interest to shape what they see.
Your first decision should be whether you want to create a personal website or a personal blog to represent yourself online. While a personal website can be hassle-free and almost won’t consume any of your time, a blog needs regular attention for creating new content and interacting with your audience. It’s a personal decision you need to take, depending on your preferences, the time you have available for editing posts and your writing talent.
I, for example, decided to create a hub-type website that brings together all my content from across the web, and connected it to my single social media profiles to pull in the latest posts. Like this, my site stays up-to-date automatically and I don’t have to put any extra time in it. There’s nothing more counterproductive than an outdated website or a blog where the last post has been published 6 months ago.
In terms of content, it’s important to be real and stick to yourself. Be authentic – your visitors will appreciate to learn more about you and see the real person behind your name!
Another important point is to stay focused on the important things that define you. It’s easy to throw all your links and pictures together, but at the end all you’ll achieve is confusing the visitors.
Take a few minutes to decide what’s really important to you: which links and social media platforms are the ones you don’t want to miss? Pick the cherries out of your available content (pictures, videos, audio, stories, etc.), just showcase the things you’re most proud of.
Same for your bio text: It should be a well written and precise summary, wrapping together all the important things about you and your story in just a few words (no more than two to three paragraphs long, keep it short and crispy).
Your personal website should display your most relevant social media profiles and contact information. Make it easy for people to contact you by allowing them to choose which channel is most comfortable for them.
Testimonials of co-workers or clients can be a nice way to proof your worth and build trust.
All pictures – especially background, profile and cover images – should be of professional quality. Never underestimate the first impression people get when visiting a website – and image quality is of big influence here.
Step 3: Optimize your Social Media Profiles
Social Media marketing is usually related to businesses taking care of their brand image and growth. But how can you promote your personal brand on social media?
First of all, it’s important to keep the same look and feel across all your social media profiles. Use the same name, profile picture, colour scheme and imagery. Your social media usernames you should stick to your first name and last name combo, in case they’re available. People will check multiple places when they want to learn more about you, and keeping it consistent will help to make you memorable.
The next point is a catchy and unique bio that sets you apart from others. Your bio should feature a brief professional description targeting your niche. Add some personal flavour talking about your favourite hobby or interesting facts about yourself. Last but not least display the link to your personal page on each bio, it will help to connect with your audience across your social media profiles and will serve as a door to all your online activities.
Having a personal content strategy is crucial. What are your main areas of expertise and what sets you apart from others?
Jayson Demers puts it in a nutshell:
Before you can establish or develop your expertise, you have to decide what you want to be known for.
The world of personal branding is flooded with competing entrepreneurs, so it isn’t enough to choose a general field like “marketing” or “human resources.” Instead, it’s best to develop yourself in a very specific niche. With a niche focus, you’ll have more opportunities to prove you know what you’re talking about, and while your potential audience might be slightly smaller, it will also be that much more relevant.
Specificity is a trade of volume for significance.
Step 4: Create an Email Signature
Using an email signature as a professional seems like a no-brainer, but there’s some traps you need to avoid!
Keep it short, keep it simple! This can’t be stressed enough. Your email signature is not your personal website, it’s important to avoid any large texts, multiple images or link-lists. A personal email signature should be brief and clear, ideally consisting of a profile picture, your full name, the link to your personal webpage and, optionally, the icons of your most important social media profiles.
You don’t need to add any additional contact information, as the signature should lead straight to your personal website, which has been designed to streamline conversation. As basic as it may seem, an uncluttered email signature might proof to be highly productive, as it leaves a lasting, professional impression at the end of every single email you send.
Start optimizing your online identity now!
My company has created a one-stop solution called Pixelhub, for those who want to save time building their personal brand. Pixelhub allows to set up an optimized personal page in minutes, connects it to your personal domain and automatically generates an individual email signature and downloadable vCard.
As Marc Ecko says:
You too are a brand. Whether you know it or not. Whether you like it or not.