We’ll be straight with you, the design industry is a competitive branch. Now, you didn’t need us to tell you that, obviously, but it goes to prove our point. What are you doing to stand out of the crowd? Creating a strong online personal brand became an important task on everyone’s “must-do” list. In the publishing business, there is a term ‘slush pile’ connoting all those that could have made it, but lacked that extra spark. Need we say it’s terrifying to end up in a slush pile?
Whether you’re a freelancer or a student trying to get your first job, the best thing you can do to stand out and take control of your digital footprint is to get a personalized domain name and build a personal website.
Why you should consider having a personal website
Let’s say you’re about to apply for a new job, or you are considering taking on a new client, what is the first thing you’ll do? You google the potential employer or client, and they will google you, too. Trust us, we have research to prove it. What many people don’t know is that the Google search results that come up largely depend on you. Think about it – were you a big firm, you would carefully manage the reputation of your business online, we agree on that right? Now, tell us, why not do the same for yourself?
In a world where nothing can ever be deleted, it’s extremely important to take care of your online reputation, in order to build a strong personal brand you can be proud of.
Still, why would you need a personal website? You said you are doing just fine with LinkedIn, Behance and Instagram?
These questions are at the core of the social media vs personal website dilemma, leading to: Does building your personal brand really require a personal website? Well – yes, and no.
Think of this part as an angel and a devil on your shoulder. Or a good cop, bad cop situation, just in case you weren’t a fan of those cartoons as a kid.
YES: Your social media accounts reflect just one part of your online personality. What we are looking for is the full picture. Social media does not offer you full control over your portfolio, thus leaving you limited by the features of the service, its purpose and rules of conduct.
Most importantly, you don’t own the content you create and if, at any time, the service decides to shut down … all of it could be gone. Just remember Vine.
But you are right, social media is a great tool for work in progress, discovering your path, engaging your audience in your creation process, getting their direct feedback on your work, etc. It’s like dipping your toes in the pool to test the water.
However, and this goes without saying, you need to have a collection of your best, finished work. So clients and employers know what is the level of skill and quality you can provide.
Solution? The only way to have complete control over your content is to feature it in your online space – a website of your own on a domain name you own. Having a personal website means owning the content you create. Every photo you share and every word you write belongs only to you. You can control how it looks and the way others can approach you.
NO: It does not have to be a full-blown website as we are sure you are imagining it. We know how impossible building your website from scratch can seem. Unless you are a web designer with a knack for programming. Although, there are many CMS solutions like WordPress or Squarespace that will help you reach your goal. This is not only limited to web designers, if you UX designer, your personal website is the best CV and portfolio you’ll ever have. It will show your style, capabilities and skills.
Therefore, you don’t have to build your website from scratch – you can use one of these easy-to-use tools for help. These tools let you play with visuals and details – you can create one-pager, full website, use it as your portfolio, or just to showcase your work. Sometimes just one page is enough to communicate everything you ever wanted to the world to see, as long as you are strategic about the content you put on it. Here is something that might help with that.
To sum it up, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social media platforms can and will get your name out in the world. However, you have little control over your own content, and you are always in a race with the platforms’ algorithms.
Besides, let us be honest, scoring a major client and a well paid freelance job is a dream, right? Now, imagine yourself sending them your Behance and Instagram profiles when they ask to see some of your work. A personal website would come in handy there, wouldn’t it? It would give a touch of professionalism and class. Think about it.
Why the .ME domain name is the foundation of your online presence
There are countless scenarios we can think of right now to demonstrate the benefits of having a personalised website. But lets go with this one.
Imagine that the Futur, the awesome company you gushed over – it’s ok we won’t tell anyone, has a job opening. You read the qualification requirements, they seem to fit, but we all know they want to see what you can do, i.e. some examples of your work. So you rise up to the task and decide to apply. At the portfolio section, you enclose your Behance profile, as it seems to be more professional than Instagram. You send your application and then you wait.
On the other side of the application, someone at the Futur is googling you. And since it’s the first impression that counts, what is it that people see? That, believe it or not, is your introduction to the world.
It might not seem as important to have a personal website, but surely you realize that the first impressions are vital. What your prospective client or employer might find after googling you can make or break a deal. Your personal website is the greatest first impression and introduction you’ll ever have. It does not only give you context and guide people through your work, but also portray you as devoted.
If you could choose three things that you want someone you just met to remember about you, the first one would surely be your name. In the digital world, your name is your domain. And here’s a fun fact: your name can actually be your domain name. Whether you want to share your skills or showcase your work, there is no better way to do it but under your own name. As a bonus you’ll get SEO juice.
How to build a strong personal brand
Wondering how to start building your personal brand? Where to go with it? What to tackle first? Well, think about what different social media platforms are used for and how to match those with your needs. Think about what you want your clients to see, and put your best foot forward. We’ll talk about this more in the articles to come, and show you some examples on how you can put your best foot forward.
1. Choose carefully the elements of your personal website
A personal website, displaying hundreds of hours of your hard work and dedication, can help you reach the stars. However, it’s very easy to get carried away with all the photos and mockups you want to share and create something too complex and confusing. These are the elements that you should focus on when creating your personal website: short bio, your portfolio, contact info, and social media buttons. Keep your website simple (unless you are a web designer, then let your colours shine!) and make sure it is always up to date!
2. Make your online presence consistent
But we have a feeling we don’t need to tell you this. Branding, beauty and consistency might be your middle name. However, showcase your work. Make sure you’ve had a good talk with yourself about how to brand yourself.
There is a reason why big brands stick to the same name and imagery for decades, even hundreds of years. They may change a slogan or invest in different campaigns, but there are things that remain the same that make them recognizable and capture the essence of their brand.
If you want to build a strong personal brand and make sure you are easy to find, it’s important to keep the same look and feel across all your online profiles. If available, use a first and last name combo for your social media usernames, and feature the same photograph. It’s important this matches the information on your personal website. Likewise, if you already built a social media following with a specific nickname, then your .ME domain could be that nickname as well. People will check multiple places when they want to learn more about you, and keeping it consistent will help to make you memorable.
Remember that short bio from your website? It should be the same on your social media accounts as well, with some slight changes to account for specifics of different networks. Also, make sure to display the link to your personal website 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.
At last, if you are a graphic designer this is a great opportunity for you – your online business card.
So, who is using .ME?
Many professionals choose .ME as their online home. From developers and designers to photographers, bloggers, and students. Arnan de Gans is a web developer who uses his personal website to show his work, his hobbies, and all his business-related info. Take a look at arnan.me and see for yourself! Adrian is a perfect example of making a memorable website which tells his story, and theresabaxter.me showed us all how you can easily build a personal community around something you’re passionate about, and sell your art!
.ME can help you if you are a student or if you are looking for a job. Shuai Wang, web designer and developer, found a perfect way to highlight his skills. Or if you are like Alexandra Nikolova, .ME gives you space to present yourself as a freelance illustrator, communication designer and visual practitioner based in Europe.
And how about Morten GrØnning? Did you know that he is an innovation designer, engineer and motivational speaker? Go and check out his website, you’ll find inspiration there, we are sure.
Are you ready to create your personal website and woo us with your online portfolio? If the good cop – bad cop situation worked, and we sure hope it did, we are keeping fingers crossed for you, and we are impatiently waiting for you to take control of your digital footprint and get a personalized domain name and build a personal website. See you on the other side!