by Micah Horner
These days, getting a great personal website up-and-running is incredibly easy. The question is, why should you create your own website, and what should you write about?
Defining Your Purpose
Create your website with purpose. Personally, I define my website as the online, visual representation of who I am. I showcase my skills, accomplishments, knowledge, and experience. My website tells the world what I’ve done, what I'm doing, and what I'm learning.
Organizing Your Website
Your website will be structured uniquely depending on your skills and expertise. Figure out what works for you, and run with it. That being said, I’m going to use my own website to give you an idea of what this can look like.
These are the different sections of my website:
This is the landing page.
This page is a must-have. Because it portrays you as a human instead of a mythical online creature, it’s the most important section of your website. Include a picture of yourself so your readers don't feel like they're reading from some anonymous stranger. Write a short bio about who you are, what you love, what you've done, and what you're good at.
I use this page to highlight what I've actually done. If you claim to have knowledge or skills, you also need to have some proof to back it up. I didn't necessarily consider the projects I've completed very impressive, but I listed them anyways. After some thought, I was able to identify what I learned from completing those projects, and realized how important they really were. List any accomplishment you think shows that you have motivation to get things done, and the desire to learn from every experience.
Here I list my work experience and the resulting skills that I've gained. If you have no work experience, list volunteer experience. If you have no volunteer experience, get some.
This page is pretty self-explanatory. I list things like writing for UnCollege, finishing my degree, and starting my own business.
Under “My Goals” I list both short-term, and long-term goals, as well as my “To Learn” list. Having a list of goals and things you want to learn keeps you on track and gives you direction in life. It also shows that you actually have goals, and that you’re not just wandering aimlessly through life.
This is where I compile all the books that I want to read. Once I'm done, I link to a post summarizing what I've learned from each book. This practice of thinking and writing through what you actually remember and learned from each book is a great way to cement that knowledge in your mind.
Lastly, I have a Speaking and Consulting section where I make clear that I am available for speaking at events, consultation regarding self-directed learning, and guest writing for blogs and websites. I go back and forth about whether to leave this up. I have done speaking, and provided advice to many people, but I'm not sure I am good enough to get paid for it yet. However, when those opportunities do come along, I want people to know I’m definitely interested.
The individual blog posts on my website follow the general theme I have defined. I write about what I learn from the projects I take on, the experiences I have, the videos I watch, and the books I read. It is a great personal practice to think about your life in terms of what you are learning each day. It doesn't matter how small or insignificant you think it is. I wrote a blog post about the interesting facts and pieces of information I learned while on my vacation in Costa Rica. Who thinks about their vacation in terms of what they learned? This guy.
Two Key Reminders
Identify Your Audience; Add Value
Not much needs to be said here. After you define what your website exists for, you need to think about who the people are that will be visiting it. For me, I anticipate an audience of people who are interested in who I am and how I can be an asset to their company, organization, or project, and also people who are interested in reading about what I have to share about self-directed learning. I want to display my strengths, as well as share my knowledge to provide value, and help others.
Be Transparent, Honest and Real
You are an expert in being you. One of the most important things to remember when creating your website is to always be honest and genuine. People can spot a hack from a mile away, and they don't want to feel like they're being sold something. My advice is to be transparent about who you are and what you stand for. Honesty truly is the best policy.
Start your personal website today. You will be amazed where it takes you.