(Spoiler alert: #8 is winning some cash in our Best Personal Websites of 2016 Contest, in partnership with Squarespace. Ready to enter? Click here to jump to the details.)
Even with their rise in popularity, it seems like personal websites often end up being an afterthought in our already jam-packed professional lives. You should have a website, but you need a resume. You should have a website, but you need to update your LinkedIn profile. You should have a website, but you need to go to that networking event next week.
I did this for months before I finally buckled down and created my site. Since then, I’ve helped a handful of people with the same mental blocks get their sites off the ground, and I’ve seen them (and myself) benefit in so many ways from having their own hub on the web.
So I’m here to tell you that today is the day! It’s time to build your websitealready—and if you’re not already convinced and ready to go, here are eight reasons to make it happen now.
1. It’s Not Just for Artists and Designers
Let’s get this common reason out of the way first—having a website is not just for people who do visual or creative work.
Rather, it’s a powerful tool for anyone wanting to bring everything they’ve done together, share the story of their career with others, show off a bit of their personality, or just toot their professional horn to prospective employers, clients, or partners.
Sound like you? That sounds like most of us. So let’s move on.
2. It Makes You Feel More Confident in Your Professional Self
Regardless of your specific job search or personal goals (we’ll get to those in a minute), there’s one pretty powerful effect that making a site can have on anyone—simply upping your confidence. As writer Aja Frost put it, “I can tell you the exact moment I started feeling like a true professional: when I registered the domain ‘ajafrost.com.’”
Why? The act of creating your website involves collecting all of your professional accomplishments in one place and shining the best light on yourself, which gives a boost in and of itself. But then putting a sleek website out to the world, adding it to your social profiles and your resume? It’s like the modern version of getting a new set of really nice business cards. It makes you feel legit, like a person others should want to know and work with (and rightfully so!).
After I launched my website, I remember excitedly applying to networking groups and conferences I would have felt no business applying to before I had an online hub. You may find yourself reaching out to strangers you want to meet, putting yourself forward to speak at events, or achieving similar feats of professional badassery, all because you have your website to back you up.
Of course, you may not get all of these things, but the boldness to try is pretty powerful.
3. It’ll Give You a Spring Board for Everything Else
Because making a website means you have to collect your work in one place and carefully craft your story, doing so should make other job search and professional branding activities much easier.
Need a bio for a guest post you’re writing or a talk you’re giving? You’ve already written one! Working on a cover letter for your dream job? You already know the story you’re trying to tell, so writing it should be a cinch! Want to share some examples of your work with someone? Send them right to your website!
4. It Takes Your Job Applications to the Next Level
I’ll never forget getting an email from a woman whose site I had helped build, only a few months after we launched, with news that she had landed her dream job in the field she was hoping to pivot to. And, furthermore, that on her first day her boss had told her that her website had been one of the factors that helped her stand out from other applicants.
A stand-out website is unlikely to be the sole factor that gets you a job, but I’ve heard time and time again that, when included as part of your job search package, it can help tip your application over the edge.
5. It Could Even Help You Get Poached
About a year after launching my site, I had someone reach out to me about a job I felt was pretty far above my professional experience. I wasn’t looking, but I was curious what made me a desirable candidate, so I hopped on a call and asked her. And, in so many words, she told me that, from reading my website, she really got a feel for my philosophy in the work I do and felt it could be a good fit for her organization.
I didn’t move forward with the gig, but that phone call taught me an important lesson about giving people an opportunity to connect with you as a human in the professional world. Sure, maybe she would have reached out after just seeing my list of accomplishments on LinkedIn—but according to her it was learning about how I think and envisioning what I would be like to work with that really whet her interest. And it’s much easier to craft your story in a compelling way on your personal website.
6. It Can’t Hurt
Okay, so creating a website probably might not be the sole golden ticket in your career, but as you’ve seen above it can make a difference. So why would you risk missing out on those opportunities and benefits?
Unless you make a really ugly website or pepper it full of offensive language, having your own landing page on the web really can’t hurt. At worst, nobody will see it (though that’s unlikely if you’re smart about sharing it); at best something pretty amazing will happen because of it—and most likely people will at least be a little more impressed by you after checking it out.
7. It’s Really Not That Hard
Plus, it’s really, truly not that hard to get your website started. Especially with so many services out there to help you out. You can build a simple one-page site in just about an hour (which is enough for many of us!), or a multi-page situation in just about a week. We’ve got all the instructions and tools compiled to take the pain out of making a website you can be proud of.
8. You Might Even Win Some Cash
As an added benefit, if you already have a website or buckle down and finally build one this month, you could have your site featured on The Muse as one of our “Best Personal Websites of 2016” in partnership with Squarespace—and even win prizes up to $250!
If you have a website you’re particularly proud of, submit it using this Google form by October 30, 2016 at 11:59 PM ET.
We’ll be looking for websites that are visually appealing, that give us a strong sense of who you are as a professional, and that have something special that makes us want to get to know you better! (Check out last year’s roundup for inspiration!) Because this contest is in partnership with Squarespace, only websites built using the platform will be eligible to win.
While we can’t respond to every submission, we will be reviewing each one and sharing the best with our community on The Muse and our social media channels. Winner, first runner-up, and second runner-up, and honorable mentions will be determined at the editor’s discretion.
The winner will receive a $250 cash prize, the first runner-up will receive $150, and the second runner-up will receive $100. In addition, the three winners along with honorable mentions will have their sites shared with The Muse’s audience in our “Best Personal Websites of 2016” roundup, in partnership with Squarespace.
Have questions? Email editor(at)themuse(dot)com and we’ll do our best to answer them.