You already know you should create a personal website—to impress employers and showcase your work in a more seamless and attractive way than your resume allows.
But the thing is, all you currently have in your back pocket is, well, your name, and zero experience building a website from scratch. Insert shrugging arms.
Not to worry! Creating your own website with little to nothing to work with doesn’t require extensive coding knowledge or spending tons of money to have someone else do it for you. By using a platform like Squarespace and following these simple tips, you’ll turn your small collection of ideas into a work of (dare I say it) art.
Create a Resume Website
If all you really have is your name and headshot—maybe you’re just starting out or haven’t yet created an extensive portfolio of work—that’s still enough to fill out a stellar personal website.
You can start with a resume website, a personal website which essentially outlines your background, story, skills, and work history in an engaging way. Squarespace, for example, has templates to create an online one-sheeter about you. Check out Ethan and Pursuit; both templates feature sleek design and ease in navigation. The beauty of these templates is that as your career progresses, you can expand upon them as you see fit.
Incorporate the Basics
Once you’ve got your design in place, you’ll want to include the following basics:
Your “About Me”: Also known as a bio, elevator pitch, or personal statement, this should be visible to someone as soon as they land on your website. In addition to your name and title, it should include a brief overview of your background and professional experience, a list of clients you’ve partnered with or publications you’ve been featured in, and a couple of relevant fun facts about you. Basically, any crucial information people should know about you upfront.
Your headshot: Yes, you need this! You want people to be able to put a face to a name. Take and upload at least one professional headshot of you, either in a work setting or against a simple backdrop.
Skills, awards, bylines, testimonials, and notable achievements: Whether you decide to break these into separate sections on your website (more on that below) or list them as bullets, it’s important to highlight anything that’s particularly noteworthy.
Your contact information: Most importantly, if someone comes across your personal website, you’ll want to make it super easy for them to get in touch with you. So include your email or phone number (or address, if you run a business) somewhere convenient, and if relevant add on your social media, too. Squarespace also provides the option to add a contact form if you don’t want your personal info on the internet.
Organize Your Information
It’s important to include several links to or examples of your work, especially if you’re trying to convince someone to hire you. If you’re a writer, include clips of your favorite published articles. If you’re a designer or engineer, include screenshots or blueprints of your most impactful projects. If you’re a consultant or coach, include your most effective decks or testimonials by pleased customers.
But let’s say you’re a freelance designer who also sells home goods on the side, and sometimes writes a column for a local newspaper. (Yes, you’re incredibly multifaceted!) You don’t want to list all your information about designing, crafting, and writing on one page—that’s a heck of a lot of information for a reader to sift through. And creating multiple websites for each item would be exhausting to manage and would dilute the full picture of what you can offer.
Instead, divvying these up into separate tabs or sections on your site allows you to direct the right user to what they’re looking for—people who need a freelance designer can find your price points in one place, people who want to shop for products can find them in another place, and people who are drawn to your columns can read them in a third place.
Your sections don’t have to be complicated, either. Instead of writing one long bio for yourself, for example, break it up into sections much like you would on a resume—your previous roles, your skills and interests, examples of your work, and your contact information.
Add Some Flair
When you don’t have that much to put on your personal website, it’s the little details that make all the difference in helping you stand out—like the fonts you use, the colors you choose, and the imagery you include. But you don’t have to go out and hire a photographer or illustrator to spruce up your page. If you’re using a Squarespace template, you can incorporate free stock images from Unsplash to create visual cues for each section of your website.
And have fun with it! Part of having a personal website is showing off your personality, so allow your site to express who you are and what you and your brand represent.
This article on designing a brag-worthy personal website has all the tips and tricks you need to fool others into thinking a designer made it, and check out some of our all-time favorite personal websites for inspiration.
Keep it Simple, But Think Long Term
Don’t get overwhelmed when you’re starting out. There’s nothing wrong with making a website that just has an About page with a headshot, bio, and three to four examples of your work. Starting small takes away the stress of having to build every facet of your site at once. Just remember that this is your professional website—so no matter what, it should be well edited and neat.
The beauty of creating your own site is that you can update or change it when you see fit. If you take on a side hustle, you can add a new navigation to a page that showcases your work. If you pivot careers, you can rework your personal statement so it reflects your new path. If you need to refresh some of your portfolio work, you can go in and replace older clips. The important thing is to get started and then let your personal website evolve with you.