A personal website is an extension of who you are. It provides a space beyond social media and your LinkedIn profile to highlight the best of what you do in your career or in your personal life. This can mean creating a blog about a passion project (say, your favorite fandom or your cookbook collection) or, if you’re using it to showcase your professional achievements, a portfolio of your work.
“One of the best things about personal websites is that they’re your own platform—you control the information and the story,” says Alex Sanfilippo, founder of Creating a Brand, a social media platform that provides a community for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Having a personal site is also bait for potential employers, who may land on it while searching for someone with your background, passion, or expertise. That’s exactly what happened for a friend of Sanfilippo’s. She received a lucrative job offer at a time when she wasn’t actively hunting for a new role because the company noticed and appreciated her personal website and blog.
“By sharing her expertise along with news of her own professional journey, she unknowingly positioned herself as a solution to some of their problems,” Sanfilippo explains. When you give to your community by sharing your insights, you organically build credibility and trust, all while showcasing your personal brand.
And luckily with today’s digital tools, it’s easy to build your own website. The harder part? Keeping it up to date!
But heads up: “If one of your goals is to drive traffic to your site, then you can’t let it remain static,” Sanfilippo says. “You need to actively update—and on a schedule.”
We asked a few people who have mastered the art of keeping their personal sites fresh to share their best tips.
1. Stick to a Schedule
Find the right schedule that is realistic for you; that may only be once a month or every other week. Ashley Mary, a Minnesota-based artist who maintains her own Squarespace website, updates her site at least twice a month, sometimes five depending on how much she has going on. “I keep a running list of prioritized updates that I need to make. This way I don’t get too buried under everything,” she says.
To stay on track, consider corralling a buddy. As Liz Wellington, a writer and content strategist in New York, New York, builds her new personal website, she has teamed up with an "accountability buddy.” They help each other stay on schedule when it comes to the development of their respective sites.
“We have bi-weekly accountability meetings to discuss what we've each done and what our goals are for the next two weeks,” she says, noting that they’re both using Squarespace to build their sites, which helps them swap tips specific to the platform. “We love our meet-ups. They motivate us to make more updates.”
2. Create an Editorial Calendar
Most content websites (including the one you’re reading right now!) use an editorial calendar to organize and plan their content. Even if you’re not a monster media brand, you can adopt their strategies.
Editorial calendars are essentially a more detailed and efficient way of creating a schedule. You can use a simple Excel file or a Google Sheet to plan out the type of content you’d like to create, including deadlines and go-live dates, over a set period of time. If you just post content spontaneously, then you risk creating redundant content and missing the mark when it comes to developing impactful seasonal content. An editorial calendar shows you the bigger picture of what you are creating, so you can create varied and purposeful posts posts that are relevant at key times of the year.
Editorial calendars also provide a place to organize all types of content, not just your blog posts. Yours can include a timeline for social media, podcast episodes, newsletters, You Tube videos, and more, allowing you to plan what you'll cover, on what platform, and when.
3. Experiment With New Features
The success of your personal website will ultimately depend on understanding and keeping up with your audience’s needs. One way to better understand how your audience interacts with your site is by experimenting with new products and features, and then using your analytics tools to see how visitors to your site respond.
When Holly Pevzner, an editor and content creator, wanted to find a way to better showcase the brands she’s collaborated with, she updated her Squarespace site with the platform’s carousel feature rather than what she’d done in the past, which was simply listing clients in alphabetical order. She also started using Linktree to direct her Instagram followers to relevant pages on her website based on their interests, which resulted in a traffic uptick.
Take comfort in knowing that with so many new tools made specifically for personal websites, it’s easier than ever to adopt, change, and grow depending on your audience’s needs, and your own. “I love the freedom that personally updating my site gives me,” says Pevzner. “I can tinker whenever I feel the need. It’s been great.”
Photo of person working on laptop at home courtesy of Westend61/Getty Images.
Anne Shaw is a writer and marketing consultant with a side passion for helping people find work they love. If she's at her desk right now she's either crafting content or planning integrated marketing strategies. Otherwise, she's initiating a dance party with her preschooler and toddler or trying to navigate an obstacle course in the backyard.More from this Author
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