Yes and no. You do need a website to represent yourself better, but you don’t need to write a lot if you don’t feel like it. But if you are eager to share your knowledge and expertise on the topics that inspire you, then definitely it can be very useful for your personal branding!
Blog vs Personal Website for Online Branding
As always, let’s start the research of the topic with Googling your name. Chances are high there are all of your social media profiles (if optimized for personal branding!) on the first page. But what else? A namesake? Irrelevant comment you made years ago on the bulletin board or a forum thread you already lost access to?
There is 100% probability that a website on a domain registered as yourname.com will beat a lot of these results and occupy the top position providing the searcher with some relevant pieces of information you want to share.
But does this website have to be a blog? Not at all. Basically, you can keep it to the main page with your photo, bio information, and social media links.
What kind of information to provide on your personal website:
- your name (obviously): stick with the same form of your name including first and middle names and / or abbreviations that you use across all of your profiles online;
- your title, current company, and industry you work in;
- basic bio facts you feel confident sharing: education, past work experience, volunteering, certifications, honors etc;
- major life milestones: sometimes it’s relevant to share something personal (that you are, again, comfortable sharing) like “loving husband and father of three”;
- your hobbies or interests outside work;
- links to your social media profiles;
- links to your publications, news that you are mentioned in — if you have them;
- video: consider recording a video message for your visitors.
Tips on creating your website for personal branding
No matter if you choose to go for a blog or a “business card”-type website, I would recommend you using WordPress: it’s easy to start, register your desired domain name, and it doesn’t have to be a blog to run on that platform.
As a rule of thumb, use your firstnamelastname.com as a domain name for your professional website. Don’t confuse your visitors with – or abbreviations there. If the domain name is already taken, only then you will need to be creative:
- try lastnamefirstname.com;
- firstnameln.com (only the first letter of your last name);
- fnlastname.com (only the first letter of your first name);
- try different domain zones: .net, .blog, .online, .me.
How to make your website or a blog rank for your name
You will need to implement some basic search engine optimization (SEO) techniques here:
- Make sure that your name appear in the text header of a main page;
- Make sure that the title of the page starts with your name;
- Make sure that the description of your page has your name in it;
- Optimize your photo for your name: it should me mentioned in ALT attribute of IMG tag;
- Make the content relevant to your location: mention your city and country;
- Link to that website from your social media profiles;
- Link to that website when you are publishing something on other people’s websites.
What to post on the professional blog
First of all, you need to keep in mind your own field of expertise and your readers’ interests. Don’t start writing only for branding purpose — create value first.
Share expert advice, tell stories from your practice, provide your comments along with curating the industry news and updates on trending topics. Before thinking about optimization and sharing your piece, you need to be sure that it answers readers’ questions and addresses their problems.
There are plenty of tools to help you uncover topics of interest and questions to answer.
- Google’s People Also Ask: go to Google as if to research your topic, but pay attention not to the immediate results, but to the “People Also Ask” section.
- Google Suggest: start entering your query to Google’s search box, and collect the ideas from the drop-down list of suggestions.
- Google Trends: spot the most important trends in your industry and how interest to them grow over time;
- Google Correlate: another service by Google that gives us a pick into what people search before of after researching particular topic. This can be used as an idea generator for spin offs and blog series.
- AnswerThePublic: independent tool that shows you ideas scrapped from search based on your request. Let’s say your topic is underwater photography, here’s what the first set of questions to answer looks like:
What are the best practices you can apply on your blog
You don’t have to become a professional blogger in order for your blog to help with personal branding.
The most important goal here, unlike with a company’s blog, is not generating a lot of traffic originated on search from product or service related keywords. Main purpose of a blog for personal branding is to enrich your profile with more information about you, your field of expertise, experience, and / or hobbies.
Most of the visitors will find your blog searching for you, not for a general topic, but you still want to keep them interested and engaged with content you create. So, how to achieve that?
- Be consistent: post new blog posts regularly;
- Write as you speak: try to make your blog posts easy to read and understand;
- Use visual storytelling: enrich your text blogs with photos, images, and video;
- At the same time, do not forget about the power of text: if your main content is graphic or video, add transcripts and written descriptions;
- Share what you write with your followers on social media;
- Make your content easy to share on social media and other blogs.
If you are really serious about writing, I advise you to check Content Rules and Everybody Writes by Ann Handley. These books will teach you really a lot about content creation and blogging in general.
TL;DR Professional website or a blog for personal branding
If you don’t want or cannot write consistently for your blog, a one-page website featuring information about you, your photo, and social media links will still do for personal branding purposes.
But if you feel confident writing, and you have a lot to share, your personal brand will definitely benefit from your blogging! Do this regularly, and make sure to follow best practices to optimize your content.
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