How’s your personal website looking these days?
If your first reaction is, “Uh, I don’t know,” you’re not alone. Many otherwise diligent professionals have trouble remembering the first thing about their personal websites because, well, personal websites just don’t seem very important with so many other fires burning.
Maybe there’s a name for this trap, but someone cleverer will have to come up with it. And it doesn’t really matter anyway. Your personal website is important and should be a priority for you to fix because it can actually be a really important component of your personal and professional brands.
So, let’s get down to business. Here’s how to make your personal website better, one task at a time.
Use an Approachable, Appealing Cover Photo
Note the difference between “cover photo” and “headshot.” You need no introduction to the latter; let’s assume the headshot you use for LinkedIn and other professional properties is A-OK.
“Cover photo” — that’s a bit tricker. We’re talking about the sort of high-resolution, eye-catching image that can appear either in the background of your website’s homepage (maybe set behind large-font text) or as a foregrounded “feature” shot at the top of the page.
The personal website for Steve Streit, a financial executive and entrepreneur, shows how it’s done. Streit’s photo dominates the space, drawing your eyes down the page and compelling you to read his entire bio.
Make Your Bio the Default Page
About that bio: Make it your website’s default page, the first thing visitors see when they land on your top URL. After all, most visitors come to your personal website because they want to learn more about you — perhaps with a different spin than they get from LinkedIn or third-party media mentions.
Feature Examples of Recent Professional Work If Relevant
This is especially important if your work isn’t widely available outside the context of your business relationships. That is, if you’re not a published author or artist or video producer or whatever.
Just make sure you don’t run afoul of any confidentiality or exclusivity agreements between you and your clients, and that you can make your work legible to the average person viewing it. If not, use project summaries as an alternative.
Include a Testimonials Page, But Don’t Oversell It
Not every professional is in a position to attract Google reviews. If you don’t have a “proper business,” you may be out of luck there.
That makes it all the more important to attract client testimonials. To do this, you’ll need to make a lot of asks; this guide should help you hone that skill and limit awkwardness.
The only real exception is if you’re selling something on your website. In that case, testimonials are beside the point (maybe even counterproductive) and you can rely on reviews.
That said, if you are in the business of selling products or services, you’ll want to have a separate commercial website anyway — even if your personal identity is closely linked with your “business self.”
Link Out to Your Active Social Media Profiles
Consider adding a social media feed to your personal website, at least to your active social media profiles. Your prospects will find their way to those properties anyway; might as well encourage them to do so through a channel you control.
You Deserve a Better Website
You really do. And now that you know how to improve your personal website, it’s time to make it happen.
Each of the tasks on this list is manageable. Some, like adding a contact form to your website and syncing up your social media feed, take literally minutes to complete. Others might take a bit longer, but they’re worth every second.