In 2015, the tide has shifted from personal websites being optional and something “only geeks do” to a necessity. In 2015 a personal website is essential for helping you build your personal brand. And, as ridiculous as it might sound, a personal brand is also a must-have for the new millennium.
Why? Because in 2015 we feel like we need to know everything there is to know about someone. Future employers don’t just check your credit, they scroll through your social media posts (and posts in which you’re tagged) before deciding whether or not to hire you. Future romantic partners plug your name into Google as soon as they know what it is. Having a personal website is the best way to help people learn more about you, to improve your chances for employment and can even help you start your own business someday if you decide to jump into entrepreneurship.
So how do you do this? Where do you start?
A Solid Internet Connection
Running your own website means being able to access your site’s control panel at any time of the day or night. You cannot do this if you are relying on a friend or your workplace’s wifi signal. You need a solid and reliable connection. It is also important, says Frontier, that you have a secure connection, to protect the machines through which you are building and maintaining your site. Many hackers and malware developers use vulnerabilities in server connections and site building software (like plugins, apps, etc) to install trojan horses and spamware on your machine.
Make sure you have a strong internet connection that can stop these hacking attempts from being successful. Learn more about backup, sharing, and anti-spyware at http://frontierinternet.org/frontier-secure/.
A Hosting Provider
It is true that you can probably create a site for yourself through WordPress.com, Blogger or any other web based site building service. The problem with running your site through these services is that you give up some of the control you have over your site’s appearance, contents and functions. For example, some provider hosted sites won’t let you sell ad space on your site to third parties; they will only let you run ads through their services. Others may decide that they get a say in the type of content you publish. If you want total control over your site and its content, you need to have an independent and “self” hosted site.
Finding a good hosting provider might take some time and research. Every site hosting provider bills itself as one of the fastest, safest, and most reliable services out there. Unfortunately very few of them live up to this hype. It is important to learn everything you can about the company and the services it provides. For example, some hosting providers contract site security out to third party providers (who charge additional fees), which means that if your site gets hacked they not only won’t do anything to prevent it, they won’t help you fix it and you’ll have to rebuild your sites from scratch. Other providers have faulty servers so your site will be down more often than it is up.
Here is what to look for when deciding which hosting provider to use:
Up/Down Time: What is their percentage of uptime/downtime? You want a good uptime rate (this is where your site is live and behaving normally).
Security: Do they provide security on their servers to keep your personal information safe? Will they help you prevent hacking attempts on your site from being successful and if a hacker does compromise your site, will they help you fix that site to get it up and running again?
Shared/Dedicated Hosting: Shared hosting is cheaper but if you expect a lot of traffic or are hosting sensitive materials, dedicated is a better option.
Extras: Do they offer one-click install for your content management software? Can you easily get to and change your files? Do they offer any extra perks like analytics monitoring, etc?
Content Management System
It will be tempting to use a site builder like Wix or something else web based. Trust us when we tell you it is better to use a CMS like WordPress or Drupal to manage your site’s content. You’ll have more control over how your site looks and operates and your site should be safer (just make sure you thoroughly check out any plugins or apps before uploading them to your site). WordPress and Drupal are both free and open source, which is why we recommend them but there are other resources out there as well.
There you go! You’ve built the skeleton of your site. Now you just have to decide how to fill its pages! Good luck!