Before talking about your personal brand website, let me ask you a question.
Can I take a guess?
Well, that’s what a vast majority of people do today. When you need an answer, you ask Google.
In the digital age that we live in, everything about you is available in the interwebs. Social media profiles, articles about you, your reviews on random sites, your random photos and images, and so much more is available to everyone on their smartphones.
Whether it’s a new employer or a potential customer, your neighbor or someone you just met – people are having access to data about you everywhere.
They read or see them, form opinions about you and what you do, and decide whether or not to associate with you, hire you, or do business with you.
You prepare a really good resume? People still look you up on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and everywhere else including the nasty reviews you left on Amazon.
People form opinions about you based on what they read about you online, and not based off of a one or three page resume. They can tell stories about you without reading your resume.
People do business with people they know, like and trust. Not based on what they see on a business card or a business website.
Your story is based off of what people find about you online.
A comprehensive quick-start guide to help you get started with Developing your Personal Brand, covering brand research, strategy and design.
You had a coffee meeting with these two people, and you were preparing to meet them. So you decide to do some research and look them up online. You open Google and look up for both John and Beth.
While you look up John, you find a personal website that had a blog and links to some of the media articles he was mentioned in, on the first page of Google Search results. When you look up Beth, you find a few social media handles, and nothing much.
The odds are, that you’d be likely more comfortable meeting John, than Beth. Assuming all what you found in the articles and personal website of John are good, you’d look forward to meeting him as you know more about him than Beth.
You cannot let the world form opinions of you helplessly. Instead, you need to take control of this narrative – Your Narrative.
In the above example, John had controlled his narrative by clearly making his website prominent and having all the relevant information about him in it.
“Personal branding is essentially the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual, group, or organization” – Wikipedia
That’s the Wikipedia definition of personal branding.
A website plays a big role in defining your personal brand. Done right, a website can help build the right image of you, that you’d want recruiters, customers and clients to see and engage with. A website can completely elevate your narrative above everything else about you in the interwebs.
Sure, that’s one step in that direction for sure. But a Personal Branding website is more than just a website.
Most often, people get a domain name, find a website host, buy a nice theme and put a few pieces of content and “think” that they’ve got it right. Some even go to the extent of creating pages and writing content based on seeing a few other websites.
But just a website does not really help you control your narrative. While it can act as a great place to aggregate content about you, it may not help you control your narrative.
When you control your narrative, you help visitors understand you and your work, know you better, develop a liking for you based on what they read and finally start to trust you.
In this section, I breakdown the key elements of a website and how those elements come together in helping your audience know, like and trust you. I’ll definitely garnish with some examples along the way so you can get a taste of how it all comes together.
Knowing you is the first step in the journey of building trust. Your website would be pretty useless if it, at the least, did not help visitors know who you are.
True. Every website, be it a company or brand, pretty much does this job in some sense – tell the visitor what the person or company does.
To understand this better, it’s important to understand the human psychology and jump into the shoes of a website visitor. When they visit your website, they are most often in one of the 3 categories. They have:
There are many more cases, but the above are 3 broad categories. For instance if someone just read your guest post from another blog, they fall into category #2.
If someone got handed your contact details from a friend or associate, they fall into category #3. And if one of your clients or coworkers got to your website, they fall into category #1.
How would it be if, every person I met, I repeated the same sentence “Hi There, I’m Karthik. I’m a Storyteller and Designer who happens to run a Podcast….”.
Even worse, most websites have words written as a third-person narrative. In other words, the websites would have the above sentence as “Hi There! This is the website of Karthik Vijayakumar. He is a Storyteller and Designer who happens to run a Podcast….”.
In no time visitors would be looking to swipe left or the button in the top-right corner to close the website and find something better. That’s the perfect recipe to chasing away visitors. Yes, they definitely know you this way too – but they no longer remember you once they are out of your website.
What you want to actually do, is to connect with your visitors. The minute you have a visitor opening your website, you want to offer a welcome drink, gift them a trinket and give them a quick tour of the place. Not literally, but you get it.
The question is how do I do all of this on a website? Fortunately, there are simple-yet-effective ways to do this today. It all starts with you knowing your visitors’ profiles. Once you know what kind of people visit your website, you can connect with them appropriately.
Knowing your visitor profiles is helpful from the very first step – decide what tone of voice to use – sound more “businessy” or casual.
Here are 5 elements of your website you can work on right away, to instantly connect with your visitors and help them know you better.
A logo is a key part of your personal brand website. It makes it easy for people to remember and recall your brand and value.
When it comes to your logo, try to keep it simple, unique and memorable. Simple enough to reproduce, unique enough to differentiate and memorable enough to recall.
Try Brandmark to get a logo generated by a really impressive AI-based system to generate over 1.4 million logos based on your design description.
Your photo plays a big role in your personal branded website. As your visitors don’t see you in person, the presence of your photo on your homepage plays a big role in establishing connection. This article by Shane Melaugh tells you why.
The language you use plays a big role in determining your personal brand website’s success. Why? Because it largely determines the demography of people visiting your website.
But even if you have a website in English, the tone can either make your visitors feel welcomed to a theme park or a college classroom.
Remember, you are building your personal brand website. It would be just another website, if your personal brand website did not have your story.
When I say ‘story’, I don’t just mean a paragraph about you. Yes, that’s important and you will have that in your ‘About’ page. But it’s even more important to have that story show up in your writings and other places.
Sprinkle a little bit of you, and your personal brand website will start to stand-out (and also retain more people).
We are social beings. We are constantly scanning our surroundings, looking for people, places and groups, looking to associate ourselves with.
This is exactly what your visitors are doing too, even when they are browsing your website. “Is this person real?”, “have they worked with brands or names I know of?”.
‘Social proof’ or ‘authority proof’ helps do exactly that. If you’ve worked with brands or been featured by other brands, you should let your visitors know. This will immediately put your website visitor at ease.
These are the 5 key elements that will help your website visitors instantly connect with you. At this point, people who’ve visited your website know who you are, and what kind of a person you are.
That’s what is going on in the visitor’s mind at this point. They still have not experienced enough of you or your content to decide whether or not they “like” you.
Your visitors probably spent 5 minutes on your website. Perhaps they landed in your website because a friend told them about what you do.
It’s a piece of article you had written 10 months back. It was not your best piece of writing by any stretch of imagination. They read that article and (obviously) find nothing interesting.
So, guess what happens?
Stop! Could’ve we stopped that from happening?
“I don’t want to lose readers”.
It’s your anniversary and you decided a nice surprise candle light dinner. As you get off your car, a valet offers to park your car.
You walk into the hotel and the lobby manager asks you “Sir, may I know which restaurant you’d like to go to?”
“The Waltz, please” you say.
“Please go down the hallway, Sir. The Waltz is the last you’ll find on to your right. Have a great evening, Ma’am”, says the lobby manager.
The two of you are super happy with the welcome. You love the food at The Waltz, and end up having a great time all together.
You are so happy that you end up recommending the place to your friends and colleagues.
What just happened?
They had great food and service. But more importantly, the valet and lobby manager made sure you were guided to The Waltz smoothly.
They made sure you didn’t have to worry about parking your car or even going around the hotel trying to find the restaurant.
Your website is like that 5-Star hotel. And the restaurant is like that piece of content that your visitors would love to consume.
Your website is like that hotel, and your homepage is like that lobby. It’s important for your homepage to reflect some of the elements we discussed earlier. But it’s more important for your homepage to show your visitors “The Waltz”.
A ‘Getting Started’ page is what your visitors are looking for. That’s the page that shows them the “Chef’s Specials” personalized by the Chef himself (or herself). What should I consider having in a ‘Getting Started’ page?
I know you are now curious to know exactly the elements you need to have in a ‘Getting Started’ page. But it’s even more important to understand its purpose.
It’s simple, the minute you understand human psychology. What were you thinking when you visited the 5-Star hotel? Food. Right?
You were thinking of surprising your partner in the best way you ever could!
Oh yes, bad food would’ve deeply disappointed you. You were looking for a great experience centered on the ‘surprise’ factor.
They either came searching for it, or they got to your website by chance, and you ‘magically’ put the content that was just meant for them. But how did you know that?
It wasn’t ‘magic’ at all. You just understood the audience you served through your website. You knew exactly who they were, what their biggest fears and prejudices were, what they desired the most, what they really needed (and why), and what they were concerned about.
And once you know all of that, it’s about organizing an experience on your website, just like the lobby manager and valet did to get you to The Waltz.
It’s no longer a secret that this very experience takes your visitors from ‘knowing’ you to ‘liking’ you.
Have you read the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek? If you have, you know where to start. Start by telling your visitors a little bit about ‘why’ you exist and what your beliefs and purpose are.
When people don’t understand something, they tune-out. If you deal with terms on your website that need some explanation, now is the time to do that. In fact your website visitors are expecting you to do that upfront.
Like I described in the beginning, it’s about controlling your narrative. Nothing speaks louder than your work. Show them the best upfront. They will appreciate it (and like you) for doing that.
You have a free course or a free ebook that your visitors can use immediately and see results? Present it to them. This does two things – 1) gets them curious to take action and 2) gain confidence in you when they actually read or try it.
There is nothing like having people on your side. When they’ve done all of the above, the chances are that they are looking to know more about what you have to offer. At the least, they are looking to be associated with you.
Here’s the time you want to invite them to your tribe. It could be your newsletter or Facebook group or just follow you on social media (in the order of my preference).
“Okay, now tell me how to build trust?” you ask.
There you go! Now that you’ve seen how to help your website visitors ‘know’ you through your personal brand website, and ‘like’ you, you are raring to jump to the next step.
Tada! I have tough news for you.
And relationships aren’t built overnight. That’s the tough part. But did I tell you I had good news too?
Hard work is good, and I know you are up for the grabs. I also know you are ready to put in the hard work to build relationships with your audience or visitors.
Conversations, done well, can help build confidence, trust and friendships. You probably know this well. If you’ve ever dated someone or have a partner and run a family, you know what I mean.
When you know someone well, you can connect with them at a deeper level. And when you do, and discuss topics that are closer to their heart, you connect.
That’s exactly the point. You cannot just make meaningful conversations just on your website. You can, to a great extent, have conversations through your blog posts and comments.
To further those conversations, start an email list.
Email, when used right, can help you build long-term relationships. I have, admittedly, been bad at it for a long time (partly, blame it on my introvertedness). But recently I used some help to get over the hunch. And, here’s what I learnt.
Emails are still the best and most personal way to have conversations. It’s not social media.
And, once you know how to write meaningful emails, it’s so easy to structure conversations and continue having long-chain conversations with complete strangers in your email list.
Emails are strange. Good emails can build relationships from nothing. It’s like magic, to see them happen. But it’s equally easy to break good relationships, or even worse, put you in a very bad light.
Here are a few nuggets I’ve learnt through my own experience.
Always, always ask for permission before sending emails. I’ve seen several email signup forms that don’t do a double opt-in check or even mention explicitly that you’ll receive an email.
Don’t say, “Download my free eBook” and send emails. No, please don’t ever do that!
People who visit your website are just like you – humans. They like to be treated with respect. I specifically want to talk about the topics and length of emails you choose.
You need to talk about topics that are relevant to them, and keep the length short enough to convey the message and long enough to be an email.
I personally prefer shorter emails on an ongoing basis, with an exception of my first couple of emails. Even they are longer because I share some housekeeping info.
Always respect your visitors’ time.
Email list software like the one I use let you personalize a few things like ‘name’, etc. That’s a no brainer. But if your email list has multiple segments or you have multiple target audience types, it’s a great idea to send each segment separate emails.
If you are running a health website, you don’t want to mail your ‘obese’ subscribers an email about ‘how to gain weight’!Personalize your emails. If you are running a health website, you don’t want to mail your ‘obese’ subscribers an email about ‘how to gain weight’! Click To Tweet
Seth Godin responds to his email list. I’ve once responded to one of Seth’s emails, only to be surprised with a response after a few days. There is nothing called busy or ‘I have no time’.
Take time to respond, because your subscribers deserve it.
Asking your email subscribers what they like to know more about, and sending emails on that topic can help you have deeper conversations.
My email list software allows me to ‘tag’ subscribers so I can send future emails based on their interests. I didn’t use it for a long time, but the minute I started to (recently), the response rates have shot up!
All right, I need to be clearer. Please avoid using a language or tone that one cannot identify with you. If you read that email after a year, you should know it was your email.
For example I use a very casual tone on the blog, and if I chose to be firm and ‘mechanical’ in my emails, my audience will struggle to identify with me.
If your subscribers struggle to identify you, they are soon going to be out of your email list.
That brings us a full circle.
I should probably stress on the more than just one mention at the end. The need for Personal Branding and a personal branded website is no longer an option.
No matter what you are – doctor, lawyer, artist, designer, business owner, finance expert, etc. – you need to build your personal brand. People no longer do business with you because of your credentials, but because of who you are.
Build relationships before asking people to open their wallets or before applying for your next job, and your personal brand website is the first step in that direction.
Time is not an excuse either. You can build it yourself in a couple of hours using a software like this, or you can get someone to build one for you from a service like this or this.
If you plan on building your personal brand website yourself like I built mine using Thrive Themes, you might be interested in downloading the free personal branding guide below.
In this personal branding guide, I help you get started with the foundations of your personal brand (brand research, brand strategy and brand design).
If you still need more help building your personal brand or your personal brand website, do hit reply to my email after downloading the personal branding guide. I’ll be happy to help in the best way I can.
Just remember that personal branding is a great tool to build authority. Please always use it with care. Always have the best interest of your audience, visitors or subscribers. Go and build your personal brand website!
Leave a comment below if this article resonated with you, or helped you get started with building your personal brand.