Personal Online Branding - Extended Thoughts
This post is a continuation of my previous post about setting up a domain name for personal use.
If you wanted to know more, I’ve compiled even more information and resources on developing some professional online branding.
University of Waterloo Email
If you’re affiliated with the University of Waterloo, I have instructions on how to nab a nice @uwaterloo.ca email.
If you want to go one step ahead of a LinkedIn redirect, you can also build your own website, which is a popular choice for people working in, or interested in tech, or even just people who want their own space on the Internet. If you’re not interested in this and satisfied with a redirect to your LinkedIn (that’s perfectly fine!) skip down to Email.
I’m not going to show you how to build a website, but I’ll mention many options that you have, and find some examples.
An assortment of personal websites:
- Annie Xu (2017 AFSA Tax Clinic volunteer!)
- Helena Cao (BMath ‘14)
- Tommy Trinh (2018+ AFSA Tax Clinic volunteer!)
- Eric Shell
- Grayson Kent
To build your own website, you’ll need to figure out hosting and content. Someone out there is going to have to provide you with space on their webserver to host your website, which means you will need to pay. You’ll also have to figure out what you want to put on your website and in what format it will exist.
If you are building a website, you will need someone to host your website.
Free options may have limited support and/or limited capacity/bandwidth and no email support.
If you are a student at the University of Waterloo, you can join the CS Club (yes, even if you’re not in the Faculty of Mathematics) at the very low cost of $2/term. That’s $6/year, which gets you ]4GB of web hosting](http://csclub.uwaterloo.ca/services/), help from some very friendly and knowledgeable people who run the club and the opportunity to join CS Club events. I’m a member of the CS Club (still) and I use it to host my websites, it’s also useful to have to throw up things like a Minecraft map or a list of all the AYCE Sushi restaurants in KW (and their prices). The CS Club has a strong preference for static sites which are inherently more secure but may have a steeper learning curve to set up and post, unlike a Wordpress installation. Common deployable solutions like WordPress can be used, but are discouraged, you can see the CS Club’s notes directly on their wiki. While the campus is closed for COVID-19, registration is free for Spring 2020.
Other paid options involving higher monthly fees include:
Paid options cost considerably more but saves you considerable time and hassle building and designing a website, usually with a WYSIWYG editor and a number of customizable modules.
Content and Design
Depending on which option you chose previously, you have lots of options. Paid options will have you designing visually almost immediately, while more manual options will require you to do a bit of learning in order to format a webpage (e.g. Jekyll/Ruby/Hugo) and upload it to your host. You can also install WordPress onto your webserver, or the host may already have it available at a price.
The basic building block of the Internet is HTML, but that’s probably not the look you’re going for (my old personal website was built a long time ago using HTML - you can press CTRL+U if you’re using Chrome/Opera to view the HTML source code. Currently, I use Hugo (and the help of some themes) to build websites, which is far easier than HTML because I can use Markdown (the old Reddit formatting method) and also because… I chose it randomly. It has been quite involved, however…
Consider what kind of actual content you want to put on the website. Your name, picture and resume, a few words and a link to your LinkedIn profile would be a good start. You can always add more later. A blog about interesting things you learn in your tax career?
Other Online Elements of Personal Branding
I consider this to include any and all pages that you have about yourself on the website. This includes personal blogs, websites and social media accounts that you can be identified on, such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
If you were interested in buying a car, at the bare minimum, you would probably do a google search to see what people have to say about the Toyota Corolla. The same goes for hiring an employee, especially in client-facing roles such as public accounting. If you have an uncommon name, it will be easy to push your professional profile to the top of a search engine… people want to know more about you than your resume shows. Give them something to read! If you have a common name, that doesn’t make you invisible, that means you’ve got to try even harder.
Having a LinkedIn profile is the absolute easiest way to build an online web presence for yourself. It’s designed to showcase you to potential clients and employers. It might be a bit sparse if your work experience is limited but building and maintaining a LinkedIn profile is easily the easiest way to go into detail about your roles and responsibilities in a number of organizations and extra-curricular groups. Unlike a resume, you’re also not limited on word count so go ahead and talk about the cool project you did for the UW Concert Band Club.
I’ve listed some great examples of profiles I’ve seen:
Don’t forget to add a professional picture (brick wall backgrounds work wonders!) and add some text to your profile. An introduction of a couple sentences does wonders for personalizing your LinkedIn profile. Also, you can create a custom LinkedIn URL here, in the top-right where it says Edit your custom URL.