Are You Paying Attention to Your Own Online Brand?

If you’re wondering whether it’s time to build your own website using your personal name as the domain name, then it probably is. If you’ve never thought about it, then you should at least review your online “reputation.” Here’s why…

I bought barrettlester.com about 100 years ago, when everyone first started rushing about buying domains with their personal names. I didn’t have a plan for how I would use it, but I figured I’d get to it one day. So, it sat on the sidelines as I paid money year after year to own it.
(Yes, I eventually went with multi-year plans to save some money.)

Then, in 2012… I began writing this blog, and I decided to forward barrettlester.com here. That was something, right?

But “At Home with Tech” represents more of my personal life. That’s only part of my story… What about the rest of Barrett Lester?

What’s Your Story?
Today, now more than ever… your online identity represents your story in so many ways. It’s working for you 365… 24/7. And for those of you who generally shun sharing your life online and the often-intrusive social media landscape… that’s fine. You may not need your own custom URL.

But let me tell you… both your personal and professional brands need constant attention. Because if you don’t tell your story, someone else will…

Don’t you want to be the author of your own brand?
And like it or not, that begins with your name.

If you think it’s inappropriate to toot your own horn… well, in today’s age of social media where some folks tweet about every minor experience from their day, I think it’s allowed to share a few well-chosen thoughts about who you are and what you want to be known for.

That’s called reputation management.
Get used to it.

BarrettLester.com
So, that’s a long set up for this update that I’ve finally launched barrettlester.com as its own site.
(With a link back to At Home with Tech, of course.)

It’s really just one pager that represents my professional identity. I think of it as a digital business card or an online elevator pitch. Sure, LinkedIn does a lot of that work for me, but I decided that also activating my custom URL strengthens my value proposition in the business world.

No, I’m not expecting anyone to hold the front page with this ‘announcement.’
That said, sometimes you go through periods in your life where you want to create a more public presence for yourself as you seek professional opportunities.

Building your own website with your name is one way to do that…

Hello, Squarespace
I decided to go with Squarespace as my online website builder.
For a personal site, the cost is $16 monthly or $12 per month billed annually.
(The price includes cloud hosting.)

Wix is another popular choice.

I could have also gone with WordPress again, but I wanted to stretch myself a bit and try something new…

60 Minutes to Your New Website?
Constructing a personal website, however simple it’s supposed to be… can still seem like a daunting task. But with all of the design templates that are available on any of the website building services, you don’t have to be a ‘webmaster.’
(I’m certainly not.)

Still…

I was inspired by The Muse, which offered a ‘fun’ website building plan to create a simple site in only an hour.

Really?

So, I gave it a shot…

My Own Journey
Well, it took me far longer than the projected 60 minutes.
It was actually the better part of a Saturday afternoon…

First, I had to figure out the design template I wanted to use. Then, I needed to choose a picture for my banner.
(I ended up taking a new photo. It shows off a couple shelves from my home office bookcase, which contain objects representing my career as well as a few personal items.)

Then, I spent time learning how to navigate the build.
(Squarespace offers great directions and tutorials.)

Next, I pointed my domain address that I originally bought from Network Solutions to Squarespace.
(Squarespace also gave me barrett-lester.squarespace.com for free, though that doesn’t really roll off the fingertips….)

As for the copy, I had previously figured that piece out.
(That’s the most important part!)

And of course, the inevitable tweaks that come with the process.

So, let’s call it a day’s project…

As with anything online, you’re never ‘done.’
(Beyond a particular moment in time)

I expect I’ll be doing more work to it down the line.
But I feel I’m off to a good start.

Sharing Yourself with the World
I don’t think everyone needs their own personal website. You can certainly do a good job managing your own brand and reputation via LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook.

But if you’re looking for another way to help define your public identity, you should consider buying your own domain name and then building out your site.

It’s not difficult to do. Nor, is it that expensive.
You just need commit some time.
And figure out what you want to say!

That’s always the hardest part.

One final piece of advice-
Be authentic. The rest will follow…

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