Is it time to launch your personal Web site?

Everyone’s always talking about personal branding. And a large part of creating your own brand, or self-packaging, involves the Web.

I started blogging in June 2008 when I left my job at the Houston Chronicle to travel in Africa. When I returned to the States and began writing a book, and I decided having a blog wasn’t good enough. I wanted my own Web site.

Why? Because without a desk in a newsroom, without an organization backing my work, I felt like I needed a virtual cubicle, a place where people could find me. Since I’m a journalist, there’s a lot of information about me on the Web, from stories with my byline to readers praising or complaining about my work. I wanted to control what Google told the world about me. When people go looking for information about me, I want them to find accurate, positive words, like clips I’m proud of. And I want them to find my contact information easily.

Try Googling yourself. What comes up? For a long time, when I Googled “Alexis Grant,” another woman with middle initial D popped up at the top of the page. Now that I’ve got a Web site, I’m the top link. And that’s what readers will click on first — the information I’ve put out there for them to find.

Jared Novack at Upstatement helped me create alexisgrant.com. (Well, I told him what I envisioned, and he created it.) Not only does it provide information about me, it gives the reader an idea of my personality. The photos at the top of me reporting from various locations, the overall look of the site — it’s a reflection of my character.

(Lucky for you, Jared recently left his job at The Boston Globe to design Web sites full time. If it’s time for you to launch your own Web site — and it probably is — you should hire him.)

Even if you’re not quite ready to build your own site, think about buying your domain name so you’ll have it when the time comes. The longer you wait to buy yourname.com, the less likely it will be available. (Once a name starts becoming more prevalent on the Web, smart techies buy those names so they can resell them at a higher price. I bought alexiskgrant.com for next to nothing, but I really wanted alexisgrant.com, which had already been picked up by one of these second parties. I ended up paying $400 for it.) Not sure whether yourname.com is available? Check at http://godaddy.com.

Do you have your own Web site? Leave the link here so we can check it out.

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10 Responses

  1. I held off for a really long time on launching a website/blog (even the free one I have through wordpress) but finally came around. I really like your description of it being a “virtual cubicle.” Someday I’ll graduate to my own domain name 🙂

  2. Megan reminded me of a hint I’m going to add to this post — If you haven’t bought your domain name already, do it now, even if you’re not sure when you’ll get around to building the site.

  3. Congrats on a great website!

    You can also set up Google Alerts so that you know right away when your name is mentioned somewhere on the web.

  4. I was told authors needed a website and a blog,so I’ve got one set up. It’s http://www.followingthewhispers.com
    Good job, Alexis.
    Karen

  5. Great post, Alexis and thanks for the link back to my post. I agree that the second someone thinks they may want to be published or even blog about a topic they excel in, they must buy their domain name or the next closest thing — even if they aren’t ready to physically start. Another tip is to register your domain for more than one year. When search engines crawl, one of the things SEO experts say the look for is domain expiration. If the domain is set to expire in less than a year, you may lose points. Just s tip – that’s really more toward sites with huge competition, but still good to know. : ) Good luck to everyone in their endeavors with entering the blogosphere. And, like Alexis said, hiring someone to help you with the design is a smart idea. WordPress and Blogger are free and offer some customization options, but if you can afford it, having someone design the site around YOU is a great investment.

  6. I have Google Alerts and its fun to see articles that include your name or your work.

    I’ve also Googled myself. Here is what I found:

    Tremping is a term Israelis use to hitch hike. Also, there is a tourist town named Tremp in Spain that is the capitol of a county. Population: 5,286 and very picturesque. I did not know that.

  7. i have been so lax about finally registering my domain. i plan to do it after the first of the year although, luckily, my blog is pretty high when i google myself 🙂

    Great tips!

  8. I’m a freelance writer/marketing communications consultant and I launched a blog/website (I use wordpress.org and I love it). I was a little lax with my blog posts, but that I’m writing more and doing less marcomm, I’ve noticed my traffic has slightly increased.

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