Develop an Online Presence Before You Need One
 In Business Tips

Starting on online presenceI know a lot of people, with a full and and rewarding careers, who are not ready to stop working completely but are ready for a change to do the work they want to do on their own terms.

Although you might think I tell everyone to start a blog, that’s actually not true. I do however, promote blogging as a strategy for people who have something to say, who want to build up their reputations and who have a lot to gain by getting themselves out there with their own website.

Whether you are a corporate executive who will be noticed for his or her thought leadership, or a college student diving into the job market for the first time, having your own website is a great way to help position you to succeed.

But, it is important not to wait until you need website. You never know when there will be a layoff at your company, or when a fantastic, but competitive, opportunity will present itself. Having your own website with posts that show who you are, what you care about and what you have accomplished are so much more effective than a typical resume where you tell someone how wonderful you are.

Creating your own website affords you the opportunity to craft your brand image through the content you include. I don’t mean being dishonest. I mean you can show the really great things that you have done rather then someone reading one sentence on a resume that looks the same as everyone else’s blah, blah, blah.

Controlling your own website allows you to show you are a well-respected speaker. For example, you could write a post about the keynote speech you did for a major company, or even the speaking gig you had at the local chamber of commerce. With your own website, you can also include images of yourself speaking and even embed the presentation slide-deck.

Grow Into Yourself

A friend of mine, thinking about his next career, asked me when he should start a website.  He expressed his hesitance since he isn’t entirely sure about what he wants to do in the next phase of his life. Does strike a chord with you or someone your know?

This is what I said to him,

You have a brilliant mind and that having a vehicle and a practice of writing regularly will be great for you no matter what you do with it. But since you want to leave the corporate life, now is the perfect time to start building your online reputation. You don’t have to have a full-blown website right away.  Start with a blog and grow into yourself.

My first website was a blog where I wrote about whatever I wanted to. This was long before I ever thought about New Tricks. I used my first blog to get my feet wet, and begin to find my voice. Later, I realized I was passionate about helping people with their businesses and could use my gifts of psychology, technology and design skills to help people and do what I loved.

It took that much time to find what I wanted to do for work; who my people were and what they needed to know. That is when I started my business website.

My friend’s blog could easily grow into a consultant/speaker website. But my advice to him was,

Since you don’t know exactly what you want to do next, going simple is the best, easiest and cheapest way to start.

Too many people get hung up making their site pixel perfect and fret over their content for way too long, postponing launching only to find their businesses change as they get deeper into it and then they have to redo quite a bit.

This is what we suggest to people who are just starting out online:

  1. Start with a blog format website where the front page is the blog page.
  2. Use your name or variation thereof for a url.
  3. Use a text based logo and a tagline.
  4. Get a good photo taken for your about page and maybe for your sidebar.
  5. Create a bio for your about page.
  6. Start with five posts, each with an image.
  7. Create several categories of topics for your blog posts.
  8. Get a MailChimp account and add an opt-in box to your sidebar to start an email list for a newsletter.
  9. Add a social media share plugin for people to use to share your posts.
  10. Create a contact page.
  11. Add a Google Analytics plugin so you can track your progress.

It is only in doing the work that you begin to understand exactly what you are doing and where you are going.  As that happens, you will have a better understanding of who you your audience is, what they want from you and what you want to do for them.  At that point, you will be ready to add additional pages for services and other pages that you might need, which is an easy thing to do.

Once your site is launched it helps to get on writing schedule, and keep it up. You can put your posts on an automatic feed so your subscribers get each post that you publish sent to their inboxes. Wash, rinse and repeat.

When you are ready to upgrade your site to a different look and feel you can change the theme design without having to start from scratch since all of the content is safe in the database.

My friend has been noodling with this idea of starting his own online presence for quite some time.  It is exciting to see him take the step to create a body of work that will be his legacy. It will provide a strong platform from which he can define his true and best purpose going forward.

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