One of the questions I get asked a lot is ‘Why should I have a personal website? What benefits does it afford and how can I make money from it?’ So I decided to answer it here.
Contrary to what many people think, social media platforms don’t fill the place of a personal website. Your website is like your home — it’s where you live online — while your social media platforms are like roads that lead to your home. Another way to look at it is to see your website as your headquarters and your social media platforms as outposts.
Since I created my first website in April 2013, I have been enthralled by the amazing opportunities that come with having a personal website, some of which I have highlighted in this post.
Shortcut to thought leadership
Having a personal website is perhaps the cheapest and fastest route to build authority and become recognised as an expert in your field. While platforms like LinkedIn allow you to list your skills and get people to endorse you as a way of establishing yourself as an expert, a personal website provides a more organised platform to not only demonstrate those skills but also bring your body of work under one roof. Instead of sharing expert insights on several social media platforms and diffusing your efforts as it were, you can simply publish on your website and share across other platforms.
As you publish useful content in your areas of interest, people will start to recognise you as an expert and thought leader in those areas. Eventually, this will set you up for speaking opportunities, seminar presentations, business engagements and other such platforms that will amplify your influence and impact while also generating income to make your work sustainable.
It could even help you get a job, appointment or contract that you might be otherwise unqualified for. Decision makers get to see the stuff you’re made of thus making it easy to ascertain your suitability without having to rely solely on your CV. I have personally experienced this over and over again.
Even though I am primarily trained as a life scientist, I have worked with a leading newspaper in editorial capacity, executed projects for a big four accounting firm, consulted for government agencies, got lucrative speaking engagements and enjoyed lots of other benefits.
It would be foolish arrogance to think that I achieved all of this by own strength or because of how smart I am. The plain truth is that God has been working on my behalf; without His involvement, my entire life would be devoid of meaning and purpose. However, it is also true that man must provide a substrate upon which the power of God can rest, providing empowerment to do things that would have been otherwise impossible.
For example, Moses had a rod and David had a sling. The power of God came upon these tools and empowered these men to do the impossible. Even when Jesus was going to enter Jerusalem, he needed to ride on a donkey. Just like Moses’ rod and David’s sling — or the donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem — your website provides a conduit through which the power of God can flow, empowering you to do great things to the glory of God.
Build relationships that can help you
Your website gives you a platform to connect with people that might have been otherwise beyond your reach. One of the most satisfying experiences I have is when people call or send me a message to thank me for helping them solve a problem through some insights or resources that they encountered on my website. These people often end up helping me in ways I had not even imagined.
For example, that’s how I met Mariam who told me about a British Council event that ended up being one of the most enlightening and rewarding programs I ever attended. We had a crop of seasoned facilitators from across Nigeria and a few other countries. I reunited with an old friend and made a few new ones. Many other opportunities have sprung up from there. And this story is only one of several similar instances.
Reduce costs or save money
Having a personal website enhances your capacity to create value for others. And under the right circumstances you can exchange that value for what you need instead of having to cough up good cash for it.
For example, I have received books for free, simply to provide my honest opinion and share it with my audience. I have also enjoyed free subscription to tools that would have otherwise cost me as much as 1200 dollars if I had signed up as a regular user. In one of those instances the founder contacted me after reading one of my blog posts. Again, this is one of many examples.
Another way you can save money with a website is by getting rid of printing cost. For example if you have a seminar presentation you can make it available on your website instead of printing it out. Apart from saving cost you are also protecting the environment and creating a safer planet.
You can also apply this idea in other ways such as event registrations, surveys, customer feedback and marketing. You can do all of these on your website instead of printing paper forms. This also saves you the cost, time and effort of data entry because you can usually download submitted data as a spreadsheet instead of transferring them manually.
Differentiation, exposure and visibility
You may be the best dancer in the world but that will not take you anywhere if you’re dancing in the dark. You need to bring your gifts, talents and skills to the attention of the people who can recognise and reward you for it.
I love the way Michael Hyatt puts it: “Great ideas are no longer enough. Without a platform – something that enables you to get seen and heard – you don’t stand a chance. Having an awesome product, an outstanding service, or a compelling cause is no longer enough.”Demonstrate your talents and skills to the people who can recognise and reward you. Click To Tweet
Jesus gave an even clearer picture when coaching his team members several centuries ago: “You are the light of the world — like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15
Applied in the business or professional context, the lamp represents your skills, abilities and talents. The light is the value you create with those assets and the lampstand is your platform for showcasing that value. If you’re fine with being a local champion then you don’t need an online platform. But if the thought of making global impact has ever crossed your mind you need a platform, the centre of which is a professional website that demonstrates your expertise and communicates the value you have to offer.
At the very least, you should have a personal blog that allows you to publish articles, connect with influencers in your areas of interest and send emails from your own domain (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) instead of a bland address like email@example.com. Among other things, this differentiates you from the general class and gives you a professional bearing.
Make ROBO effect work for you
In case you’re hearing it for the first time, ROBO is short for Research Online, Buy Offline. Many people think you only need a website if you’re selling things online. That’s no longer true, if it ever was. Even if you’re not selling online you still need a decent and effective online presence. People are searching for information about your work and what you have to offer.
Buyers look for reviews, blog posts and other online content about what they need or want to buy. Once they make up their mind, they visit an outlet and make the purchase. With a carefully crafted website you can make use of SEO optimisation and targeted adverts to capture this category of customers.What you're looking for is also looking for you. Make yourself findable. Click To Tweet
Show me the money
Now you’re probably thinking, “I’m loving this! But there’s still something missing — how do I make money from my website? Or maybe you’re not so concerned about making money with your website — you have other sources of income that take care of that — but at least you want your website to generate enough money to pay for its maintenance.
One of the most popular ways of making money from your website is selling advert spaces or signing up for services like Google Adsense. But I don’t advise it if your goal is to build a personal brand that resonates with your ideal clients or audience. It’s a different matter if you’re building a news website, gossip blog or other platforms like that.
Money is essentially a means of exchange of value. As you increase your capacity to create value so does your earning power increase. When you take a closer look at the benefits highlighted above you will see that they will all serve to raise your value, consequently helping you to make more money. However, if you want more specific guidelines check out these five amazingly simple ways to make more money and create massive impact.As you increase your capacity to create value so does your earning power increase. Click To Tweet
A whole new world of possibilities
Apart from the benefits highlighted above, having your own website will open up new vistas of opportunities. It can help you clarify your vision, build an audience, control your online reputation, land new clients, provide resources for personal and professional growth, publish your book, try out new ideas and do many other wonderful things. In the end it all boils down to how you choose to use it.
The best time to have your personal website was probably ten years ago. The next best time is right now. Take the first step by answering a few questions so I can guide you through the process.
Question: Do you have a personal website or would you like to have one? How do you [intend to] use it? Share with us in the comments.