In this article, I propose that personal branding and increased business can results from having a central source online from which to guide people who are interested in your services. I believe that by creating what I call a “Personal Identity Hub Website,” you can benefit on multiple fronts.
In your content marketing efforts, if you plan to be seen as a subject matter expert with some degree of credibility, you’ll want to create your own hub.
You can have a blog, represent multiple companies and their websites, have a LinkedIn profile page, a Twitter account, a YouTube channel, a Flckr photo gallery, and feature your online presence on other platforms, but it’s the hub that serves as the index file for it all. By coming to the hub, people get a glimpse of what you’re involved in and who you are, and that’s the point.
It’s More Than a Personal Website
A personal identity hub website is not a personal site. A personal site has a significantly more extensive structure and outlay that typically goes in depth throughout many parts. Same with a blog. Contrast this with a personal identity hub website which relies on displays of smaller chunks of information about you, typically displayed in bite-sized chunks of information.
For example, rather than a full bio you may simply have a bulleted list of highlights of your background, career, and skills. I suppose that to some extent, the purpose will define what it is.
A Glorified Resume
One simple way to view a Personal Identity Hub is to think of it as a glorified, active, and possibly interactive CV. The idea is that you are pushing yourself as the brand and letting your website show off your accomplishments and goals. However, everything you display is a short version. Further, it’s on a website that you have branded and control. As such, your CV on a LinkedIn page will not qualify (but you can add a link to your LinkedIn bio page).
The obvious goal is to manage the impression that people get about you when they search for your name. If your future employer or potential client Googles your name, it’s best that they find useful, relevant information about you as they form an impression of whether or not to hire you. From a reverse reputation management perspective (i.e., establishing online personal branding in advance of a crisis), you want to be able to control or manipulate at least some of the results on a search engine results page. A personal identity hub website can help you do that.
On a related note, it behooves you to look up your own name and see what comes up in a search engine results page. If you can find photos of yourself, half-naked in a drunken stupor, puking your guts out, anyone can.
A Step-by-Step Guide
Just to be clear, there is no absolute right or wrong in making one of these sites. I would expect a lot of variation between sites.
Step 1: Buy Your Domain Name.
To make this work, I suggest using your actual name as the domain name. In my case, I have www.BrianRotsztein.com (I also have www.Rotsztein.com which comes in handy as well. I’ll explain why some other time). By using your own name and adding a dash of SEO, you can almost guarantee that your personal identity hub website will appear first when people search for you.
Step 2: Set Up Web Hosting.
Make sure you have reliable hosting. I recommend staying away from $4.95/month type hosting in favour of something reliable where you can actually call someone if you need help.
Step 3: Choose a Design
The design is up to you. If you choose WordPress as a web publishing platform, you can easily use a free template and change it later as needed. Your site is only going to be about 1-10 pages so you don’t need to worry too much about expansion. You may want to create a logo to represent you (but that’s a larger personal branding issue which I won’t get into here).
Step 4: Add Content.
What content should you add? The way I see it, a personal identity hub website should be a central place with only relatively minor references to the various parts of your business life. I have listed some ideas below.
- Brands/Companies: List them with brief summaries of what each one does and your role.
- Social Media Networking: Make it easy for people to interact with you. Add icons to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Include others as needed. Wherever you have built your social media foundation is what you want to highlight. Make it easy to connect with you.
- Add a Dynamic Component: To show you are active (assuming you are – you may not be and that’s ok), you may want to consider a live Twitter feed, a widget that displays recent posts in your blog, or similar dynamism.
- CV/Bio: Try to restrict this to the highlights. Remember that you also have LinkedIn (or other similar site – whatever the current flavour is) to list your experiences.
- Clients: Point out some of your key clients if you think that will add value. I know that some industries prefer to hide these.
- Blog: Link to your blog and possibly highlight some of your favourite posts.
- Services: Identify what services you want to offer. Ideally you will focus on the services you want to push.
- Products: If you’re selling a product, you likely have a website all about them. Keep descriptions and marketing text to a minimum. Your hub is a guide, not a hard and fast, in your face selling tool.
- Highlights: Links to interviews, Flckr photos, videos, Slideshare presentations, and other features that highlight who you are.
- Special Features: I’m a photographer and show some photos to give people a taste for what I can do. If you have aspecial feature, show it off here.
- Fans & Groups: If you have a Facebook fan page, be sure to integrate that with your site. Add a “Like” button on your hub.
- Higher Education: Add a list of publications.
- Your Photo: This is up to you. It certainly helps with transparency but keep the kids out of the photo! Here’s some insight in to using a photo on your website.
- Creative Features: You may want to create a page that lists points that you want others to take note of (e.g., magazine publications, your most popular sayings, your best articles, your favourite whatever, etc).
Note that this is not an all-encompassing list. Work within the parameters suggested and adjust them in a way that best suits your individual needs. Just remember the spirit of this type of website as you work on it. Keep it simple. I think that the type of content really becomes a defining factor based on your personal requirements. Keep in mind that this is not a blog. Rather, it’s an opportunity to provide a guide as to who you are and what you can offer.
Step 5: Marketing
Make sure your website has at least basic SEO such as appropriate <title> tags and at least one link pointing into it. You might consider using the web address of your new hub in your email signature, social media profile links, business card, and so on. However, you should not feel the need to push your hub. I see it mostly as a pull.
Alternate Versions: Personal Identity Hub Websites Pages
I started writing this post about a year ago and finally got around to finishing it. During the last few months, I’ve noticed an increase in chatter about this very topic. It’s still a murmur but I suspect it will become increasingly prominent as more individuals search for solutions to the problem of bringing their diverse online business lives together. That said, I noticed that about.me offers a very simple version of what I’m talking about. You may want to check that out if you don’t have the resources for creating your own true personal identity hub website.
One final note: I decided to call them “personal identity hub websites” and not “personal branding hub websites” in recognition of the idea that it’s your personal identity that paves the way for your brand to expand. You could also refer to these as “personal profile websites” and other variations. Other than that, it’s essentially an arbitrary naming decision.
I would love to hear feedback about this! Feel free to comment below…