Why Every Professional Needs a Personal Website

Categorized as Branding, Opinion

Let’s face it. The internet has transformed how we interact, connect, and share our knowledge. If you’re not putting yourself out there with a personal brand, you might as well be invisible.

While social media platforms have become some of the most popular marketing channels for brands to establish their online presence, they are inherently limited by their design, causing a risk to long-term brand building.

The SEO Advantage: Where social media falls short

Although social media platforms excel at building awareness and generating an audience, their content is often not indexed by search engines. This means that your knowledge, expertise, and the time spent producing social media content may never be discovered by people searching for information in your area of expertise. And when social posts do get discovered in search, they can’t provide the same layer of depth you can create from a well high-quality piece of web content.

On the other hand, blogs, articles, and case studies published on your website are all indexable and appear in search results. When produced correctly, a page/post should have several keyword-rich headlines, quality metadata, compelling body copy, and image optimization. With the right strategy, it’s relatively easy to build tens of thousands of keyword-relevant content on your website that will help you build long-term authority with not only your fans, but search engines across the world—not just Google.

Building on Borrowed Land: The risks of relying on social media

Relying solely on social media platforms to build a brand is like building your dream home on rented land. You may not have complete control over your content strategy, and the platform’s policies or content algorithms can change at any moment. Or worse, they could easily fade away like we’ve seen with Myspace, Vine, and even Snapchat to some degree. 

Also, you don’t own your social media accounts, making you vulnerable to sudden suspensions, deletions, and restrictions. I’ve personally seen and heard stories of branded social media accounts getting suspended from sharing content for games like Call of Duty because they’re talking about war-related topics. Education accounts have been flagged for discussing topics deemed too sensitive or inappropriate when you can read about them on Wikipedia. It’s a fact that certain keywords on social media get flagged by automated systems that can lead to deprioritizing your content in social feeds, essentially losing authority.

I knew of an artisan jewelry maker who sold their products through Instagram. Their account was hijacked, they lost sales for multiple weeks, and they had to start a new account from scratch and then try to migrate their audience to a new profile.

Everyone knows a story about one of these examples. This is another reason why you need a website.

Ownership and Control: The benefit of personal websites

When you build a website, especially with a platform like WordPress, you physically own your site, including all its content, media files, and code. This means that you can take your website to any public host or private server, giving you complete control over your online identity. You can publish anything you desire, with any length in any format, without the limitations of social media content specs.

While website builders like Squarespace offer user-friendly interfaces and visually appealing templates, they often come with limitations in terms of advanced customization and flexibility compared to WordPress. You’re also conforming to their platform’s pricing structure, and have to pay whatever they ask unless you want your website taken offline.

There’s no shortage of resources online that compare the pros and cons of popular website platforms. Depending on the requirements for your website, a site with Squarespace might be a worthy option.

Social Media Lifespan: The longevity of website content

Social media platforms are designed for rapid consumption, where posts have a short lifespan and quickly lose traction as they get buried under an avalanche of new content.

This pure nature of social media content means that the time, effort, and resources invested in creating them often yield only short-term engagement and limited visibility. On top of that, social media algorithms prioritize content that is recent and generates high engagement, making it difficult for older posts to resurface and reach new audiences.

Investing that time and effort in creating high-quality content for your website has the potential for lasting impact and long-term value. When you publish well-researched, informative, and engaging content on your website, you’re investing in a resource that can continue to attract visitors, leads, and fans for months or even years.

Looking Professional: Popular figures with websites

There’s a level of professionalism that comes with a personal website. What sounds better: telling someone to check out your Instagram and send you a DM, or telling someone to check out the portfolio on your website and send you an email?

Look at popular figures like Tim Ferris, Peter McKinnon, and Mattew Encina. They all have personal websites that serve as the cornerstone of their online identity. Their sites act as hubs for their content, achievements, and expertise, making it easy for their audience to access and explore their work. This is exactly why I have my website.

Closing thoughts

While social media can be a valuable tool for building awareness and engaging with your audience, it should not be the sole foundation of your personal brand. I challenge you to create a personal website so that you can achieve better visibility through search engines, maintain ownership and control over your content, and establish a central hub for your digital identity.