A personal website is basically your own domain and space on the internet for you to do as you please. Today, it’s cheaper than ever to buy and build such a site (unless you share your name with some really famous person, I suppose) but the question does remain…does everyone need a personal website? While it may be cheap, it does involve some amount of work, since no one would want to associate their name with something that’s subpar, and surely not on the internet, at least.
Since you’re reading this on priyankabanerjee.in, clearly I thought it made sense for me to have such a site. Let me start by talking about why I think personal websites can be handy:
You can use to control and consolidate your online presence
Most people usually have little nooks and crannies all across the internet. You have your social media profiles, your LinkedIn profile, perhaps a Quora profile with a good following and maybe a YouTube channel or a blog. A personal website consolidates all of this and becomes the one go-to platform for your online presence. The best part is that you can do with it, what you like. Present your stories, your work, your struggles – anything and everything that makes you you.
You can use it to display your work
A personal website can also be used to showcase your work. Right off the bat it becomes clear that certain professionals would benefit more from such a personal website than others. Designers, artists, writers, developers, musicians and so on can use their sites as portfolios. Plus, since we’re apparently moving to a “gig economy”, which is centered around freelance, consultative, part time and temporary opportunities, a personal website can be useful to get clients interested in working with you. It could also help with potential recruiters – there’s so much more you can add on your site, as compared to your resume. Even students can use it to talk about their projects, research work and so on.
You can merge it with your blog
Right now, this is mainly what I use my site for. Your site can host your blog too! And no matter what you’re doing, whether you’re a student or a professional, and regardless of your field, you can maintain a blog and have that set up on your site. According to me, it does look better than a “.wordpress.com” domain, and just makes everything seem a little more neat and tidy.
You can use it for anything in the future
I would say this is the best part of a personal website. Since I’m in my early twenties, I’m not quite sure what shape my life will take in the next 4-5 decades (I’m not too keen on living beyond that :P). Maybe I’ll start a side project I want to display on my site. Or perhaps I’ll become a professor one day and I want to share my work through my site. Maybe I’ll be a speaker and I’ll use my site to display recordings of my previous talks, to book more sessions! I love this site for the options it provides.
Coming to the original question, no, I don’t think everyone needs to have a personal website. However, I do think everyone should at least think about it. If any of the points listed above made you think, “Hmm, that sounds like something that’s relevant for me”, go ahead and get yourself a personal website!
Have you ever started a blog, a YouTube channel or a Facebook page with much enthusiasm and discipline, but found yourself slowly reducing the posts as the weeks go by?
The last time I posted on this blog was in August. It’s been over a month since I’ve published something, and that’s quite upsetting. About a year and half back, I could churn out at least one article a week. To go from that to this is not something I’m proud of. I mean, sure, I’m busier now since I’m working, but if I’m being honest with myself, I could have easily found out the time to update my blog regularly.
So today I’m trying to acknowledge all the “hurdles” in my way and what I plan to do about them. I believe these are common for any sort of content creator on the internet, so if it helps someone else out too, that’ll be quite a victory for me.
So what are the problems? I thought about it a lot and these were the issues I found to be true for myself.
- Not knowing what to write about
- Not knowing if anyone will like/care about it
- Actually getting down to it
Here’s what we can do about each of them:
Not knowing what to write about: Now, I have a few ideas about this but I don’t want to get ahead of myself here. I’m using a few articles I’ve read to solve this (like this one here and here) but I’d rather revisit this topic a few weeks from now when they’ve been executed fully. Once I nail down a system for this that works for me, I’ll share it with you guys. For now, you can check out some posts by other authors that I found useful.
Not knowing if anyone will like/care about it: Well, I don’t actually face this much myself – at least, not anymore. When I initially started blogging circa 2010 I was quite conscious of what I’d write, second guess myself and delete almost-finished drafts. The only tip for this one is to power through. That’s literally it. I’m not saying your writing will be perfect – or that mine is, for that matter. I’m just saying that if we can work past this mental block and keep posting, we’ll get better over time.
Actually getting down to it: So there are multiple things involved in posting a blog post. Here are a couple of them:
– Having an idea in mind
– Validating that idea and coming up with all the points falling under it
– Creating an outline for the post
– Writing the post
– Formatting the post
– Selecting an image to go with it
– Sharing it on social media and sending an email to your list
The list of taks can be intimidating at times, and it can seem unreasonable to do it all in one go. I’ve thought of publishing posts on particular days but when I got down to it, everything suddenly seemed to much. The thought of coming up with an idea and writing it and editing it and looking for a good photo was quite tiresome. Plus I had to do this all in time to share it at a decent time on social media.
So how can we make this less overwhelming? By breaking it down, of course. Even after writing hundreds of articles and posts in the past I still find it challenging to do it all in one sitting. And looking back, I’ve always had a system in place. Take DU Beat for example. We had our Monday meetings to come up with ideas for articles. Over the course of the next two days, we’d validate these ideas by contacting sources, figuring out our opinion on topics, gathering facts and so on. We’d then get writing and send it to the copy editors by Thursday evening. That’s when most of the editing was done post which the designers took over and put everything together by Sunday night.
So clearly, a process helps. I’ve come up with this process for myself –
Monday (evening): Come up with 2 potential topics of the articles
Tuesday (evening): Sketch an outline for the post – heading and main idea for each section
Wednesday: No blog work cause it’s a packed day at work
Thursday (morning): Write the post
Friday (morning): Editing
Saturday (afternoon): Coming up with all the material for the post (image, tweets, FB post and email body)
Sunday: Hit publish and share
I’ve even calendered myself for these in the coming weeks – if it’s on my calendar, I end up finding a way to do it!
This is my plan. If my experience sounds similar to yours, I’d encourage you to make one of your own. Let me know what hurdles you’ve faced (or overcome) while creating content of your own. I’d love to hear your experiences!
I’ve been a book worm pretty much all my life thanks to my mom’s influence, who happens to be a Literature grad and an Editor by profession. I’ve transitioned from fiction to non-fiction over the years, but in the recent past, I’ve been reading a lot of content online. My reading material covers blogs, short ebooks, guides, journals and so on.
I still love reading books, but I find material online to be quite appealing too. For one thing, they’re way easier to digest in one sitting and I can skim through it and then decide if I want to read it properly or not. Plus, not everyone who has something worth saying writes a book on it – maintaining a blog or a podcast is way easier.
I was recently asked how I find interesting content online and I thought I’d share some ideas on that. I’ve started off with my main sources of content, followed by a list of tips that’ll help you find interesting stuff online.
This is my #1 source of interesting content and articles. Twitter lets you create lists of users (you needn’t be following them) which can be private or public. The list I use most frequently is one I called “Interesting Tweeple” (not the best name in the world, I admit) and I’ve added users whom I consider thought leaders. This includes journalists, CEOs, bloggers, tech people and so on. Other advantages of this list aside, what’s great is that these users share a lot of links and articles on a daily basis. And because I’ve deliberately chosen the people in the list, I know that the content they’ll share will be useful or interesting to me.
Here’s how you can add people to Twitter lists: https://goo.gl/9hzslX
My “Interesting tweeple” list.
Publishers on Facebook
Facebook gets a lot of flack for being a waste of time, but I’ve found it to be quite useful. Publishers across the world get a lot of traffic from platforms like Facebook, which encourages people to share their work here. I make use of this by following interesting pages (ranging from Vox and Reddit to Harvard Business Review and Brain Pickings) and saving links on my feed I find interesting.
726 saved/archived links so far!
Subscriptions and Feeds
Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time on the internet signing up for different newsletters which send me great content right to my inbox. I’ve subscribed to various sites and blogs, many of which send me a weekly update on the new content posted that week. A lot of them are also bloggers who promote other people’s work so I get to know of even more sites through this.
I also follow some sites using apps like Feedly that helps you to organise and read content from the web. I don’t use this too heavily (since I’m more used to the other methods) but it can be quite useful to keep track of your favourite sites in one place.
I actually look forward to many of these newsletters.
That’s pretty much it! All sources combined, I think I go through about 50-80 articles/videos/podcasts every week. As you can imagine, sometimes that can be overwhelming. That’s why I have a few tips to share to keep everything under control and make the most of the content you find online:
- Unfollow/unsubscribe like it’s nobody’s business: Since I subscribe to a LOT of newsletters, I unsubscribe from things I don’t find relevant anymore, quite often. When I sign up for a new site, I give it about 2-3 emails to see if it’s for me or not. If I don’t do this, my inbox becomes unmanageable and frankly, quite daunting to wade through. So my advice would be to experiment with newsletters, but make it a point to move on if it’s not your cup of tea. If you’re past the point where you can check these manually, you can use Unroll.Me to unsubscribe from multiple sites in one go. The same strategy can be used for Facebook pages and Twitter users.
- Save for later: When you’re scrolling through your social media lists and feeds, you probably won’t have time to read everything right then and there. Thankfully, we can save articles/links/videos for later on almost any platform. You can favourite links on Twitter to curate them, save links on Facebook and bookmark posts on Medium. You can even use an app like Pocket to “download” articles in one place and read them when you’re offline! (Goodbye, boring Metro rides!)
- Share good content with your networks: Whenever I come across an article I think other people would enjoy, I make it a point to share it, either to specific people or simply on my social media timelines. It’s a great way to pass interesting content around and also to keep in touch with people. (I don’t know about you, but when someone shares something with me by saying “Hey, this reminded me of you” or “Thought you’d like this link”, it makes me feel good!)
- Customise your feed: When it comes to platforms like Facebook or Quora, you might think that the links and articles that show up on your feed are random. Well, you can make it more likely for the feed to contain things that YOU like by saving articles, unfollowing irrelevant pages, muting irrelevant threads, liking/upvoting posts that are interesting and asking Facebook to stop showing you certain types of posts. These deliberate moves will make your feed more customised to what you like.
- Send a thank you email to the author: When I wrote for DU Beat, one of my favourite moments was when 12 people (complete strangers) emailed me letting me know that they had found my article useful – it made my day! Since then, I’ve made it a point to email the authors of articles I find particularly useful/touching and thank them for writing it. (Tweets work well here too!)
What are some of your favourite sources of content online? Let me know in the comments below.