Most of us think of websites as something only Important People or Important Brands have—celebrities, musicians, well known writers, established restaurants, or businesses making a million dollars a year. In short, websites are for Important People that are not you. So, right out the gate, making a website for yourself or your business feels really intimidating… and that’s before you get to the part where you realize you have to actually set up a website. Meaning before you even open a laptop, you often have to get over two hurdles: the who-am-I-to-have-a-website hurdle, and the how-on-earth-do-I-make-a-website hurdle.
If you have a business, whether you’re a filmmaker, or an esthetician, you probably have at least wrapped your head around the fact that you need a website… whether or not you’ve actually put one together. But for those of us who work slightly more traditional jobs, it’s a little easier to hide behind the paper resume. But truth time: you still might need a portfolio website.
When I started my career, paper resumes were still a thing; fast-forward a decade or so, and people look at you funny when you mention the idea of a paper resume. And the same thing happens when you mention not having a website—why wouldn’t you have one? (Hell, Najva has already broken down for all of us exactly why we need one.) Because while we weren’t looking, personal websites or portfolio websites have found their way in the arsenal of many job seekers. Instead of sending in just a resume and cover letter, prospective employees are also sending a link to their personal websites. A personal website allows you to share more about your experiences than what can be captured on a resume, and it allows you to share some of your personality. Now, this isn’t a good fit for every industry, but it can really work to your favor if you’re in an industry where this is a thing. TL; DR: No longer is a website the domain of coders who understand a secret language. Now anyone can do it, even me! All of which means, of course, that I had to make one.
I realized a few months ago that I totally needed a personal website, and fast. After completing my writing fellowship at APW (which was totally awesome btw), I planned to start pitching freelance ideas to various websites. My initial pitches included links and PDFs of my pieces from APW, but sending emails with lots of links and attachments got really old fast. I also needed my own place to collect all my bylines, both for myself and others. I knew I needed to set up a personal portfolio, but I dragged my feet… because I didn’t have the time to devote to figuring out how to set up a site. I have a full-time job, a husband, an infant, and about eight knitting projects in various stages of completion. I don’t have hours and hours to devote to putting together a website. Also, I’m tragically inept at coding, so I’d been afraid of creating my own website pretty much forever.
There’re lots of great pointers on portfolio sites, including this one from Meg, but even with these great examples, I was dreading the experience. And then, like a lightning bolt, came a reminder about Squarespace. Well actually, I was listening to The Read (which you should totally listen to, btw) and one of their sponsors is Squarespace. I mean, one of APW’s sponsors is Squarespace also, so you think I would have gotten the hint already, but what can I say? Sometimes it takes a few reminders. So I figured, what the hell, why not try it out and see if it’s really as easy as they claim it to be? That night, I logged on, created an account, and started looking at templates. I was really blown away by how nice the templates looked. One of my pet peeves about the other DIY site builders is how so many of them are super clunky and cluttered. As a writer and project manager, I wasn’t looking for a flashy site with a lot of graphics or design—I wanted something clean, uncluttered, and function. After previewing a few templates, I selected the Kent template.
Along with choosing a template, I chose my domain name while setting up my site. Squarespace does provide a generic domain, but when setting up a personal or portfolio website, it’s important to select a domain name that’s easy to remember and relates to your business. Squarespace made it easy for me to search for my preferred domain name, and then select which domains I wanted to include. I went with a .com domain, but I loved that I could select others like .me, .net, or even .travel or .photography depending on my needs. Plus, your domain is included for free the first year with an annual plan or just add it on to your monthly plan for a small fee.
Jaressa Tucker McClure
Before I knew it, I was falling down the Squarespace rabbit hole, adding information to my personal website. But it was a rabbit hole I was happy to go down, because it was all so easy! In about two hours I’d built my entire site—homepage, additional pages, content (excluding photos), links—the whole shebang. It took me until the next day to complete my site, and that’s only because I needed my husband/photographer to take a few impromptu headshots for me on our balcony. From start to finish, it took me maybe three hours to completely put together my personal website via Squarespace—saving me countless hours and an immeasurable amount of stress. When I did have questions, I could rely on Squarespace’s 24/7 customer service/IT support for help. No more spending hours Googling for coding solutions!
By far, setting up my portfolio site via Squarespace was the easiest experience I’ve had setting up a site. I didn’t need to worry about securing hosting services, or building a site on an unfamiliar platform. Squarespace brought together all the elements I needed in one easy-to-use platform. I got the look I wanted, the support I needed, and pricing that is extremely reasonable. I love my new site, which gives me a ton of flexibility and helps me present a professional face to potential partners and employers.
What is holding you back from creating a personal website? If you’ve got one, what’s worked and what hasn’t? When was the last time you gave your site an Update?
This post was sponsored by Squarespace. We are thrilled to be partnering with Squarespace again this year to talk about what it means to be a woman with hustle in 2017. If you’re looking to make a career change or kickstart one on the side, one of the best things you can do for yourself is create a home online where you can show off your work in the form of a portfolio site, an online resume, or another hub where you can display just how awesome you are. Squarespace provides the creative tools that make it easy to build your online home beautifully, even if you’ve never made a website before and have no idea where to start. Squarespace is offering APWers a 10% discount on your first purchase when you use the code APW17 at checkout. Click here to get your website started today with a free 14-day trial from Squarespace.