Creating Your Website Tutorial | Part 2: Defining Your Brand
Hi! You're located at Part 2 of this website building tutorial series. Easy navigation for the lost:
Part 2 | Defining Your Brand (📍You're here!)
Part 3 | Crafting Your Content (Coming soon)
So you're on the internet. So what, who cares? How do you get people to notice, to care? Consider this your 101 crash course on personal storytelling, answering the questions of: Who do I think I am? From friends to recruiters to industry peers and beyond—how do I want to be perceived by my ideal readers and followers?
I've put together a 2-part branding kit to aid the soul-searching. We'll walk through an extrospective (1) Inspiration Sheet and an introspective (2) Personal Branding Template. Download here (add a copy to your Google Drive so you're not writing over each other):
1) Inspiration Sheet
We'll start with sharpening your outward perception via the Inspiration Sheet. You've stumbled upon people who are really freaking good at showing what they do and communicating who they are. So take note.
Think of a professional industry voice you admire. This could be a photographer, designer, entrepreneur, musical artist, athlete—anyone who inspires you. Then, use his/her website, interviews, and work (etc) as a launchpad to find the friends they ride with. Subscribe to niche publications and email newsletters. Go irretrievably down the rabbit role of discovery, and screenshot anything personal-storytelling-related that catches your eye.
You now have a database of personalized annotated references, with no moodboard-design skills or Pinterest account needed. This is you drawing from the best of many worlds, all to incorporate into your own universe in the makings.
I've filled in the first few rows as an example, noting both (+) what I liked and (-) what I wanted to make sure I didn't do. Feel free to customize to your needs.
2 + 3) Personal Branding Template
Putting yourself into words is one of the hardest things to do, probably because we are complex, intersectional beings constantly pushing against labels and expectations. But! That also means that the better you are at expressing yourself clearly (read: simply) to others, the more you will stand out. Defining your purpose verbally goes hand in hand with communicating it visually. The above template will help you start thinking about what you want to bring into this world—explanations of each section below.
If you need a refresher, I covered this in Part 1: Choosing Your Platform. Be as specific as you can without being verbose. Remember this is the purpose of your website, not your personal identity.
Examples: showcase professional work, position yourself as a reputable industry voice, share expertise on a subject via blogging, establish a home for side projects.
An extension of purpose—again, be as specific as you can. Try to imagine the exact persona you're writing to. It's easy to get caught up in the bubble of your own head, but remember that your website is ultimately for other people to read and engage with. Laundry lists of achievements entertain no one.
Examples: big agency recruiters, freelance creative peers, young single budget travel enthusiasts, international long distance friends
A uniform color palette is key to staying clean and polished. Refer to your color palette any time you're designing graphics, choosing theme colors, etc. Some good places to start:
Extensive: Google Material Design Color Tool
Easy: Design Seeds
Cool: Color Claim
A catch-all section for other visual inspiration. Take screenshots of anything else that reflects you visually. If you need ideas:
Think again to your audience. Do you use sentence case or lower case? Sentences or phrases? 1st person or 3rd? For example, food blogger Molly Yeh describes her voice as if she's writing a letter to a friend from summer camp, no matter that she's writing to zillions of readers (this is truth, I actually asked her). And in more interesting words:
Yeh, who is 27, writes with a firehose, eschewing capitalization and encompassing both pastoral pleasure and hummus-induced farting. She swears at least as much as bad boy chef/television personality Anthony Bourdain, and with more self-deprecation. (Minnesota Monthly)
Now read a post by Deb at Smitten Kitchen. Her sarcastically animated personality still shines through, sans Molly's profanity ridden hummus induced farting.
Extreme examples yield good learnings. Now back to our purposes—let's be real; project documentation gets dry. So throw in a funky adjective, vary your syntax, infuse a little delight into an otherwise routine skim from your reader.
Serif or sans-serif? Do you want to purchase your own unique font, choose from your template's preset pairings, or embed a free Google font?
Google Fonts: Free universally compatible database
Typewolf: Great typography resource
WhatFont: Chrome extension that identifies web fonts
Rank your public-facing social platforms on the personal-to-professional spectrum. Do you want a polished or down-to-earth LinkedIn, an intentional or casual Instagram? Not that your content will fall into clean boxes, but utilize the fact that different platforms reveal different parts of you. Evaluate where you are now, where you want to be, and adjust your published content accordingly.
3) About Page
Nailing your about page is crucial because it will be the top trafficked page on your site. This warrants its own post, but I'll end with this—make your first impression count. Check out this good starter article by 99U.
Part 3 | Crafting Your Content (Coming soon)
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