8 Surprising Ways a Personal Website Can Improve Your Life
The popular book The Martian became a best-seller in 2014, but started out as a series of blog posts by author Andy Weir on his personal website. Andy posted one chapter at a time, and got comments from readers as he posted new chapters. Eventually, he self-published an ebook which was later published in hardcover by Random House and became a big budget Hollywood movie starring Matt Damon. This example highlights some of the benefits you can get from having a personal website where you can publish anything you want in a way that anyone in the world can access.
I started writing on a personal website about four years ago and have discovered a number of ways that having a personal website can be beneficial. It's useful for storing, organizing, and sharing all kinds of creative work such as writing, a personal journal, photos, sound recordings, video clips, and other information that you want to share with the world. (See also: 8 Ways a Side Hustle Can Advance Your Career)
Here are some ways a personal website can improve your life.
1. It's a place to get creative
When I started my personal website, it had been years since I had done any creative writing. I realized that I could easily start a website and publish my writing immediately. That is both scary and exciting, but what did I have to lose?
2. It won't cost much (or anything at all)
It is possible to set up a professional website or blog at no cost at all. I set up a blog on the Blogger platform for free years ago and still use that today. If you want to spend a few dollars per month, you can get a custom domain name and add ecommerce features to support an online business.
3. It's an opportunity to make money
Once I started getting visitors to my website, I realized I could make money. I started selling advertising and placing affiliate marketing links on my site. Affiliate marketing links are links to products for sale that are related to the content on my website, and I get paid a commission if someone buys after clicking on that link. If you are willing and able to produce material that people are interested in reading, then you can make money on the side. (See also: Can You Really Make Money by Starting a Blog?)
4. It becomes a creative portfolio for you
My personal blog has provided a place to showcase my writing, and I have leveraged this to win some paid writing opportunities. Having your own website gives you a way to get those early publications of your work, which can lead to opportunities with other publishers. A portfolio of work is essential when you are seeking new assignments.
You can post almost any type of creative work on a personal website: digital photos, artwork, audio book narration, video clips, crafts, and even technical projects. You can also add a resume, and provide contact information for those who may be interested in working with you. This can help boost your career in almost any field.
5. It helps you learn and practice coding
Although there are lots of graphical tools to create Web pages, I sometimes edit the HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) code or CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) code to make the page work how I want. By understanding a few simple principles, you can gain a deep understanding of how websites really work.
6. You can get published today, no roadblocks
One of the best things about having your own website is that there are no rules. You can publish whatever you want with no censoring and no gatekeeper. You get to decide for yourself what can be published, even if no one else would publish it. This means that you can become a published writer immediately.
7. You get to perform for an audience
I remember how nervous I was to push the "publish" button the first few times when I was starting my website. I knew that anyone in the world would be able to read my posts and perhaps even comment or send me an email complaining about my content. Writing for an audience pushed me to do my best work, more so than writing in a notebook that no one else could see.
8. You learn how to become more visible on the internet
One of the fun parts about having your own website is looking at the stats to see how many people are visiting. Since you always want to have more visitors, it makes sense to learn how people are finding your website and try to boost your traffic. One strategy is to use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to get more traffic from search results. Understanding SEO can be a valuable skill, both for your own website and as a consultant for other sites. With your own website, you have the opportunity to do experiments to try ideas out and learn what works to boost traffic.
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