Why you need your own website

Get A Personal Website

You may not have thought about it before, but having your own website as a graduate student might be your most important tool for showcasing… well, you. We all know that every grad student needs a CV. CV’s are important to describe who you are, your qualifications, your research and teaching experience, and your publication history, for example (for more about CV’s, please see my Guide for creating a CV/Resume). They are immensely important documents for graduate students, but they have some major limitations.

Essentially, no one can find your CV or read it unless you email it to them directly.  For a graduate student trying to get their name out there, a CV on its own limits your audience to almost no one. Additionally, your CV is a static document. As soon as you gain new experiences and accomplishments (which grad students do continually), the CV that you sent to people earlier no longer represents your complete picture.

What’s the solution?

Every grad student should build a personal website.
(Don’t worry, it’s easy to do if you follow my Guide)

Here are some of the advantages of having your own spot on the World Wide Web:

  1. A website is dynamic. As soon as you acquire new skills, gain an experience, or win an award, you can add it to your website.
  2. People can find you. Unlike CV’s, which you need to send out to others, people will be able to find your website on their own.
  3. Having your own site is a lot more impressive than just having a LinkedIn or Facebook profile.  You can format it exactly the way you want in order to showcase your talents and accomplishments in the most suitable way. You can control exactly what people see and how they see it. Also, having your own website tells people that you can accomplish technical tasks, like building a website!
  4. Although all grad students should have their own website, not many do. This means that you will stand out a lot more if you do have one.
  5. Although I will show you how to easily build a site of your own without the need for technical skills, you are bound to learn new skills along the way. Basic website skills can be a huge advantage in practically every field and industry.

It’s easy to do, and cheap (or free)

Building a personal website does not need to be a difficult task, nor does it need to be expensive. In fact, there are a variety of free website services out there with user-friendly dashboard applications. For many of these, all you need to know how to do is drag and drop and point and click. It used to be that in order to design and build a website, you needed strong knowledge of HTML and other programming languages. Nowadays, however, anyone can build a site without ever needing to code anything.

While free website building services can be useful for some needs, I don’t usually recommend these for graduate students trying to build their academic brand with an online presence. Why not? Going the free route does not give you your own dedicated domain (such as www.yourname.com), but rather a variation of the service provider’s domain (such as www.yourname.wordpress.com). Also, free websites usually have ads all over them that are beyond your control. In my opinion, it is much much better to have your own domain and a self-hosted site. This is much more impressive and you will be taken a lot more seriously than if you have a free site covered with weird advertisements.

But even self-hosted sites can be very simple to build, and not very expensive at all. I know most grad students don’t have a ton of money, so I wouldn’t be recommending this if it would end up costing you anything prohibitive. In my ULTIMATE GUIDE to building your website, I explain and show you exactly, step-by-step, how to set up your site – from beginning to end. It’s written for grad students, by a grad student, and you won’t find a more customized how-to guide anywhere on the web for your needs.

Obviously, whether or not you build a personal website is totally up to you. Similarly, whether you go the free route or choose a low-cost self-hosted solution is your decision. I host my own site using HostGator. It took me just minutes to set up the hosting service, minutes to install WordPress, and, by using a simple WordPress theme (you can download these from many places such as Themeforest), it was very simple to add content in an attractive way.

Guide to Building Your Own Website

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Kyle Massey

Kyle is a current PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin in the College of Education.

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