Zach Horvath Common Vandal LIVE A GREAT STORY

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How to Build Your Personal Brand Website in under 10 hours for $16

How to Build Your Personal Brand Website in under 10 hours for $16

Building your personal brand website plays a crucial role in growing your business, establishing yourself as a thought leader and providing a creative outlet to add value to your audience.

But between running a business, climbing the corporate ladder, focusing on daily to-do’s and you know, life-ing, it’s hard to find the time to take the first steps.

I’d been wanting to build a personal brand website for months. I bought the domain, had the Instagram handle and knew my why but I was “too busy” with launching a Kickstarter and growing my business.

But finally after months of putting it off I made it a priority to set a couple hours aside for three days in a row and boom, introducing Common Vandal.

Turns out building my site was easier and faster than I expected! Launching this site cost about $26 and took less 10 hours

Tracking time with  Toggle

Tracking time with Toggle

In this post I’m going to walk you through the step by step process of what I did to set up the site, lay the foundation for basic marketing and give you some tips on how to take the baby steps to launching your personal brand so you can maximize your impact in 2019.

WHY YOU NEED A WEBSITE

In a modern age of digital everything, a personal brand gives you a landing page to quickly and easily explain who you are, what you do and why people should listen to you.

For that reason, everyone needs a personal brand website because it will help you

  • gain credibility

  • get hired

  • build awareness for your company

  • give you an outlet for sharing valuable lessons

  • get clear on what’s important in your life

This post will help you set up your website in under 10 hours for either $16 or $26 and will also share some simple tips for how to maximize the value of your site.

*This is a dense post with lots of specific info but by the end of this you’ll know how to launch your personal brand so hang in there, you can totally do this!

The objective here is “good enough for now”. The world of personal branding gets deep but for now we’re going to wade in the shallow areas, focusing on the how to launch your website quickly and easily. Good enough is better than not at all :)

Part I : WHAT’S YOUR STORY (2 hours)

Before building the site it’s important to think about why : Why do you want a website? Why are you building a personal brand? What’s the short term goal? What makes you excited about this process? What’s the first milestone you want to reach?

It’s important to have a basic outline for your why because this clarity will help you stay focused with the right mindset and motivation.

What’s Your Why

Open a Google Doc and take a couple minutes to jot down some ideas on your why

Here’s a couple of example options to get your ideas flowing:

  • I want to brand myself for better networking

  • I want to better explain my value to prospective clients

  • I want to share my lessons to help others avoid my mistakes

  • I want to start a side-hustle

  • I want to display my work (art, words, photos, videos) more publicly

  • I want to become an influencer / thought leader

Once you know you’re why the next step is to simplify it to a concise and marketable explanation that people will easily understand and remember. This will be the starting foundation of your personal brand.

Remember, this is a process. The most important thing is to just start. Your first explanation is just the first step that will lead to more steps.

So what’s your story?

The key point here is that you have a story!

You’ve lived an interesting life filled with ups and down, life lessons, successes and failures. You’ve had unique experiences, learned some lessons and developed skills that weave together to create your story… and the cool part is that people want to hear all about it!

Creating your personal brand website will help share your story with people who care about it.

“Where you from? Where you at? Where you going?”

Think about where you came from, what you’ve learned, where you’re at now, what’s important to you and what the future holds. Open your Google Doc and start writing. Remember, keep it super simple. Be authentic. Be raw. Be honest. Dump it all out on the page, then go back and revise it down to a simple and basic paragraph.

Here’s how I explain my story on Common Vandal:

I started a t-shirt company in high school and have been bringing ideas to life ever since. In 2012 I bought a one way ticket to Europe which resulted in a seven month adventure. When I returned I spray painted “LIVE A GREAT STORY” on a wall and it started spreading through social media. Five years later LIVE has grown to globally recognized brand that’s inspired people across the world. Now we spread a ripple effect of great stories through inspiring products including The Guide, the world’s first subscription accountability journal.

Here’s a few more examples

  • My name is Thomas Garanzuay and I'm a content creator based in Austin, TX. I have a passion for being creative and relish every opportunity to capture life's beauty. Making genuine connections with people is what I thrive on and the ability to tell their stories from behind a lens is a privilege I never take for granted.

  • I’m Sophie Kwok also know me as the Love Enthusiast and Founder of  Love Intently. Nothing is more important than the relationships in our life, I'm devoted to exploring and empowering stronger relationships.I'm an Interaction Designer by trade but social impact is what makes my heart beat. Speaking and writing are a few passions of mine as well. I'm an advocate of dreams, women, outdoor adventures, and redemption. All boats rise with high tide, meaning your success is mine. There's nothing that impacts eternity more than empowering others to step into the things they were created and called to do.

  • Hi I’m Clark and I love to rally people around exciting/important ideas. Today I help run a music nonprofit called "ALL ATX" with the mission to keep Austin a music town through supporting affordability solutions for musicians. I was a full-time touring musician for four years prior to moving to Austin and now make music for fun with friends in my home studio. I love tacos and meeting new people.

  • My genuine desire is to make the people of this world healthier physically and mentally. I believe that fitness leads to other virtues, which then leads to betterment and overall human growth. I want to inspire people to believe that they can come from the worst or less fortunate backgrounds and still achieve and reach their dreams. Life is about connections. If I am in this world for any reason, it is to serve as a vessel in that connection process. (Izzy El- Ubaydy)

An important part of this process is something I call your “super power”

Each of us has a unique story that weaves together with an innate, natural combination of skills that combine to a super power only we can contribute to the world.

Part of building a personal brand is highlighting this super power so you can let it shine in the world.

Finding your superpower can take some introspection, life examining and deep diving but rest assured, you do have a super power. Hopefully through this process your super power starts shining a bit more brightly because the world needs you to light that super power on fire!

“Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” - Howard Thurman

This can be a difficult process and sometimes you need an outside perspective. Maybe ask five friends how they would describe you. Ask your best friend about what you’re good at.

If you feel stuck let’s chat about clarifying your story, pinpointing your super power and and amplifying your impact, just click here to book a call.

Part II : BUILD YOUR WEBSITE (3-5 hours)

Your website will be the main destination for people to find you and will be the main hub to hold your personal brand wheel together.

When people search your name on Google, are you the first one to pop up?

That’s why you need a personal brand website!

Yes they can go to Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn but these profiles offer scattered snapshots of your story. Your website, however, will offer a complete story of who you are, what you do and why what you have to say is important.

Here’s some examples of personal brand / small business / freelance sites for inspiration

Want to dive deep into Personal Branding? Check out this 60 minute free Skillshare Course on Creating a Website to Build Your Personal Brand

The most important rule to starting your site : Keep. It. Simple. And hit publish!

Step 1 : Get Familiar with Squarespace

You’re going to use Squarespace to build your site. It’s the easiest and best option for getting your site up quickly and it has tons of great options for growth as you keep building.

If you’ve built or never built a site before, start with these two links for great resources on starting your site.

Step 2 : Sign up For Squarespace

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To start you’re going to get a 14-day Free Trial. This gives you enough time to design and launch your site before you actually have to pay (in case you change your mind). After you’re 14 day trial you have a few options.

howtostartyourpersonalbrand

Depending on your objective and strategy, I suggest going with the $18 Business Option. This will allow you to use the “Marketing” capabilities to spread awareness, track analytics and implement marketing strategies.

Step 3 : Pick a Template

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Browse through their selection of templates to find one that works for you. They’re sorted according to categories. You can pick one and change it later.

Most of the themes are heavy with pictures but you only need one good picture to start a website. It’s important to have a clean and simple headshot because people identify with faces better than logos.

You probably have really smart phone that take amazing pictures so if you don’t have a headshot, shoot one with your phone. Pick a solid background but don’t stand too close that way the background will be a bit blurry. If you have an iPhone use the “Portrait” mode.

Step 4 : Simplify Your Theme

Your theme will come with multiple pages and they can get overwhelming. Remember that the objective is to get your site up and running as fast as possible so more pages adds more time.

To start you just need 1-3 pages

  • Home Page

  • About / Contact Page

  • Blog Page (this can come later)

So for now drag the active pages to Secondary Pages.

So for now drag the active pages to Secondary Pages.

Step 5 : Customize Your Theme

I’ll say it one more time : keep it simple! The goal is to get your site PUBLISHED not perfect.

There’s tons of customization options but I highly suggest sticking to the base theme as much as possible. There’s a reason each of these Themes looks gorgeous and if you start changing things, they can really quickly become un-pretty.

Customization Do’s

  • Substitute placeholder text

  • Add your own pictures or use royalty free options that are built into Squarespace

  • Keep it simple

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Customization Don’ts

  • Move things around too much. Even little changes can make the site not look good or function as well

  • Spend tooooo much time or get frustrated

  • Make it perfect. Just publish it and make small changes as you grow

Part III : Marketing Basics (1-2 hours)

There’s a few base line marketing things you’ll want to set up in order to fully benefit from your website traffic. These few extra steps will help you complete a more overall cohesive brand identity and establish the ground work for baseline marketing tactics down the road.

Start Your Facebook Page

Click here to Create Your Page. Facebook makes it super easy to set up your Page so just follow the instructions. Add a picture, cover photo, use your “What’s Your Story” bio for the “Short Description” and keep following the process through the “Page Tips” options.

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Connect Your Facebook Page to your Site

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Set Up Your Facebook Pixel

Next you’ll set up a Facebook Pixel that helps Facebook track who comes to your site so you can “talk” to them when it’s time for marketing.

Most likely you won’t use this for awhile BUT it’s good for Facebook to start tracking your visitors. That way when you do start marketing there’s lots of data!

Click here to start setting up your Business Manager and Facebook Pixel.

* If this gets confusing I suggest skipping it until after your site is launched. It’s more important to launch your site and build momentum than getting stuck and giving up!

Part IV : SEO Basics

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The “Site Meta Description” is the “What’s Your Story” you developed above, just copy and paste it here.

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This is how you will show up on Google. Think about it from the perspective of someone searching and consider if this is what you want a total stranger to associate with your brand.

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Part V : Final Touch Extras

Disable the “Powered by Squarespace” badge to give a small boost of credibility

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Connect your social media accounts for people to easily find your profiles

And you’re site is good to go!

It’s simple but it’s done and that’s the most important part for getting started. Now you can publish blog posts, fill in the details and grow your audience a little bit at a time.

The next 10 hours are all about getting people to visit your site! Here’s some tips on how to get more visitors

1) Create content on your site and then share the links through social media

2) Share the original post on your Facebook Page and then share that post on your personal page

3) Find creative ways to share through Facebook Groups, Twitter engagement and outlets that are interested in what you’re talking about (guest posts)

One more time : keep it simple!

The goal here is to get the ball rolling and hit launch.

Live is better than a draft. Words on the page is better than a blank page. Paint on the canvas is better than a blank canvas. Just start the process and hit launch.

You’ll come back to make little tweaks, add things you forgot and update information but you’ll do this better and more often when your site is live so put in the couple of hours to get it going and just keep coming back.

Comment below if you have any questions about the process or reach me here with more specific questions.

And definitely send me your site when it’s live, would love to check it out!

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