In this day in age, everyone should have a website. There’s no reasons not to put yourself out there.
For starters, it can get your name and work out into the public sphere. If I own georgewwalker.com, when someone searches Google for “George W. Walker,” guess what shows up in the results? My website. It may not be at the top, but it’s there.
What shows up when you search your name? I’m guessing a long list of other people with the same or similar names and their work.
Another reason is that it is really cheap (or free, in some cases). A domain name can cost as little as $6.99 a year, or nothing at all if you’re a student. You can register for a GitHub Student pack and get a .me domain free for a year, which comes with enough credits to pay for a year or more of cloud hosting with DigitalOcean. Hosting can be around $5 per month otherwise.
Even then, it can be a smart investment. Having online storage allows potential employers to download your work directly from your website instead of relying on paper copies.
“What if I don’t have any content?”
You still need a website. Even if you don’t have photos, videos, design or writing to show off, you can still have your name, a photo, basic contact information and a resume. It still enables others to find you if they are looking. You can also get additional benefits like a custom email address. You can make your email email@example.com. I use Google apps, which now costs $5 per month and acts just like Gmail, but there appears to be a plethora of other services that host email for free. You could even host your own email, though it may not be as reliable or as easy to set up.
One big factor preventing people from setting up a website is the actual coding. One easy way around this is to use a content management site like WordPress. WordPress is free, powerful and easy to use. It lets you quickly change up the style and content on your site without knowing any code. Many themes are available for free, showcasing many different kinds of content.
If you want a theme showcasing large photos, drawings, or other images, there are tons of themes that do that. If you want to showcase text, videos or other content, there are themes that do that. If you need help setting up WordPress, there are many good tutorials – just search for “setting up wordpress with” and the name of your hosting company.
Some people also use a blogging platform like Tumblr. Tumblr allows you to show off your content for free, and you wouldn’t have to worry about hosting. A disadvantage of Tumblr is it’s blog-style format. This means you can’t have individual pages for stuff that’s not content (such as a contact page) as easily. It also lets others reblog your content, even if that’s not what you intend to do with your stuff.
Another easy way to get started is using something like Wix. While I have no experience with Wix sites, I’ve heard great things about them and they seem to be easy to set up with a domain name. Wix is also free. A disadvantage to Wix is they put their logo on the free pages, and it’s not always that easy to customize.
Yet another easy way to get up and going with a website is using a template, which can also be found for free. A big advantage of using a template or coding your own site is that you may not even need to pay for hosting. If you aren’t scared to mess with code every time you want to add new content to your site, then it’s a great free alternative.
Plus, since computers are in every line of work, staying sharp with coding could prove useful later.
There is no excuse for not having your own website. Stake out your own personal piece of the Internet now, and it will help you stay at the top of the list when everyone else is trying to get noticed.
George Walker is a sophomore in computer science.