There are many benefits to maintaining a personal webpage, some that are apparent to most folks going in, and some that you probably won’t come to appreciate until you experience them.
Yet some people are scared away from the idea of creating and posting their own personal webpage because they assume it is either too difficult or too expensive. Really it’s neither.
With software like Microsoft Frontpage or Macromedia Dreamweaver, or with the webpage builders provided by most free hosting services, creating a rudimentary webpage is only marginally more challenging than, say, creating a Word document. Certainly it doesn’t require knowing any kind of incomprehensible computer code. Webpage building software is what’s called “WYSIWYG” or “What You See is What You Get,” meaning you can type away in ordinary English and the software will do the necessary coding behind the scenes. As you become more proficient, you’ll soon be adding music, photos, video, and more to your website.
As far as the expense, there are web hosting services that will host your site for free in exchange for their putting ads on the site from which they then collect revenue. If you’d rather not have your site cluttered with someone else’s ads, you can pay a very modest sum to a web hosting service instead.
Also, some Internet Service Providers make available to their customers a certain amount of space for free for a personal website. Check with your ISP; this may be one of your perks that you didn’t even know about.
So having a personal website is a very realistic option for most people. Then the question becomes, why bother? Why should you have a personal webpage? Here are some reasons, many interrelated:
1. A personal webpage is your outlet to express yourself to the world, and receive feedback.
For many people, a webpage is an enjoyable vanity project. You can be creative, you can express what’s on your mind, you can express what’s in your heart, and you can know that there are people out there-maybe a comparative handful, maybe millions-who are listening to you.
Think of the possibilities if you are the artistic type. You can record yourself performing the song you wrote, and post it to your website for people to comment on. Or write a poem, or write a story. Maybe you’ll touch somebody. Maybe you’ll hear back from someone who’ll help you to improve your art.
Some people use a website as a way to tell about themselves and get help and advice. A teen might express in diary form the pain she’s experiencing going through certain crises with her family and her boyfriend, and people will contact her through her site to let her know they’re listening, and they’re in the same boat or used to be, and want to offer some advice or just commiserate.
Or maybe you’ll write about a dilemma you find yourself in, a major decision that’s upon you, and someone from the other side of the world will say just the right thing in response to what you posted to suddenly open your eyes to what you should do.
2. A personal webpage can be a way to influence people’s opinions and people’s lives.
This is your soapbox. Write about the things you’re passionate about. Maybe you can get people looking at certain political issues in a different way. Maybe you can open people up to the benefits of faith that you’ve experienced in your life. Maybe you can rally people around a cause that is important to you, whether it be contributing money to a charity that helps starving people in Third World countries, or keeping on the air your favorite obscure television show that’s about to be cancelled.
3. A personal webpage provides a way to make social contacts, to discover people with compatible interests that you’d like to know better.
When you write about yourself and the things you care about, compatible people can more easily find you. If you have audio clips of music from your favorite band or favorite genre on your website, other fans immediately know they have something in common with you. If you include a lot of material about your gardening, you’ll likely connect with people who share that passion.
Are you the only gay person you know of anywhere near your age in your tiny rural town? You won’t be alone on the Internet.
4. A personal webpage can function as your online resume.
Your webpage can be your advertisement to potential employers. Here you can put all the material you would normally put in a conventional resume, but maybe jazz it up in ways that you couldn’t do with a printed resume. Which is not to say turn it into something unprofessional, but maybe include some dignified music in the background, include a short video clip of yourself, include relevant photos, use different fonts and colors and maybe even selective animation to keep people’s attention and create the impression about yourself that will make them want to hire you.
5. A personal webpage can make money through ads.
Obviously you could also create a business webpage if you have some goods or services you want to sell, maybe a small online business you’d like to run from your home. But really we’re addressing personal webpages specifically rather than commercial sites like that.
But even on a personal webpage you can arrange to have ads that people can click on. That way not only will people come to your site to read about your life, listen to your ideas, and appreciate your creativity, they’ll also make you a few cents while they’re there by clicking on an ad or two.
6. A personal webpage can also be about someone else.
Personal can mean autobiographical, but it doesn’t have to. Maybe you’d feel too egotistical talking about yourself online to the world. Maybe you prefer to be a more private person.
Some people choose to use their website to honor and talk about someone else. This could be your opportunity to create the ultimate David Cassidy fan page you’ve always dreamed of, or, more likely, create something about someone in your life, like your children or even your pet. For instance, your personal webpage could be where you post photos and updates about your three year old son, so everyone in your life can keep abreast of his miraculous development.
Or imagine your husband is overseas in Afghanistan. Your personal webpage could be devoted to him. You could post excerpts from his letters home, post pictures of the two of you from before he left, write about when he’s expected home and what you have planned, provide a space for people to leave messages for and about him, and so on.
The reasons to have a personal webpage are as varied as the people who have them. Once you start thinking through the possibilities, you’ll know what reason is right for you.