How Running Your Own Website Is Much Better for You Than You Think
For web professionals there floats this idea that they should have their own websites. For web designers, for example, that is often an expectation, and personally I’ve early deemed that a reasonable one. I believe the idea for web professionals to run their own websites is more modern than ever. Let’s look at it again.
Few web designers, web developers, web professionals run their own websites. That’s a hypothesis for which I don’t have much data; and yet the hypothesis is well-fed through many interactions with peers (who don’t have an own website) as well as many years of observing coding and publishing trends (where Blogger, Medium, DEV, even GitHub * enjoy or have enjoyed great popularity in our field).
The typical reason for why professionals don’t have their own websites is that they don’t want to make that commitment, whether in time, money (domain and hosting cost), or effort (maintenance).
It’s not—as it can’t be—one of skill, because we’re talking about web professionals where we can assume basic skill.
It’s sometimes one of scope, but that we’ll ignore because scope for a website can be as narrow as merely creating and managing an online business card. Scope of such a small size I consider negligible.
Now, it’s quite fine for people to make that choice and decide not to run their own website. Nothing here carries judgment. Yet here’s the thing:
When Website Cons Are Website Pros
The disadvantages people see against running their own websites are actually advantages. Look at what we’ve touched on:
- Time: A website requires time to set up and manage.
- Money: A website requires a certain investment for domain registration and hosting.
- Discipline: A website requires discipline to maintain and improve it.
Now these look like good reasons not to set up a website—but they’re exactly the reasons why as a web professional, you should. Why?
The commitment you need for your own website is the mark of a professional, and it’s what clients, employers, and peers respect—and seek.
From here, then, it gets even better:
What more obvious advantages does having an own website have?
- Training: A website allows you to experience, train, and study all relevant aspects of the website lifecycle.
- Portfolio: A website can either host a portfolio, or itself constitute (part of) a portfolio.
- Credibility: A website lends credibility to your statements of knowing or being capable of doing professional web work.
- Reputation management: A website allows to manage your online reputation. (In essence, who do you prefer to control the #1 spot for a search for your name—you or Medium, you or DEV, you or GitHub?)
This is great stuff, and this is all stuff you get for free—once you decide to run your own website.
Run Your Own Website
All these advantages are what makes for the point of this article: As a web professional, running your own website is an asset. There is no downside unless you’re really bad at your work, in which case you should all the more run a site.
Given all of that, the reluctance and hesitation we sometimes observe with peers, be it through their sighing when being asked about their site, or their expressing of defeat when linking their DEV, Medium, or Twitter as “their” presence on the Web, is—strange. (“Strange” as in “difficult to understand given all the benefits of websites”-strange.)
All of that, then, must rather lead to a renewed recommendation: Run your own website. Even if it’s just a little business card, running your own website is much better for you than you think.
Figure: Yet a website can’t be worn on a peg. (Copyright King Features Syndicate, Inc., distr. Bulls.)
* I’ve never understood why anyone would use GitHub for publishing (that is, posting content other than code documentation into public repositories accessible through github.com). I understand how publishing in familiar environments is enticing, right from a repo, but GitHub just isn’t a good tool for information architecture, content navigation, and content promotion.
I’m Jens Oliver Meiert, and I’m an engineering manager and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to the W3C and the WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. Other than that, I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.
If you have questions or suggestions about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message.
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Perhaps my most comprehensive book: The Web Development Glossary (2020). With explanations and definitions for literally thousands of terms from Web Development and related fields, building on Wikipedia as well as the MDN Web Docs. Available at Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play Books, and Leanpub.