Do you know what one of the first things an employer does before interviewing a prospective employee? They Google your name to learn all about you. If they happen to forget searching your name beforehand, if you’ve made a good impression, they’ll certainly search afterwards.
Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook flourish because people have decided to provide these sites massive amounts of content for free. Unlike Financial Samurai, where I’m the main creator of content.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn account and are interested in employment opportunities, you best open one up ASAP. LinkedIn has become the defacto source for all employers today. You can look for jobs, login to various applications with your LinkedIn profile, and so forth.
A good resume is still standard to go along with any employment application. But I’m going to argue that in addition to a LinkedIn profile, you should also register your own domain name and create a dynamic site. You will stand out FAR ABOVE everyone else for the initiative you take and the creativity you display.
OWN YOURSELF ONLINE
When you Google yourself, what comes up? If you are like most people, your LinkedIn profile and then your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram profiles will show up. Just think about this for a second. Every single company other than you owns your name! Does that sound right?
Own yourself in the search engines!
The reason why I decided not to start a Financial Samurai Facebook page when I first launched was because if I started one, my energy would be diverted away from FinancialSamurai.com. Instead of building the Financial Samurai community on FinancialSamurai.com, the comments and traffic would go to Facebook instead. That didn’t make any sense to me, although it makes a tremendous amount of business sense to Facebook.
I wanted to own the Financial Samurai brand because I created it. There’s only so much customization I can do on another platform. By registering FinancialSamurai.com and creating a WordPress site, I decide the layout, fonts, images, and content. From security to accessibility, everything is up to me and not based on another company’s terms of service.
After six years of producing content, FinancialSamurai.com dominates the search results for anything Financial Samurai-related. If I started a FS Facebook page now, FinancialSamurai.com will come up first, second, and third, and then Facebook. This is important because the first three positions account for over 60% of all clicks.
But let’s say you haven’t been around for years publishing content on your own domain name. Not to worry. Google will eventually rank your registered name first for your branded keyword. You just don’t know exactly how long it will take. So long as your branded keyword shows up on page 1 of the search page, that’s the most important thing.
DOMAIN NAME REGISTRATION
For those of you who are thinking you don’t have time to create a site like this one with regular posts every other day, don’t worry! You don’t have to. Financial Samurai is a personal finance blog with tools that help everyday people reach financial freedom sooner, rather than later. The site is also a lead generator for products I’ve created and for products I’ve found to be useful helping people grow their wealth.
For most of you, your site will be a static site that shares insight about you so you can land great jobs, find awesome consulting gigs, and showcase your professional and personal work. People want to see if they like you before they hire you.
You can go the free route by going to wordpress.com and registering a yourname.wordpress.com site that they host. But, it looks much more professional if you register yourname.com and then pay a minimal fee for hosting.
Here are some key pages on the site you should have:
1) An About page welcoming readers to your site. On the about page should be your picture and a description of who you are, what you like to do, and your professional accomplishments. From your About page, you’ll then link to your resume, photos, and blog pages.
2) Your Resume page. The resume page should be identical to what you’d hand out in an interview. The good thing about having your resume online is that you can put intralinks to publications you’ve written, companies you’ve worked for, and articles that mention your achievements. Your resume is now much more dynamic simply because it is online under your registered site.
3) Everybody loves photos. We are visual people with voyeuristic tendencies. Your photo album should have a series of professional pictures of you in group work settings to help your employer visualize you in their work environment. Maybe there’s a picture of you shaking hands in formal wear with an important person in your industry. Or maybe there’s a team photo that evokes pleasant images of team effort. Your photo album should also have pictures of you doing interesting things outside of work to show you’re not a dull robot with no life. A great series of pictures might be of you volunteering with a group of people at a charity organization, followed by you whacking a tennis ball in competition, followed by you strumming an acoustic guitar around a camp fire. You’ll get hired in no time!
4) Be a thought leader. People who are trying to get to know you want to hear your thoughts about important issues in your field of work. If you are a marketer, not only join the LinkedIn marketing group, but also write about your latest thoughts on marketing. If you have no expertise, then at least assemble a post that links back to some incredible thought pieces about marketing to show that you are at least aware of the issues. It’s best to stay away from political issues or highly charged personal issues that may offend a large portion of the population, e.g. abortion, religion, marriage laws, international politics, changing the tax system, who will be the next president, etc. If you can write eloquently on related subjects in your field of work, then great. Just be careful not to piss people off, unless the organization you want to join has taken a firm stance on a certain issue you highly agree with.
URL example: thoughts
5) Make it easy for people to contact you. Your contact information can simply be added to your About page. Or, you can create a new page with a Contact Form or simply write out your e-mail, telephone number (if you dare), and links to where others might find out more about you, e.g. LinkedIn profile. I remember almost blowing a job opportunity in college because I forgot to include my e-mail and phone number on my resume! Allow multiple points where someone can contact you.
STRENGTHEN YOUR BRAND
The internet is a part of almost everybody’s life. Over time, connectivity rates will continue to increase. Back in 2009-2010, because of outrageous roaming charges, I used to worry about traveling overseas. Nowadays, I never worry because almost every restaurant and coffee shop in the world has free wifi access where I can do my work and not miss a beat.
By registering your own name online, you’re owning your brand. By spending some time creating a dynamic website with the above five categories, you’re taking initiative. Employers LOVE people who take initiative. Once you own your brand, you’ll be able to stand out far above the crowd. More opportunities mean more money. More opportunities also means more chances to live a life you really want. You never know where your site might take you.
Starting FinancialSamurai.com during the depths of the financial crisis is one of the best life decisions I’ve ever made. I delayed starting the site for three years because I didn’t know how. Finally, I went on Craigslist, contacted someone to set me up for several hundred bucks, and Financial Samurai was born. Nowadays, setting up a site yourself is so easy thanks to easier integration and plenty of tutorial help online.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could untether myself from the working world by 34. FS helped me discover the startup/financial technology industry as a consultant. FS also enabled me to connect with amazing people from all around the world whose perspectives have helped make me a better person.
Don’t wait for a financial crisis to register your name online like I did. You can sign up for a $3.95/month hosting plan and register your free domain name through Bluehost for a year. My biggest regret is not starting sooner! Once you own your brand online, you can gain consulting clients, find new job opportunities, and make money online.
Not a day goes by where I’m not thankful for starting Financial Samurai in 2009. I have maximum freedom now thanks to working on my side-hustle while working for 2.5 years. You never know where your journey will take you! If you would like to read a tutorial on how to start your own blog, check out this page I put together with step-by-step guidelines on how to start your own website in under 30 minutes.
Updated for 2017 and beyond.