Monday, October 1, 2012

Career Advice: Make a Website

As an engineer and daily Excel user, there are a few key things I’ve learned along the way that have significantly helped advance my career. My top three pieces of career advice for Excel users are:

  1. Learn how to use Excel and its functions
  2. Learn how to program VBA macros for Excel
  3. Build a website to promote your skills and abilities

I’m going to be posting about all of these topics but today I decided to start with building your own personal blog or website. Creating your own professional looking blog or website is a great way to market yourself and your skills when applying for a new job and a great topic of discussion during an interview. You could create an authority site about a subject you are passionate about, like an Excel website, or make a simple biographical site with your resume.

My Top Ten Reasons for Building a Website or Blog


  1. Networking – Get your name out there, new career opportunities may arise.
  2. Professional image – Provide additional information not on resume.
  3. Education – Learning experience of how to do it.
  4. Help Others - Teaching is a great way of giving back.
  5. It’s easy to do and you don’t need to know HTML coding.
  6. Marketing – allows you to showcase your work.
  7. Credibility – shows you’ve spent time developing your goals and objectives.
  8. Communication – Opens more avenues of communication.
  9. Competition – other job seekers may be doing it so you should too just to keep pace.
  10. Residual income – Websites can potentially be a source of additional income for you.

How to Create Your Own Website

 

While creating and maintaining your own website may sound like a daunting task, and it’s hard to take that initial plunge, I’m here to show you how and let you know, with a little help, it can actually be a very simple process. Unless you’re planning on creating something completely custom, starting a website really isn’t that hard. I register my domain names with NameCheap because it’s, well, cheap! I use WordPress for my content management system (CMS) automatically installed through Host Gator, my hosting service. I bought the Socrates theme to make my websites look nice and so there’s no html coding. The most confusing part for me was pointing the domain name to my hosting service. Luckily, there are plenty of YouTube videos to walk you through all that.

One of the first things I recommend you do is purchase a domain name. Websites are like online real estate- there isn’t much use in building a house you own on rented land. Blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger are free to use but you don’t own them, meaning they could decide to turn off the lights at any point, plus you have to add terms like .blogspot to your URL. Namecheap is easy to navigate, and very affordable solution to owning your own domain name.

Next, you need a place to host your website. I use, and highly recommend, HostGator, as do many other bloggers out there. It is as cheap as $4 per month if you pay in advance or $8 per month paying month to month. Because I have many domains I always go for a setup that I can host an unlimited number of domains on rather than just one. HostGator has such a setup called the ‘Baby Plan’. I recommend using the plan which allows you to host multiple websites. If you create only one site this is expensive but the more sites you create the cheaper it gets on a per site basis. HostGator is known for their exceptional customer service. Their online chat representatives are standing by at all hours to assist you with any problems you may have setting up and maintaining your website. Enter “EXCEL_HELP″ in the coupon code field to receive a discount.

The other thing I recommend to use is WordPress CMS. This is not the free blogging version of course, but the free downloadable one that you install on your new web host. There are many videos and articles on how to do this. Just Google ‘How to Install WordPress’. Another reason I picked Hostgator was because it has an automatic “one-click” WordPress installer called Fantastico. WordPress CMS allows you to easily edit the layout of your blog without having to know how to code anything.

If you have already thought of a domain name which you know is available, you can literally go through all of the above steps and setup your website in a matter of minutes. If this is your first time dabbling in website creation it may take a little longer but after you create one then I promise you your subsequent websites will be created faster and faster.

Concluding Thoughts

 

Creating a website is a great way to get your name out there and showcase some of your Excel skills. When you will have a visible web presence you can allure visitors and show confidence on your expertise and work. It may even be a deciding factor in receiving a job offer over another candidate.

~Nick

P.S. Remember, enter “EXCEL_HELP″ in the HostGator coupon field for a discount on website hosting.