I never imagined that my blog would have not one but two posts inspired by hip-hop artist, T-Pain, but this man is more influential than we may give him credit for.
My original post about T-Pain talked about his masterful use of autotune and how it helped put him on the map and stand out among every other hip-hop artist of the late 2000s and early 2010s.
In January 2022, T-Pain took to Twitter to announce he was hiring several positions for his company, Nappy Boy Entertainment, ranging from videographers, photographers, and editors. Twitter is such an incredible place to find talent, so why not open it up to his fans and followers who may be qualified?
His call for applicants had very specific instructions, asking them to send in resumes, reels, a website, and portfolio. And when he says, reels, he doesn’t mean an Instagram Reel. He means a highlight reel showcasing your work.
T-Pain was then flooded with replies from interested people who sent in links to their Instagram profiles and social media accounts to demonstrate their work, which didn’t sit well with him.
I’m not going to your Instagram to check your shit out. Be professional and make a reel or a website. If Instagram is the height of your professionalism then you won’t fit over here anyways
— T-Pain (@TPAIN) January 3, 2022
This then sparked a debate about whether a website is necessary when we have social media, with many followers poking fun at T-Pain saying he is showing his age with this old-school mentality.
But T-Pain doubled down and said:<
Every single time someone sends me to their IG the whole page is 90% nothing to do with their profession. Ppl that have never been in the hiring position telling me how to do this is just… sure you guys are right. I’m old as hell and I’ve never done anything in this space. Sure.
— T-Pain (@TPAIN) January 3, 2022
Do You Need a Personal Website?
Can you get by showcasing your work on social media? Sure, but it won’t be an ideal experience for the hiring manager. Sifting through Instagram content to understand what you’re all about can be clunky. And as one applicant of many, don’t you want to make it as easy as possible for the hiring manager to choose you?
This probably isn’t the advice you want to hear, but the answer is, you should have both.
A personal website is your own slice of the internet that you can tailor exactly to your goals. It puts your work on a bigger stage, and does your skills justice. You can organize the site strategically with categories and sections that are easy to navigate and let people know your main objectives. It’s an investment in yourself, and one you never have to worry about potentially disappearing one day.
The other strength of a personal website is that you are in control. There are few content limitations. You have the flexibility to tell your story seamlessly, vs. in a series of posts that may lack continuity or consistency. Your blog section is a surefire way to demonstrate your expertise, even in the absence of workplace experience.
How Your Personal Website Gives You a Competitive Advantage
I preach this idea to my students all the time. Our channels empower us to prove what we’re capable of. You may not have the picture-perfect credentials a recruiter is looking for on paper. But if you intentionally build your personal website to illustrate what you can do and how you think, they’ll evaluate you a lot longer than if you had nothing to show.
And for the entry-level applicants or those who are returning to the workforce in hopes of pivoting to a new industry, your personal website can help you do this. If you’re a recent college graduate with a degree in communications, and you REALLY want to get into the competitive field of sports marketing, dedicate your website to this craft. Write about the recent rebrand of the Washington Commanders, or the most inspiring storytelling moments from the Olympics.
If you have a mid-life realization that you want to switch your career path from nursing to becoming an author, build your personal website about being an author. Share excerpts of the drafts you’ve scribbled in your notebook, or blog about your writing process and challenges.
Ultimately, your personal website allows you to focus your goals with more organization and flexibility than your Instagram profile would. And as long as job applications are still asking for links to your personal website (spoiler alert— they are), don’t let that be a box that goes unchecked. Never miss an opportunity to make an amazing impression.
From a more tactical standpoint, a personal website is key to growing and scaling your brand for the future. Social media isn’t where people go with the main intention to shop. They’re there to scroll and pass the time. Your website sets you up for the long-term if you ever need a marketplace to sell products, services, courses, or anything that suits your niche. Even if you go viral on TikTok, the next place you want to direct people is to your website to buy your offering.
Then, the gift keeps on giving. Your website gives you a chance to gather email addresses and create a list of qualified contacts that you own. When you have an email list, those are people who have willingly signed up and said “Yes! I want to hear from you!” You can create tailored emails with more of what your audience is looking for, and send them knowing delivery is guaranteed. Unless you have a misspelled email address, or you get caught by a spam filter, you can guarantee your email is hitting the recipient’s inbox. You no longer have to rely on dubious social media algorithms and hope your audience gets your message.
As if these weren’t enough reasons to put together a personal website, another is that it simply couldn’t be easier to do in this day and age. You no longer need to know how to code, or even how to design. Platforms like Wix, SquareSpace, Weebly, and WordPress have gorgeous layouts that are entirely customizable. You can choose a simple portfolio or resume template, or go for a more robust business-oriented site. The point is, you have options, and it’s something that can totally be done in just a few days.
I’ll end with a main point that has a double meaning. Something I always say is, you become known for what you own. This applies to the fact that you literally will own your website. If an algorithm makes you pay to play, or if a social platform fizzles in popularity, you can rest easy with your site and list of contacts you’ve built.