Why Do You Need a Personal Website?
Because my website hosting payment is up for renewal, I needed to decide whether or not to keep it going. I didn’t know how to decide, so I turned to google and asked “Why do you need a personal website?” Most of the answers that came up had to do with business: personal branding, a visual resume’, networking, and other things having to do with hustling. If you are reading this, and you are working hard at your career and making a living, there are many good reasons to have a personal website. But if you are doing this, AND looking for even deeper motivation to guide your decisions for how to invest your time and energy I invite you to read on.
What are you motivated by? What makes you glad to be alive and kicking? What brings you joy? These are the questions I asked myself. I spent many years in the teaching profession — a noble profession in a strong union state that earned me a decent pension for which I am grateful. But I always had a creative side, mostly as a writer. I am not prolific, but I have kept at it over the decades since I wrote my first play in college. I wrote more plays, poetry, and letters to the editor about my pet causes, mostly education. I had several blogs and websites over the years. I started my latest one when I retired in 2014. The purpose was to serve as a platform for my creative endeavors, tying those together with my concerns about the world. The name of the website is “Creating Sense of the World.”
At the time, I didn’t have a concrete plan for how I was going to spend my retirement. I set the website up to learn how to do it and to think through what I wanted to focus on. I thought it might be possible to use it to generate income at some point. But “squirrel! “ I got distracted. In a good way. I followed threads to various opportunities and have been involved in a number of wonderful creative projects as a result and as I look back, not all of them made it onto the website, which is a bit ironic, but telling.
The actual real life projects are the real accomplishments, and not so much the writing and posting about them. Which brings me back to the question? Why do I need a personal website? I finally came upon a blog piece on livewire.com that resonated. The writer, Linda Roeder, says that “A personal website is a place where you can relieve your soul.” I think this is where I am. I am in the season of soul-searching, soul-defining, soul-relieving. In the last quarter of my life, I want to make sure I make good use of my time. Though a personal journal also serves this purpose, there is a deeper step when it goes out into the great unknown of the Internet. You’re sharing. I like sharing. For some reason, I get hundreds of hits on my website, and that may not seem like a lot to people who want to make a living as a blogger, but it is way more than I have been getting on Medium (yes, I know, I’m a novice). There is something soulful about sharing, about people reading your work, and hopefully responding to it.
Besides living my soul’s purpose through art, stories, and creativity in many forms, the other thing that motivates me is to preserve my memory. More than preserving my “memories”, I really am concerned about my memory, especially since Alzheimer’s runs in my family. Having my important artifacts in one place, having my body of work compiled here, having a place to go to to review my travels and other highlights, these are all motivators for me.
Perhaps I am still on the high of the New Year and the new decade, still feeling the energy of potential and possibility. But in the process of making this decision, I have been inspired to use it in a way that is meaningful to me, rather than something that I dread doing. I want it to be an expression of what I hope to stand for in the world — someone who advocates for creativity and the flourishing of the imagination.
You may be in that season of your life where you need to put your time and energy into what will make you money, or contribute to your resume’, or a place to have your online store, or a way to network. If you are motivated by what is good for you and your career, then having a personal website seems to be a good idea. But I do want to tell you this: Soul-searching does not only apply to those of us in the last quarter of our lives. Soul-searching and soul-defining are important reasons at any season of your life. Do not dismiss this. When you know you are in touch with your soul’s purpose, you will have even more motivation, which gives you more focus, and the choices you make with your time become even more satisfying.
So it seems I am keeping my website. There are more reasons to keep it than to let it go. But I didn’t need more reasons, I just needed the one. It’s a place where I can “relieve my soul.”