Personality-based websites (& businesses)


Over the last couple of years I've noticed a new kind of website emerging, and it's getting more and more commonplace. All over the internet we come across websites that are based on the personal brand of the website owner.

Have you noticed this?

Whether you're looking at blogs or business sites, there are an increasing number of websites that show the owner right upfront and stress their role as the "unique selling point" of the website.

These websites are all examples of this trend:

Gabby Bernstein
Gabby Bernstein

Gabby Bernstein has a huge video featuring herself in a prominent position on her website. As a motivational speaker her business is by nature personality-based.

Ramit Sethi
Ramit Sethi

On the other hand, Ramit Sethi talks about creation of wealth. This isn't a topic that is necessarily based on the person dispensing the knowledge, but the photograph shows that Ramit has made it his own.

Elizabeth Saunders
Elizabeth Saunders

Time coach Elizabeth Saunders does what many others do online, but by the image of herself right upfront, she too is indicating that her take is unique. (Site design: Melanie Richards with

Melissa Cassera
Melissa Cassera

Online business advisor Melissa Cassera stresses the need to carve out a niche audience who resonate precisely with your own interests and tastes and her website illustrates that she practises what she preaches!

Jenna Soard
Jenna Soard

Finally, design and branding teacher Jenna Soard has appropriately created a whole brand based on characterful illustrations of herself.

And you will be familiar with dozens of other sites that present the website owner as the "unique selling point."

This kind of website is akin to a personal branding website, only those are typically created to present a carefully controlled vision of an individual with a view to networking opportunities or potential employement, whereas the examples above, and those in the new "genre" I am speaking about, are fully-fledged, highly-developed websites and businesses.

Is the world suddenly full of gurus? Well, we could say that this is the case. The rapid rise of one-man (and woman) businesses that can exist purely because the internet now makes it possible to set up a business remotely, offering services or selling goods from wherever you are in the world, might well be part of the reason.

But also, there are sound reasons why it makes sense to approach your website (and perhaps your entire business) from this angle.

In the crowded world of the internet, we are all looking for ways to be unique and memorable, and one of the most powerful ways of doing this is to present your personality as the driving force behind your website or your blog - or indeed your whole business offering.

This means your website will not be the same as anyone else's, even people who are doing the same kind of thing as you. Your personality makes whatever you are offering entirely distinct.

There are some other reasons why putting yourself upfront on your website can be very effective.

  • It's friendly to see a person on a website! Who wouldn't prefer to see a smiling face than a dry, uncharacterful website with no warmth or human factor?
  • People can identify with you. Your target audience will know straight away if what you are offering resonates with them.
  • And it's a way of engaging with them from the word go, so you can begin to build your "know, like and trust" factor.

Let's look at the elements usually included in this type of site. You can see examples of all of these with the websites above (have a look at the websites themselves).

1. A large picture (or even a video) of yourself in a very prominent position on the site.

The photo has got to be excellent otherwise the whole concept won't work.

2. Strong wording.

Make it clear what you do or what you're offering, or use a striking question to engage the site visitor.

3. A way of grabbing their email address.

Getting the email addresses of potentially interested people (and then keeping in touch by email) is the cornerstone of online success. We usually see people offering a free gift in order to get the visitor's email address. Alternatively you can be creative: Ramit offers visitors a quiz, for example.

You need to put this right upfront, as you can see with these examples.

4. Testimonials.

Proof of other people having a high opinion of you is incredibly powerful. If you have nice comments - flaunt them.

5. "As seen in" badges.

In the same vein as testimonials, press logos (or other logos), if you have them, should certainly be displayed.

But let's stop for one moment and be clear about something. A personality-based website is not the vehicle of an ego-maniac. A website has to be all about the visitor, and not about the website owner, and these examples are no different. Even if it puts the website owner upfront, they're doing this precisely so they can show their ideal audience how they - or their products or services - can uniquely help the visitor (or educate, or inspire them, etc.).

Note the language of these websites we're taking as examples. You can see that it *is* all about the visitor. It's as if the owner, by showing themself so prominently, is engaging in direct dialogue with the website visitor. In fact, they are striking up what could feel like an intensely personal conversation.

If a site like this is done well it can be incredibly engaging!

Does this give you food for thought? Perhaps. Would your website or blog - or even your entire business - benefit from getting more personal, portraying you, with your unique ability to help/educate/amuse/inspire, as the prominent captain of the ship?

Even if you don't want to go the whole hog and create a website that shows *you* so extremely prominently, there are all kinds of reasons why you might want to put personality into your website... and that's something I'll write about in another post.