Now, LinkedIn and the other services aren't likely to alter what we say about ourselves in our profiles and other postings, and they offer convenience plus teams of people who handle issues like security, not to mention visibility for users. Yet, we all need to remember who's in charge at those social media sites. You and I are just visitors, suppliers of content they hope to use to make money.
Getting a domain is easy, and cheap. For the price of a few cups of coffee, you can register a domain. I use Hover.com, which is run by a friend, but there are lots of reputable registrars from which to pick. (The always valuable Lifehacker lists some others here.) Unless you have an extremely uncommon last name, you'll be unlikely to find it available. But you may well be able to get your FirsnameLastname.com address – I own impresbss.com, for example – and even if you can't you can use other domain suffixes or find a name that is still useful. Remember, most people find websites via searches, so don't worry if you can't get your exact name.
Let's say you've gotten your domain name. How do you create your presence? Most registrars will help you create placeholder sites – a page or two that you can edit. My advice is to do something better: start a blog. One of the easiest ways is to get a WordPress.com account, and use its powerful blogging tools. The company has demonstrated a powerful commitment to the open web by also offering its software, open source, for others to download, use and modify. For a reasonable fee, you can have Word Press point your blog to your own domain.
You can also install your own blogging software. This gives you more flexibiity, and takes a bit more expertise, but many low-cost hosting companies – the internet providers that provide (typically shared) servers that power your domain – will set up blogs for you. My own provider has web-based software that makes it simple for me to create new sites.
I don't update my personal blog all that often anymore, though I've decided to get more active than I've been. Like many other people who've flocked to social networks, I've cut back on posting to my own sites while increasing my activity on social media, especially Twitter and Google+. (I no longer use Facebook in any public way.)