This last weekend I attended the Blogcademy, an incredible two-day workshop for bloggers. I came away with more information than I’ll ever use and many new friends. A lot of the information I found useful not only as a blogger but as an author as well and I thought I’d share some of this incredible wisdom with all of you in a 10 part series of posts on Blogging for Authors.
This week I’ll be looking at what it takes to make a great About Me page, essential to any author/blogger trying to connect with readers. I’ll talk about a few important things to include, some tips and finally a list of great about pages to emulate.
Important Pieces of an Unforgettable About Page
The Short Bit – This should come at the beginning of your about page and be a very brief introduction to who you are. It can be done in first person or third but I think first person is more, well, personal, and better for someone getting to know you for the first time. As Shauna of Nubby Twiglet said – think of it like you are at a party and introducing yourself to someone new. Talk about your most recent book or article as well as any important news you want to share.
The Long Bit – This is more traditionally done in third person (partly so if someone wants an easy bio of you they can copy and paste from this section). It’s almost like writing one of those high school essays – tell them what you’re going to tell them (the short bit), tell them (the long bit) and then tell them what you told them… Well maybe not that last part. But you get my point – expand on your bio, sing your own praises, list anything you think might be important. Give it a touch of personality.
Pictures – You should have at least one good picture of your actual face on your about/bio page. Readers will connect with you and trust you much more quickly if they see your face. Don’t use an avatar or a shot with you and your friends or you way out in the background. A close-up, honest view of what you currently look like is essential. If you have more than one picture, great! Spread them out throughout your page to break up sections and content.
Quotes and Testimonials – If you have these, they are a great addition to your about page. They can have a section all their own or be spread throughout. I personally like it when they are interspersed with the page, highlighted by using a standout pull quote or block quote. Whatever you do, make them noticeable in some way. These are like gold – social proof that you are what you say you are.
Links – Here I would put a good way to contact you, whether that’s a contact form or simply your email. Also include social media links and any other links you think are important (especially put a link to your author pages from places like Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble). Also, if you have a portfolio page (different than an about page! This is a list of your work, which might be included in your about page and might not – totally up to you) definitely link to it from your about page.
A Few Things to Remember
Your about page is a work in progress. You don’t stay the same so your about page shouldn’t either. Every now and then, look it over to see if it still reflects the person you are and who you want to be. Make sure it is a good representation of the brand you want to project to your readers. Keep it up to date and if you will have a hard time remembering to do this, make it a recurring event on your calendar! Every six months or so, book yourself a little free time to take a look at your bio and make changes.
Try to think of the short piece of your bio as a testing ground for new readers. It is a place to attract the right readers and repel the wrong ones. Let people know right up front who you are, what you’ve written in what genre, and what you are about. If they aren’t interested in you they can easily leave without feeling like they’ve wasted their time, and if they are into what you have to say, they’ll be thankful for the quick introduction and read more.
Inspiration is everywhere! If you’re having trouble writing your about page in a traditional way, take a look at some of your favorite authors or bloggers to see how they do it. And that leads me to my final bit – a few good examples.
Four Great About Pages to Emulate
What’s more appropriate than emulating one of the Blogcademy headmistresses? We discussed her about page in detail over the weekend and I got a lot of amazing ideas as we explored her page. The pictures definitely stand out and give you a great feel for who Gala is without even reading the bio. She includes links to her flickr account to show her husband and dogs. Great big stand-out boxes highlight testimonials and break up the text.
A massive picture of the author is the very first thing you see when you visit author Cory Doctorow’s bio page. It’s so big that you have to scroll down to see the actual bio. I really like this – you feel instantly more connected with him just by seeing his face. Another wonderful thing about this page is that he’s broken into one sentence, one paragraph, and full length bios (and labeled each thus, making it easy for readers to read only as much as they want). He also let’s readers know what date he last updated – a good way to show whether content there is accurate or not.
Although this isn’t a traditional about page, I love how simple the layout is. At the very beginning is the really short intro with links you can follow to learn more. I love that he mixes personal information with more work oriented stuff – just like Gala he mentions his personality type and where he lives. Beneath that he lists accomplishments, projects, posts, books, videos etc. Most of these have captivating titles.
This about page is a little more straightforward, but if you explore it you notice it has the same characteristics I talked about above – a good picture of the author so you feel more connected, and a shorter version of her bio followed by a much more full story (complete with dates which is fun). The thing I like most about this page is the voice of the bio itself. Although it’s written in third person, it’s clear that the author is writing because of the voice. Every line of the extended bio has some of her token humor and zest thrown in.
Have you updated your about page recently? Are there any pieces you really think made your page pop that I haven’t mentioned here? Please leave a comment below and let me know!
Join me next Tuesday for the next post in the Blogging for Authors series – Creating Exciting Content