Writing a book is hard. Still, I’d rather write a 5-novel series than a book blurb. And when it comes to writing a couple of paragraphs about me, aka Author Bio, well, that’s when I really freak out! Why is it so darn hard telling the world a few things about us?
So, I was particularly happy when I discovered this excellent post on writing your About Me page. It comes from a surprising source–Elegant Themes, the makers of my favorite WordPress theme, Divi. Read on for some great tips on creating a killer Author Bio page, courtesy of Lindsay Pietroluongo!
Lindsay’s About Me Page
“If we’re gonna be friends, you should know that I re-heat my coffee as many times as it takes to burn my tongue, I only watch horror movies through my fingers and I seriously dislike elephants, although I wish them all the best.”
That’s the most-commented-on line from Lindsay’s About Me page. It’s the very last sentence and the sixth paragraph of 275 words, which means that people read all the way down to it, including one scroll. They then feel compelled to email her to ask about it. (“You reheat your coffee? Like, in the microwave? And what’s with the elephant thing??? Who doesn’t love elephants!”) In a world where it’s hard to keep anyone’s attention for more than a second, I say that’s a success!
What an About Page is Not
1. An autobiography.
2. The best outlet for sharing a long brand story or company history, even if it’s wildly interesting. Write a blog post about it instead.
3. Boring. You may be enthralled by the backstory of how you started to write, but if it’s going to make your reader fall asleep, leave it out. Cherry pick the most relevant and interesting information that enhances your brand image.
4. About you. It may say “About Me” but it’s really “About the Reader.” What you’re saying about yourself is for the purpose of relating to the reader; it’s not for an ego boost. Unless you’re already a celebrity or an influencer, people don’t really care about your story unless it improves their life.
Elements of a Great “About” Page
Lindsay lists these elements in a way that makes the most sense to her, but you can absolutely play with the layout to determine the right flow for your About page.
Just like with a blog post, you have to hook the reader. Start with something odd or unusual, something most other people don’t say or are afraid to say. If you want to make it stand out more, bold it to turn it into a headline.
In this section, and throughout your About page, you have to keep three things in mind:
- Who you are
- What you do
- Why you do it
Whatever you do, don’t reiterate that this is your About page. The reader already knows that – they clicked on the link. Here is the awesome way that Lindsay uses:
My first book was published at the age of 10. It’s no longer being distributed at Nassau Elementary School, but if you ever run into a graduate who roamed the halls in 1993, ask them if they still have their copy. I’m sure they will.
Start with your name and location, and maybe add in your “thing.”
Hey, I’m Lindsay, a freelance writer in New York. And I’m totally obsessed with true crime podcasts.
Brag a Little
Give yourself some props, but relate it to the person you’re speaking to. What is it about your experience that connects with your visitor’s biggest concern? What’s keep them up at night, and how has that same thing kept you up at night?
This depends on who your audience is. If you market author services, you’ll need something that makes sense to them:
I’ve been a full-time writer for 10 years, and I know how tough it can be to market your book and reach your readers.
If you are addressing readers, however, you’ll need to change that:
I’ve been a full-time writer for 10 years and love creating stories that will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.
Help Some More
They know what you’re able to help with, but not how you do it. Don’t go into crazy detail here. People are still mostly concerned with results – your process can be completely pared down and still effective.
I write crime fiction that will keep you up at night.
This is where you could end your Author Bio. But if you’re writing one for your website or blog, there’s an opportunity to add some more info, specifically some nice testimonials and some more background on you.
You can put testimonials at the beginning or end of the About page, but Lindsay places them here in this outline because she feels it’s the best place – you’ve told the reader how you can help them and now you’re showing how you’ve helped others. If possible, include testimonials from influencers and impressive publications as well as real people.
Give Some Background
You’ve got their interest, so there’s some leeway now to talk about how you got started. You may include information like:
- When you started writing
- Why you started writing
- Writing goals
- Most impressive achievement(s)
This is your chance to empathize some more. Let your visitors know you shared the same struggles or questions they’re experiencing. Put into words what’s going through their head.
What Makes you Human
What makes you offbeat, interesting, different from the rest? What makes you human? List three things.
You can either do a brief “look, I’m just a weird human section” at the end like I did, or you can scatter humanized details throughout – your choice.
If you’re posting this on your website or blog, don’t forget to include some media, a CTA, and your contact info.
Always include one picture of yourself – recent, crisp, and inoffensive. A photo of your face will make you more likable and trustworthy.
Consider adding a video, especially if you want to explain your writing process or describe a book. You can also embed one of your popular YouTube videos, which will link to your account and help drive traffic there.
If people are heading over to your About page often, then there should be a CTA (Call-To-Action, i.e. a link or button urging them to do something next). This should be one of your more broad offerings – the About page isn’t about one specific book, and the CTA doesn’t need to be, either. What action should people take next in order to reap the biggest benefit from your website?
Give the visitor ways to connect with you – email address, phone number, and social media links. While this should be at the end of the page, experiment with placing it in the center of your page as well, right after the most actionable paragraph, like the “Help Some More” section.
There’s an exception to this, though. If you’re growing quickly and getting inundated with emails and calls, you can remove your personal contact information. Keep your social media links, of course, and consider if and how you want people to be able to get in touch, like live chat on your website or Facebook Messenger.
There’s a lot to think about here, especially given that it concerns a text no more than 500 words long… which can, however, be the most important of your website. Here’s the good news: you already know all of this information. All of it. You know who you are, what your books are about, who enjoys them, why you do it… Take your time to put it together in a way that’s clear. Don’t worry about being creative, just be honest and transparent – readers will respect you for that while learning about what’s in it for them.