Unless you’re a narcissist, drafting your autobiography can be tricky, even if it’s just a short bio on your website. Whether you call it “About Us” or “About Me,” editing that page gets easier when you think of it as an invitation.
Tip 1: Tell me what you can do (for me), before you tell me what you’ve done.
When I looked at my About page, the first thing I noticed was its length. Here’s a surprising comment from this writer and editor: Most people will not read every word you’ve posted.
A longer page is fine; some people want to know the details of a writer’s past experience. But I pushed the resume-summary down to the bottom of the page, including “I was born to be a writer.”
But if you ask a non-fiction author, artist, web designer or auto F&I broker why he or she hired me, they won’t say, “Well, she was born to be a writer.”
Why did I keep this statement on my site at all? Because it matters to me. As a business owner, I choose words that energize me and my work, even if some visitors won’t see them.
Tip 2: Look at your photos.
A friend from my days as a lobbyist used to say, “The face isn’t on the ballot,” meaning voters don’t pick a candidate based on the photos used in campaign materials. I agree, but let me add that photos do make a statement.
I think we find photographs of people visually arresting because of our “mutual human-ness.” If you’ve ever watched a baby in a stroller see another baby and react with funny, unguarded recognition, you know what I mean. For those of us who are “sighted,” a photo can build trust, if we select the overall presentation carefully. (Use “alt tags” in your website to explain a photo’s contents to those who are not able to view it.)
Is a photo worth a thousand words? I don’t think so. But photos do have a message. I’ve taught classes on non-verbal communication, and body language is even “louder” in a photograph because you’re not talking.
If you’re uncomfortable in the suit you wear only to church, weddings or funerals, your photo will show that, and if that suit is too large you might even seem less capable, as if you’ve borrowed the suit from a parent or friend. Either way, you’ve missed a subtle opportunity to imply your right-sized confidence in your role, not just your attire.
If you don’t like your photographer, your photo will show that. Find a professional who makes you feel comfortable in front of a camera.
Tip 3: Mind your margins.
I added an ancestral photo, not only to highlight the inspiration category of my blog, but also to narrow the margins of a large portion of the text for desktop users. A narrow column of copy is often easier for readers to “consume.” Our eyes travel back and forth as we read, but we like to keep the journey short.
Tip 4: If you include hobbies, interests or other business ventures, be intentional.
A colleague asks entrepreneurs to pick three or four words to describe what they do. (She’s quite insistent about this.) I’ve learned to appreciate her approach.
Most of my work and life can be tied to words, energy and inspiration, so I mentioned writing fiction and practicing Reiki.
Some clients like to include their families in their bios, and I support that as well.
Up next, I’ll renovate my Services page.
(Note: SEO is beyond the scope of this post. If you need help with your SEO, I keep a short list of SEO specialists I’d be happy to share with you.)