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Your About page is often your website’s second most popular page. A good About Me page will help you get more media exposure, grow your email list, and connect to your readers. A bad page is forgettable noise that bores readers to death.
So how can you craft a memorable About page that will keep your reader’s interest alive?
Whether you’re indie or traditional, published or pre-published, you need an About page that stands out. We visited this topic in 2012 in a post written by Caitlyn Muir. This article is the updated version of that original post.
Who Visits Your About Page?
Different people are looking for different things when the visit your website. A good About Me page can thrill all your website visitors.
Readers want to know about you, but a dry list of your accomplishments will scare readers right off your About page.
Readers who take the time and effort to visit your page want to know more:
- Where do you live?
- How old are you?
- How long have you been writing?
More importantly, they want a feel for your personality. Web visitors want to read your story.
Podcast hosts are always looking for guests and may already be visiting your About page. They want to know if you would be a good fit for their show. They also want a short bio they can copy and paste so they can easily introduce you on the show. Some hosts might also want details from a longer bio so they can spice up the intro.
Most podcast hosts will copy and paste your bio, but the best hosts will tweak it for their audiences.
Podcast hosts also want to know if you have done any previous interviews. If you give a lot of media interviews, you may consider creating an author media kit. A media kit is a version of your About page written specifically for journalists, podcast hosts, and TV producers.
Journalists want to see an extended bio they can use as research when writing a story about you. Most web visitors prefer your short and punchy bio, but journalists look for the long version. Your long bio is like a one-stop shop for the information they need about you. If you create a good press kit for your website, you’ll do journalists a great favor and increase your chances of building a media relationship.
Event coordinators visit your website to find out if you’re a good speaker and whether you would be a good fit for their event. If you’re booked, they will return to your website to look for a paragraph they can read when introducing you.
Professional speakers are trained to use your long bio to craft a custom short bio for the particular audience and talk. However, in my experience, most MCs have not had professional public-speaking training, so they tend to read the bio posted on your website.
I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard an unprepared MC introduce a speaker by reading a boring About page from their phone for five minutes.
Talk about scaring your audience! A long, boring introduction will cast a sense of dread that the next 30 minutes will be an awful bore.
Allay the fears of your audience and make the MCs job easy by posting a short, introduction-length bio at the top of your About page.
Even if you are an indie author, you can benefit from conversations with literary agents. If you build a great platform, literary agents will reach out to you. But before they reach out, they will visit your About page.
Literary agents and other industry professionals want to learn about your publishing experience. They want to know about your past literary successes if you have them.
How to Make Your Bio More Interesting
The core element of an About Me page is the author bio. Most author bios bore readers to death. They’re so boring that web visitors either skim the content or bounce.
Here are some tips to make your bio more interesting. I have a free worksheet to help you with this process. You can download the worksheet for free when you sign up below.
The most important thing to realize about an author bio is this:
A good author bio isn’t a resume. It’s a story.
Good stories have a protagonist, an antagonist, struggle, tension, conflict, and resolution. The same elements that make your novel a page-turner will make your bio memorable. Don’t let your bio be a brainless children’s TV program with no tension or conflict!
If you are a novelist, use your storytelling skills to write your bio.
If you write nonfiction, learn some basic storytelling techniques, and incorporate them into your bio.
What should I write in my author bio?
Step 1: Fill the Pantry
Before you start writing your bio, you need to collect the following ingredients. You won’t use them all, but you need to know what’s available.
Collect the following information:
- Record your personality traits. Are you outgoing, quiet, precise, reliable, funny, or artistic?
- List one or two quirky facts. Do you collect postcards, like to climb mountains, raise alpacas, or participate in lawn mower races?
- Identify your uniqueness. What makes you different? What makes you weird? What are your strengths, weaknesses, or quirks?
- Determine the antagonist of your bio. Great stories have one of the following six antagonists:
- Nature. (Example: illness)
- Society. (Example: Cancel Culture)
- Yourself. (Example: Addiction)
- Others (Example: Haters)
- Your Own Creation. (Example: Your Company or Invention)
- Something supernatural. (Example: God, The Devil)
- Determine your inciting incident. What made you want to start writing? Your inciting incident is often the most interesting element of your bio.
- Determine your dark moment. At what point were you close to disaster? Did you want to give up? Did you fail or achieve the wrong goal?
- List your successes to boost your credibility. Tell about successes from your own experience, accomplishments, or through the endorsements of others.
If you need more help, download this About Page Worksheet to help you start and finish your author bio story.
Step 2: Write the Long Bio
Look over the ingredients from your pantry. What’s the most interesting element? Start writing the story around that element. You may want to share your ingredients with some other authors to get an outside perspective on the most interesting angle for your bio.
Your long bio should be 2,000-3000 words long.
Step 3: Write the Short Bio
While you want the short bio to appear on the page first, I think it is easier to write it second, after you’ve written your long version. Podcast hosts and MCs will use your short bio to introduce you to their audiences.
Your short bio can also appear on the back of your book.
Take the key elements from your long bio to write your short bio. But as you cut words, don’t cut your personality. You still want the audience to get a feel for your personality even if you’re using fewer words.
Ultimately you want to answer this question: “What is the least amount of information people need to know about me to find me credible and likable?” Answer that question. Then stop typing.
Keep the short bio under 100 words. If you can distill it to 50 words, that’s even better.
Step 4: Add a Little Spice
Remember, your About page is a web page, which means you can add multimedia.
Did you fall off a pyramid and end up in an Egyptian hospital while researching your mummy book? Add the photo of you in the hospital! Do you have a blog post that tells the whole story? Include the link on your About page.
Spice could include:
- Hyperlinks: The About page is one of the first pages people visit. Let it be a gateway to the rest of your site.
- Beautiful Design: The Divi Theme (Affiliate Link) comes with hundreds of beautiful About page templates.
- Photos. It’s ok to have a dozen great photos on your About page.
- Embedded Videos. If you have a cool video about yourself, use it!
- A Timeline. Divi has a cool built-in timeline feature. You can see it on display on AuthorMedia’s About page.
- Social Links. If you don’t have social media links on the rest of your website, people will look for them on your About page. It’s ok not to be on social media, but if you are on social media and want people to find you there, add the icons to your About page.
Two “About Page” Examples
Here are a couple of examples created by Caitlin to illustrate good and bad author bios.
Bob the Biographer (Boring!)
Bob started attending UCLA in the fall of 1985. As one of the core residents, Bob had been able to do significant research with the anthropology department. Every year until 1988, Bob published an anthology of biographies, highlighting the stories of the other students living on campus.
In 1988, Bob switched his major to Economics.
It was then that he was first introduced to the life and theories of John Maynard Keynes. He decided then that he wanted to become the foremost expert on Keynes. It wasn’t Keynes’ economic theories that fascinated Bob. It was the man behind them. In 1999, Bob married his childhood sweetheart, a banker named Sue.
In 2001, Bob started writing a musical about the life of Keynes. That year, Bob was also blessed with a puppy named Grover and a daughter named Daisy.
Bob has since graduated college, become an accountant, and started running five miles every day. He continues to write his exhaustive biography on Keynes.
Bob’s poor web visitor just died of boredom.
Bill the Biographer (Interesting!)
This guy writes the same kind of books, but he writes about it in a far more interesting way.
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Bill was familiar with the legends surrounding Sacagewea. It wasn’t until he left the region that he realized that her story was largely unknown by the rest of the country. He set out to change that. (Antagonist: An ignorant society)
On May 14, 2015, Bill packed up all his earthly belongings and headed off with Hans Solo, his pet parakeet, on the adventure of a lifetime – following the footsteps of Sacegewa and the Corps of Discovery. His book about her journey Sacagawea: First Lady of the American Frontier, was published and received critical acclaim in 2020. The book was accepted into the Library of Congress nine months after publication.
Bill and Hans Solo are back on the road, tracing the story of Sacagewea’s first-born son. This time they are motorcycling with Hans safe and secure in his custom-designed side-car. The Adventures of Jeanne Baptiste: First Son of the American West will be published in the fall of 2022.
You can sign up for Bill’s weekly author newsletter from the road, where he discusses the history of the region.
Bill received his Ph.D. in History from Reed College. He is a popular professor, with thousands of students signing up for his online history classes every year.
Here are some tips that will give your About Me page the edge.
Write in Third Person
Don’t use first-person pronouns like I and me. A first-person bio is hard for MCs, journalists, and podcast hosts to use. Writing I and me instead of your name also hurts your search rankings. You want to use your full name multiple times on your About page so that it will rank when someone searches for you.
Write your About page in third person, even if the rest of your site is written in first person.
Have One High-Resolution Headshot
When someone wants to write about you on their blog, they usually want to include your photo in their post. They probably won’t email you asking for a photo. I have had hundreds of blog posts and articles written about me, and only twice have bloggers emailed to request a photo. Everyone else searched a Google Images.
You want to influence which image they see and use. If you don’t, a photo you hate could spread around the internet faster than you could ask people to replace it.
Here are some tips to help your chosen photo rank well in Google Image Search:
- Use the file name format “firstname-lastname.jpg.” For example, “john-smith.jpg.” Google sees the hyphen as a space, so it tells Google which words you want the image to rank for.
- Make sure the image’s alt text says “Firstname Lastname.” For example, “John Smith.”
- Make sure the image is at least 2000×1000 pixels. Normally you want to shrink images to load quickly. This is not one of those times. Google Images likes large, high-quality images for image search.
If you do these things, your image should be the #1 result when someone does an image search for your name. It may take a month or two for it to show in results consistently, but unless your name is very common or someone famous already has your name, it should work.
Even if someone famous does have your name, this still often works to get you on the first page of Google Image search. Very few people know how to optimize images for search engines. Implement this trick, and you will have a big edge even over celebrities.
Set the Schema
Your About page can receive special treatment from Google if you know how to ask for it.
Have you ever noticed that when you search for some authors, you don’t just get a link to their website? You also get links to other pages inside their website.
You can make sure the first extra page featured is your About page by implementing this one simple trick.
If you are on WordPress and you use the Yoast SEO plugin, it’s very easy to have your about page featured.
In the edit window of your About page:
- Scroll down to the YOAST SEO section
- Click the Schema tab
- Set the “Page Type” to “About Page.”
If you do this, search engines like Google and Bing will give your About page special treatment.
If someone reads your entire About page, there is a good chance they are a superfan. The end of your About page is a great place to remind them to sign up for your email list.
If you use the Bloom plugin (Affiliate Link) from Elegant Themes, inserting an email opt-in form is very easy.
Call the Page “About”
When someone is looking for an About page, they are looking for the word “about.” Good web design doesn’t require visitors to decode your overly clever website. What seems clever to you will seem unclear to your visitors.
So don’t call the page “my story” or “why I write.” Your About page is one of the three pages on your site that should always have a standard name.
For the record, the three standard pages are:
These three pages are the three legs of the stool for most websites. If you want your website to be easy to use, use the standard names. Also, you don’t need to include the word “me.” Just call the page “About,” not “About Me.”
Schedule a Refresh
As time passes, your About page can become outdated. While I have done a good job keeping the About page on AuthorMedia.com up to date, the About page on ThomasUmstattd.com is terribly outdated.
So how do you keep from making my mistake?
In your digital calendar, schedule a recurring event to check and update your About page. Digital calendar reminders are a great way to send emails to your future self. Make sure you’ve turned on email notifications so that your future self won’t forget.
I recommend reading through your About page once a year. It shouldn’t take more than an hour to refresh it if you update it every year.
A well-written author About page will stay with your web visitors long after they leave your website. You don’t want to bore them to death, so save lives and write a memorable About page.
How to Build an Amazing Author Website
Learn how to build your amazing author website even if you are not a techie person. Best part? This course is 100% free, and you will learn to create the kind of website your readers will love.
Students who have never built a website before discover that their own website is live on the internet by the time they’ve completed this course. Sometimes they do it in a single day.
I hope you’ll use my affiliate links when building your website, but either way, the course is yours to keep at no cost to you.
In this course you will get:
- Step-by-step video guide on how to get started with Bluehost
- Step-by-step video guide on how to set up the Divi theme
- Video tour of the WordPress dashboard.
- 7 Secrets of Amazing Author Websites
Going through this course gives you access to an exclusive space inside AUthorMedia.social where you can post website questions and share your website for feedback. Feel free to post a link to your updated About page for feedback after completing the course.
CLR Peterson, author of Lucia’s Renaissance
Heresy is fatal in late Renaissance Italy, so only a suicidal zealot would so much as whisper the name of Martin Luther. But after Luther’s ideas ignite a young girl’s faith, she must choose–abandon her beliefs or risk her life in the turbulent world of late sixteenth-century Italy.
Do you have a question you would like us to answer on the show? Call our listener helpline! 512-827-8377. You can also send us a high-quality recording on AuthorMedia.com/contact.
I would add one important mixer to this advice. Make sure that you are offering your story and expertise in a way that appeals to your readers – give them some benefits (reasons) for reading your works. Otherwise the bio can still be a litany of “you.”
Great point! I think that’s where Bill’s biography sings. He offers books, newsletters, and online classes for history buffs.
As a brand new author, I didn’t feel like I had a whole lot to put into my bio, so I tried to turn to humor. I am a list writer so I created a numbered list: Maria Grace has one husband, two black belts and two graduate degrees…. and continued all the way up to ten. Some of them are definitely funny, but I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about it. I’m not taking myself too seriously and letting people get to know me a little. I may change it when I have a little more to offer, but for now it is at least a unique first effort.
Thanks for the tips and new perspective on this.
I like it. Lists are a lot of fun and they still share your stats. Great job, Maria! What kind of writing are you pursuing?
Right now I’m doing historical fiction, but I have a science fiction series in the works as well as a fantasy one.
Great stuff here. Now I’m off to rewrite mine! What do you think about first-person versus third-person? Saying “Lisa Bartelt is a … blah, blah blah” always sounds a little sterile to me. I’d rather write my bio in the first person, but maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. 🙂 Thanks!
As soon as I figure out who I am…I’ll share it with others.
I used to write but now create low content books and courses. Thomas, your advice still applies to me and what I do now, even though I haven’t published an e-book for 18 months. Thanks
I hope you’ve figured it out by now Russ, and if you’re still on that journey, take courage. Good things come to those who wait. And Steve Jobs said that the dots aren’t often aligned until the end, which is when we can finally make sense of everything.
What kind of SF interests you, Maria Grace? I like meeting (even virtually) new authors and seeing what we have in common.