The Quick & Easy Guide to Writing a Bio

quick & easy guide (1)

Write a 40,000-word manuscript?

No problem!

Write a concise Amazon author bio?

Yikes!

Isn’t it funny how authors can struggle with some of the most basic writing tasks while excelling at those others would balk at? No worries. We’re here with a great post from the Grammarly blog titled How to Write an Online Bio — With Short, Professional, and Other Examples.

Enjoy this excerpt:

Which three words would you use to explain your personality to a stranger?

If you could only think of “human with face,” or “professional needs job,” you’ve come to the right place. Learning how to write a bio is not easy; defining yourself in a few words even less so. But never fear—you can do it! Taking a few minutes to think about what you’re about isn’t just a great writing exercise, it’s a clarifying moment of personal development. Here are a few ways you can get started on your professional, website, LinkedIn, or short bio.

What to Include in a Short Bio

When most people think of online bios, they probably can readily name a few common short bio examples first. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest all have space for a short description of who you are and what you do. And you should make the most of the 1-2 lines you’re afforded here. Keep your social media bios short, sweet, and only filled with the most important things a stranger should know about you, such as:

  • Your name
  • Your current role
  • Your ultimate goal
  • Your biggest achievement

What to Include in a Professional Bio

Professional sites like LinkedIn, AngelList, or a speaker bio on an event site all have space for a bio or summary section. For each of these, you’ll probably want to write a mid-length description of both your current role, professional aspirations, and biggest achievements. Professional bios allow you to go into a bit more detail than short social media bios, especially on LinkedIn. It’s generally a good idea to include:

  • Your name
  • Your current role or professional tagline
  • Your company or personal brand
  • Your goals and aspirations
  • Your 2-3 most impressive and relevant achievements
  • One quirky fact about you (if it’s appropriate to the site)
  • What to Include in a Bio at Work
  • Writing a bio for your company’s website, HR system, or Slack instance? Be sure to give your coworkers a sense of both your professional expertise—and your personality!

You should include anything you’d include in a professional bio in a bio for your company, but don’t be afraid to personalize it with a few personal details. Have a hobby you love? A favorite book? A professional hero you look up to? Add them to give your coworkers a sense of who you are before they work with you.

What to Include in a Bio On Your Website

The “About” section of any personal website can be a slog. A drain. A hassle. You’ve already created a whole website about yourself, so it can be difficult to muster the strength to write that final description of who you are and what you’re about.

But never fear! Your website bio doesn’t need to be complicated, it just needs context on who you are and what you’ve done. This is an open, larger space, so you have room to list a few accomplishments and give context on why they’re important. You can also add a short paragraph about who you are outside of your nine-to-five. For this type of bio, you may also want to include a contact form or email, to help prospective clients, employers, or collaborators get in touch. If you do, be sure to include a clear call-to-action for your reader to contact you.

An Easy Bio Template

Even after you understand different types of bios, it can be difficult to get started. The words may not be flowing, you might not fully understand how your professional bio will be used, or you might just be stuck. Never fear! Here’s a bio recipe you can use across most sites.

  • Your first and last name: Start by writing your name. That wasn’t so hard!
  • Your company or brand: If you have a consulting firm, a brand you use for your side hustle, or a company you currently work at, list that next.
  • Your current function: What do you do for work? You can either list your current title or a short, descriptive phrase about your role here.
  • Your north star: People reading your bio will also want to get a sense of who you are. Listing your overall goal, values, or a statement that describes your ethos will help them get to know you, even in short bios.
  • Your top three accomplishments: Especially in professional bios, you’ll need a few accomplishments to show off what you’ve done in your career. Choose the top two or three large milestones from your career (no more), and put them next.
  • Your cute closer (optional): This may not be necessary in a shorter bio for Twitter or Instagram. But for a website or similarly professional bio, you may want to add a sentence describing who you are outside of work.
  • Your contact info (optional): Depending on the site, you may also want to include an email, contact form, or another easy way for readers to reach you. List this information at the end of your bio.

The Polished Professional Bio: Yuriy Timen’s LinkedIn

 

LinkedIn summaries can read like either a list of accomplishments or a list of professional interests. Yuriy’s is neither. Instead, he explains his professional goals and lists his major accomplishment—building Grammarly’s user base.

The Website Bio Whiz: Jamie McKelvie’s Website

One could marvel at the efficiency of Jamie’s professional website bio. Using a descriptive headline about his work and a short list of only his most recognizable accomplishments, Jamie is able to sum up several projects in a relatively small space.

4 Quick Tips on Writing About Yourself

Even with all of this information on how to write a bio, it might still be difficult to write about yourself. Even for the most confident person, self-promotion can be exhausting. But never fear! There are a few ways you can keep your “about me” writing on point—without pulling your hair out.

Tip #1: Don’t Overthink It

Bios are usually formulaic—and that’s okay! For most professional bios, LinkedIn summaries, and speaker bios at events, you won’t need to stray from the norm too much to stand out. Even adding an adjective that shows your personality or an unusual accomplishment can make your bio different from the crowd. You don’t need to create the next Between The World And Me to write a killer bio.

Tip #2: Remember Your Worth

Writing a bio on a site like Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn can be daunting because there are already so many fantastic bios (and people!) out there. But don’t fall prey to bio comparison! Your story is only yours to tell, and it has value. Focus on staying authentic to your truth, and don’t worry about others’.

Tip #3: When In Doubt, Borrow

Bios can be repetitive, sometimes even tedious. So if you find a structure you like and think sounds unique, borrow it! You should never copy a person’s bio—after all, it’s their story, not yours—but you can mimic the structure if you’re feeling stuck.

Tip #4: Get Writing Help

You’re not alone in your quest to create a bio that stands out. Grammarly is here to help you choose powerful adjectives, clean up hedging language, and make your LinkedIn stand out.

Even after this great info, you may find yourself stuck. That’s where Certa Publishing can help. We can help you curate not only your author bios on various platforms, but also a comprehensive marketing strategy. Contact us today to find out how we can partner with you.

Author websites: Everything you need to know

authorwebsites

 

We have some bad news. Even if you have the world’s greatest social media interactions and thousands of newsletter subscribers, you’re still missing a key marketing component: the author website.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a killer Facebook page or YouTube channel can take the place of an author website. Having a dedicated URL means something to readers and publishers.

It means:

  • You’re the real deal and that you’re here for the long haul
  • There is an ever-ready source of information about you and your books
  • There is a reliable way to contact you
  • Your content and style can be previewed before someone buys your book

So what should your author site look like? What content is most important? We’re glad you asked! Kimberly Grabas authored the post 11 Author Website Must Have Elements, which we suggest for anyone beginning to build their site.

This week we are excerpting Ms. Grabas’ first 5 essential author website elements here:

1. Designing Your Author Website: Ensure a Good First Impression

Your author website is an essential piece to the successful book marketing puzzle, but as always, first impressions matter. It is tempting to just get something up quickly, that requires little cost, and get back to the joyful torture of writing your novel.

However, while it’s certainly possible to set up your website quickly and with relatively little expense, it is extremely important to remember that your website represents who you are and what you have to offer.

A website will help to increase not only your book’s visibility across the internet, but yours as well. In many cases, it may be your future fans first impression of you–especially if you have not yet published. Make sure that your site reinforces the image you wish to portray.

With your author brand in mind, ask yourself the following questions about your current or new author website:

  • Will people know what I write within seconds?
  • Does the voice, tone, attitude and mood of the site resonate with my ideal reader?
  • Will they understand the page they are on and what it’s about?
  • Will they know what to do next?
  • Does the site appear credible?
  • Is it clear why they should buy my book or subscribe to free updates?
  • What does the site provide the reader?

Just like it’s important to have fresh eyes editing your novel, ask others for their answers to the above questions and get their opinions on the first impressions your site gives rise to. You might be surprised at their answers!

As you design your site, keep both aesthetics and functionality in mind. You don’t need to run out and hire a $12,000 designer to have a professional looking site, but do keep the following in mind:

  • Your site should look clean and uncluttered. Less is more, especially in your sidebar. And white space is your friend.
  • Your site is polished, legible (go for clear, not clever) and spell checked. Choose larger font sizes and colors that are easy to read. Light fonts on dark backgrounds or minimal contrast between font color and backgrounds are difficult to read.
  • Keep navigation easy and clear, so your readers can find the important stuff.
  • Use color to draw attention to select elements. For example, pick one color to be your “action” color. Whenever you want a reader to take action by clicking a link or subscribing, ensure you use that color only for the link or button, and no where else.
  • Avoid a chaotic mix of colors. Instead pick two to four colors for your design template and don’t try to make everything stand out–then nothing will.
  • Avoid anything unnecessary like Flash (Apple currently doesn’t support Flash), animated backgrounds or music. If your site takes a long time to load, or doesn’t work on a mobile device (iPad), you will lose a large number of visitors to your site.
  • Keep elements consistent from page to page.
  • Is your site branded for longevity? Is it book/genre specific or limiting, given your future writing plans? You do not want to rebrand or redesign the next time you publish.
  • Remember, your site has to be compatible with different browsers and devices, so check how things look on multiple browsers, tablets and phones.
  • Create content that is useful, engaging and well organized. Your posts and copy must be easy to scan. (Ugh, I know! As a fellow writer who bleeds over every word, I feel your pain!) People read differently online, so use bulleted lists, section headers and short paragraphs to convey your message, and learn the importance of writing a magnetic headline.

2. About/Bio Page

About pages are among the most frequently visited pages on the internet. Your readers want to know more about you, and this is the place to tell them.

Even as a visitor is delving into what you’re all about, what they are really thinking is WIIFM? (What’s in it for me?) Keep this in mind as you incorporate some of these ideas into your about page:

  • Consider having a professional headshot and short blurb from your homepage with a link to your About page for more information.

1. Start with a persuasive headline, that lets your visitor know what they can expect.

2. Reassure your readers that they are in the right place and tell them what your site will give them.

3. Strengthen your credibility with some testimonials, reader quotes or other forms of social proof (more on this below).

4. Tell your personal story. Frame your content around what led you to writing, why you write the kind of books you do, what you love about it. Make sure your personality shines through! You can also include your writing credentials and professional associations.

5. If a visitor gets to this point in your about page, you’ve got them interested. Ask them to join your email list, and provide a link to your books, services or other products.

Here are more ideas:

  • What do you want to know about your favourite author? Include that.
  • Keep your About page and Bio up to date.
  • Link to your Media Kit/Press page if you have one.
  • Be personal, but be careful not to over share; stay professional.

3. Contact Information

It’s surprising how difficult authors will make it for their readers (media, agents, publishers…) to contact them. There might be a tiny email address buried at the bottom of their website or noted on some obscure page deep within their blog. DO NOT make your visitors hunt for your contact information!

If your goal is to engage with your readers online, don’t play hard to get.

Make it as easy as possible for someone to get a hold of you. Here’s what to do:

  • Have a contact tab in your top main menu that leads to a page with your preferred ways to be contacted. Don’t list every possible way you can be found, just the best ways. If you use a contact form, make sure it’s simple and you’re only asking for the info you require to get back to that person. If you note your email address, use yourname[dot]com to avoid spam harvesters. 
  • You can also encourage your readers to get in touch with you via the social platform(s) you are most active on.
  • Provide multiple ways for people to contact, follow and Like you. It’s not your readers’ job to find you. It’s your job to be where your readers are.

4. Email Sign Up/Updates

It is never too early to start collecting email subscribers. Early sign ups are the most likely to be your biggest fans and most ardent supporters. These are the people that will forward your new releases and insider updates to their friends, evangelize you on Twitter, attend your events or push up your sales rank on Amazon when they hurry to get your new book.

I highly recommend using Aweber to manage your email list. Using a high quality, industry leader for your email list management is important to ensure your emails get to your fans and not their spam boxes. It’s easy to use, with tons of step by step videos, and very helpful customer service if you get stuck. And putting your form on your site is as easy as copying and pasting.

A few additional tips:

  • Don’t panic! You do not have to produce a newsletter every week. Catherine Ryan Howard at Catherine, Caffeinated makes a point of letting you know up front that “nothing much happens… an email about once a month will cover it…” Just keep in mind that you should not be ‘selling’ something every time (and the only time) you contact your subscribers.
  • Just an email address, or first name and email address is enough info. You don’t want to scare people off by asking for more.
  • Your email optin box should be bigger and bolder than other elements on the page, but don’t overdo it.
  • Make all links and buttons your ‘action’ color (as above). And make sure your links and buttons look clickable.
  • Consider including a signup incentive, like a promo code for your latest book, a bonus chapter, a sneak preview of your next book, or a free chapter from a different character’s POV.

5. Testimonials

Social proof, testimonials and positive quotes from fans and reviewers can go a long way in increasing your credibility and authority with visitors to your author website.

Place real, short and powerful testimonials on your site. Include positive reviews, quotes from fan mail, notable media coverage, and if you have a significant following on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Wattpad and so on, note it.

Great locations for your fan testimonials are your About page, Homepage and on your sidebar, just under your email sign up form.

Come back next week for the remainder of this comprehensive list of must-have author website elements.

Keep in mind that Certa Publishing is here to help, no matter where you are in the process of building your author site. We can recommend who to partner with for website design or simply look over the one you’ve already built. We’d love to hear from you!

10 Essentials for Your Author Website: Part 2

10essentials

Are you struggling with how to build or update your author website? Whether you feel like your website is ineffective, outdated, or simply nonexistent, this article is for you.

Your author website must be a connecting point with your fans, a source of valuable information, a portal for communication, and always dynamic.

Simply put: more website visits translate into more books sold. 

So why wouldn’t you develop an effective, professional hub for your online presence and interactions?

Check out the final 5 essential elements of an author website. Did you miss the first 5 in Part 1? Find it here.

  1. Connect your social media

It’s important to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find and follow you on social media.

  • Add links to your relevant social media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Goodreads, etc.) profiles on your Home page, About page, and Contact page.
  • Simply ask people to follow or like you.
  • Add a sharing plugin to each page on your site.
  • Next, be sure to consistently share content on your social media accounts that’s valuable and interesting. This will keep people engaged.

 “Optimizing social media requires you to focus on creating content that is unique, engaging and shareable.”

  1. Create a page for your books

Include a high quality image of your book cover, a concise synopsis, and purchase details with links. Make the Book Page obvious and easy to find for your readers.

  • If possible, have a media kit created for each book. (Don’t know what this is? Keep reading!)
  • Another option, in addition to creating a Book Page on your website, is to create a separate book website or landing page.
  1. Have an Author Blog

Websites with blogs get a significantly higher percentage of traffic than websites without blogs. A blog creates fresh, valuable pages of content perfect for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you want to be seen by more people, bring potential buyers to your site, and prove your credibility as an authority on your topic, a blog is a necessity!

  • Intrigue your readers (both new and old) with exclusive content such as unpublished passages, the inside scoop, behind the scenes photos, sample chapters, etc.
  • Take advantage of this platform to network with your peers, recommend other authors, and review books similar/related to your own.
  • Use the comment section of each blog post to engage with your readers.
  • A blog is the perfect way to keep readers naturally coming back for more.
  1. Don’t forget an Upcoming Events page

Include a section on your site to inform your visitors of your latest news and any upcoming events.

  • Post your most recent interviews, reviews, radio appearances, blog mentions, etc.
  • Share the dates of your upcoming book readings, signings, speaking engagements, conferences, workshops, interviews, etc. with details so your fans can keep up with you.
  1. Create a Media Kit

The purpose of a media kit is to provide your information to the press or anyone wishing to profile or interview you. Having a thorough, professional looking media kit sets you a part. Be sure to make it an easy to find page on your site. The contents of a media kit can vary, but the following are a few of the basics:

  • Author bio and photo
  • Contact information
  • Information about the book, including a review and excerpt
  • Press release
  • Testimonials
  • Product Information
  • Potential Interview Questions

Which of these 10 essentials do you already have implemented on your website? How can you improve upon your current site? Or are you ready to start from scratch? Don’t let all of this information overwhelm you—take one step at a time.

If you put in the time and hard work, you’ll certainly see the benefits!

 

10 Essentials for Your Author Website: Part 1

10essentials

Feel like your author website is outdated or ineffective, but don’t know how to begin revamping it? Overwhelmed by the thought of creating one from scratch? Check out these 10 must-have elements for your author website.

Websites are no longer static, digital business cards—their purpose is to do more than just relay information.

Your author website must be a connecting point with your fans, a source of valuable information, a portal for communication, and always dynamic.

When readers visit an author’s website, they’re able to show their support and get to know their favorite writers better—and strong relationships between writers and readers means incredibly devoted fans, which leads to stronger word of mouth marketing.

Simply put: more website visits translate into more books sold.

So why wouldn’t you develop an effective, professional hub for your online presence and interactions?

  1. Make a good first impression

It may be tempting to whip something together and quickly share it with your fans, but it’s important to remember that your website truly represents who you are and what you can offer others. Develop an author brand consistent with how you wish to portray yourself. With this in mind, consider the following questions:

  • Will people know what I write within seconds of arriving at my site?
  • Does the voice and mood of my site resonate with my ideal reader?
  • Will visitors understand the page they are on and what it’s about?
  • Will they know what to do next? Does the site flow well?
  • Does my site appear professional and credible?
  • Is there a clear call to action, such as “buy my book” or “subscribe to my email list”?
  • Is there honest reasoning as to why someone would respond to the call to action?
  1. Include an About Page and Author Bio

Your readers want to know more about you, and this is the perfect place to tell them. About pages are some of the most frequented pages, so you don’t want to leave this element out. While the surface purpose is to share more about yourself, the deeper purpose is to quench the reader’s unspoken “what’s in it for me” question. Keep this in mind and consider the following tips:

  • Have a professional headshot taken. Whether you prefer a clean, studio portrait or a more relaxed photo in a natural setting (e.g. in a park or at your desk), it’s important to have a well lit, high quality photo. A grainy cell phone snap often gives off the wrong impression.
  • Introduce yourself.
    • Start with a persuasive opener, informing your reader what they can expect to find on this page, as well as your site as a whole.
    • Tell your personal story—focus on what led you to start writing, what has inspired your books, and why you love it. Let your personality shine while still keeping it professional. Browse some of your favorite authors’ websites to get inspiration.
    • Be sure to mention your writing credentials and associations
    • Then, gain some credibility by providing testimonials and reader quotes.
  • By now, your reader has invested in you and your site enough to provide them with a call to action. Provide a link to your books, invite them to join your email list, etc.
  1. Have a Contact Page

If you want people to engage with you, don’t make it difficult to find your contact information. Make it as easy as possible for people to get a hold of you.

  • Include a “contact” tab in the main menu of your website. On this page, include your preferred methods of communication.
  • If you have a contact form, keep it simple and to the point—don’t ask your readers too many questions about themselves.
  • If you list your email address, use the following format to avoid spammers: “yourname[at]gmail.com” or “yourname@yourwebsite[dot]com.”
  • List your social media profiles
  1. Build an Email List

Even if you don’t have grand plans for a newsletter or an impending book launch, it’s never too early to start collecting email addresses. These early sign-ups will most likely be some of your biggest fans, supporting your work by word of mouth recommendations, forwarding your emails, and sharing your posts on social media. Why is an email list so important, and how can you make one? Check out this article for more information on how to get started!

  • Don’t worry! You don’t have to send out a newsletter each week. You can be upfront about the frequency of your newsletter. Don’t feel pressured to send one out too often.
  • Don’t try to sell something every time you contact your subscribers. It’s important to add value (link) to your audience, not just use them to promote to.
  • Make your opt-in box or sign-up form very easy to find on your page, but not obnoxiously large.
  • Consider including a “sign-up incentive” such as a promo code for your books, a sneak peek at your next story, or a free chapter download.
  1. Gain Credibility Through Testimonials and Reviews

Your website visitors will instantly find you more credible if you include positive reader quotes, social proof, and testimonial reviews to your website. Without being sales-y, even your most critical visitors can be won over through the words of a third party. So gather real, succinct reviews from readers, and include them on your site.

  • Email your list of address for feedback, reviews, and thoughts from those who have purchased and read your books or who follow your blog.
  • Whenever you receive a great comment, tweet, or email from a reader, get permission to use their words as a testimonial on your site.

Keep an eye out for the next 5 essentials in the upcoming Part 2!