August 24, 2009 | Alyson Stanfield

Tweak Your About Page

Last week I reviewed a formal biography and gave you an easy-to-use, three-part bio format. If you missed that post, you can find it here: Work On Your Biography.

You don’t always need or want a stiff-sounding bio. In fact, if you want to relate directly to your fans, an informal bio is a better choice. Because most of us start writing informal bios for the About page of our websites and blogs, let’s look at the informal bio through that lens.

Maria Coryell-Martin, Cooked. 25 July 2006. Ink and watercolor, 11.5 x 10 inches. ©The Artist

A successful About page is injected with your personality. It lists your accomplishments, but it also includes personal stories and perhaps even hobbies and interests. It has your energy–or maybe the energy you’d like to have!

About pages are often written in the 1st person (About Me) because that is more conversational than the 3rd person (About the Artist/Biography). Besides, we all know that you are the voice behind your website or blog, so sometimes the 3rd person looks odd when read along with other parts of your site. Whatever voice you choose to use, be consistent while creating a bond with your community.

Writing a compelling About page is a process. As with your other promotional material, you should always be improving your About page with colorful stories. If you don’t think you have interesting stories, think again. Almost any fact can be improved upon. Using an example from my life, there’s the dry way to say something:

“I received my MA in art history from the University of Texas at Austin.”

. . . and the one that tells a better story:

“My Oklahoma Sooner family forgave me when I packed my bags and headed to the University of Texas at Austin to work on my MA in art history. They know I still bleed crimson and cream!”

Try doing this with the facts from your bio. It’s easy and fun!

FINAL WORD: An About page or informal bio is filled with your personality.


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6 comments add a comment
  • Artist Journey’s are all so different, I love your blog and sharing of information that happens here. Thanks for all your energy that is put into this! lorie Price Bischoff

  • The 1st person v. 3rd person discussion for About pages on web sites can be a tough one for me to balance with my web design clients since artists’ sites are often light on the amount text they include. Google, an important “target audience” to consider, uses the plain (HTML) text to understand a web site. If an artist’s name appears only in a graphic logo it may be highly beneficial to incorporate the full name into the text on several pages within the site or the site may be invisible to people searching for the artist by name. The About page is sometimes the only page with a lot of text on an artist’s site so it becomes a candidate for including the name and description of the artist’s work, making 3rd person a choice, sort of by default. For example, on a graphic-heavy site, including “Mary Jo Miller, a portrait artist in Portland, has received awards for her commissioned paintings of children and families” gives Google a lot to work with and, importantly to connect with Mary Jo Miller. Google just doesn’t understand who “I” in 1st person text is.

    Before writing an About in either 1st or 3rd person it might be good to inventory the site to see how many times the name appears in plain (HTML) text. Another good test is to enter the artist’s name in Google and see if any sites show up above the artist’s site. If art guild or exhibits the artist is involved with, or personal sites show up first, the artist has done a poor job of including his/her name in the text on the site.

    I love 1st person bios so I’m always looking for ways to avoid the dreary “Google matters” lecture with artists. Here’s a compromise I’ve used with success: use a headline: About Artist Full Name, put the text in 1st person, but include on the page a brief quote from one or more of collectors that incorporates the artist’s name: “Mary Smith’s portraits are stunning and original…” It can make a big difference.

    Now I want to take a good hard look at my own bio (that hasn’t been updated in forever!) and use the great ideas in this newsletter article to see if I can put some life into it!!

    Thanks for letting me contribute to this great discussion.

  • Alyson B. Stanfield

    Lorie: Thanks for visiting.

    Pat: You always have great insights. In fact, I’m going to take this out and make it a separate guest post. I’m all over the Internet, so I’m easy to find at this point, but my About page still says “About Me (Alyson B. Stanfield)”. Not sure if that helps with the Google problem.

  • […] response to yesterday’s Art Marketing Action on About pages, Web designer and today’s guest author Patricia J. Velte has this to contribute. The 1st person […]

  • I love these discussions because like most things in life, there is truth in all viewpoints. Trick is that each person must decide which route is best for their goals. I have also heard that it is better to have 3rd person sites so the artist looks professional and successful enough to actually have a staff to take care of the marketing, including the Web site.
    I personally enjoy writing and am a control freak I suppose and prefer to use my money on sculpting tools and other supplies and travel.
    While I sometimes go back and forth on the voice, I tend to just want to have a conversation one on one with a person. And that is really how people view a Web screen . . .

  • […] you have a website, you can spotlight your feats on your About, News, or Media Room pages. On a blog, you can do the same if you have Pages capabilities. You […]

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