Serious online authors should pay serious attention to their article bios.
To a great extent, your bio is your brand. If it falls short, you risk being perceived as a novice, an illiterate hack, an oddball or something else that will prevent people from standing in line to publish your work.
Here are important tips for creating a brand-enhancing and memorable bio:
1. Your name. It should always be the same, and the same as what you call yourself on your social media sites and elsewhere online. Consistency makes your brand strong and memorable. To state the obvious, your title should always include a first and last name. If you hold a Ph.D., be careful about using “Dr.” in your name—it will impress some, but put off others.
2. Your title. This should also be kept the same. Some authors change their titles to fit better with the site for which they are writing. I think this is a mistake: If your title is that far off, you could be writing on a topic you don’t truly understand, or your title itself should be changed.
3. Your employer. As briefly as possible, state the name of your company and what it does. Change the emphasis to fit the site for which you’re writing—as long as the description remains accurate. Authenticity is just as important as relevance for online authors.
4. Your job. Explain—again, as briefly as possible—what you do for your employer.
5. Credibility. Why should someone take your article seriously? Why are you an expert? By mentioning your educational background, work experience, a major accomplishment and/or an award, you establish credibility. The key is not to go overboard. Too much chest-thumping makes you come off as an egotistical huckster.
6. Personal information. Sometimes—depending on the publishing site and your personal preference—a few personal details are a good addition. I don’t like to get into my hobbies, favorite bands and stuff like that. The fact that I loved “Breaking Bad” doesn’t make me a more credible SEO specialist, and though it might endear me to some readers, others will be put off or wonder why I brought it up. When in doubt, leave it out.
7. Company links. Google loves a natural link profile, so vary the anchor text for the link pointing to your home page; variations of the company name, the target URL, “click here” or “learn more” are all perfectly fine anchor text options. Instead of, or in addition to, a home page link, you can link to internal site pages to promote a particular product or service relevant to your article. Too many bio links make you look like a spammer, though, even if the publisher allows multiple links.
8. Social media links. If you use one social media site much more than others, linking only to this preferred site is sensible. If you want to engage people on multiple sites, get a feel for which sites the publisher’s readers favor. You can get a handle on this by looking at the blog’s social share buttons: Do you see a lot of tweets, “likes,” or LinkedIn shares? If one or two sites have the lion’s share of shares, link to those.
9. Headshot. It’s best to use the same headshot image across the board-bios, social media profiles and the very important Gravatar—to maintain consistency and make your brand memorable. The one exception is LinkedIn. On that platform, formal, professional headshots are the norm, whereas less formal headshots are generally OK everywhere else.
10. Style. Brevity, yes; levity, no. Very few readers have the patience to wade through a 10-line bio. Attempts at humor can fall flat or backfire, turning readers away instead of drawing them in. A businesslike approach is both safe and smart.
Do these recommendations work for you, or have you tried other things that work better?