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Earlier this month, I gave you my TOP 10 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY WEBSITE and promised an additional post on how to write an awesome bio page for your website. Here are some tips for writing your bio I’ve garnered over the years from my good friend and communications guru Lucinda Kay of Let It Shine Media (if you feel you need some communications coaching, you should call her. She helps clients from all over the world).
Your about page or bio is your digital elevator speech. Lucinda likes to call it your “I Am” statement. This should communicate, in a couple sentences, what you and your business is all about. I’ve seen bio pages that were paragraphs long and had absolutely nothing to do with the service the person was offering or why I should hire them. Frankly, I don’t care if you like long walks on the beach, unless I want you to photograph me on the beach. So, how do you develop your “I Am” statement?
Sticking with the classic Who, What, Where, When, Why and How go a long way when developing your communications. Keep it simple! Let’s break it down. Grab a pen and paper and let’s get to work.
Your name, maybe your credentials or experience you have in your industry. You could also include a little info here that might endear you to your target audience. Do you photograph kids? Mention you have kids yourself. Photograph bands? Mention your weekend rock band. Only photograph weddings? Tell a little big about why you love photographing the big day. Keep it short though. One or two sentences.
What makes you stand out from the competition? What do you offer that is unique? Pick your best attribute or strength (or what your demographic will appreciate most about you) and list it here. When developing a true elevator speech, this would be one or two words. I’ll give you one or two sentences for a bio page. An example might be that you only shoot with film or you specialize in Indian Weddings or you are an award winning, exclusive newborn photographer, etc.
Seems like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many photographer websites I’ve visited and had to search for 10 minutes to find out what city they live and work in. Wow! The average potential client wouldn’t stick around on a site that long. Your about page should include the area where you work. This is also good for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). If you are available to travel the world, say so. If you only work in your city or county, make that clear here.
You could include specific business hours here, or this could refer to the type of subject matter you cater to. If you only shoot babies younger than three weeks old, say so here. Only shoot weddings? Make sure that’s clear. If you shoot a little bit of everything, you could mention that, too. Specializing is part of focusing your message, which so many photographers (myself included) struggle with. If you’re one of those photographers floundering around trying to find your niche, this exercise could be a great way to narrow it down.
Why in the world are you a photographer? It’s not easy. What keeps you coming back? What drives you to keep going? Why did you choose the newborns or street photography or fashion? If you’re not sure, do a little soul searching. Take a look at your collection of images. Do you see a common theme? Figure out what you love and tell your future clients here. This will help you build a connection with them. Again, don’t make this a novel telling your life history. Just one or two sentences.
Including a little information about unique techniques you use could help set you apart from your competition. This doesn’t even have to be technical differences in your gear or working style. There are a million “natural light photographers” out there, so mentioning that you’re a natural light photographer isn’t going to make you stand out. Are you patient with kids? Do you have the stamina of a marathon runner on wedding day? Do you use an antique camera and develop the film in your make-shift Volkswagen Bus dark room? Would you bungie jump off a cliff to get the perfect shot?
Call to Action:
Lucinda says your elevator speech should have a soft call to action at the end. I think it’s a good idea to include one on your bio page, too. Examples could include a link to your contact page, an invitation to meet for lunch, etc.
A few other things to consider when writing for your website:
Spelling & Grammar:
It’s easy to run a spelling and grammar check. Just do it! If you can’t afford to hire a copy writer or editor, at least have your significant other and a few other adults read over it and check for errors.
Somehow blogging and texting have completely erased all rules about punctuation (at least from the English language). Exclamation points used on every single sentence are a trend I’m seeing all over the place (I’m so excited to take your family photos! I love photography so much! I hope you’ll call me and we can meet up for coffee and talk about your session! Click here to see my pricing info!!!!!!) In case you missed the lesson on punctuation in kindergarten, exclamation points basically communicate shouting. Shouting! Would you shout at your clients? Would you want the feel of your communications to be yelling, shouting, exclaiming? I’m allowing you one. ONE exclamation point to be used on your site. Choose how you use it carefully and wisely. Writing in ALL CAPS also communicates shouting. It’s a subtle thing, but something I find incredibly offensive. Maybe I’m too sensitive?
Tone of Voice:
I often see lists of things photographers forbid during a session or rants on their blogs or other negative communications all over the place on their website. Whoa! It’s possible to make your policies and boundaries known without giving the impression that your clients will have a negative experience with you. Keep the tone of voice positive, unless of course your target audience is angsty teens. This is something I’ve also been trying to keep in mind on my social media, even my personal page. It’s easy to get sucked into the trap of whining or complaining, but what kind of community do you want to create with your social media? Decide what kind of vibe you want to have and then consciously create the voice and communications to support it.
Ok, homework time. What did you come up with? Post it in the comments and I’ll let you know what I think ;) To make it fair, I’ll re-write mine and post it in the comments, too.