10 Steps to a Killer About Page for Artists and Creatives

Have you ever wondered if you can really be any good at this marketing thing?

You’re a writer, musician, artist, photographer, entertainer, or crafter.

You’ve got the website, but you’re pretty sure it’s not the best it can be.

You imagine attracting hoards of raving, loyal fans, but you’re not sure how to find them.

You’d love to sell more stories, more songs, or more sculptures – or maybe grab publishers’ or gallery owners’ attention.

You have this nagging suspicion that your website could work harder for you, boosting your marketing efforts even while you sleep or drive the kids to school.

But you don’t know where to begin. You don’t like selling, and you HATE writing about yourself.

Fortunately, there’s good news. A few tweaks to this one crucial but under-appreciated page on your website can get you rolling, and actually become the foundation for much of your marketing. (In other words, you can do the work once and use it many times. Good deal!)

Let’s look at your About page.

Why most About pages suck

Most About pages, including artist biographies (which are one section of them) are about… well, the artist.

I bet right now you’re wondering, “Well if my bio isn’t about me, what is it about?”

Glad you asked! ;)

Whenever a new fan comes to your website, they have a few questions in the back of their minds – “Do I like this artist’s work? Do I believe in what they’re doing? Is this someone who has a cool enough background or story, or whose work is awesome enough, that I can get behind him or her?”

The truth is, your readers are interested in you, but not only in you. They want to know if you are a good fit for them.

If your About page or artist bio are poorly written, it’s kind of like going to dinner with an acquaintance who doesn’t tell you that you have broccoli stuck in your teeth. (I’m picking on your artist bio because that’s typically where the conventional advice falls short.)

Your readers won’t tell you that your life story is boring. They’ll just click away.

You’ve lost an opportunity to gain a new fan or excite a current one.

Is your About page helping or hurting you?

Your About page is one of the most visited pages on your website. People are naturally curious and looking for connection. They want to know who they are dealing with and whether or not they like you. Your About page is the logical place to start.

Yet so many About pages read like dry recitations of resumes. They’re boring lists of accomplishments sprinkled with childhood reminiscences of, “I knew when I was 8 years old I wanted to be (fill in the blank) and I never wanted to do anything else.” (Yawn…)

But with so many people checking out your About page, you can’t afford to waste a prime opportunity to get people really excited about you and your work.

Ideally, your About page will:

  • Capture the attention of your new and established fans, customers, and clients and make them want more from you.
  • Create an emotional connection that makes people feel like they know you and like they want to know you better.
  • Be memorable and set you apart from the crowd.
  • Be ready for use in press coverage and other publicity, including interviews, articles, features, and event promotion.
  • Attract partners, colleagues, and industry connections.
  • Turn people away who aren’t right for you (price shoppers, “tire kickers”, trolls).
  • Earn permission for you to contact them again.

The good news is that once you nail this copy, you can use it as a foundation in all your marketing materials – including your complete online presence, brochures, event posters, press and promo kits, business cards, and more.

Don’t overlook the details

Before we dig in to the steps you can take to make your About page a powerful fan attractor, let’s look at the particulars.

Little things matter. Do a triple check and have someone (or a few someones) do a good edit and tell you how engaging and clear your About page is, and how much they want to take action – sign up for your list – after they’re done reading it.

1. Use the first person, “I”. Some experts will tell you to write in the third person, but using first person makes a much better emotional and personal connection with your readers. You can always write a third-person version of your bio, separate from your About page, so that press, journalists, bloggers, and podcasters can easily copy and paste from your site.

2. Don’t run on. Paragraphs shouldn’t be more than three or four sentences long.

3. Do write conversationally, and don’t use potentially confusing industry jargon. Make your story accessible to anyone reading it.

4. Do show personality and humor, and champion causes you care about.

5. Do use subheadings liberally to break up the text and make it scannable. You want your readers to look quickly and get the gist of the page. Great subheadings will also keep people curious and encourage them to read on.

6. Do include photos of yourself.

7. Don’t use passive voice, “The novel was written by me in 1986…”

PET PEEVE ALERT: If you hire someone to write your bio for you, make sure they have a background in writing strong sales and marketing copy. Many professional artist biography writers actually don’t do what I’m advising you to do.

The 10 steps that will make you stand out

Throw out all your ideas of what you think your About page and artist bio should be.

Forget most of the examples you’ve read, even if they were written by professionals.

The goal with this section is to 1) be memorable, 2) to engage the reader, and 3) to inspire action.

Whatever you do, do NOT be boring!

Ready to get started?

Section 1 – Who are you, and why should I care?

Remember the questions in the back of your readers’s minds?

Write about yourself, yes, but in the context of connecting with your fans, customers, and clients. The trick is to get into their heads, figure out what they want, and let them know you have it.

1. Know “The One Thing People Remember” about you

Craft a short, one-sentence statement of that single thing that is most memorable about you as an artist, that one thing you do that sticks in peoples’ minds.

To help with this, imagine a conversation in which your name comes up (in a good way). What do people say – or what do you want them to say – to complete this sentence, “I know him/her, he/she does this!” (Thanks to Tom Jackson for this approach.)

As in,

    • “I know her! She writes fun, interactive kids’ books.”
    • “I know him! He shoots incredible wilderness photography in practically unreachable, remote settings.”
    • “I know them! They do hysterically funny, modern slapstick improv comedy.”

Now take those things that people say they identify with and like about you, and craft your “what” or your “one thing people remember” statement.

Examples:

“I write interactive children’s stories that include games and exercises that make learning fun, day after day.”

“I’m a wilderness photographer who airdrops into remote corners of the world to bring you stunning views of untouched landscapes that you’d never see otherwise.”

“We bring back the good old days of slapstick comedy with hilarious modern twists.”

Tip: If you craft this right, you can use variations of this statement when writing bylines, taglines, introducing yourself to strangers, and even on your business cards.

2. State Your “Why”

Why do you do what you do?

What are you passionate about? What can you talk about for hours on end? What gets you riled up?

Most of all, how are you trying to change the world through your creative work?

When you make a statement about something you stand for, it can become a powerful rallying point for your audience.

Tip: It’s even stronger if you start out with the words, “I think it’s wrong that…” Your readers will identify and think, “Yes, I agree! I think that’s wrong too. I want to support this person.”

Examples:

“I believe that music has the power to change lives, so I write songs that inspire people to pursue their dreams.”

“I think it’s wrong that the study of history is relegated to dry textbooks and boring fact memorization, so I write exciting, character-driven novels based in historically accurate settings.”

“I think it’s wrong that people think art is just this lifeless object that hangs on a wall. I’m out to prove that art can be inspirational and life-changing when it’s seen every day.”

3. Be on a mission, for a reason

Missions are powerful. People love them, they’re easily understood, and they’re a great way to get fans to rally around you.

Thomas Hawk is a photographer who’s on a mission to shoot a million photos before he dies. That’s pretty impressive. But you may or may not remember Thomas a week from now just from reading his mission.

That might change once you learn his “why”. You see, in his travels, Thomas stumbles across really cool remnants of American history and culture that are in danger of being destroyed or dismantled by progress. He wants to capture these memories before they are gone forever. So if you watch his video and love both what he’s doing and why, you have a strong reason to become a fan and follow along with his journey.

Embark on a mission that others can relate to and support. Combine that with your “why” and you’ve got a formula that makes you unforgettable and inspires people to join in with you.

Examples:

“I’m on a mission to bring civil war era/ early American history to life with award-winning stories of intrigue, drama, emotion, and accurate detail.”

“I’m on a mission to break free of the Top 40 mold and write humorous, fun, danceable, and touching story songs that people can relate to, remember, and sing along with in their cars.”

“I’m on a mission to redefine lamps as beautiful expressions of modern art, even in compact living spaces.”

Section 2 – Who do you appeal to?

Let people know that if they like the type of work you do that they’re in the right place.

4. Write a strong headline that draws people in by explaining what you do for them

Keep your page name simple and clear. “About” or “About You and Me” are perfect.

The headline is where you start digging into what people love about what you do. They may or may not tell you outright. Look for clues in the feedback they’ve given you, their testimonials of your work, what they say on social media, and what they tell their friends to convince them to check you out.

Examples:

“No-fuss, no-worry modern wrought-iron sculptures that beautify your home, inside and out.”

“Uncommon, earth-friendly jewelry that’s an expression of your rebel soul.”

“Funky, soulful, folkadelic jam tunes, guaranteed not to be your mama’s pop radio music.”

5. Show you understand what your fans are looking for

This trips up many artists, but it doesn’t have to. It seems like it would be easier to sell a dishwasher, with all its features and benefits.

Artists often get to this point and think, “whaaaaaat?”

But it’s not that mysterious. Instead, think about your ideal outcome when a fan of your work really connects with you. Write down what they’ve told you. What makes them happy? What makes them jump up and down with excitement? What makes them tell their friends?

Artists sell experiences. Your fans, customers, and clients want a temporary escape, a memorable moment, or a promise to capture good feelings so that they can re-live them over and over. [Tweet It]

Don’t feel like you have to appeal to everyone, or you will appeal to no one. Let people who don’t identify with you drift away. As Derek Sivers says, don’t be afraid to proudly exclude.

Examples:

“Be transported to another time. If you like mystery and intrigue, lies and murder, plot twists and strong, smart females then you will love my thrillers.”

“You’re an indie music lover. Radio bores you. You dig deep to find the coolest, newest jam band tunes around. You want to dance away the summer nights with hand drums, harmonicas, and hookahs. You’re in the right place.”

“You have panache and attitude. You want to reflect that in your personal style, whether you’re on the beach or in the boardroom. My jewelry is designed to help you do just that.”

6. Describe the experience your fans can expect from you

Here’s where you become a movie director.

Don’t just paint a picture. Use as many senses as you can to convince folks that they are actually immersed. You want your readers to be able to clearly imagine the experience and picture themselves there.

Examples:

“You’re in for a whirlwind of sci-fi action and intrigue. You’ll be drawn in by the characters’ reality and depth. You’ll feel like you’ve become a part of a future world and won’t want to put the book down when it’s over.”

“Let our music be the life of your party! If you want a memorable celebration that your friends will talk about for years, then call us for a hand-clapping, foot-stomping, rip-roaring, good time.”

“A magical experience of illusion and comedy for the whole family. The kids will be enthralled and the adults will laugh, shake their heads, and ask, ‘How’d he do that?’”

None of this is bragging or “salesy”. It’s actually the truth (which hopefully you will back up with social proof).

You have something great to offer, you are just helping potential fans to find you. If they like what you do, they can choose to learn more.

Section 3 – Social Proof

What other people say about you is always more powerful than what you say about yourself.

7. Let others speak for you

Here you can include a short run down of your press coverage, testimonials, and fan feedback.

Be creative about the ways you gather social proof. Monitor and grab what people say about you on Facebook and Twitter. Ask to use emails that people send to you. Create surveys or feedback forms. Shoot quick video testimonials on the go from happy customers.

If you have a testimonial page, feel free to go crazy there and include anything you want. But for your About page, a few solid quotes are all you need.

8. Let your results speak for you

List your honors, awards, and other achievements, but don’t belabor them. If you have a long list, congratulations! Consider doing more of a highlight reel that’s one or two sentences long.

You can always include the full story on another page of your site if you want, for super fans or others who are interested in every detail.

Section 4 – Your bio: it’s still not all about you

So, how do you tell your story without losing your readers’ interest?

Your copy has to tie back to the readers.

You want to make them think, “If all these folks like this him, it sounds like I will too,” or, “Wow! She’s really got something going on. I’ve got to check her out!”

You can brag a little in this section. Go ahead and talk about your accolades, accomplishments, and awards. But remember, your reader is wondering, “What’s in it for me?” The awards don’t mean anything if they’re not going to love your show, be excited about your photography, or proudly display your painted clay planters in their homes.

9. Write a short personal history

There’s no need to include every detail about your life, your schooling or study, or the long years of toil.

Just choose a few stories that are interesting, unique, and will draw people in.

Pick highlight moments or career-defining turning points. Make your bio a few short paragraphs and use anecdotes that are humorous, memorable, and evoke an emotional response from your audience. Inspiration can work well here too. Tell a short personal story about serious adversity you’ve overcome (if you have one).

10. Include calls to action throughout

Give people a chance to sign up for your list three times – after section 2, where you state who you are, why readers should care, and what you do for them; after section 3, where you list your social proof, and after section 4, your personal story. (Thanks to Derek Halpern and Pat Flynn for this structure.)

If you have something to sell, great, but understand that you probably won’t get a sale the first time a new fan visits your website. Instead, your goal is to make that connection and get permission to foster the relationship over the coming weeks and months.

And if you don’t yet have an irresistible reason for visitors to sign up for your list, start working on that right away.

Are you ready to get started?

Good! ;) Because today I have a little incentive for you to take action.

Start re-writing your About page and comment below for a chance to win a FREE 30-minute strategy session with me! We’ll look at your new page, help you over your stumbling blocks, and make it the best it can be.

Just respond to this post and let me know that you’re “in” – that you accept the challenge. Also, let me know what questions you have in the comments so you don’t waste any time spinning your wheels.

Next Thursday, one week from today, I’ll announce the winner of the strategy session.

No website yet? No worries. Get started anyway. You’ll be that much further ahead when you get one.

A strong About page will engage and excite your readers, turn curious visitors into new fans, and make your current fans want to spread the word.

Make the most of it!

About Leanne Regalla

Leanne is a writer and musician and the founder of Make Creativity Pay. She's on a mission to help creatives of all types to pursue their art without going broke, living in their cars, or starving to death.

Comments

  1. Paula Richey says:

    Hi, I’m getting ready to launch my original independent comic, with the majority of proceeds going to the A21 Campaign against human trafficking. Comics have not been very welcoming to women in the past couple decades, but I make a point of treating all characters as people and not treating women’s interests as window dressing.
    I’m really excited about implementing these tips!

    • Paula Richey says:

      Okay – first version following these tips is done! I’m sure it can be improved, though.

    • Excellent, Paula! That’s a great cause – best of luck to you. Just surround yourself with good, supportive people and do your best work (I’m sure you do). There are many fields where it can be tougher for women, comics are one, but remember people like Phyllis Diller, who was a pioneer in comedy. Many told her she’d never make it, but she was a trailblazer. Go blaze your trails! :)

  2. Joseph Dabon says:

    Before this, I didn’t think much of the About page, though I can see in my stats that a lot of people visit it. Now I know why.

    This article also made me realize that there is more to blogging than just writing about yourself – at least if we want our blogs to be read, our message to be heard.

    I will try to tweak my About page to make it conform to this, somewhat. It is foolhardy of me though, to take this as fail-safe prescription to drive raving fans to my site.

    Buy the way, I need some kind-hearted souls to review my site and beat it to death, if I may say so.

    • Hi Joseph. It’s all works in progress. Get started, try a few things, and then get feedback and revise.

      Just to be clear though, your About page won’t necessarily drive traffic to your site. Traffic comes from other places that SEND you traffic. I’ll be writing and talking about this more soon.

      We have a private Facebook group for subscribers. You can post anything you like in there and get feedback from the other membbers. Sign up for my mailing list and then shoot me an email if you’d like to participate in that.

  3. Hi Leanne,
    Thank you for that wonderful detailed article which comes just right in time as I’m currently building up my new website – and it’s always difficult to write something about yourself :-)
    I will work through your other helpful articles too and adapt your tips.
    Keep up your great work and warm regards,
    Jennifer

    • Thanks, Jennifer – glad you found it helpful! It is really hard to write about ourselves, so that’s why I gave all the examples. Hopefully they’ll get the juices flowing. Keep me posted!

  4. Ellen Bard says:

    Hi Leanne, This is so timely as I start working on my new about page for my new website. Great advice, very helpful, and I love the challenge of getting my first draft done by next thursday – I’ll keep my fingers crossed ;-)

  5. Hey, you know I’m in. Had to set this work aside for a while to prep for a 99-cent promo of PAPER WOMAN 24-25 May, but I’ll get back to it next week. Excellent post. Thanks, Leanne!

  6. Great information !! Very Helpful !!
    Thank you.

  7. Sil says:

    Wonderful article! I’m always struggling with this, as I’m a newbie though I have some background on the field, and I actually come from other completely different world…
    I’m illustrator but I worked for the last 15 years as historian/anthropologist. I will try to re make the bio and I’ll see if it improves :) Thanks for this advice, it really helps!

    • Thanks, Sil!
      I think many of us can relate to coming from other careers. It won’t hold you back for long. The skills and abilities you developed in your first career will definitely help in your second one – this was certainly true for me.
      Best of luck to you.

  8. Thank you! “Re-work About Page” is on my to-do list, but I’ve bumped it lower and lower trying to avoid the work. :)

    My question is how do I provide a rich About page when I’m still in the early stages of publication? (Only 1 ebook available, few reviews, fans, etc.) In fact, I’ve justified not re-working the About page until two books are released later this year. Is it better to wait? (Would love it if you said ‘yes’ but I’m thinking you’ll say noooooooo.) : D

    • Haha! Well, Bridgette, don’t worry so much about “rich”. Short, engaging and to the point is nice, too.

      I think you can still work through this without your books being released – you can always update it after (these things are always changing after all).

      If you don’t have any social proof or fan testimonials for example, just start writing about what you do, why, and who would like your work. Do your short personal story. And be on the lookout from here on out for places that you can gather quotes, reviews, etc.

      Go through it, see what you come up with – and use it as a place to start. ;) And let me know how it goes. We have a private Facebook group for subscribers, shoot me an email if you want to learn more about that.

  9. Karen Taylor says:

    Thanks for these tips, Leanne. I started my blog 2 months ago and yea, how to write a decent ‘About’ that isn’t dull as skinny donuts?!? I’ll review mine against these tips. I’m in.

  10. Randy says:

    I finally finished my new website last year and writing the About page was so painful! After looking through so many other sites, I started to doubt my original approach. I ended up going with short and concise. Like one of your other commenters, I’ve noticed it’s usually the first page people look at on my site. That should say something.

    Thanks for your mission for the creative community. Julia Cameron wrote in her Artist’s Way series that artists who are good at business don’t feel validated as artists. As a community, we need to break free of the misconception that only starving artists are valid. :)

    • Hey, Randy. Welcome!
      I don’t think the length matters much at all. Anyone could really trim this down as long as you have the essentials – which are conveying what you do and connecting what you’re passionate about to your fans.
      And yes, the starving artist thing is sooo over and done. It’s not true, not healthy or productive. We can lead by example and help change the minds of the people who still think that way (some of them anyway). ;)

  11. Tessa says:

    Hi Leanne, as the saying goes ‘when the student is ready, the teacher appears.” You did come as if sent. Thank you for the great tips. I am in the process of setting up an author platform, redoing and refining everything that I have done in the past. It is tough being a writer today, as 3 years needed to establish readers, and promoting yourself (always goes against the grain) when it is your message you want heard. Your tips do make sense, and I will be using them, thank you once again, and keep up the good work, we writers need your voice.

    • Glad to hear it, Tessa. Keep up the good work. It does take time, but when you start to see those promotional activities really paying off it will be easier to do them. ;)

  12. Stephane says:

    Hi Leanne, great job! (and thank you for your reference to lamps in your examples! ;) )
    The first version of my About page is way too long, but the feedback I got is that it makes people want to know me. That’s a good start, but I’d rather want them to subscribe to my list – even without any incentive :)

    • Hi Stephane! You are welcome. ;)

      I think we’d all like people to sign up for our lists without an incentive, but the reality is that the internet has gotten so noisy and busy that that rarely happens anymore. People value and protect their email addresses, they don’t give them up easily, and as artists we have to respect that. First-time visitors to a site will often click away without an incentive, and as much as they liked you, they often won’t ever return. So you want to engage them, give them something cool, and get permission to keep up the relationship.
      For fans who would sign up anyway, we can still show our appreciation with a “thank you” gift – again, recognizing that the relationship is valuable and worth something to us. Make sense?

  13. Shirley says:

    I’m in, but a late starter due to my computer crashing last week. Thanks for this timely post as I’ve been putting off writing a ‘proper’ about page for ages. I will be reworking my website shortly but you have given me the kickstart I needed to finally get this done now.

  14. Stef Gonzaga says:

    Excellent post! I actually rewrote my About page based on our conversation over at our Facebook group, but I feel that it still has room for improvement. I’m particularly unsure if it speaks about the “one thing” I’d be known for and if it connects with readers on an emotional and experiential level.

    With that said, here’s my About page wide open for comments and feedback. :) http://stefgonzaga.com/about

  15. France says:

    Hi Leanne !
    This is such a brilliant and exciting post !!!!
    I have accepted the challenge and remodeled my about page following your guidelines. I would be delighted to win the 30 minutes stategy session, so I am in :-)
    You can see what I have done here : http://francedegriessen.com/?page_id=628
    Have a lovely day !!
    France

  16. I know the contest is over, but I needed to do it anyway. Here’s mine: http://elizabethbarone.net/about/ This was actually a fun exercise, and your tips made it super easy. Thank you, Leanne! :)

  17. http://tr.im says:

    Wonderful article! We are linking to this great post on our site.

    Keep up the good writing.

  18. Hi Leanne,
    Awesome post which contains very useful information. It is informative, inspirational and instructive. Thanks for sharing such an excellent post.

  19. I love the article. Thank you! Knowing how people identify me is a huge stumbling block. I’m multi-genre gifted and studied in order to give a high quality product of film music and sound design. I’ve actually considered creating alias identities to circumvent popular beliefs that an artist needs to choose just one genre. If I go this route it would be difficult to make the resulting websites personal. Thoughts?

    • Hi Wenda, glad you liked it. I’ve worked with clients to pull the commonalities of their various interests together. It’s empowering, because instead of feeling scattered they now feel like there’s consistency. For composing and film scoring (I took a peek at your website) are people really telling you you should focus on one genre over another?

      What I suggest instead is that you think about this from your clients’ perspectives – what you deliver to them, why it matters, how you’re different, and your wide musical background and flexibility.

      People study music their entire lives. It’s not uncommon to have expertise in various genres when you look at it that way. If you get really clear about what you offer and who you do it for, I think you’ll find fewer people making a big deal over what genres you work in. Hope this helps! :)

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  1. […] Your about page should relate to the viewers of your website before you talk about yourself. If you’ve done your job right, they will want to know more about you. You should include reasons they should buy from you and what makes your art unique without trying to sound sales-y. […]

  2. […] content regularly or keep your pages up-to-date. You won’t consider blogging or video blogging to build relationships with your audience, establish your expertise with the visitors to your site, or to help them decide that you’re the […]

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