Christie Goodwin has been productive during quarantine. The London-based photographer spent weeks renovating her personal site and was nearly finished with improvements. But there was one hurdle for her to jump over: the dreaded website bio.
I chose to write a bio with Wonderful Machine because I was struggling. I had spent a month revamping my website, and I was really happy with the way I got it all together …
except for my bio, which was just not hitting the right tone.
Bios, however short they may be, are crucial to a website because they’re one of the few ways a site visitor can hear directly from the person whose site they’re visiting — almost like a first impression, so to speak. And we all know how important first impressions are.
I like reading people’s bios when I visit websites because it is a reflection of who they are as a person. I wanted my bio to do exactly that, but, no matter how much I tried, it never sounded quite like me. The trouble was that I hate talking about myself, and so all my bios turned out trashing myself rather than selling myself. Who knew writing a bio would be so hard! So, after struggling for a good fortnight, I finally pulled up my socks and asked Wonderful Machine for help.
So, I sent Christie a questionnaire to get some basic background info as well as learn what tone, point-of-view, and main talking points she wanted to feature. A veteran music photographer, the England native asked for a first-person blurb that was informative without being braggadocious and highlighted the fact that she could do much more than just capture musicians on stage. But still, the goal is to impress potential clients, so when you work with Paul McCartney, I’m going to put that in the bio.
First off, I wanted it to be me talking to the reader instead of the more informal “she’s done this and she’s done that.” It was important to me to connect directly to the reader because I like to read bios where the artist speaks directly to me as a reader. Secondly, I needed it to be my voice and highlighting my qualities without being too ostentatious. Thirdly, I wanted it to break me away from being just a music photographer but show the reader my versatility. And of course, I needed it tone down my critical self so not to scare away potential clients.
With a bevy of information in tow, I got to work and put together three different bios.
Each write-up had 3-4 short paragraphs and ended with some variation of the phrase “I will get the shot.” The reason I wanted that to end the bio is because it was Christie’s answer to the question “if you were in an elevator with your dream client, what would be your brief pitch to them?” That is — by far — the most important question I ask as it essentially frames each bio I write. After reading the blurbs again and making some small edits, I sent the first batch to Christie.
I read all three bios and the third one just sounded like I was talking so it would need very little changes. There were parts in the other bios that I liked but I felt that bio #3 would be the best one to take as a base as my voice was already established in it.
What usually happens at this point is the photographer will ask to take a snippet of one bio and add it to their favorite. That was the case here, as you can see, with Christie also in search of tiny tweaks here and there to polish up the final product.
There were just a few minor changes. There was one sentence in one of the other bios that actually explained that I am versatile despite most of my clients being in a certain industry which I wanted to use, so I asked to weave in the sentence in my chosen bio.
Happily, Christie was thrilled with the bio and immediately put it on her website. She noted that it sounded like her speaking directly to the reader in her own voice, and said her favorite sentence was the one that came right from her “elevator pitch” answer.
I liked everything about the final version. It’s weird, but when reading the final version, it was as if a ‘braver’ version of myself was explaining what I had done in the past. It sounds very much like me. I could have written it, but I didn’t — Wonderful Machine did.
My favorite sentence is, ‘Whatever the subject, whatever the purpose, I will get the shot.’ It is the main message I wanted to bring across to the reader.
Need help putting together your website bio? Email us or give us a ring at 1 610 260 0200.