Last week we talked about ways to boost your website’s navigability making sure you deliver a focused message right away. Now it’s time to talk about a section that introduces your audience to your world: the biography section.
A few weeks ago I asked the audience to participate in a research (submissions still open, more about it further down). I think it will be very interesting taking the industry trends in consideration when approaching the various aspects of presenting a bio in your personal website. Furthermore I’ll compare them to famous composers websites, I’ve picked 3 in particular: Danny Elfman, Alexandre Desplat and Michael Giacchino.
Marketing experts, such as the peeps at hubspot, agree there isn’t a fixed length your bio should adhere to, unless you are planning on using it on other platforms such as instagram (150 characters max) or twitter (160 characters max). Our audience’s submissions show the following data.
- average characters count: 963 (compared to 2693 for famous composers).
- average words count: 195 (compared to 522 for famous composers).
I would use these results as range limits and find the right balance in between. Moreover, I’d advise against writing a bio that is so long to scare the audience away, or even worse: bore them!
First person VS. third person
I’ve seen this quasi-hamletic question on quite a few forums: “should I write my bio in the first or third person?” Even though there isn’t a definitive answer it is very interesting seeing where the trends are for star composers and for the rest of us.
- The audience’s submitted websites feature a majority of bios written in Third persons. However that is by a close margin. 41% used the first persons, so should your instinct be telling you to go that way I wouldn’t dismiss it at once.
- The famous composers websites feature exclusively biographies written in third person.
Another doubt you might be faced with when writing your bio is whether or not to show a picture of you along with your story. You might have used your pictures elsewhere on the website however there might be reasons to put one (or few) on the bio, if only to help who is reading feel engaged with your story. What about the data from our research? Here we go.
- Only 16.6% of our readers’ submissions featured no photos of the composer in the bio.
- This is roughly reflected in the famous composers control test where Desplat is the only not having a profile picture in the bio.
If they say so…
Sometimes I come across a website featuring testimonials, usually written by clients or colleagues. Even though I have never implemented the feature on my own website I wonder if I should every time I see one.
- The majority of the submitted websites does not feature testimonial in the bio section, however 22% does. I feel this is a big enough percentage to invite you to maybe consider it for your next website redesign. My personal advise is to only include testimonials if you are positive they come from names well known and esteemed to your audience.
- None in my small sample of famous composers included testimonials (which makes sense…).
There are ways to make your biography easier to read and nicer to look at. For instances you could use a bold font styles for keywords. Or add colorful hyperlinks when mentioning a project that can bring the audience on the related page quickly. Even the separation in paragraphs can make a difference. In fact let’s see how many paragraphs I found in the audience submitted websites.
- Average: 3. Maximum: 7. Minimum: 1.
- Famous composers – Elfman: 2, Giacchino: 6, Desplat: 15.
So you have finally written the perfect bio but know you are stuck deciding what your should call that page/section in your navigation menu… Spoiler alert: there are many options. Let’s see which ones are the more commonly encountered in our submissions.
- 53% opted for ABOUT.
- 23% selected either BIO or BIOGRAPHY.
- 12% went with ABOUT ME.
- 6% choose MEET NAME.
- The remaining 6% don’t have an allocated section and presented their bio on the homepage.
A touch of originality
I love it when I notice people really tried making something special, that stands out (in a good way). Therefore I took note of some of the most original features I encountered during this research. Here they are:
- A composer provided instructions on how to rightly pronounce his name. If your name is not easy to pronounce in english than that is a very nice touch, that might help you be remembered. In case you are wondering, my name is pronounced JOE-VAH-NNEE…
- One website features an interview to the composer instead of a typical biography. I feel this is a very original idea albeit one that should be treated carefully. The risk being to sound a bit pretentious. Giving the interview the right tone and length might result in a memorable yet honest read for your audience.
- In one case the various paragraphs of the bio appear (with neat animations) one by one as the reader scrolls down the page. I felt this added to the storytelling/discovering experience and made me want to read more.
Tips from FMF
When interviewing guests on the podcast Filmmaker Feedback, I ask filmmakers questions about composer websites, do’s and don’ts if you will. I’ll conclude every chapter of this series with some insight from these talks.
So far none of the guests I interviewed have expressed particular interest for biographies on composer websites. They seem to unanimously choose other sections to concentrate their attention on…more about these in the next entries of this series. However with only 3 podcast episodes recorded so far this might change in the future, so check this article again in a few weeks to look for updates.
Be part of the research
There you have it, everything you need to write your biography. Please consider participating in the research if you haven’t done so yet, by using the following form:
Now go tell the world about yourself!