How to write about yourself

As photographers, we invest so much of our time and ourselves perfecting the art of visual storytelling. It makes sense that putting our thoughts and ideas into words is a challenge for us, especially when we are tasked with writing about ourselves. This time last year, I was refreshing my portfolio with new work that I loved and was so proud of, and I began thinking, Do my words send the same message as my images? When I took an honest look at my website, I realized that I had missed an opportunity to forge a connection with my ideal clients by neglecting my bio page. I had one, but I had not invested the time required to make it a page that made a statement about who I am and who I want to work with. 

I began reading everything I could get my hands on about how to write powerful copy, and I dove into the process of crafting an "About Me" page that would serve as more of a personal statement than a biography. It was an intense process, but it has proven to be one of the best investments I've made in my online presence. I began receiving inquiries from brides who spoke about how they connected with my heart and my vision in addition to my images. Not every inquiring bride mentioned my bio page, but every bride who booked me did. 

If you find yourself in a similar position and are looking for advice on how to write a compelling bio page, I can help! Here are 5 tips to help you write an effective personal statement.

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Stop reading other photographer's bio pages

If you only read one word of advice on this page, read this: You will never find your own voice by listening to other people talk. I understand why you are drawn to read what other people have written. You think that you can find success by following the model of successful people. While there is some wisdom in that, it will be more difficult to set yourself apart if you're submerging yourself in the thoughts and ideas of others. You need to clear out all of the noise and the static and set aside time for you to think for yourself, reflect on what matters most to you, and find your own voice.

Not sure where to begin? Keep reading.

Write down everything you can think of that makes you unique

And I do mean everything. Nothing is off limits in this step. This is a brainstorming exercise, so there is no need to use complete sentences. Just clear out some time in your schedule, pick up a pen or open a Word document, and begin writing. You may want to find a quiet place with limited distractions where you can focus for 15 or 20 minutes. Here are a few prompts to get you started. 

  1. What is your favorite activity that is not business related? Who do you most enjoy spending time with? Where do you go when you need to be inspired, comforted, or encouraged?
  2. How did you get your started in your industry? What is your educational background? What experiences have you had that have strengthened you as an artist or business owner? Have you won any awards or accolades for your work? 
  3. What is your favorite place that you have traveled to? What places do you dream of visiting? What inspired your desire to experience these places? How have your travels shaped or impacted you?
  4. Why did you choose to pursue your specific niche in your industry? How are you equipped to serve people in your niche? What is your favorite thing about working with people in your niche?
  5. What are you inspired by? What specifically is it about each source that inspires you? How does inspiration affect your work or your service? How does this inspiration source benefit your client?
  6. What is your purpose as an artist or business owner? How do you achieve this purpose? How does pursuing your purpose benefit your clients?
  7. What beliefs do you have that are foundational to your character? Who taught you these beliefs, or what experiences lead you to discover them? What do you value most and why? Who or what in your life makes you feel rooted?
  8. What do you spend most of your time doing? What business related tasks do you enjoy the most? Which tasks do you find refreshing or enjoyable that other people may not?

Once you finish, put your brainstorming activity away. We'll come back to it in a minute.

Clearly define your target audience or ideal client

You cannot write effectively unless you know whom you are addressing. Your ideal client needs to be more than a vague idea in your mind. You should be so well acquainted with her that you can picture sitting down with her and chatting over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine (and you should know which drink she would prefer). You should know what she values, how she invests her time, what she's afraid of, and what she secretly hopes for. Having the answers floating around in your head isn't enough. Write them down. I keep a thorough profile of my ideal client written in a notebook, and I reference it any time I need to remind myself who my target audience is.  

This is the most crucial tip if you are going to connect with the kinds of clients that you want to serve. If you need additional guidance defining your ideal client or target audience, I encourage you to check out this ebook. I used it while writing copy for my new website, and it was a huge help!

Identify which characteristics appeal to your target audience

Go back to your brainstorming exercise and your ideal client description and circle the ideas and characteristics that your ideal client or target audience care about. It's important for you to remember that potential clients are visiting your website because they have a desire or a need, and every part of your website should present you as the answer to that need for your ideal client. Is it important to her to hire someone who has extensive training in your field? Is formal education important to her? Does she care where you draw inspiration from? Does she care that you love to travel? Is she more interested in hiring someone who shares her interests and values or someone who is highly skilled, polished, and professional? 

Don't limit yourself by thinking every bride wants this or every client wants that. Think specifically about your ideal client and what matters to her, and circle or highlight the characteristics about you that she is most going to connect with. 

Refine your grammar and word choice

Before you share your work, make sure that you have someone proof read it. A careful editor is every writer's best friend. Also, take this opportunity to make sure that your word choices match the overall tone of your piece. If you want to diversify your word choices, grab a thesaurus. It can be a helpful tool as long as you take the time to understand the words you choose and make sure that they are used appropriately.

Does your biography page make a strong statement about who you are? What advice do you have for someone struggling to write one for themselves?