How to Design and Craft a Killer WordPress Author Bio That Readers Will Love
To many, author bios are an afterthought. An easy way to give some significance to the creator of a certain piece of content—nothing more, nothing less.
Pushing forward to an age of authority and authenticity, it would seem that author bio features must have some importance past mere vanity. In fact, CodeinWP made sure to add prominence to theirs in order to fix a major SEO issue. In a transparency report where they reveal that a mix of issues (including host reverse proxy, no-indexing on content, and problematic affiliate links) culminated in a major SEO penalty that led to a loss of 50% of their business overnight.
It’s weird to think about published content that lacks an author bio of some sort. You might even go as far as to say that an article lacking any information besides the author’s name feels just a bit sketchy.
Adding detailed author bios wasn’t the singular reason for CodeinWP eventually fixing their recent major SEO issues, but it’s interesting to note the fact that they even played a role. Google’s search engine spiders may not be human, but they’re working to figure out exactly what humans respond best to on the internet.
As such, the human user experience lies at the center of almost every major new Google initiative: Mobile-first search, Google AMP, and even their newest super tool: Google Optimize. It seems to make sense that they’d preferentially index pages attributed to authors who contribute authority and authenticity by putting a face behind each topic.
At the absolute minimum, an author bio feature has to communicate the article writer’s name. But the best author bio features add a layer or two of context to the person behind the article. Besides a name, the best author bios share elements that include things like:
- The person’s title
- The person’s credentials, like high-quality publications they write for, or huge projects they successfully launched
- The person’s interests and relationship to the industry represented on the blog
- A link to their home online
- A link to relevant social profiles
A byline is considered a perk when it comes to writing. Most authors charge more per word to take it off (also known as ghostwriting). Conversely, most authors are actually willing to charge less for the ability to write under their own name for your blog. The more attention you give to the byline, the better quality writer you’ll attract. This is especially true if your blog offers guest blogging opportunities that don’t necessarily pay but provide the author with an opportunity to promote themselves and their business.
Working with a well-known writer in your industry is a win-win for both parties: you benefit from exposure to their audience and association with them, they benefit from the ability to make money doing what they love, and to be recognized for it. Many writers have a passion project they’re working on in addition to writing, and building an audience is important for that passion project to really take off.
Knowing all of these nuances when it comes to working with writers, it becomes easier to understand the importance in providing a prominent author bio for the people you hire to write articles for your website. So, if you’ve decided to add more visual interest to the author bios on your multi-author WordPress site, the next step is to choose the right design to showcase them properly.
Why It’s Important to Showcase Author Profiles
Ensuring the authors on your blog have an informative profile displayed alongside each post gives you a great chance to highlight the personalities behind the content.
This, in turn, will help differentiate your blog from the competition. It will also give you a good opportunity to show off the credentials of your authors. With links to personal websites and social media profiles, your readers can get a better sense of who you are, and why they should pay attention to your content.
If you’re working with multiple authors, especially if hiring them as contributors, giving them an opportunity to promote their own personal projects in their profile can be a great way to reward them for their efforts.
Your goal should be to ensure that your great content doesn’t get lost in the ever-growing sea of blog posts and articles that make up the internet. One way to do that is by giving your readers something to remember your website for.
In this section, you will learn how to highlight one of your greatest assets: the personalities behind your content.
How to Write a Great Author Bio
Before we get onto how to make your author profiles look good on your website, it’s important to take some time to consider what makes a good author bio or profile. The main goal here is to connect with the reader and build a brand around the author. Therefore, this goal should be the driving factor when crafting the author’s profile.
On most blogs, you will have an opportunity to give each author a by-line after their post. Some WordPress website configurations also include a longer author bio, which is featured on a separate author profile page. This means there are two different formats to consider here: the in-post author profile and the author page profile.
Creating an Effective In-Post Author Profile
The in-post author bio or profile is traditionally displayed at the end of each post on your blog. As the visitor has just read through a whole article before reaching the profile, the aim here is to keep the bio as concise as possible, to ensure it doesn’t get skipped over.
Some key ideas to follow when creating your in-post profile include:
- Keep it relevant
- Highlight your achievements
- Avoid too much self-promotion
- Use links to demonstrate credibility
That doesn’t sound like too much work. So let’s take a look at those steps in more detail.
Keep it Relevant
Demonstrating the depth of your personality by mentioning your interests outside of the scope of the blog has its benefits. However, you can easily take this too far. To still highlight the fact that you have a well-rounded personality, without alienating the reader with obscure or polarizing information, try to ensure the interests you list are related to the topic of the blog.
If you are writing for a tech blog, your readers may find it interesting to know you have a background in coding. This could also boost your credibility with them as it helps qualify your opinions. On the other hand, your readers might relate less to your passion for big-game hunting.
Highlight Your Achievements
Keeping it relevant also applies to sharing your credentials, qualifications, and experience. If you write for other blogs, mention them if they are relevant and it will help further enhance your credibility. If you have a qualification or hold a position in the field you are writing about, feel free to highlight it.
Avoid Over Self-Promoting
If you are offering any kind of relevant service or product, then mentioning it in your profile is acceptable. However, rather than serving as an advertising platform, your bio should simply inform the reader of how they can find out more, or get in touch with you.
If your content did a good job of showcasing your knowledge and expertise in a particular topic, simply leaving a link that points to where they can find out more should suffice.
Social Media and External Links
Your author bio should also include links to your social media profiles and other online presences. Not only does this give you a chance to grow your following, it also helps demonstrate your credibility and give your readers another reason why they should listen to you.
It should go without saying that any social media profiles you link to should be of the same tone as the blog you are writing for. Depending on the blog topic, it could be more a case of LinkedIn resumes, rather than Instagram selfies.
First or Third Person?
Professional profiles are almost always written in the third person, and blogger bios are no exception. Writing in the third person may feel strange at first, but it does have its benefits. For one it can make it easier to write about yourself positively, without it feeling like you are boasting.
Writing in the third person can also help you keep your profile concise, without coming across as being unfriendly. A short and to-the-point profile in the first person might make the author appear terse; whereas the third-person perspective helps establish some distance between its abrupt fictional writer and the person being written about.
Whether you choose the third person or not, stick with your decision and don’t switch perspectives while writing your author profile.
In-Post Author Profile Summary
Keeping it brief and relevant can increase the chances of your in-post author profile being read. More of those readers will then take the next step and check out your social media profiles and links to your other projects. Also, if the blog features a more detailed author page, the reader may be more likely to click through to it.
Throughout your author bio and profile, you will need to walk the fine line between being knowledgeable, without coming across as arrogant, and appearing professional while still being relatable. You want to make it clear why your readers should listen to you, while also highlighting a bit of what makes you who you are.
Your Author Page Profile
Some WordPress themes also include a dedicated author page. This page typically contains the latest posts from that author, as well as their in-post bio, or an extended profile for the author page.
If your theme of choice doesn’t include such a page, this detailed post from Kevin Muldoon for tuts+ will show you how to go about creating one.
On some websites, the in-post author profile is reused on the author page. On others, you may get another chance to demonstrate your abilities in more detail. As visitors will usually have clicked through to this page specifically to find out more about the author, you can expand on your shorter bio and share some more information about yourself.
The above in-post author bio principles still apply – be relevant and avoid too much self-promotion – when creating an enhanced author page profile. However, you have a bit more leniency. As the visitor has clicked through to find out more about you, you can be a little more relaxed and share more of your personality, achievements, and other projects here.
Taking a Great Author Profile Photo
Every profile needs a photo of the author. Some blogs will use the photo associated with a Gravatar account, while others may allow you to upload a picture directly to your profile. Either way, your author photo should aim to make you look competent, likable, and influential.
If that sounds a bit vague, there are some guidelines you can follow to create a suitable profile photo. According to research carried out by PhotoFeeler, who looked at 60,000 ratings of 800 profile photos, there is a formula you can follow when it comes to posing for your author photo.
The main areas to think about when setting up your author profile are your eyes, facial position and expression, and style of dress. Unobscured eyes trump sunglasses and help to portray competence and influence. Wide-eyes can inadvertently radiate a look of terror, while squinched eyes make the subject look more competent, likable, and influential. A defined jawline can also help enhance your status, as too can formal dress. While a toothy smile is a winner on all fronts.
So, according to the results of the study, if you want to come across as more competent, likable, and influential, be sure to squinch your eyes, smile, dress formally, show some teeth, and keep the special effects to a minimum.
Now that we’ve had a brief look at creating your author bio’s content, let’s take a look at how to present it in the best possible context on your site.
How to Make Your Author Bio Look Good
Your existing WordPress theme will help to define the style of your author bio feature, but you can also customize elements within the plugin settings, or with a bit of custom code.
While you’re in the process of designing your author bio feature, consider the following:
Author Bio Features You Should Include
The design of your author bio feature will be in some way a function of the contents within. Here are a number of elements to consider for satisfying your writers and readers:
- Headshot: A custom upload or an image pulled from Gravatar. Gravatar is a WordPress.com project that shows a picture of you that shows up on any blog you write for when it’s enabled. In order to use Gravatar, the email on the connected blog has to match the email on your Gravatar account.
- Social Links: Social icons with a consistent color scheme (as in, all one color) look especially daft. If you decide to allow authors to share only 1 or 2 social links, make sure to first survey your team to see which ones are the most common/important to your writers.
- Backlink: A link back to an author’s website that specifically provides SEO benefits in terms of passing on the authority of the referring domain (no-follow links can’t offer these benefits).
- Short Bio: A place for readers to get to know the author. As a best practice, let the author draft this and let them know if any changes need to be made so they’re aware of them before article publication.
Two additional features to consider:
Allow Contributors to Edit Their Own Bios
Trust writers enough to not use this special perk to harm your website, or do something weird. Writers appreciate the opportunity to refresh their bio as they take on new projects or explore new niches, but hate having to bug the editor to make these changes. If necessary, provide guidelines regarding what’s allowed, and what won’t be tolerated.
Incorporate a Sidebar Display in the Design
An author bio feature typically occurs at the bottom of a post, or potentially at the top. But if your blog pages have a sidebar, offer the added perk of the author bio repeated there. Authors will appreciate this additional exposure opportunity, and readers will have easier access to information about the author as they read. Meks Smart Author Widget makes it easy to implement this functionality on a multi-author WordPress website.
Once you’ve decided what you want to include in your author bio feature, consider the following design trends before actually building your author boxes:
Author Bio Design Trends
Author bios are an interesting study in terms of design. Most online publications don’t give them the attention that they deserve, so the following design trends can help you to give them the respect they’re craving:
- Author Page Feature: Most author pages just link to an archive of posts written by that author. A step up from that is an author page that also displays that person’s bio, as well. But the best of the best author pages provide a nice showcase and add additional context to the author, separate from the author bio and their post archives. Search Engine Journal provides a nice example of this latter mentioned type of author page.
- Circular Avatar Images: These make almost any picture somehow look more interesting, and they stand out more than the standard square design. They also help to standardize your author bios.
- Focus on Twitter: Even if it means forgoing other social media icons. Twitter is considered as one of the best platforms for writers building their audience and will help drive readers to the most appropriate outlet to keep up with their favorite authors.
- Social media icons with a specific color theme: As mentioned above, a consistent color scheme helps to standardize your author bios, and adds some design flair past just using each social network’s standard associated colors.
- Total Minimalism: If the outlet has a bigger presence than its writers, it’s fair to adopt a completely minimalistic design to focus on the content. Sprout Social incorporates this type of author bio feature on their blog, though they also draw more attention to it on each person’s author page.
Before you eventually decide on an author bio design, you’ll want to first decide on a plugin to assist your efforts in displaying your author bios.
Author Bio Plugin Recommendations
You could certainly custom code your own author bio plugin, but why bother before giving these tried and tested options a chance?
As mentioned earlier, some plugins have widgets that allow you to display the current author of an article’s bio in the sidebar. In case you forgot or completely skipped that section, that plugin is the Meks Smart Author Widget.
Every WordPress installation comes out of the box with a basic area on the WordPress dashboard for managing each user’s information. Users can set up their biographical info in the User Profile section.
An author box plugin essentially adds additional fields on top of the ones collecting information under the user area in the dashboard, while also making it easy to format this information in a more aesthetically pleasing way.
Check out our comprehensive list of the top free WordPress author bio box plugins on the market.
Designing a Sexy Author Bio Feature
When it comes to designing an author bio, make sure to:
- Keep the article’s author and readers satisfied by choosing specific design elements
- Consider up and coming trends to make your author bios really stand out
- Incorporate elements of your company’s branding (like color choice) to bring it back to your publication
Hopefully, you’ve now got some tips to follow for making the most of your author bio. From writing an effective author bio to taking a picture that shows you in your best light, you should now be able to start adding a bit of extra personality to your blog posts and promoting your site’s post authors and co-authors.