Often I learn things the hard way.
Example 1: I learned not to wash the preschooler’s red Iron Man shirt with light-colored clothing. Duh. (On the plus side, we now have lots of pink socks.)
Example 2: I learned to avoid telling someone recently diagnosed with Celiac disease, “It’s okay, it’s actually way easier than being diabetic!” because it turns out they were actually diabetic in addition to having Celiac and they immediately burst into tears and I felt like a schmo.
Example 3: I learned not to drop my clothes on the floor behind the bathroom door when showering because, of course, I forget they were on the floor behind the door on a day when I then welcomed houseguests who used our bathroom but didn’t say anything about the flowered pajamas and underwear that were obviously mine because everyone else I live with is male.
(The only good news in Example 3 was that I completely died of embarrassment and then I didn’t have to be embarrassed anymore because I was dead.)
The hard way is how I learn things. Anyone else? 🙋
One more example? Author bios. When I started writing I put up an author bio on my blog like many I’d seen before. Courtney likes candy. Courtney loves her husband. Courtney writes a lot of stuff.
Cue the Charlie Brown’s teacher sounds: Wah-waaaaaah.
Bios need to be punchy. Interesting. Memorable. They need to grab your readers. It’s taken me some time, but I’ve learned a bit about what makes a blog bio stick.
The following five things? Leave ’em out.
1. Sweeping generalizations
Do you like running? Borrrrrring. Tell me you’re a medalist in your neighborhood 50-yard dash or you’ve run twelve ultramarathons or you broke your nose once in a three-legged race.
Don’t tell me your kids are “great” or your spouse is “amazing.” Tell me your kids are abnormally tall or your spouse is obsessed with beet juice cleanses or you are actually Batman. Be specific or don’t bother.
Now I’m listening.
An author bio is a teeny, tiny example of how well you can write.
So if you tell me you’re “married to my best friend” or “have three beautiful kiddos” or “love southern food” I’m all, “Zzzzzzzzzz…”
If you are a Christian, that’s awesome. If you are a Christian writing primarily to a Christian audience, that’s also awesome. But make sure your writing is legible to anyone who might wander by; you never know who might stick as a reader and you don’t want to confuse someone who isn’t steeped in your same faith tradition.
Keep your language clear, simple, and straightforward. You know, like Jesus did.
And don’t tell me you’ve been washed in the blood of the lamb unless you want me to call PETA.
4. For the love of all that is good and holy, do not tell us you love coffee
The goal of the author bio is for us to get to know you. Telling us you like coffee is only slightly more interesting than telling us you breathe oxygen. The majority of people like coffee. Some like tea. No one gives a rat’s patootie.
Tell us something genuinely memorable and interesting. Are you allergic to coffee? That’s kinda cool (and unfortunate, but still interesting!). Did you once purchase seven acres in Ethiopia to grow your own coffee? Tell. Me. More.
Just don’t tell us you love coffee.
5. Give super personal details
Identity theft is real. There are more than a few violent crazies out there. Don’t give out any information that you wouldn’t also give out to a complete stranger in the grocery store parking lot.
What’s your favorite thing to see in an author bio?