Step 4 – Organizing & Developing Online Content
If you have done your homework then you are ready to organize and develop what will be your online content. Your content is very important as it will be used for promoting you, your work, and your website. Content serves a variety of purposes; it displays public relations, target marketing, and general information to build a platform for your product (your purpose).
One of the main items that need attention would be your biography. If you are an artist or writer, you will get asked for this pertinent information every time you make a submission or apply for competitions. Your biography is an essential piece of information that often can get viewed prior to your work. Even if your target audiences are publishers, agents, or clients, you have only one chance to intrigue them and make a good first impression.
There are several ways that you can address your audience. If you would like to be up front and personal, you can write in first person, using “I” in your sentence structure. For example, “I was born in Silver Springs, Maryland.” If you want to have a general sound or professional structure, you can write in the third person, referring to yourself as stated in this example, “Meilena Hauslendale was born in Silver Springs, Maryland.”
It’s really up to you on how you would like to address your audience. I personally prefer writing in third person when referring to my work mainly because I feel it conveys a sense of professional etiquette. It creates a press release persona that can maintain your audience’s attention. However, if you prefer to write in first person you can do that and still have strength to your sentences. Either way you want to spark your audience’s interest in you and your work.
The difference between a how a hobbyist or a professional artist or writer can be determined simply on how they are conveyed through content. You want your sentences to have strength and power to them. Each word and phrase counts because they are performing a difficult task, representing you, when you are not there to do so. For example you could say, “I’m an artist from Erie, PA. I am trying to make a living doing art. Hope you will look at my work.” This sentence hardly provides any credibility to my name or my art. It conveys that I am not really serious about what I’m doing, but I still would like you to look at my work. That’s a lofty expectation to have of my audience when I lack taking myself serious.
A professional sentence structure as an example, “Meilena Hauslendale was raised in Erie, PA and began her career as a professional artist in 1997.” You want to state who you are, where you come from, and what it is you do. You want your opening sentence to really state a few basic facts about you and your work. This is not an easy task and perhaps one of the reasons why many artists and writers procrastinate completing a biography. Perhaps one of the reasons why, just as Alan Wilson Watts states, “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”
It’s quite the challenge to write about yourself and really expand on your talents. You have to convey your work and yourself from almost another person’s perspective. Imagine yourself as a Public Relations Specialist and you were just hired to write about an artist or writer. What are some things you would need to know about that person? What strong points do you want to enunciate about this person’s life and accomplishments? What active role does this person assume now?
You don’t have to be overly personal but you really want to give your audience a sense of who you are. Let them know how you began your career. Write about your technique or your style. It is possible to be personal but also professional. You may have to work on several drafts until you get a nice flow of words and a functional biography. The time you put into writing this valuable piece of information will pay off by getting people to take notice in something very dear to you, your purpose. So share your passion with your audience. You just may notice that your enthusiasm might be contagious.
You want to have a short version (100-150 words) of your biography and then a long version (500-1,000 words). It’s advisable to work on your long version first so then you can easily copy a short version by taking excerpts. As an example you can view my biography online: [http://www.meilena.com/portrait/?q=biography]. I had a shorter version posted several months back, but because of numerous requests to know more about me, I had to rewrite it. You may experience similar feedback from your viewers. The long version will be for your website and the shorter version will be used for promotional websites that commonly limit your biography to 100-150 words.
You can also write a statement about your work. A statement simply is a personal claim about your work or perhaps on what inspires your work. Get creative here and really just type what you feel you need to express about your creativity. I was asked for an artist statement back in 1999. I had no clue what that was but I wrote one down. I’ve used the same statement ever since. You can view it online to get an example: [http://www.meilena.com/portrait/?q=biography]
Take time to really write down your talents and accomplishments and don’t be afraid to express them in your content. The more people learn about you, the more they will be able to relate to you.
Your challenge for this month is to create a full length and short version of your biography. As a bonus create an artistic statement if you would like. Read other artists’ or writers’ biographies and ask yourself which ones interested you and then explain why. Which biographies had strong statements, which ones were weak? Then take that information and apply it to yourself. Evaluate what traits you want to express, organize an outline, and then write your biography.