Add an About Page on Your Portfolio Website
Thomas James | Escape from Illustration Island
The About Page
Okay. It’s time to let your visitor know that you’re human.
A captivating, well-branded site design and a stunning image gallery is the perfect one-two punch when it comes to drawing a potential client into your world. Now that you’ve gotten their attention, the best way to go for a knockout is an effective About page.
Why Do You Need an About Page?
If your visitor is intrigued enough by your work to stick around, the next thing they’re going to want to do is find out more about you. In order to gain their trust, you need to show them that you are a real live person, engage them by telling them about yourself in your own words, and present yourself as a professional, qualified candidate for their next project. An Art Director’s chances of remembering you, and contacting you, are greatly increased when they feel like they know you at least a little bit.
This is your chance to convert them from interested to invested.
(Note: A member of the EFII community recently mentioned the approach of linking to a Google search of their name instead of using an About page. The idea was that this would lead to a lot more information without creating a page for that purpose. While this is an interesting concept, it sends up a big red flag for me.
The danger in this is twofold:
1. You’re sending them away from your site to the infinite void of Google, where they will find plenty of irrelevant links and reasons to never return.
2. You’re giving away all control over what you want to say about yourself.
In my opinion, it’s much better to keep them in the cozy little world that you’ve created for the sole purpose of selling yourself. Don’t throw this opportunity away by leading them right to the Exit.)
So What Should You Include in Your About Page?
An effective About page should include a photo of you. This idea may feel a little uncomfortable for some artists, but remember that a potential client is looking for a person to hire, not a website. Working with a client on an Illustration project requires making a connection and building a relationship, and letting them get a look at you starts that process early. A photo has the effect of planting your roots a little deeper in their memory banks and establishing a subconscious link between the work and the person creating it. In addition, it adds a level of transparency to you portfolio which is increasingly important as the Internet grows as a business environment. You will see plenty of successful Illustrators who don’t include a photo, but taking this small step could help you elbow your way into a crowded field.
For those who don’t wish to include a photo, an Illustrated self-portrait could be a valid secondary choice, allowing you to use this option to feature yet another piece of your work.
Briefly share elements of your background, expertise, experience, and even what inspires you. This not only helps to sell your credibility as a professional, but also gives your visitor a feeling for the creative spirit that you would bring to the table if they hired you. Writing in a confident, conversational style can help to put the reader at ease and further establish a personal connection in their mind. If you approach your bio from too much of a sales angle you risk making the reader feel like you’re trying to hide something or sell them something they don’t need. I recommend visiting the portfolio websites of multiple Illustrators and reading their bios from the perspective of a potential client and pay attention to the way they make you feel.
You may also want to round out your bio by including any organizations or groups you are a member of to further display that you are an active participant in the Illustration community, rather than just a hobbyist.
This is also a perfect opportunity to tell the reader what you can do to meet their needs. After all, that’s why they’re here, and it can help to seal the deal.