It happens all the time and it drives me crazy. I discover a new food blog. I go to the About page to find out more about the writer. There is no photo and no identification. Here’s all it says:
- Welcome to my blog. It’s really original.
- This is a yummy chronicle of my exploits and experiments.
- I created this blog because I love kittens, butterflies and strawberry yogurt.
Argh! A blank page would be an improvement over this generic stuff. I go back to the Home page to look for more clues but find none. I’m losing interest…
If your About page is anonymous or generic, you are losing readers. Right now a piece is missing. That piece is you. I won’t become a regular reader until I know you.
It’s easy to come out of the closet. Just fix these three things on your About page:
1. You’re anonymous.
Please. I want to know your full name. Don’t just tell me your first name. Tell me where you live. Say when you started your blog and why. Give me a few paragraphs. Be specific.
You’d be surprised by how many bloggers fail to list their names, including those big enough to get press mentions. When I want to contact them, I have to look up articles to find their names. Sometimes I look at Twitter feeds to see if I can find a first name, or Google their blog name. That is just ridiculous to make me work so hard.
2. No photo.
I want to connect with you, because blogs are personal. Show me what you look like. Use a headshot, or a photo of you making Chicken Veloute, if your blog’s about French cooking. If you have the wrong photo on there, please exchange it. I don’t want a photo of you and your spouse, unless you write a relationship blog; or you and your children, unless your blog’s about feeding kids. Don’t show me a photo of you in a gondola in Italy when your blog covers Florida restaurants.
3. No contact info.
Who knows why people want to contact you? Maybe they want to advertise, offer you a guest post, feature your blog on their website, see if you want to write for their publication, or offer you a book deal. Give them your email. Even Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, lists her email and a snail mail address. If she can do it, so can you.
If you’re nervous about spam, use the [at] sign instead of the @, such as dj[at]diannej.com.
Now, two questions:
1. Am I the only one who’s annoyed by anonymous About pages?
2. If you don’t want to use your full name or a photo, please tell me why.
(And if you want to know what’s supposed to appear on an About page, see Guidelines for Writing a Good About Page.)
Photo by Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.com.
1. No! Not at all. When we first started Food Bloggers of Canada one of my jobs was to vet member blogs. I was shocked how many bloggers had no information on their about pages – nada. We couldn’t tell who they were and if they were, in fact, Canadian, never mind trying to contact them via their blogs. We even went so far as to include it in a post on tips members could implement right this minute to improve their blogs. Having said that, we do have a few restaurant review blogs that have joined the site who work very hard to protect their anonymity in order to be avoid special treatment when they’re doing reviews and in that case, I can understand the logic.
Hah, what a dilemma to try to figure out who the bloggers were. I sympathize, Melissa. The anonymous restaurant reviewers make sense.
Carol Sacks says
Smart post, Dianne. Thank you for the reminder.
You’re welcome, Carol. I need to go update my own About page now.
Sally Vargas says
I’m glad you brought it up! I am working on revamping and moving my blog, but have neglected to re-visit my current about page. Sure enough, I didn’t have contact info on my about page (I do have it on another page, but you’d have to dig for it.) All good points. Thanks Dianne
I suppose some people want the contact info obscured. Maybe they don’t want anyone to contact them! Glad you are working on a revamp, Sally.
Not obscuring (If you read my about page you’d know I’m pretty up front about everything! ) just tech challenged and tech weary 🙂 Also, I think it takes (some) people time to find their focus, and often THAT takes a good number of blog posts before the light goes on.
Kim @ Coffee Pot Chronicles says
Although not a food blogger (but still a reader of your blog obviously) I’ve written several versions of my about page trying to give a good overview of who I am and where I live. With the recent site overhaul I think I’ve finally nailed it.
I’ve found blogs by writers who complain they’re not getting noticed. When I search for any information about them or their e-mail address there’s nothing to be found. A few times I’ve left a comment on their post and let them know that they can’t expect to noticed if they make it too difficult to reach out to them. One replied to me saying it was easier to just talk via the comments. That was the last time I visited that blog.
Great advice on this piece. I wholeheartedly agree whether you’re a food blogger or any other blogger. A great about page and contact information goes a long way.
It doesn’t matter what kind of blog you have, yes. If it’s a public page, tell us who you are and how to contact you. I guess some people are weird about this.
Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator says
I wasn’t exactly guilty of these, but I just went and updated amy About section, as it’s been on my to-do list for a while. Thanks for the noodge!
My pleasure. This is new, to be called a noodge, but I’ll take it, Stephanie.
Miranda @ Mangoes and Chutney says
You are so right! Nothing is more annoying than not being able to contact a blogger – not even a contact form? Gotta love the pictures that don’t show the face too, right? What’s with the anonymity? I re-did my about page last year when I did ProBlogger’s 31 Days to a Better Blog. Now there are 3 areas where you can find my contact info.
Three areas of contact info! You are working it, Miranda.
I don’t really like contact forms. They seem so formal and blogs seem so informal. And the photos that don’t show the face: what’s up with that? I will have to check into that ProBlogger program. I love that site.
Ouch! A timely nudge for this food blogger. Thanks, Dianne.
Your About page was just fine when you first started out. Now it’s just a matter of going back and updating it. I need to do the same thing with mine. Talk about a pot calling the kettle black.
Diana Johnson says
Whew! Clicked on this from twitter to check on what I’m doing wrong. Happy to see I’ve already got it right. Great post Dianne and wholeheartedly agree!
Well that’s a relief, Diana. I hope I didn’t make you too nervous. Thanks for clicking over from Twitter and I hope you’ll be back.
Patti at Camp Blogaway says
Always great to reinforce how bloggers can (and probably should) run their blogs like a business. We posted a similar roundup on the Camp blog last year, What PR Peeps Want To See On Your Blog: http://campblogaway.com/2010/12/what-pr-peeps-love/
Excellent post, Patti. I hope people will read it. And you suggest a phone number! Whoa. That requires taking a deep breath.
Patti at Camp Blogaway says
Yup, list your phone. If your blog is your “business,” then it has a phone number. I’ve had my number on my website since the early 90s, on my cooking blog since launching it in 2009 and Camp Blogaway since inception. All three sites, one phone number. Still doesn’t ring much — but when it DOES, it is most often a real business call and not sales. And if it IS sales, no harm.
Yes, I have my phone number on my website as well, as it functions as my business billboard. I think you and I have a different model from the average blogger though.
Do you just want contact info or do you feel strongly about it being on the About Page? I have mine on my Contact page and I know many other bloggers do it that way. But, hmm… I suppose I should add my last name to my About page. I hadn’t thought about that.
The About page is the most logical place for a blogger. If you have a website with a contact page, then it can be on your site twice. It doesn’t hurt. Good idea to add your last name.
Dahlia Klein says
Great post. It pushed me to revamp my About Me page on my blog. I was guilty of some of the points you made- inadvertently. You are so right about being accessible to your reader and connecting through the About Me page. Thanks.
Well, I didn’t expect people to just jump right on it and make the changes! Thank you for reporting that you did so, Dahlia.
Ingrid @ Jammy Chicken says
I have a full-time day job that is completely unrelated to my blog, and I don’t necessarily want these two spheres of my life to overlap. I prefer not to use my full name on my about page because I don’t want that to pop up in searches when people look for me, since most of those searches will be for that other job. I have no problem with full disclosure in email, but I would prefer to do that only with people who invest a little effort to find out by actually emailing me. If knowing someone’s last name is the factor that decides if you read a blog, then I think that’s an odd criteria to base your internet reading on. Quality of content doesn’t change depending on if I do or do not know your last name (or you know mine).
leaf (the indolent cook) says
This, x 100.
For me, it boils down to my introvert nature. That’s why I don’t offer my full name, and why my photo doesn’t show my face. Having this privacy also makes me more comfortable sharing the more personal aspects of my life in my blog posts, and I like that. I do display my contact information, though.
I tend to get to know a blogger by reading not just their About Me pages, but also their posts. What turns me into a regular reader? Knowing someone’s full name or what they look like doesn’t do it for me. An overview of their content is what lures me in, and I’ll continue to visit for as long as it interests me. I then develop familiarity and rapport through the ongoing posts as well as actual interactions with them, in the comments section, on Twitter, etc. To go down the path of deciding whether to follow a blog based on the availability of a blogger’s name and photo, for me, would be to lose sight of what really matters. I guess some of us just prioritize different things.
As an aside, I started using internet as a teenager. I enjoyed chatting to strangers from all over the world. Some stuck and grew to become friends. We didn’t exchange real names and photos until we were both comfortable with it. When you are yet to meet in real life, a name is just a name; a photo can create preconceived impressions. First, dazzle me with your wit, intellect, personality and character. The rest can wait.
P.S. Dianne, my About Me page links to a post (and quite a personal one) that gives you a bit of publicity, so really, you should rather like it, even if you think my secrecy is a bit of a tease. 😉
Yes, many writers are introverts, and uncomfortable with “exposing” themselves, if that’s what they think is going on. But blogging is a public medium, so bloggers should be somewhat accountable to their readers. Ex. I know that your name is Leaf, but I don’t know if it’s your real name. I want to know more. I did read your About page and found it charming. (Then I saw that you gave away a copy of Will Write For Food! Thank you so much, Leaf. I’m sorry for now knowing about it earlier. Just sent an email to the winner.)
I suppose I wouldn’t stop reading someone if I really made a connection with his or her writing, but for me, part of the connection means knowing their name, where they live, and what they look like. It’s still new to me to make connections online rather than in person, so it gives me a level of comfort to see who this person is – that they’re real.
You are right that the writing matters most, and that we can connect in the comments section or on Twitter. Those things do help. But it doesn’t always answer these questions I posed.
I am fascinated by your description of meeting strangers online. I think you were brave. To get to know people anonymously would make me nervous.
leaf (the indolent cook) says
Thanks for your response Dianne, I think we understand each other more now. I can see why you would trust someone more if you could have their name and picture, but for me it goes both ways. If they’re not interacting with me, and just reading my blog, I am grateful for their silent support, but I don’t think they need my name and picture any more than I need theirs. If they are interacting with me, then we may one day move our conversations to e-mail, exchange photos, and even meet up in person one day.
Also, even though my blog is public, it’s my recipes, my writing, my philosophies, and, yes – even snippets of my life, that I want to make public, not my identity. I regard this in the same way I regard an author who uses a pseudonym. I forgot to mention that I write about restaurants / cafes / other food businesses as well, sometimes. Not often, and I know I’m hardly famous, so it probably doesn’t make much difference, but I prefer to keep the anonymity just in case. I have also considered putting up a picture where my face is somewhat obscured, though I’m not sure if that is much of a middle ground. I am open to change as circumstances and perspectives shift, and may decide to let my alternate worlds collide one day, rather than just gently brushing shoulders, but my current arrangement gives me peace of mind.
Leaf isn’t the name I was given, it’ started off as a nickname but it has become “real” in the sense that I’ve had it printed on business cards (for a company I used to work for in the past, because my boss liked it; and for myself as a freelancer). Many of my friends, and my boyfriend, call me Leaf, too. So if it’s good enough for them I figure it’s good enough for anyone!
Very good Leaf. Yes, we both understand each other better now. Thanks for writing back.
Okay. In your case I can see why you don’t want your full name out there. It’s not that I have to know someone’s full name to read a blog post. It’s that blogs are all about the “I,” and when I connect with someone, I want to see who they are. That’s why print publications publish bios at the end of articles.
Averie @ Averie Cooks says
I don’t have my full name on my About page- this used to be for security but since everyone already knows my name and it’s been in magazines, etc. I may as well add it to that page, but it’s listed on my FAQ page and on my Press Page.
I have multiple ways for anyone who wants to contact me, to contact me. I know it’s very frustrating when you want to contact a blogger and there’s no email addy, or you really have to hunt and peck on their site to find it. I have it listed many places, including right on the home page. Because if you want to give me free stuff or money, I’d like to make it easy for you to find me 🙂
And listing where you live – yes! I like to know, geographically approximately where this person lives – from their time zone to their cultural food norms, i.e the deep south, San Fran, NYC, it’s valuable info.
Great post, Dianne!
If your full name has appeared in magazines and it’s already on another page of your blog, for goodness sake, add it to your About page, Averie. Otherwise, it’s great that you’ve made yourself so available for “free stuff and money.”
I’m glad you agree about where people live. I wasn’t exactly sure why I like that, but it makes sense to be able to place people somewhere, especially if you want to call them.
Susan @ SwoonMySpoon says
So good to hear your thoughts on this. I feel the same way. I’m always disappointed when the About page doesn’t tell me anything about the blogger. I follow people I can relate to. No or little information. Nothing to follow. Thank you!
You’re welcome. Glad to know there’s another person out there who’s as annoyed as I am.
Joy @ braisenwoman.com says
Updating my about page is on my to-do list, and these are all excellent points to keep in mind! I need to get a good photo of me cooking where I’m not a sweaty mess in a kitchen that resembles a war zone. Unless that would be endearing and relatable… 🙂
Hah. Not sure about that. I guess it depends if you are always writing from the point of view of chaos.
Jane @ Eat Your Books says
Thank you so much for this post Dianne. I was getting so frustrated by this that I was considering proposing to a bloggers conference that they run a forum on “How to run your blog as a business”. Can you imagine any commercial site not having full contact details?
I understand that bloggers do not want to get deluged with PR requests but as you say, often the reason to contact the blogger is to offer them a commercial opportunity that they may be interested in. My other frustration is bloggers who do not bother to respond to an approach in any way (I must stress this is the minority). I get that this may not be their full time job, and they may get more emails than they feel they can cope with, but even a standard response of “Thanks for contacting me but this is not something I’m interested in at this time” allows the other party to move on. Just cut and paste that response and go through your in-box sending that to every email you know you don’t want to progress. Complete silence leaves us hanging – did they even see the email? Are they interested but just haven’t got around to replying? There is no reason to respond to a generic PR email but when someone has taken the time to get to know your blog and is making a personal approach, then surely that warrants a response even if it is just a “Not interested thanks”.
That is an excellent idea for a blogging conference, Jane. Go for it.
Most bloggers blog as a hobby, so they do not think of their blogs as a business. It’s the ambitious ones who should offer lots of contact info and respond to pitches, as you say. Re not bothering to get back to you, I guess all kinds of people are overwhelmed these days. I just talked with a client about editors she knows no longer responding to her emails. It’s everywhere.
Thanks for the kick in the behind, Dianne. This is on my to-do list, and out of sheer laziness I’ve never gotten around to it. When I started blogging a bit over a year ago I never put up personal info because I figured no one really cared. When I read a blog (or magazine article or book or whatever), it’s the author’s voice – the writing – that tells me whether I’m interested in that person’s work or not. I guess sometimes I do look at “About” pages, but infrequently – it’s the posts that tell me everything I really want to know. But I’m quite sure I’m in the minority on this! And I;m not trying to keep my identity a secret – my name and picture is out there. I’ve provided it to people who’ve interviewed me, or in bios to places like Gojee (who include some of my pictures/recipes on their site). So I need to just put it on my own site. More important, is I need to put up a recipe index. Now that is my pet peeve, and I’m guilty of not having one! Good post; thank you.
You’re welcome, John. People really do care, as you can see from this post. They want to know these details. Since your identity is no secret, I’m glad you’re going to go for it on your About page. About time! And yes, you need a recipe index.
Heather in SF says
I don’t use my full name on the Internet because I have a very aggressive and troubling stalker. This man has stalked me for last 25 years and I thought the best way to stay off the radar is to limit the use of my full name except for professional purposes. He still finds me through my professional contacts but there’s nothing I can do about that. This tactic had worked for a long time until just last week. But I like your suggestions, I will add a photograph and maybe I should just add my full name too – what the heck.
Whoa, Heather. A stalker for 25 years?! And now he’s found you. So sorry. I have mixed feelings about adding your name and a photo. On one hand, why give the guy more info. On the other hand, he probably already knows your name and what you look like, but your readers don’t.
Betina Mariante says
Thank you very much for your post! You really made me rethink my “About” page. I decided to be more generic, writing about me in two fields, as a MD and as someone for whom cooking is a hobby and a freedom space. I used a picture in some charming place, but in a way I’b4m not the center of the scene, as ‘I’b4m just there, by chance”. Thank you! You made me reflect the importance of an ‘About’ page. The reasons why I began the blog are in the first post, which has the name of the blog, “Serendipity in Cucina”.
I’b4m going to rethink it. It’b4s really nice to read your posts, always having a great tip.
My best regards,
Betina Mariante Cardoso
Thanks Betina. I’m so happy that you are rethinking your page. I’m sure you can find a great headshot to display on your blog, or a photo of you cooking in la cucina.
Betina Mariante says
Thanks, Dianne, for your answer! Your post made me put a real attention to it, indeed. I admit I was kind of taking it for granted, before the reading, and the rethinking turned to be a great idea. Through the posts, I do tell about myself in ‘La Cucina’ and even with one or two personal pictures, but you’b4re right: there shall be a particular space for it.
I want to tell you that my blog was created during my reading of the blogging chapter in “Will Write for Food”, when I was in Buenos Aires for vacations. The reading was revolutional, as of the whole book. The point is: to read and to reread, to write and to rewrite. This month I imposed myself the challenge to write everyday on the blog, and it’b4s a great pleasure and a great exercise!
Thank you once again. I’b4m really sorry I won’b4t be able to participate in the event in London, I would like very much to participate of your worskshop! I hope I will be able to participate of the next ones!
Another point: I’b4m loving the reading of M.F.K. Fisher, which I bought following your references. “The Art of Eating” is fantastic!!
My best regards,
Lovely. Thank you so much for this message, Betina. I’m so impressed that you write every day right now. I just left a comment on your blog.
Betina Mariante says
Hi, Dianne!! It’b4s done!
Thank you for your post!
Wonderful. Great to see what you look like, see your name, your kitchen, and your contact information. Congrats!
Betina Mariante says
Thanks! And also thanks for the visit and the comment. I replied to you there, too.
This blogging experience is really very pleasurable and even changeable. I will continue to follow ‘Will write for food’-book and blog, and the reference readings.
I agree with you. The about page is one of the first places I visit on a new blog.
Me too! As soon as I decide I like the blogger and want to know more, I head for that page. I wish it wasn’t so disappointing so often.
When I started my food blog in 2005 I didn’t have any picture of myself on the about page – hell, I barely had photos on the site! – but times have changed a lot since then.
Yes. Bios have become a lot more sophisticated since 2005. You are an old-timer, Caroline!
So true. Blogs were so new then. Now it’s up to us to keep up with the changes. Sometimes it’s exhausting!
I have to say the one thing I really struggle with is my profile picture. I’ve slowly come around to one on my twitter account but haven’t pulled it together enough for one on my blog. Certainly one to think about.
Many people don’t like to see photos of themselves. I’m no different. I hired a very good and inexpensive photographer to take professional headshots of me. That helped a lot.
I agree with you Dianne. I go to the About page first. Sometimes I just find recipe list or something very generic that it does not tell me anything about the blogger. We know you want to share your recipes but why?
It took me a week to craft my About Me page. I wanted to reflect why I was starting the blog when there are other 50,000 food blogs out there. (I checked the stats when I started it two years ago, one website said there was over 33,000 food blogs. I assume we reached 50K by now). I was amazed with the comments I get on that page sometimes. And I love leaving comments on others’ about me pages as well, just to say “nice to meet you” … Because a good written one evokes that feeling and makes you say that ..
Yes I’ve noticed that some people comment on the About page. It seems so sweet. I guess they feel they have gotten to know you, Ilke.
Re how many food blogs there are, no one seems to know. 50,000 is a good guess.
Susan Cooper says
This is really good advice. Very simple and to the point but important for a blogger. I have all of these things. It’s funny, I am in the process of revising mine now. 🙂
About pages are changing. We just have to keep up. It’s easy to forget about it and never update it from when the blog began.
Susan Cooper says
Update: I just went to look at my About page and even thought I thought I had my name and location there?… to my surprise it wasn’t. That has now been added. Sigh! I am so glad you posted this or I would have been under a false illusion.
Hah! Good for you, Susan, for remedying it.
Very good. I hope it’s an easy process for you, Susan.
M'f3na Wise says
You are not alone. This is certainly a way to keep me ‘not interested’
in plenty of blogs. For the life of me I can’t seem to figure out what all the secrecy is about.
If you have a public blog then ‘be there’ … I love knowing who the writer is and ‘why’ they are writing. Great advice as always Dianne.
Oh good, Mona. I like having a reality check.
I do get that some people don’t want fellow employees at their job to see their blog. But then again, it’s not like they’re writing porn under a pseudonym.
Melinda (Kitchen Tested) says
Thank you for this post! I have been making a list of kosher food bloggers for a conference I’m planning and I couldn’t believe how many of the blogs did not have full names and contact information. I hope everyone listens to your advice and makes the necessary updates to their About pages.
Oh what a shame if they didn’t find out about the conference. Thanks for letting bloggers know that there are legitimate reasons why people might want to contact them.
My guess is that using [at] instead of @ fools very few spam bots. (I know that if I were programming a spam bot, I’d certainly have it recognize that “at” is the same as @ and “dot” is the same as .
Hi Ethan! Okay, point noted. You know more about this stuff than I do. Thanks so much for this info.
Liz Rueven says
One comment about profile pics: For lots of us, it feels like we are too exposed already, and posting a pic that we don’t LOVE worsens the insecurities. Try bartering for your pic. I treated a photographer buddy to a great outdoor wine tasting overlooking the Saugutuck River in Westport, and she shot the pics. We both knew that she GOT it, and we had a great evening getting to know each other better. DON’T post an UNfriendly, pic, please!
Very good advice, Liz. You’ve got to be happy with your profile photo, otherwise every time you see it you’ll regret putting it up there for the public.
Mary aka The Culinary Librarian says
I know you and I spoke about this before but for a long time I had no about page and still don’t have my full name on my blog. The main reason was that I didn’t want to be easily found by my (former!) employer. I’m hoping to shift my online identity now that I have a new job with co-workers who already know about my blog and who don’t mind if I have an online identity apart from the company.
This may be true of plenty others but I can only speak for myself.
Yes, a few other people have said that they work in a completely different field and they don’t want their two worlds to overlap. I am not sure why — it’s not like they have a porn site or something to be ashamed of. Still, it’s their prerogative.
I do remember talking with you about it, because I brought it up. Now that things have changed, I hope you will come out with your identity.
I take issue with calling this a “mistake.” I think this assumes that all people with blogs are doing so for the same reason, which is not the case. While I am very open about who I am and provide all kinds of contact information, it’s because I’m very clear about my career goals and that I do want to pursue other opportunities in addition to my blog. Other people may not feel that same way about their sites or may simply prefer to be anonymous for privacy reasons or because this is simply a fun outlet that they don’t want associated with other parts of their life. This is especially true for people in jobs where it may be frowned upon to also have a blog. I don’t think that this is by any means a “mistake” and doesn’t make their blog any less worth following. If the content is good, who cares what the writer’s last name is or what she looks like? I certainly don’t.
Okay, you make some good points. My point is that a blog is public. It’s not a journal. It’s published, for other people to read. If you (or the people you write about) write personal material from an I perspective, readers wonder who you are, where you live, and other things about you. It is frustrating to have you remain a mystery. It is human nature. That is why magazines and newspapers identify their authors with a bio.
Frankly, . I don’t want my photo or name up in lights.
Isn’t it enough that I’m sharing a piece of my soul.? Sometimes the cloak of anonymity can free a writer, even a food writer to get more up close and personal than he/she would under their real name.
As to contact me, I answer all comments and I’ve been known to email my readers and ask whether the recipe succeeded.
Interesting thread though.
No. The more you share your soul, the more people want to know who you are. I agree about your point that anonymity can be freeing, but it is more appropriate for people writing about taboo or salacious subjects, or for restaurant reviewers. For food writers, not so much.
Irena Chalmers says
Dianne, In case this might help, I was told to reduce the About Me to three words: I’ve been using Writer. Teacher. Mentor. (I left out the information about gin and tonics at 6 PM.)
Hah. Please add that part, Irena. It provides a little insight into your wit.
Jackie @Syrup and Biscuits says
Once again, Dianne, you spoke to me…..and hit me upside the head. After reading several articles from publishers and agents about the information they like to see on an About page, I hurriedly fixed mine. After all, I don’t want to dissuade anyone from placing The Call to me.
In my opinion, my About page was ready to be viewed by scores of literary agents and publishers. Hundreds. Thousands!
Reading your article prompted me to return to my meticulously crafted About page only to find that I didn’t have my name listed. My contact information was there. My pictures were there. My bio was there. My name WASN’T there. Ha! Isn’t it amazing how you can look at something over and over and over and never see what you’re trying to find until someone points it out to you.
Thank you for this post, Dianne. I’m sure the absence of my name on my About page explains why I haven’t gotten The Call. 🙂
Well I can’t guarantee that the call will now occur, Jackie, but it is certainly an improvement that your name appears. Funny how our brains skip over these things.
Thank you Dianne! Highly annoyed here too – one of my biggest internet pet peeves actually! If looking for a name and way to contact, I usually just give up and figure they aren’t serious about it if it isn’t easy to find.
Those bloggers are missing out then, Alisa. Their loss. But on the other hand, yes, many of them are not serious about blogging. It’s just for fun.
I’m so pleased that you are also annoyed. Sometimes it’s good to do a reality check.
The Italian Dish says
I loved this post, Dianne! One more thing that bothers me about “About” pages – not listing where the writer lives. I don’t know why, but that’s one of the first things I want to know about a blogger – where do they live? What state? What country? I guess it gives me a little more feel about who they are. Sometimes I have no idea where they are located.
Thanks. Yes, me too. I want to be able to place them and see if they are writing about their subject because of where they live. I don’t think this is an irrational impulse at all. Often newspaper and magazine bios list where the person lives.
Great points, Dianne. I, too, have been frustrated by semi-anonymous blogs. Personally, I am so vain that my photo and information about me are everywhere on both of my own blogs. Still, I’ll revisit my “about” pages in the next couple of days. I may just have left something out! Thanks….
Oh Tinky, I don’t think it’s vanity at all. Just common sense.
I agree wholeheartedly, Dianne! Have been thinking about retooling my About Page for a while and this is just the push I needed. Also, i’m with you on the random profile photos- drives me crazy when they don’t mesh with the overall theme of the site. This isn’t Facebook, folks!
And on top of that, many of the random photos are terrible — blurry, or they’re a million miles away and their face is a little dot. I guess some people are self-conscious about the way they look?
Roberta @MizChef says
I have to admit that I’ve been avoiding the photo thing. I’ve been trying to maintain some degree of privacy and anonymity, which is something that’s increasingly difficult to do these days. But I realize that I’m going to have to give in. There are pictures of me taken in culinary school up on my FB wall and it makes me a little uncomfortable to have them there. But I didn’t take them down because I know that people like to see what you look like and visuals help draw friends/readers/fans.
I also write fiction under a pseudonym and being photo-less was an attempt at keeping my two identities separate, although I know that, ultimately, it’s futile.
I’ve been toying with the idea of putting my picture on my blog, so this post was timely for me. Thanks, Dianne.
Well yeah, if you have a Facebook page with photos of you on it, people can make the connection very easily. It’s getting harder and harder to separate out the different parts of our lives, it seems. Might as well embrace it, Roberta.
Thanks, Dianne. I thought I was the only one with this pet peeve. When someone ‘likes’ or leaves a comment on my blog, I usually visit their site. I don’t leave a comment on a blog if there is no information about the writer. It’s like speaking to someone who is hiding behind a screen. Very offputting.
Oh, that is frustrating Moira. I can see why you would not leave a comment. Good point.
Andrew Wilder says
YES YES YES YES YES! If someone wants to be anonymous, unless it’s part of their blog’s mission, a blog — which is, by its very nature, completely public — is simply not the right medium for them.
When I consult on blogs for my clients, the very first thing I look for is a picture of them smiling along with their real name. And I take your suggestions further and urge people to put that smiling picture, along with a one sentence introduction (including their name) right at the top of their sidebar, ON EVERY PAGE. People come to your site from search engines, and don’t always “land” on the homepage, and having a welcoming picture of a real person makes a huge difference.
Yeah. I want to ask people: Why are you writing a blog if you want to be anonymous? A blog is public.
I’m glad you brought up that little box. I have it on my blog, with my smiling photo and full name. As you say, I’m not even waiting for people to go to my About page.
Barbara | Creative Culinary says
I’ve often heard clients lament that they do not want to provide full contact information on the sites we develop due to some inherent ‘fear of the Internet.’ While some precautions are well advised, the truth is that most people can be found and so can their information. That being said, I’ve always provided contact information on my websites and even my domain name account yet in 18 years of being online it has never been an issue. I believe it’s an unrealized fear for the most part and folks have to get over that if they expect to do business online. I actually feel that not providing my home address in phone company publications is a greater measure of security!
If I could recommend a couple of things. First…if you have a website and a domain name, use a domain associated email address on your site. I like to say, ‘Why market gmail in every one of your email communications instead of your own domain name?’ but it goes beyond that. Using a gmail address speaks to potential suitors. For many it says ‘not quite up to prime time.’ Have a domain name? Get an email address using it!.
Second, while you’re doing that; create an email alias for your website. An alias email address is simply one that is forwarded to your real address so your host might call them ‘Forwards.’ What happens with those? Well, if I put my alias on my site, every message sent to that alias comes into my real email box…but spiders aren’t collecting my real email from my website. If the alias starts to get spammed…I just delete it and create a new alias. I don’t include the address on any printed information either, it has one purpose and that is to act as the communication tool from my site. I don’t do this so much as a protection of privacy as I do to manage spam but it’s useful for both purposes. Once I hear from someone and respond from my ‘real’ address; they have it on record and the use of the alias in our communications is history. Maybe this practice could help alleviate some of the ‘fear’ of sharing personal email information for some of your readers?
Excellent, Barbara. And you have a sensitive perception about people and their fears. Thanks for taking the time to write these suggestions.
Jeanne @ CookSister! says
hmm, I have mixed feelings about this. When I started my blog in 2004 (yes, really!) I called myself Cooksister and had no mention of my name on there at all. Mostly, this was to avoid work colleagues finding my blog (not that it was defamatory, but I just wanted some separation between work and private life); and because back then I still worried that the ‘net was peopled largely by stalkers and psychos (!). I did have an About page from the start, though, and it was never generic. Over the years, I have relaxed and now have my full name on my blog plus I have amended my about page regularly over the years, to adjust to the changing circumstances (e.g. adding a review policy).
However, I know a couple of people who have had very bad online experiences with harrassment and abuse, and they understandably refuse to have their full name on their site. I don’t think their decision can be described as a mistake!!
Also, I write about a fairly uncontentious topic – but if I wrote about anything contentious, or discussed my personal relationships or family in detail, I would possibly not want people reading and flaming me for my opinions, or being hurt by what I have said about them (you would end up self-censoring to spare people’s feelings). So I do think there are valid reasons for NOT including your full name. No excuse for a lack of photo or a tediously generic about page though.
My pet hate, on the other hand, is the use the word musings in your blog title, tagline or about page! ;o)
Very good that you have updated your About page over the years.
Re people who have had a bad experience, I feel badly for them, and if they are more comfortable taking off their names, then that’s up to them. I still think it’s a mistake for their current readers, who are just normal people like the rest of us. I know other bloggers who have had trolls and abusive people contact them, and they have done their best to ignore them and go on with their lives, leaving contact info on their blogs. So people have to do what’s right for them.
Re contentious topics, it’s kind of cowardly to be anonymous and spout off. Typically people can’t stay anonymous in situations like that. But many food bloggers take a stand on all kinds of subjects, and they can handle what comes to them in response. And overall, what food bloggers cover is not contentious at all.
Re discussing personal relationships and family in detail, the worst part is having family members read those blog posts, not strangers. And they will know who you are, whether you put your full name on your blog or not.
Dina Avila says
I’ve been mildly guilty of this as I swear to you, for a long time I just didn’t have a good picture of myself.
Now tell me this, I’m curious what you all think: when you click on the “about me” link on my blog, it takes you to my “about” page on my professional website. Is that obnoxious? Or do you think that’s fine?
You are a professional photographer and you don’t have a photo of yourself, Dina? Really? (And that summer rolls photo is killing me right now. I want to put a hand right around that roll, straight into my mouth.)
Fortunately, you have an About Me section right on the home page of your blog, with a photo. Your name and email are missing though.
YOu bring up a good question. I have a short bio on my About page, and then a link to my professional bio. It seems odd to have two, but that is how I have resolved it for the moment, until I come up with a better idea. Seems like you have the same dilemma.
Dina Avila says
I do have my name in the bio, but it’s somewhere in the middle. Perhaps I need to have it further up? I also have an email link further down under a Contact/Follow heading, but if it’s not obvious to you, I think I should consider making it clearer.
Glad to hear you like the rolls!
janice feuer haugen says
Another excellent post, Diane, thank you. I immediately went to my about page. There I asked people to contact me yet didn’t make it easy–I would never have noticed that if it hadn’t been for your post. You’re making all of us better bloggers one post at a time.
Oh that’s sweet, Janice. Thank you.
I wish everything we wanted to do on our blogs was as easy as just adding a name or email. It’s nice to be able to make a small change that’s meaningful.
Amen to that last paragraph, Diane. My list is a mile long but will be looking at my About page with new eyes since it’s so easy to fix.
I had to laugh about this post, in a good way, of course. I felt a tinge of nervousness about my ‘About’ page before I finished your post! Thank you for the reminder. Now I’m headed to my blog to see if I’m guilty of ommission.
On a similar note, at a recent blog conference, Kelly Senyei of Gourmet Live passed on a good tip for ‘About’ pages. “Don’t forget to update the ‘About’ page when needed.”
Oh good. I’m glad to give you a laugh, Maureen. That’s great advice from Kelly. We write those things and forget about them. I am guilty of it as well.
Karen J McDonnell says
Hi Dianne – I have to echo Maureen’s emotions – I’m a ‘baby-blogger’ and haven’t a clue so would have a look at the link below. See what you think – it would be fun to have your comments and even another follower!
Your About page looks great, Karen. I love the way you worked in the Bee Gees. Now add a photo and your email and you’re all set.
Leticia Moreinos Schwartz says
Just changed my “about” page. I didn’t have my full name, but thanks to you, now I do!
Oh good, Leticia. Wasn’t that easy?
Aargh – mea culpa!
My “About” page is just one more thing in my life that I feel guilty about as I haven’t changed it since I started my blog. I’ll fix it this week. Really.
It’s all right, Amanda. It’s been like that for a long time, right? You’ll get to it.
Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut says
This has been on my summer to-do list! I wanted to actually tone down my “about” page..since it is a little lengthy, and actually do posts with some of the info and inserting links instead. I just need to actually DO IT.
I still don’t put my first and last name on anything. Even after two years of blogging I am wary of stalkers. I have gotten better though…when I started out I had no photos of myself and didn’t reveal my first name OR the state I live in!
Thanks for this post and the linked article was very helpful too!
My pleasure, Amanda. I hope you get to the point where you let people know who you are and where you live.
cook suck says
my content is what makes my blog, not my photo or my name – who cares?
Coleen @ DNCWWO says
Obviously, there are blog readers that have commented to the contrary – they DON’T care if the blogs they read disclose full names and contact information. So don’t presume to speak for ALL blog readers. Your refusal to see the other side of the argument is off-putting.
Katie at Mom's Kitchen Handbook says
I agree Dianne. I find it frustrating to have to hunt down the person behind a blog. That said, it does take some getting used to as writers to put ourselves out there. In “old media” we hid safely behind our bylines, with an occasional one- or two-sentence bio when we published a story. I had a to take a deep breath when i launched my blog with photo and details of my life and work. But it really helps readers to connect with us and we them.
True, a blog is a different animal from the bylined days. I don’t know about you, but most of the time the stories I wrote were not personal, so the byline was the only part that said anything about me. Boy, those days have changed, eh?
Yes! Please at least list your first name and email address! If I’m going to a meetup or a twEATup, it’s good to know what to call you, especially if I really like your blog. You know, it’s nice to say stuff like ‘Sarah, I really like your blog, it’s awesome.’ Rather than ‘Cupcakes and walnuts, I really like your blog, it’s awesome.’ Embarrassing.
It is! That’s what drives me crazy the most — when I need to email someone or talk to them, and I only know them by their blog name — or Twitter name, for that matter. They’re probably used to it.
As an avid blog reader, all I care about is an email address and a first name so I know who to write the salutation to if i want to contact someone. I detest contact forms, I would rather an email address. A photo of the author is nice, but not a deal breaker for me. Knowing someone’s last name and location is in no way a criteria for me to put someone’s blog into my RSS reader. However, having great content – writing, recipes, and/or photography is.
Yes, that is one of the main reasons why I get frustrated. I want to email the person and don’t know his or her name. Sometimes I scan the comments to see if anyone has mentioned it. I agree that great content is the bottom line, but since it’s personal and public, I want to know something about the person.
Pam Rauber says
Okay, you got me. I’ve been wanting to re-vamp this page for a long time and I’ve now done it. Thanks for this.
Glad to be the impetus for you, Pam. It looks great and I read it all the way through. I like the lack of pretense. I couldn’t find any contact info. What if someone wants to hire you or your husband for your gorgeous food photography?
Coleen @ DNCWWO says
I disagree about posting full names on About Me pages. If you find the content interesting enough that you want to follow, why do you need my *full* name? If I posted a full name, how do you even know it’s my *real* name?
I’m currently job-hunting, so I’m sure prospective employers are googling my name. My blog contains personal information about me (I mention my Significant Other and my son) that I’d rather employers not know about when considering whether to interview or hire me.
Well, Coleen, you do state your first name and where you live, so I feel pretty satisfied. I’m glad to call you Coleen rather than saying, “Well, “Doesnotcookwellwithothers…” I suppose an employer could find this info about you upon Googling. It’s a sad state of affairs when someone’s cooking blog is cause for discrimination.
laura k says
Thanks for this post! I’ve always felt a little baffled in the face of the About page, and never felt satisfied with what I’ve said there. You prompted me to give mine a refresher and I might actually be happy with it. 🙂
Hey neighbor! I like the way it turned out.
sally cameron says
Great post Dianne. Yes, I get annoyed when I find a neat new site I enjoy reading and want to know more about the author…then can’t find anything about them. Makes me not want to bother reading them any more. It’s about a personal connection. I hope more bloggers read this and edit their about pages. Even though I did not believe I was guilty of any of this, I checked my page. Whew! I passed the DJ test….probably because you coached me awhile ago, thank heavens!
Hah! Well, others here say it doesn’t bother them in the slightest, so I guess we’re all different, eh? You are interested in having a blog as a business, so no reason to be coy about it.
Charmian Christie says
You raise good points. I’m teasing you gently when I point out that in your bio box your first words are “Welcome to my blog.” 🙂
I, on the other hand, do not give my full name on my About Page. It’s on my header, but I realize now that I am assuming too much of the reader. Off to fix that.
Thanks for the tips.
You know what’s so ironic, Charmian? I did not update my own About page before writing this blog post. If I have lost all credibility, I deserve it!
In your case, you write as a business, so there is no reason not to include your full name. It makes you look more professional.
Charmian Christie says
You have not lost any credibility. I think it clarifies that people are reading your blog area and not another section of your website. But I realize you wrote the article with a blog in mind.
Thanks for pointing out the difference between a business and a personal blog. Sometimes these lines get blurry.
This is such a simple post, Dianne, but so useful! Now I need to completely rethink my About page. Actually all my about page does is list and link to all of my activities, mentions, etc. Gotta change that. As always, you know just what to write about. Thanks!
But what I want more than anything is the person’s name and an email address. Finding neither is frustrating!
It took me a while to find the “About” link. I clicked on the photo which led me to your Blogger About page, which says almost nothing — typical of Blogger. At least you list your name and email. Finally I clicked on your name. What great info! So many impressive links, Jamie.
Oh right, I forgot about that About Me and View My Complete Profile that Blogger does put on the sidebar automatically. And I did decide to put Jamie Schler on my info bar above the posts instead of About (to click on for my About page) for professional reasons. Is this confusing? And I’ve long wanted to clean up that page and rearrange it but have been lazy. Maybe it’s time now.
Oh Dianne, an awesome post. 2 years after I started my blog, I actually sat down and wrote my About page. That was back in 2008. It took me so long because like you I was so particular of many points you have mentioned here (ok my about page does have one picture of my son and me :D). Ever since then I wondered if my About page is too over the top … after reading this I think I can make a few improvements but on the whole am happy to find someone who shares my sentiments. Thank you for this!
To answer your questions:
1) Yes I do get annoyed with anonymous pages, just like anonymous comments make me mad.
2) There could be a few reasons why some keep an anonymous air about themselves on their blogs a) maybe to create a mysterious air about themselves thus raising interest b) maybe they are not ready for the spotlight
Thanks for addressing this issue.
I love your About page, Meeta, especially the photo of you. The only suggestion I would make is to move the hotel info down and the food info up. It is a food blog, after all.
You make some good points about why people want to be anonymous. What I didn’t consider is that writers are introverts, and it might bother some people to expose themselves, as you say. Also in the comments, some people have employers who have rules about what they can do online, and some people don’t want colleagues and job interviewers to see their online presence. So, lots of reasons.
Kathy - Panini Happy says
It took me a while to get comfortable with putting my full name and photo out there when I first started blogging. I started with just my first name – that’s probably all I used for at least a year. Then I ventured into a photo. Then I brought in the last name (that was a milestone – as someone else mentioned, you’re now Googleable!). Then it was a slippery slope into professional headshot and now videos. 🙂 I think that today people are generally much more comfortable with sharing details about themselves online than we were 5 years ago, with the growth of social media and all.
This is so true, Kathy. All of us have had to become comfortable with our exposure on the web, bit by bit. That includes sharing our lives — and now photos of it — on social media, and as you say, starring in videos. You’ve come a long way in 5 years.
Yes, but what’s even more annoying is when someone FB friend requests you and their name is “Mommy McKitchen” or “Janet LikesSandwiches.” Just write your whole name!!
That is what bothers me too. I want to know their real name in case I want to contact them. I certainly don’t want to address “Mommy McKitchen.”
Thanks for this direct and informative reminder. I *think* I would pass but I am heading back to my blog to do a double check.
I have no problem with my name, I have it everywhere. I get a little more nervous with my address as I still have kids at home. I go back and forth on what is too much info for security reasons. I’d love to hear your thoughts and advise.
I don’t list my street address on my website or on my blog About page. It would make me nervous. In my blog post, where I showed the link to Pioneer Woman, she lists a PO Box. That would be fine.
I don’t like to put my photo up anywhere. I don’t have it on my LinkedIn profile either. I am just not photogenic, or maybe just not comfortable posting my photo in public.
I do check my blog for comments or notes all the time and I have an “ask” section so if someone had a question I’d respond.
I suppose adding my name would be a good idea — at least my first name!
I know what you mean. I am critical of myself in photos too. But I have become accustomed to seeing my face online. It shows up on my website and on my blog. You have lots of photos of your daughter in your most recent blog post, but this is your blog about you and your experiences.
I see you have your first name on your blog now. That’s progress!
Pat Thomas says
I hadn’t ever thought about whether I was being ‘anonymous’ and definitely wasn’t trying to be mysterious. So thanks for the thought-provoking post. I took your advice and ‘came out’.
Woo hoo! Congratulations, Pat. When I clicked on your name in About, it went to “page not found.” Maybe you’re still trying to be mysterious?
Juls @ Juls' Kitchen says
ok, so, I’ve re-written my About page!
This is the 3rd time, and yet I feel I am not satisfied enough!
Actually the About Me page is the first thing I check when I discover a new blog, and I feel quite frustrated when I do not find a name, so shame on me, I added mine after 3 years and a half!
Thank you also for the Guidelines, it was useful!
Wonderful. There it is, right in the first sentence. Congrats to you!
Dorie Colangelo says
Hi Dianne, thanks for the Contact Info tip. I thought I had all the basics on my blog, but gasp, there’s no easy way to contact me directly from the site. Think of all the book deals I’ve lost already (kidding)! I also just finished your book “Will Write For Food” on the train this morning. It’s so packed with information and helped me decide which areas of food writing I definitely don’t want to step into and how to succeed in those I do. Thanks so much! -Dorie
Thanks Dorie — I’m glad my book helped you figure out a few things.
Well, now those publishers and agents will know how to find you. I presume you added the info.
It’s like this post was written for me, it was a wake up call, for sure. I updated my about page since reading this the other day… I think I may add more info and tweak it some, but in the meantime at least new visitors won’t see a pic of me and my baby on my about page (!) and they will know my real name, and how to contact me. Thank you! and I look forward to learning more at the Food Media Forum this weekend!
Very good, Jody! Look forward to meeting you in St. Louis.
Aunt Clara says
Your post has made me go back and check our About page (ours is a team effort). I think we passed, except that I did not list an email. There is a reason for that: while all the messages through the form reach us, the emails might end up in the spam bin. I now added the email to our contact page and made mention of this.
Another thing is that I have been blogging under my own name since the beginning. OK, sort of, my real name is Clara, not Aunt Clara. Maybe mine is technically a pseudonym.
I had a “diary” online well before the word “blog” was coined, back in the days of Geocities (yeah, I am that old), and I always had a picture of me somewhere. I understood that early on.
Thank you so much for this- I’m guilty of two out of three (fixing it now!)
I started blogging long time ago, but I have never actually put an effort in it- until I read your book. My head is still spinning with new skills I need to learn and the possibilities (and the fun!)
Deandra, the point is that you’re fixing the errors, so congratulations. Thanks for reading my book and making your blog more professional.
As always, great advice. I put a photo up a few months ago and today i made my email address very visible! I got a comment just a few days ago on my “About me” page and it says “don’t see your contact info. contact me at _____”
Thanks so much for sharing these important tips!
Hah! Someone was ahead of me on your About page. Great to hear that you updated it, Amee.
Dianne I just started a blog and had done everything wrong. Thanks for putting me on the right track. Also, I really enjoyed your talk at the food media forum in stl last weekend! Thanks for sharing your experiences!
Hi Jason. Your about page looks terrific. I had a great time in St. Louis. The people, especially, were so welcoming and down-to-earth.
What you mention is absolutely true! There was a trend few years ago that blogger keeps herself anonymous and when she shares a small information it becomes a huge issue and celebrated like a baby taking first steps. WRONG! Having a successful blog doesn’t mean being queen of England. Yes, privacy is important but why being that discrete? After reading your article I ran to my blog and checked my “Who Am I?” page. It’s not perfect but good. Gives a brief info.
Also need to mention that it’s the most visited page of my blog 🙂
I have never heard that about how it’s some kind of coming out for bloggers to announce themselves. That makes no sense to me! Also I find it fascinating that your “About” page is the most visited one on your blog. In that case, all the more reason to follow these steps.
Thank you for taking your time to reply!
Bloggers coming out is fun! Really!
I know a fashion blogger blurring her face on photos of outfits. There’s more artistic ways, right?
They give a little info about themselves and leave all of the followers in awe or they post a really blurry photo with sunglasses etc.
Or, this one is my favourite, they meet one of fellow bloggers and fellow blogger brags how she managed to see her fellow blogger and how beautiful she is :p
About pages are important! I second you on that. Thank you for highlighting that! I also check about page when I like the content am likely to follow it.
Amy | Appetite for Discovery says
Hi Dianne. I whole heartedly agree with you! When I find myself visiting a new blog the first thing I do is check out the About page and if there isn’t one I pretty much instantaneously lose interest. And no contact details – another thing I just cannot understand! That said, when I started my blog I definitely found the About page the hardest one to put together. A lot of thought needs to go into the tone, how much you’re willing to share about yourself, what messages/image you want to convey etc. Working out the answers to these questions can be tough and maybe a bit off putting. You have reminded me that it’s time to revisit mine given that I’m nearly one year in – time for an update! Thanks for a great post.
You are reminding me that I need to update my own About page too, and as you say, it will take time. It’s hard to write about yourself. Some people say nothing and some say way too much, so striking the right balance is another issue.
Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) says
Ahhh!! I just went to my blog and realized I am totally guilty of this (and was completely unaware). I swore I had included that information, but of course, seeing it I realize I must have accidentally left it out. I totally agree that it should be included. And now I’m off to fix it!
Very good Laura! It’s a simple thing to fix.
I’m about to do a serious revamp of my own website and came across your brilliant blog during my research. I can offer a few reasons why I would think twice about posting my full name AND photo.
1) Identity theft – why make it even easier for the criminals!
2) Un-photogenic – I speak for myself of course. I am not at all photogenic and wouldn’t wish to put anyone off my blog if I have managed to get them to read it! It’s bad enough at passport control!
3) Hobby – For many blogging is a hobby, which they may not wish for whatever reason, for their social group or work colleagues to know about.
4) Control – The internet is a vehicle for people to freely express themselves without having to fully ‘expose’ themselves. This has obvious positive and negative values, but personally, I like the fact that I am judged on my work and opinions and not on my image. How many times have we judged someone on their ‘looks’ only to find that it didn’t match their character or personality? We live in an society that is image obsessed, so much so we make instant judgments based on how a person looks, rather than taking the time to get to know the person via their words and thoughts.
5) Photos – A photograph can say a 1,000 words – but it doesn’t mean any of those words are true. It is amazing what photoshop can do these days.
The above is said a little tongue in cheek, but if I read a new blog, it doesn’t bother me at all if there is a picture of the author. I would like an e-mail address or link to express my positive thoughts about the article or photos, but anything else would make me feel like I’m intruding on a strangers personal life.
I understand and agree with your view point and I will most probably using most if not all your tips on my new site, but please bear in mind, some people are shy or uncertain of their often brilliant talents and gifts. For many such exposure can be a step too far and then we are all the more poorer because we didn’t encourage bloggers to shine in a way that was comfortable for them .
Also, life can be a bit of a roller coaster, and we only have time to take things on face value. We should be encouraged to sit down for 5 minutes, relax and enjoy a blog. Slowly get to know the author, and create strong community ties. If people intend to make a career out of blogging etc, then of course this does not apply, but if a blogger is so willing to give away so much of themselves so quickly, it usually spells that they seek some sort of financial gain via the reader or they potentially would be equally ‘free’ with your personal information.
Just some thoughts, I would be interested to read what other people think. Thanks
Welcome, Elle, and thanks for this long response. You’ve made lots of good points. I especially like the one about people being shy. The web is a good medium to hide behind, for some.
I have a few rebuttals. The web is a visual medium, so it is normal to wonder what someone looks like, especially when his or her blog is personal. Most of us don’t like photos of ourselves, but at least we can choose one that flatters us!
Even though it’s a hobby, being anonymous makes it harder for readers to form a relationship with you. Perhaps hobby bloggers are not engaged with readers and are just expressing themselves. The problem is that it’s not a journal, because you’re offering people the chance to form a relationship with you, as you say. Trusting them is part of it. They will still like you if they know your name, where you live, and what you look like.
Identity theft is about credit cards and bank accounts. People can’t do much with just your name.
Hello. Thanks for your reply, and the post in general, I love blogs that make me think 🙂
I write the following with non-professional bloggers specifically in mind.
People sadly do make superficial judgments based on looks alone, which can ultimately cloud the message the blogger is trying to convey and possibly discourage them from posting altogether. Some are simply better painting a picture with words than with their visual image.
Identity theft can be about credit cards and bank accounts, but not exclusively. I don’t know all the ins and outs as I’m a good person (you will have to take my word for that LOL), but I am lead to believe that a name and/or a photo can easily be used to gain illegal passports or ID cards in many countries which have yet to implement strong security controls.
It is very possible to engage with someone without seeing their face, people with impaired vision do so all the time. What would be the next step? I noticed that one blogger had gone from no photo, to a professional portrait and then video presentation! A fantastic idea if the blog is part of someone’s career and they are happy to do so, but for a shy hobbyist, that is a little extreme I think.
There are many valid reasons why some bloggers may not wish to post their picture, or their full name. A blogger’s photo or full name may help some readers to form a relationship on a certain level, but it should not be an automatic deal breaker if omitted. It would greatly concern me if it did. What do you think?
It’s not a deal breaker for me, but I get frustrated. Happily, this post has helped many shy bloggers come out of the closet!
Johanna GGG says
I found this post and discussion interesting (and am pleased to have discovered your blog). I chose not to have my name and photo on my blog. There are lots of good reasons in the discussion above as to why not.
I work in an organisation where it is made very clear that we are not to have any social media that might impinge on work (and google only needs to know my surname in one setting because I like to keep work and play separate). In addition to this, people are very wary of uploading pictures to the internet because of cultural reasons – in some cultures in my country when someone dies, it is inappropriate to display their photo.
I also sometimes think of going to a rally with a friend who hid his face so that he didn’t get his photo on the security service files. As we all know, once information is online, it is easy to steal – the idea of someone else posting my photos of food is horrible but the idea of someone posting my photo of my face is even worse.
I make an effort not to show poeple’s faces on my blog but this means that I have to be creative in how I represent the people in my life. (I love hands in photos.) I am very much of the opinion that we love the appearance of our friends and family because they become familiar – but online too many people can see our photos that don’t have a relationship with us and therefore aren’t forgiving of our quirks. On the other hand, if I see a really slick photo it just doesn’t seem very real to me anyway.
Your post did make me check my About Me page which was useful as I needed to update a few links but I have put a lot of thought into it – I love to know a person’s first name and their city but surnames aren’t that important – in fact I sometimes forget friends’ surnames.
These are interesting points. I suspect the majority of food bloggers do not have jobs that forbid them from having an online presence, nor do they need to shield their faces from the government! Re dying, I suppose when food bloggers die, whoever thinks their image is inappropriate will take it down. But hey, if those are your issues, I understand. Your first name and city are very helpful in the About page, certainly better than nothing at all about you.
In the blog posts themselves, hand shots are wonderful, I agree. Faces can be a distraction, if your posts are all about cooking.
Johanna GGG says
Not all of these are my issues but I am just aware of different reasons that people don’t want their photo and surname online and wanted to share some with this conversation which I think has lots of really interesting discussion. Different cultures, workplaces and paranoias all can make us feel unsure about sharing this information.
Thank you for this article! I honestly drew a blank on what my own About Me page looked or read like, so I had to go and take another look! 🙂 Fortunately, I have 1 and 3 covered, and have at least made a stab at 2. How successful? I don’t really know — but having read your article, i think I should go out and solicit some honest reviews. I’m off to read your Guidelines now!
I know I am way late to this discussion, but I am going to undertake the painful (for me) process of fixing the “about” pages on my blog and business websites, and I wanted to thank you Dianne for this post, as well as the other commenters for the insight. I am ashamed to say this, but I am 100% guilty on all fronts – just call me Annoying Annie the Anonymous! I was also horrified to find several typos on my blog about page when this post prompted me to look. The way I am presenting myself is not in line with who I am, and worst, not helpful or engaging for the reader (blog) or the customer (biz page). Ugh.
For me, the resistance to coming out with my name resulting from both from shyness/ fear of failure and paranoia about getting future work…don’t I just sound like a barrel of monkeys? 🙂
Of course, I am way too critical of myself with creative work, and so figured that no one would be interested in the about page. Maybe that was just a nice excuse for not doing the difficult work of actually writing about myself.
I do several things in the food world, make and sell baked goods, write about food on my blog and a few other spots (though my blog is currently in a sad, ignored state), but still has a stream of income and connections with another line of work which is very professional/straight-laced and completely unrelated to the food world.
Even though most people I have worked with in this setting have been utterly fascinated and encouraging about my food pursuits, I was frankly scared to out myself online with my full name, thinking if I decided to go back to working full-time, I wouldn’t be taken seriously.
So that kept me from really being open, EVEN on my business website, EVEN though I am also driven crazy by the generic and anonymous as a reader or customer, just as you are.
After reading this discussion, I feel differently. If someone doesn’t want to hire me because I also love to bake and write, maybe I shouldn’t work for them in the first place.
It’s time to come out of the closet.
Woo hoo! Good for you, Rachel. I hope you’re happy with your new About page.
Hairil Sukaime says
Will definitely take your tips and considerations into account. However, I’ve yet to find a suitable photo for my About page. Hope I’m forgiven – for now!
Get someone to take a whole bunch of head shots of you, outside. You just have to get it done! It’s not hard, I promise.
Foodie Bugi says
Yay! Thank you for the tips… I think I need to edit mine! 🙂
Hmmm… good point to do this weekend!
Go for it! Your readers will thank you.
I started blogging recently and would love to put my name on my About page BUT my full name is so unique that if you google me, all the links on the first page are about me, so I am very careful of what goes online (I do have current employers and former boyfriends after all, and all of them like to snoop).. In addition, my partner very much insisted that I keep it private, so my plan is to do so, until I become a very famous blogger (haha, as if!) and leave my day job… That said, I promise to write my About page (thank you for the tips) and make sure it gives plenty of other information about me…
Well, to play devil’s advocate, your blog is public, not private, and it’s not like you’re disclosing classified information, so I’m not sure I understand it. We shall agree to disagree. You can still put a head shot and as you say, give plenty of other info.
Jennifer @ Delicieux says
Fantastic post Dianne. And after reading your post I’ve spent some time rewriting my about page, because in all honesty it was rather sparse, because being a naturally shy person I find writing about myself rather difficult. While it’s probably still not 100% it’s better than it was. I’ll definitely continue to work on it as your links, especially the six revisions one, have some fantastic tips on what to write about.
In regards to a photo, I didn’t have a photo of myself on my blog for a long time. Part of it was due to shyness, but a major part of it was due to an ex who stalked me online. I started the blog after ending our relationship, and for a while it became my refuge and the last thing I wanted was for him to discover it and ruin that for me. So I can understand that there are sometimes reasons why people don’t want to show their a photo of themselves, or their full name (another thing I didn’t do until I recently married). The absence of a photo or someones name doesn’t make me less interested in what someone has to say because ultimately it’s their posts that have me coming back for more.
Wonderful to read that you have improved your About page, Jennifer. I’m sure it will be of more value to your readers. Re the photo, that is absolutely a good reason not to have one, if you think there is a way he can identify you based on it.
Kat Collins says
Excellent advice! I’ve revamped my About page several times and am always tweaking it. As a matter of fact, I just tweaked it the other day! I’m a writer and I talk about my journey as a writer, with tips, etc., but I also love food and writing about food. Hence…Writes & Bites (name of blog). So I updated my About page to reflect this focus of the blog. Words are not a problem for me…it’s more about saying too much! 🙂
I agree about getting so frustrated when someone has very little on their About page. Even some well-known food bloggers have very little info. Hard to relate and connect when that’s the case. Anonymous comments are a major pet peeve. But I digress…. 🙂
I think for a lot of people, putting a face to the blog is difficult for many reasons. I think all of those reasons are about as personal as the blog itself.
Personally, I have edited and drafted my About Page many times and I’m still not happy enough to publish it.
Some food bloggers I’ve spoken to say that they want to showcase the recipes and food, not the person behind it and that it detracts from the nature of the blog. While I understand that, I’m not sure I support that idea. I do however, understand that if we wanted to be plastered everywhere then we would perhaps go into beauty or fashion blogging instead, but we have not chosen that path.
I’m undecided as to how I feel about this subject. I know I need to personalise my About Page very quickly, I just need a little push to actually do it.
Most food blogs are personal, so it’s natural to want to know who’s behind it. Even if they’re straight recipes, I still want to know who’s writing the post, and how to contact them.
If you need a push, I’m giving you one! Go for it.
Phew! Glad to see I didn’t make these 3 mistakes and will try to address the 437 others a wee bit at a time! Glad to have found you through Andrew’s blogtutor FB page!
Thanks Judy. Which 437 others?
Thanks for the great tips! I immediately changed my ‘About me’ and made it more personal. I also ordered a copy of your book; can’t wait to read more :).
Excellent! I love it when people take immediate action after reading a post. Thanks Ilona.
Regula @ Miss foodwise says
Dear Dianne, I remembered this post from when you posted it and as I am now preparing for my Food Blogger Connect talk about Breathing life into your brand/blog identity I wanted to re-read it all over. Still so many bloggers don’t show their name/profile picture but I know many who do now. I will add this post to my ‘to read material’ for my audience if you don’t mind. It was lovely meeting you at the conference last year. I have taken away a great deal from your workshop.
Great to hear from you. Yes, I would be thrilled to have you include this post. It hit a nerve with people and I loved hearing from people who changed their About page after reading it. Best of luck with your talk.
Regula @ Miss foodwise says
Thank-you Dianne, the link is added!
All the best
Jacob Engelsman says
Thanks for this great article, I stumbled upon it while looking for tips on my book proposal. It gave me a great excuse to take a quick break and re-write my about page.
You are welcome, Jacob. I love hearing from people who have fixed their About page. Good luck with the proposal.
Why no photo? Because I can’t get anything remotely “professional” looking, or at least not totally dorky! I am working on it though…
It’s not that hard. My professional photo cost me $150 and I love it. Good that you’re working on it, Raquel.
Stan Santos says
I don’t have my full name on my About page or where I live because it’s none of anyone’s business. My About page isn’t necessarily about me, but about the things I’m interested in.
I don’t want people to contact me about: guest posts, ads, book deals, writing for their blog or whatever, so it doesn’t matter to me if my contact information isn’t there.
Furthermore, I don’t view these as ‘mistakes’ but rather as ‘choices’ that I have elected to run with. I am not someone who goes with the crowd, just because other people have.
Okay. You’re a contrarian. You’re allowed!