Creating Winning WordPress Author Profiles and the Tools to Help You Do It

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Creating a brand and identity for your blog is one of the most effective ways to forge a connection with your target audience. Doing all you can to convey the purpose of your blog, as well as the benefits and value on offer to your readers is essential if you want to ensure those first-time visitors keep coming back for more.

One way you can give your blog a strong personality, and increase the chances of connecting with your visitors, is to highlight the writers on your website. Whether it’s just you and blogging duties, or you’re working with a team of co-authors, emphasizing the profiles of the people behind the content has its benefits.

Giving your readers an easy way to find out who is creating the content on your blog can help them get a better understanding of what your site stands for. Whether the purpose of your blog is to entertain or educate, introducing readers to the writers can increase the chance of connections forming and relationships being built. Which at the end of the day, is how audiences and followings are grown.

My author profile here on the WPMU DEV Blog. Ripe for improvement.
My author profile here on the WPMU DEV Blog. Ripe for improvement.

In this post, we’ll look at plugins that can help promote the authors on your blog, as well as make it easier for your readers to find more of the content they’ve published. In addition, we’ll will also look at some tools for creating an authors page which lists all the contributors to your site, in one easy to find place.

However, before we get to the technical details, let’s start off by looking at what why you should pay attention to the author bios on your site, and what makes an effective author profile. Also, if you’ve ever struggled with taking an acceptable profile picture, we’ll be looking at the key characteristics every author bio photo needs that you might’ve been missing.

Why It’s Important to Showcase Author Profiles

Ensuring the authors on your blog have an informative profile displayed alongside each post gives you a great chance to highlight the personalities behind the content.

This in turn will help differentiate your blog from the competition. It will also give you a good opportunity to show-off the credentials of your authors. With links to personal websites and social media profiles, your readers can get a better sense of who you are, and why they should pay attention to your content.

If you’re working with multiple authors, especially if hiring them as contributors, giving them an opportunity to promote their own personal projects in their profile can be a great way to reward them for their efforts.

Your goal should be to ensure that your great content doesn’t get lost in the ever-growing sea of blog posts and articles that make up the internet. One way to do that is by giving your readers something to remember your website for.

In this guide you will learn how to highlight one of your greatest assets: the personalities behind your content.

How to Write a Great Author Bio

Before we get onto the tools that allow you to publish author profiles on your website, it’s important to take some time to consider what makes a good author bio or profile. The main goal here is to connect with the reader and build a brand around the author. Therefore, this goal should be the driving factor when crafting the author profile.

On most blogs you will have an opportunity to give each author a by-line after their post. Some WordPress website configurations also include a longer author bio, which is featured on a separate author profile page. This means there are two different formats to consider here: the in-post author profile and the author page profile.

WordPress User Profile screen
WordPress User Profile screen

Creating an Effective In-Post Author Profile

The in-post author bio or profile is traditionally displayed at the end of each post on your blog. As the visitor has just read through a whole article before reaching the profile, the aim here is to keep the bio as concise as possible, to ensure it doesn’t get skipped over.

Some key ideas to follow when creating your in-post profile include:

  • Keep it relevant
  • Highlight your achievements
  • Avoid too much self-promotion
  • Use links to demonstrate credibility

That doesn’t sound like too much work. So let’s take a look at those steps in more detail.

Keep it Relevant

Demonstrating the depth of your personality by mentioning your interests outside of the scope of the blog has its benefits. However, you can easily take this too far. To still highlight the fact that you have a well-rounded personality, without alienating the reader with obscure or polarizing information, try to ensure the interests you list are related to the topic of the blog.

If you are writing for a tech blog, your readers may find it interesting to know you have a background in coding. This could also boost your credibility with them as it helps qualify your opinions. On the other hand, your readers might relate less to your passion for big-game hunting.

Highlight Your Achievements

Keeping it relevant also applies to sharing your credentials, qualifications, and experience. If you write for other blogs, mention them if they are relevant and it will help further enhance your credibility. If you have a qualification or hold a position in the field you are writing about, feel free to highlight it.

Avoid Over Self-Promoting

If you are offering any kind of relevant service or product, then mentioning it in your profile is acceptable. However, rather than serving as an advertising platform, your bio should simply inform the reader of how they can find out more, or get in touch with you.

If your content did a good job of showcasing your knowledge and expertise in a particular topic, simply leaving a link that points to where they can find out more should suffice.

Social Media and External Links

Your author bio should also include links to your social media profiles and other online presences. Not only does this give you a chance to grow your following, it also helps demonstrate your credibility and give your readers another reason why they should listen to you.

It should go without saying that any social media profiles you link to should be of the same tone as the blog you are writing for. Depending on the blog topic, it could be more a case of LinkedIn resumes, rather than Instagram selfies.

First or Third Person?

Professional profiles are almost always written in the third person, and blogger bios are no exception. Writing in the third person may feel strange at first, but it does have its benefits. For one it can make it easier to write about yourself positively, without it feeling like you are boasting.

Writing in the third person can also help you keep your profile concise, without coming across as being unfriendly. A short and to-the-point profile in the first person might make the author appear terse; whereas the third person perspective helps establish some distance between its abrupt fictional writer and the person being written about.

Whether you choose the third person or not, stick with your decision and don’t switch perspectives while writing your author profile.

In-Post Author Profile Summary

Keeping it brief and relevant can increase the chances of your in-post author profile being read. More of those readers will then take the next step and check out your social media profiles and links to your other projects. Also, if the blog features a more detailed author page, the reader may be more likely to click through to it.

Throughout your author bio and profile, you will need to walk the fine line between being knowledgeable, without coming across as arrogant, and appearing professional while still being relatable. You want to make it clear why your readers should listen to you, while also highlighting a bit of what makes you who you are.

Your Author Page Profile

Some WordPress themes also include a dedicated author page. This page typically contains the latest posts from that author, as well as their in-post bio, or an extended profile for the author page.

If your theme of choice doesn’t include such a page, this detailed post from Kevin Muldoon for tuts+ will show you how to go about creating one.

On some websites, the in-post author profile we be reused on the author page. On others you may get another chance to demonstrate your abilities in more detail.  As visitors will usually have clicked through to this page specifically to find out more about the author, you can expand on your shorter bio and share some more information about yourself.

The above in-post author bio principals still apply – be relevant and avoid too much self-promotion – when creating an enhanced author page profile. However, you have a bit more leniency. As the visitor has clicked through to find out more about you, you can be a little more relaxed and share more of your personality, achievements, and other projects here.

Profile Picture
Results from the PhotoFeeler survey

Taking a Great Author Profile Photo

Every profile needs a photo of the author. Some blogs will use the photo associated with a Gravatar account, while others may allow you to upload a picture directly to your profile. Either way, your author photo should aim to make you look competent, likeable, and influential.

If that sounds a bit vague, there are some guidelines you can follow to create a suitable profile photo.  According to research carried out by PhotoFeeler, who looked at 60,000 ratings of 800 profile photos, there is a formula you can follow when it comes to posing for your author photo.

The main areas to think about when setting up your author profile are your eyes, facial position and expression, and style of dress. Unobscured eyes trump sunglasses and help to portray competence and influence. Wide-eyes can inadvertently radiate a look of terror, while squinched eyes make the subject look more competent, likable, and influential. A defined jawline can also help enhance your status, as too can formal dress. While a toothy smile is a winner on all fronts.

So according to the results of the study, if you want to come across as more competent, likeable, and influential, be sure to squinch your eyes, smile, dress formally, show some teeth, and keep the special effects to a minimum.

Author Bio and Profile Page WordPress Plugins

The author box plugins we are going to look at now can help you display an author bio box alongside each post, or enhance the author profile options currently available to you

You will also find a selection of plugins that make it easy to list all the contributors to your blog on a single page, manage author profile photos, give credit to multiple authors on a single post, and manage guest bloggers without the need to create a new WordPress user account for them.

If making your blog better at handling author profiles and crediting its authors for their work sounds appealing, read on for our list of WordPress author handling plugins.

  • WP Author Box Lite

    WP Author Box Lite

    If your chosen WordPress theme doesn’t display an author box at the end of each post on your blog, or you’d like to upgrade your theme’s capabilities to do so, then the free WP Author Box Lite plugin is a great choice.

    Apart from its clean and professional looking design, one of the key attractions of the WP Author Box Lite plugin, is that it features a latest post tab. This feature allows your readers to quickly view more content from the author of the post they are reading.

    By being able to easily display links to more of your posts, you can increase the chances of your readers sticking around to view more content from your blog. This in turn improves those important time on site and impressions per visit metrics.

    Other notable features of this plugin include a mobile-responsive design, automatic Google+ and Facebook authorship, color customizations, and links to social media profiles. Through the plugin settings you can choose whether to display the author box on posts, pages, and custom post types. You can also display the author box before, after, or before and after the post content.

    While the plugin has its own settings page, when it comes to adding the author info, this all takes places on the standard WordPress user profile page. This means you and your fellow authors can add their bio and social media links directly through that page.

    There is also a pro version of WP Author Box which includes some more useful features. For $16 you can now add a contact form tab to the author bio box under a separate tab. You can also add as many custom tabs as you need. This gives you the option of adding permanent links, or other useful content under a separate tab.

    The WP Author Box Pro plugin includes a sidebar widget. This widget then displays the profile of the author of the current post being viewed. You also get a selection of color schemes to choose from, that make it easy to style the appearance of the bio box on your website.

  • Starbox – the Author Box for Humans

    Starbox Author Bio Box

    The free Starbox plugin aims to make it as easy as possible to add attractive author boxes to your website. This author box plugin is packed with useful features, making it a popular and highly recommended choice.

    After activating the plugin on your site, the default user profile page of WordPress is upgraded to include some additional fields. These allow your users to enter links to their Facebook and Twitter social media profiles, submit their job title, company name, company URL, as well as the default biographical info.

    Through the settings page of the plugin, you can choose whether to activate the author boxes on posts and/or pages. You can also choose whether to display the box before, after, or before and after the post content.

    When configuring the plugin, there are six themes to choose from for styling the author boxes on your website. Depending on your chosen theme, the author box may include a latest posts tab. You can also quickly change the size of the text that is used to display the name and author bio, independently from each other. You get access to a handy preview panel to see what effect your choices are having in real-time.

    While the WP Author Box Lite plugin relies on Gravatar to display your profile picture, Starbox also gives you the option of uploading an image directly to your user profile page. Through the individual user profile pages, users can choose from one of the available themes, and set the author box position themselves.

    Author boxes can also be manually inserted directly into posts, pages, and the sidebar areas of your website by using the included shortcodes. This makes it easy to add multiple author boxes to a single post or page.

    There is a premium version of Starbox available. This upgrade gives you the ability to add links to more social media websites. However, the free version is more than capable of displaying professional author bio boxes on your WordPress website.

  • Co-Authors Plus

    Co-Authors Plus

    If you ever collaborate with multiple authors on the same post, then the free Co-Authors Plus plugin makes it easy to give all authors a credit.

    In order to display multiple bio boxes on a single post, you may need to manually add some code to your theme’s templates files for this work, so bear that in mind before proceeding.  However, there is helpful documentation on the plugin page to help you achieve this.

    The plugin upgrades the core authors meta box, which is displayed on the edit post and page screens. Now you can search for existing users on your blog, and then add them as a co-author for the post or page you are working on. You can drag and drop the authors that have been added to a post in order to change the order their bio boxes are displayed in, when the post is published.

    When you assign a co-author to a post or page, they can then edit that page in accordance with their WordPress user role on your website.

    Another nice feature of the plugin is that it makes it easy to create guest author accounts. This allows you to credit guest posters by giving them a byline. This removes the need to create them an actual user account on your WordPress website. This is handy for those one-time authors who submit content for your blog.

    Co-Authors Plus is compatible with the WP Author Box Pro plugin. This allows you to use the advanced author bio boxes of that plugin, together with the features of this plugin. The end result is that you can display multiple upgraded author boxes on a single post.

    If you are using the Genesis theme framework on your website, then you will want to install the Genesis Co-Authors Plus plugin. This free tool works alongside this plugin, enabling support for multiple author boxes on a single post.

  • Easy Author Image

    Easy Author Image

    If you aren’t going to use the Starbox plugin, but you’d still like a way to upload a photo directly to your user profile, then the free Easy Author Image plugin is a good option.

    After activating the plugin on your website, it really is as simple as visiting your user profile page, and then uploading an image, or selecting one from your site’s media library. This image will then be used everywhere on your site where your profile photo is displayed.

    If you don’t want to rely on the Gravatar service for displaying images in your user profiles, or you’d like to display a different photo to that one that is connected with your email address, this plugin gives you an easy way to do so.

  • Authors Page

    Authors Page

    If you want a quick and easy way to add an authors page to your WordPress website, then the free Authors Page plugin can help you out. This plugin uses shortcodes to list the display name and profile photo of the registered users on your site.

    Once the plugin has been activated on your website, a new page is created called Authors Page. This pages gives you a good example of what the plugin can do. By using the appropriate shortcode, you can either display all the registered users on your site, or filter them by user role.

    If you want to allow your visitors to click on a user profile to find out more about that author, then you will need to also install the free WP Biographia plugin.

    Personally I had some formatting issues with the way the author lists were displayed, when testing this plugin alongside the Twenty Fifteen theme.

  • Author Avatars List

    Author Avatars List

    Author Avatars List fulfills a similar purpose to the Authors Page plugin; however it solved some of the formatting issues I was experiencing.

    Once active on your site, the plugin adds a button to the WordPress editor that makes it easy to insert a shortcode that will display the user avatars in the way that you want. Your shortcode can filter users by role, show just their avatar, or include their name, email, bio, and number of posts, as well as a link to the last post they published on the blog.

    You can also set where to send visitors after they’ve click on the user’s avatar. The link options include: their author page, the website from their profile, last post on the blog, or a filtered last post.

    If you want to output a list of all, or some, of the registered users on your website, then Author Avatars List is an easy to use option.

Conclusion

Hopefully you’ve now got some tips to follow for making the most of your author bio. From writing an effective author bio, to taking a picture that shows you in your best light, you should now be able to start adding a bit of extra personality to your blog posts, and promoting your co-authors.

What other tips and advice can you share for creating effective author bios? Are there any features you’d like to see made available to help give authors credit and showcase the people behind the content on a WordPress blog? Let us know in the comments below.

Image credit: PhotoFeeler

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