Your work—your samples in your print and online portfolios—are your biggest selling points. But there are other elements that impress prospective clients and sway them to choose you. One of them is your very own bio photo. Today we’re going to talk about what your photo needs to look like in order to speak to your own professionalism. Read on…
Today’s question comes from Amelia R., who asks, “Do I have to have a photo of myself on my website? And, if so, what should it look like?”
First, I want to clear something up: The way you look will nothing to do with your copywriting success. That is, copywriting is an entirely merit-based career. Your gender, age, weight, etc. doesn’t matter in the least. The only thing that matters is that you write great copy.
That said, however, people just naturally feel more comfortable when they can put a face with a name. You need to put a picture of yourself on your website—not so that people can judge how you look, but only so that they can see that you’re a real person.
So you need a picture. But what kind of picture?
First, they need to be clear. Grainy pictures look unprofessional and a little bit seedy. (Definitely no the message you’re looking to send.)
Second, they need to send the right message about you. Your picture should give the impression that you’re competent and trustworthy.
Now, your own personal brand comes into play here a bit, too. If you’re a friendly/quirky/goofy/etc. person, or if you have hobbies or other pastimes that make you memorable, you might want to include a shot of you with that style or in that activity, too. However, that should be a secondary shot.
Your competent and trustworthy shot should be your first one, and any other personality shots (which you’re welcome to include) should be secondary.
Third, they should be well-lit and present you at your best. Even though the look on your face may convey consummate professionalism, if the shot isn’t taken well, it won’t look great.
Again, your level of attractiveness has nothing to do with your job prospects. However, you should use a picture that shows you at your best. Just as you’d want to put your best foot forward in person for a job interview, you want to put your best foot forward online for your portfolio.
It’s very challenging for non-photographers to get the lighting and look of a picture right. If your funds are low, I’d recommend Googling natural lighting photography to learn about light angles, and book an hour with a friend to take dozens and dozens of photos.
If, however, you have a bit of cash and don’t mind making a modest investment in your career image, I’d strongly suggest seeking out a professional photographer and booking a headshot session.
A professional photographer will know how to light you correctly, and he/she will also be able to direct you to place your body and face at the best angles. He or she will also take dozens of photos and then work with you to find the best ones of the bunch.
In general, you’ll want to find a photographer who specializes in professional headshots, or who, at least, has an impressive portfolio section of professional headshots. Just as people can judge your work from your portfolio, you can judge your photographer’s from theirs.
Remember, too, that—unless you get a drastic haircut or change your hair color—a good headshot should last you for several years.
And your headshot won’t just live on your portfolio site; you should use it on your LinkedIn profile, and possibly your other public-facing social media accounts as well.
Whether you decide to use a professional photographer or take the photos with a friend, you’ll often get the best results from shots in which you’re looking directly into the camera.
You’re welcome to test out several types of shots, of course, but you’ll find that shot in which you look directly into the camera catch people’s attention and makes a natural connection—just the way your best samples will, too.
Your turn! How did you decide which pictures of yourself to put on your site? Let us know in the comments below!