As an online writer you’re constantly building your portfolio and getting your byline out there. You promote your work using Facebook, Twitter, and your blog, directing readers to your Helium.com articles.  But are you forgetting one important piece of the puzzle?

Your byline is a hyperlink directly to your Helium About Me page, published with every article. So, it’s imperative to keep the information professional. This will be even more important as Helium launches the Assignment System later this month with targeted assignments for writers.

Think of your bio & photo on this page as your online resume. It’s a place for readers and publishers to learn more about you. Novelists have a book jacket– you have your About Me page.

Biography guidelines

The bio should highlight your professional writing and/or editing experience. When completing the bio, keep in mind the following:

Do:

  • Include your full name or pen name (first and last) in the first sentence
  • Include the year you started writing and/or editing
  • Include areas of expertise and any publications in which you’ve been published
  • Stress why you’re a good writer in niche areas, such as pets (I’ve worked in a vet’s office and am working toward a degree), accounting (I’ve been a CPA for 5 years), or sports (I cover high school basketball and soccer for my local newspaper)
  • Include certificates, accreditations and/or achievements (awards, certifications, workshops) if applicable
  • Include education, including school and degree type and field

Don’t:

  • Include superfluous information, such as how many children you have, or the town you live in. You address should be filled out in your “Account Settings.”
  • Mention how many articles you’ve written for Helium. This information is clearly presented in your “My Stats” section of the page. Or that you “look forward” to writing for us.
  • Mention the titles of the Marketplace and Stock Content articles you’ve sold and the dates or links to them. This information can be clearly explained in a simple sentence.

Having a quality biography will open up more writing opportunities, including targeted writing assignments for Helium Content Source, or stock content sales, and even volunteer opportunities.

Good examples:

Nan Keltie

Nan was born with a pen in one hand, a legal pad in the other and has been writing ever since.  Published in local and regional magazines, she has also written her own curriculum for teaching creative writing, speech and debate.

For the past 32 years, Nan has also kept a daily journal.  These annuals take a prominent place on her library shelves and include personal travel diaries, current events, family memories and humorous reflections on life.

Fresh out of college, Nan worked part time as a freelance features editor for a local newspaper, The Florence Herald.  She covered the opening of a new mall and did feature articles about local artists, health care facilities and farmers.

The Herald, which began in 1884 as a weekly newspaper, has since become a publishing company and is no longer a news source.  Nan is grateful for the lessons she learned as features editor.  Interviews, deadlines and tight-writing requirements sharpened her skills and taught her the lesson that still guides her writing today – if her first sentence doesn’t snag you, she’s wasted your time.

As manager of Helium’s Education Channel, Nan works with a great team in maintaining that site.  She creates new titles, oversees articles that come into the channel, reaches out to new members, encourages veteran writers and contributes articles of her own. With her dictionary and thesaurus nearby, Nan gave up the pen and pad of years gone by and now writes on her laptop.

Susan Quilty

Everyone has something to share. Maybe it’s a review of a great movie that slipped under the radar. Maybe it’s advice on how to shop with a toddler in tow, or the experience learned through years of throwing children’s birthday parties.

Whatever I experience in life becomes a lesson learned. Some of my experiences are from trial and error, others have been learned in books and classes. Writing online is an opportunity to share my experiences with others.

When writing at Helium, I regularly contribute to a variety of channels. I have participated in various writing contests and have sold articles through Helium’s Marketplace and Stock Content programs.

I am also a member of Helium’s Editorial Advisory Board and participate as the Channel Manager for both the Board Games and Card Games subchannels in Hobbies and Games.

For more information about my freelance writing outside of Helium, please visit my personal blog (www.susanquilty.com). In addition to freelance writing, my career background includes computer systems administration working in Unix, Windows, and Novell environments.

Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments. I will respond as quickly as possible. You can also follow me on Twitter @SusanQuilty

Interested in learning more? Read our previous blog post:

Craft a professional Helium About Me that is sure to impress

If you want to establish yourself on Helium, your About Me page should be your online resume and a professional representation of yourself. As a Helium writer your About Me page is your homepage and a chance to create a great first impression. It’s where readers and publishers learn more about you, your accomplishments and specialties. Plus, having a quality biography will open up more writing opportunities — whether they’re targeted writing assignments, stock content sales, volunteer opportunities, or to help publishers form an initial bond with you.

A great About Me page helps you build credibility not only with publishers but with fellow Helium writers and those who read your profile. We’ve done the math and realized that 75% of all Marketplace and stock content sales are purchased from Helium writers who have a professional biography, image and real sounding pen name.

Don’t forget to double check your bio. Nothing turns off a publisher more than a typo in the first sentence.

We’re searching for you

Whether you’re a professional journalist or an enthusiastic amateur, you need to let the world know about your experience and expertise. We regularly search members’ bios looking for particular phrases that identify writers for Marketplace and Editorial Solutions assignments. If you’re an expert food writer who’s published a cookbook — share the great news! If you’re a regular columnist on gardening tips in your local newspaper — tell us! If you live in Minneapolis, MN, let us know! We’re always looking for writers for specific assignments. How are we supposed to know about you if you don’t tell us?

A photo is key

And don’t forget your photo! You do need to upload a professional looking photograph of yourself so publishers and Helium Editorial Solutions staffers know you’re serious about your craft. Need help uploading a photo? Check out the directions in our Help page.

Wording choices

Need some help crafting a better bio? Share your skills, talents and expertise. Use phrases like, “I have 30 years experience in knitting and crocheting.” Or, “I have written for the Local Times and My Town News.” Or, “I am an accomplished nurse and associate professor at News University.” Or, “I have extensive experience writing about travel to exotic locales like Borneo and New Zealand.”

If your pen name, photo and bio don’t meet the same high standards as your writing, you’re selling yourself short. Make your About Me page a winning assignment as well.

Helpful examples

Check out some examples of great About Me bios from fellow Helium writers:

Elizabeth Kelly

Nan Keltie

Josh Zywien

One of the least used, misused, and misunderstood features on Helium is – in my opinion – our favorites.  Favorites come in 3 flavors:

  1. The ability to favorite a writer.
  2. The ability to favorite a title.
  3. The ability to favorite an item.

The purpose behind these were very simple.  Our original bio page was very simple.  As Helium grew, we thought to make it out more like a blog page.  Your articles were already “posts” of a sort on the “Helium blog” (main site) – so we had that.  What we didn’t have were other common featuers – the ability to make a blogroll (favorite writers), and the ability to link to other “blogs” (titles) or “posts” (items) that you wanted to promote.

The original intent behind the feature was also to build and foster a sense of community on Helium.  You would be able to promote other writers you liked, titles you enjoyed reading, and well written items that you discovered.  Unfortunately, most people simply link to their own items, defeating the community aspect.

While it’s understandable to want to do this to increase one’s earnings, sometimes it’s better to spread a little “link love” around.  Helium is a community and what goes around tends to come around.  Even the greatest writers acknowledge those that give them inspiration, joy, and drive them to improve.

Now, onto the features themselves.

Favorite Writers

Your favorite writers show up on your bio page in the right column between your stars and recent articles:

favorite_writersYou can have up to 10 writers in your list.  If you try to add an 11th writer we will prompt you and ask if you want to replace the oldest one on the list with the new writer.  In the example above, if I tried to add a new writer it would ask me if I wanted to remove Paul.

If you want to add a writer to your list, you can do this from their bio page.  Click on their name and under their avatar you’ll see a “add to favorites” link with our favorites icon next to it.

add_fav_writer1

Simply click the link and they will be added to your favorite writers.  If you want to remove writers from your list, you can simply click on your name at the top of Helium when you’re logged in.  In the right column, you’ll see your writer list with “remove” links under each name.  Just click the one below the one you want to remove:

remove_fav_writerFavorite Items / Titles

Your favorite items and titles show up on your biography section of your bio under “briefly me” and above your featured article:

my_favorites1

As with favorite writers, you can have 10 of each of these.  To add a favorite title, simply click the “add to favorites” link on the item list page:

add_fav_title

To add a favorite item, go to the item page and click “article tools”:

add_fav_item1

That will trigger the Article Tools dialog box and you can click “add to favorites” from there:

add_fav_item2

If you want to remove any of the titles and/or items later on you can do it just like with favorite writers, click on your name at the top of Helium while logged in and in the left column you’ll see something like:

remove_favorites

Click “remove” under any link to remove it.  That’s it.

Hope this helps.

Your bio pages are the most important public facing pages you own.  It’s a way for visitors to see all of your items, to get to know you, and to see your accomplishments (and therefore have a measuring stick for what you are saying).  Each user has 2 bio pages:

  1. Your articles page: the default for most pen name links.  Contains all your articles.  The URL being helium.com/users/[user_id]/show_articles
  2. Your biography page: contains all your personal bio information and favorite titles/articles.  The URL being http://www.helium.com/users/%5Buser_id%5D

These two pages share a lot in common.  Let’s dig down deeper into them, see what they have in common and how they differ.

For the screen shots the following users have graciously, and unknowingly, donated their about me pages:

Shared

Bio Picture

All the shared content is currently in the right column.  First, we have the bio pic, location, and the “contact writer” / “add to favorites” links:

bio-pic

It’s useful to have this filled out for several reasons.  One, unless you have a realistic bio pic you don’t qualify for some containers like featured writer.  Second, some publishers take this into consideration when purchasing content.  Third, it gives readers an idea of who they’re dealing with.  Finally, your location gives users input as far as your expertise on regional articles.

This is akin to the picture you see at the end of a novel.

Credentials

Next are your Helium credentials – all the little badges and stars you’ve earned as a result of your hard work:

credentials

Here again we’re building trust in the writer.  Obviously if a new reader on Helium comes to your bio page and you have 5 writing stars and multiple badges then it becomes easier for them to trust that you know what you’re talking about and are not just some anonymous person on the Internet.

Our professional badges will also help this moving forward.

Links

Helium allows you to post 3 external links.  This allows you to showcase other work you may have done like your blog, your art portfolio site, or your flickr photography.  This is also a useful way to build up some “link juice” to your other works:

links

Stats

An unappreciated area that lists how many articles you’ve written and how many writers have accepted your invitation and joined Helium.  A strong indicator of your contributions to Helium (thank you):

stats

Favorite Helium Writers

Similar to a blogroll this allows you to list up to 10 other Helium writers that you enjoy reading.  Give a little “link love” to those writers who you most enjoy reading:

favorite-writers

The gray links are just indicating that I’ve visted some of those bios recently.

Recent Articles

A simple showcase of your 10 most recent articles:

recent-articles

This has become a lot more useful and interesting since we started sorting your articles page via rank instead of recency.

My Channels

This is very similar to a categories list on a blog.  It allows a reader to filter the articles you’ve written by base channel.  This is especially useful on users who have hundreds or thousands of articles so that if you like what they’ve written in the Relationships & Family article you just read, you can find others in the same channel:

channels

Articles Page

The articles page consists mainly of… well… your articles:

articles

One noteworthy thing is the RSS feed link which allows you to plug it into your RSS reader of choice (I use and recommend Google Reader) and anytime they write a new article it will show up fresh and minty for your viewing.

Biography Page

The biography page is all about you.

About Me

First, you have an area to talk about anything and everything you:

about-me

We recommend being original but also keeping it professional – as publishers will look at and have access to this information.  Also keep in mind that if you use your real name, or a name associated with your “brand” that this information is crawlable by Google.

Briefly Me

For those that don’t know what exactly to talk about we have a rather infamous list of questions to pry out some information in quasi-reporter style:

questions

Helium Favorites

A place to showcase your 10 favorite titles and authors.  Originally imagined as a way to showcase works of others you’ve enjoyed unfortunately many users highlight their own works instead:

favorites

As bio pages tend to have some traction in search engine rankings it’s a good way to share deep links with your friends as well.

Featured Article

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is your Featured Article.  The default, unless overridden on your My Articles page is your newest contribution to Helium.  This is the area to showcase your best work or, perhaps, a personal favorite – either because it’s a high earner or simply because you like how it turned out:

featured

Remember that as a Helium writer this is both a showcase for your work and a resume outlining your skills and experience.  Use it to your advantage.

I hope that helps.