Laura Elisabeth Ulrich – it turns out Laura Ulrich is a far more common name than I knew! – reached out and said she could use my skills to create a bio for her website, update the homepage intro, and help her organize her experience. She wanted a narrative feel and something that showed her personality, not just “strict info.” As I looked at her website, I agreed. I saw a lot of stuff text-wise, but no story. I took the challenge, and this was my process:
1. Do your Googles, ask questions
To craft the story, first I did some internet searching. I found an interview Laura did nearly a decade ago. That gave me a few nuggets to play with. Next, I looked through the wealth of facts Laura had listed on her website. She literally had over 20 years of experience up there. I started to build our “About the Artist” from these resources. As I built I came up with questions I had for Laura to help flesh it out. I bounced a few queries off her – like “So how did that [joining a children’s chorale group] happen?” – and got responses.
2. Make too much then get carving
The biggest challenge was taking a lifetime of artistic experience and boiling it down to a one-page narrative. I told Laura near the end that I had to twist my own arm not to make it into a novel! The first (unfinished) draft was about three times as long as the final product. The first cut that helped me bring things into view ended up being the paragraph on the homepage. A version of that was originally part of the bio, but I moved it, and things started to roll from there. I added a more recent head shot of hers and a quote from her interview to the homepage, and I started to see better where information could be condensed or removed in the bio. As I made revisions and cuts, I consulted with different online resources and looked at several artist (theatre) sites to keep the presentation for this particular field in focus. I also listened to a Spotify playlist I created for this project based on some of Laura’s musical interests, and a YouTube video of Bear McCreary’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” – one of Laura’s favorites.
3. Take notes and take a break
After all this I had a draft that was… okay. I was writing it in Microsoft Word, so I inserted comments to myself where I felt some changes in language needed to be made, and I gave myself some time to think on these (and consult the thesaurus!) and get back to it.
4. Do something else
While I was fine tuning that draft, I began to build Laura’s resume (organizing her experience) from the eight separate pages on her site. I set out to create a one-page resume that could fit on the back of a head shot. I took the information from Laura’s Stage Experience page and copied it to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. I took out the “year” column and changed some of the formatting on the other information – like combining the onstage and backstage information in one column. I copied the info over from this spreadsheet to the resume template in Microsoft Word which I had adjusted (turned three columns into one column with a table), and filled in Laura’s contact information, education, and skills. I contacted a colleague of Laura’s to get a quote for the homepage, and I revisited the bio.
5. Get back to it
With a fresh mind, I made those language changes in the bio and got a great response from Laura’s colleague for the homepage quote. I added that in, looked everything over once more, and saved the files as .pdfs.
6. Send the drafts to the client
I emailed the drafts over to Laura for feedback. She loved them and had a few little tweaks she wanted to make plus give some updates for her more recent theatre work. I worked in her suggestions and the new info and made a few refinements of my own then sent the updated drafts to her. Her response “That’s… perfect.”
7. Celebrate your awesomeness
Just like that, she had a new homepage intro, narrative bio, and downloadable resume for laura-elisabeth.com. And I had a reason to play triumphant air guitar.