I’ve had the pleasure of helping multiple people write short bios of themselves in the last few months. Most needed them for their website, professional directories, or speaking engagements and reached out because writing their own bio is just so darn difficult! During this wave, I’ve even had to retool my own biography, which took me more time than I expected!
Why is writing a bio so tough? From my experience, here are some reasons it’s frustrating to tackle this all-important written document:
- It’s hard to pump yourself up to present your accomplishments in a brief space — in third person, no less!
- It’s difficult to decide which items to include in a bio and which ones to scrap.
- It’s challenging to find the right tone for your bio. You are looking to convey a certain message, but that can get lost in just wanting to spit out the facts about yourself.
To ease the bio-creation process, I have provided five tips to help you write a great bio:
1. Compile the facts. Write down all that you’ve done. Dash out the obvious details first, like jobs you’ve had and degrees you’ve earned. Include big and small accomplishments. Jot down fun facts and personal tidbits. Finally, circle items that are most important to include in your bio. Star other things on the list that might make your bio more interesting.
2. Know your audience. Who will be reading this bio? Understanding your audience is the key to any writing. Are you a lawyer needing a bio for your firm’s website? Are you a life coach looking to connect to those attending a workshop you offer? Are you using your bio in a directory where someone might be wanting to use your services?
Once you figure out the target audience for your bio, revisit the list you compiled and think about what’s important. If you need guidance, check out bios written by people in your field. Their audiences are similar, so study the language and details they use and model yours in a similar fashion.
3. Consider your message. Your bio serves a purpose. It may need to convey expertise and authority. It may need to show your interpersonal skills. It may need to include details to help you attain future goals.
Think about how you want to establish yourself and write your bio accordingly. Include adjectives that reflect your message. For example, if you are an event planner, make sure to emphasize your organization skills, whether by saying it or showing it. Or, if you work with families, include some details about your own family or experience you’ve had with organizations that support families or children.
4. Be direct. Don’t assume that people know anything about you when reading your bio. Keep it simple and write in easy-to-read language. Now is not the time to share your creative writing skills. Write in lists of three, as this resonates with readers. Avoid too many details. People just want the nuts and bolts of who you are, not an extensive laundry list of your life.
5. Edit and review. Write a few versions of your bio and read them to someone. Take out a red pen and scratch up the draft. It’ll take a bit of time to get the bio right, so don’t be hesitant to go back to the drawing board and write something new. Though the facts about you may not change with each draft, the way you structure your bio can be altered.
Consider writing long and short bios at the same time so you don’t have to go through this process again any time soon. Using a consistent bio will make you appear more professional.
To close out this post, I thought I’d share with you the most recent iteration of my short bio. I worked to convey my business services, experience, and passion (in that order). I did not think my degrees or other academic experience were necessary in this brief bio, so I didn’t include them. I added a personal detail about myself at the end because I thought it fit well and shared just a bit about my personal life.
Natalie L. Silver is a writer and editor who collaborates with individuals, businesses, and publishers. Her services include copywriting, editing, and proofreading. She founded Silver Scribe Editorial Services in May 2013 after spending almost a decade working as managing editor for an independent book publisher. Natalie’s love of the written word, experience with different stylebooks, and passion for publishing give her the spark to deliver quality services to all of her clients. She lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband and two children.
And, don’t forget, I am here to help you with your bio if going through this process alone is just too daunting. Send me an e-mail and we can begin a conversation!