How to Write an Attention-Grabbing Professional Bio

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This article was written in 2009 and remains one of our most popular posts. If you’re keen to learn more about self-promotion and marketing, you may find this recent article on getting recognized of great interest.

There seems to be a divide in opinion about whether or not a résumé is necessary for a freelancer or business owner. But one thing is certain; all professionals should have a great biography.

Biography Basics

A professional bio is simply a story-based version of the information you would typically include in a résumé. The format is less formal, and it gives you an opportunity to highlight some interesting facts about yourself while injecting a little of your personality.

The main goals of a bio are to give the reader an accurate sense of who you are and what you do, to establish expertise and credibility, and to qualify your experience and background. All of these elements combine to develop trust in you and your brand.

Even if you maintain a current résumé, there are many situations when you will need a bio, including:

  • Posted on your website and blog
  • Included in your marketing materials
  • Provided with proposals to clients
  • Submitted for speaking, presenting or teaching applications
  • Included in any books, ebooks, reports or professional documents you develop

What to Include in Your Bio

One of the great things about a bio is the flexibility. You can include as much or as little information as you want. Typically, most bios include:

  • Current job, business or professional experience
  • Publications or presentations you have completed
  • Professional memberships you currently hold
  • Awards, honors and certifications you have received
  • Your contact information

You can personalize your bio even more by including elements such as a photo of yourself, your educational background, quotes or testimonials from clients, and links to examples of your work.

Tips for Writing a Great Bio

There are many formats you can use to write a great bio, but there are some universal elements you can use to make it more effective. Typically, your bio should be written in the third person, using “he/she” instead of “I.” Presenting your bio as if someone else wrote it for you provides a distinction from you and the writer (even if it is understood that it is the same person). The third person also enhances the professionalism and makes people more willing to trust what is being said.

Make your opening attention-grabbing to draw the reader in and make them want to learn more about you. And using a conversational voice will make it easier for your readers to follow along.

Don’t be afraid to include some personal or unique information about yourself at the end of your bio, and use a tone that reflects you and who you are throughout.

You’ll want to keep your bio as short as possible, only including the information that needs to be included. Split it into short paragraphs to make it easier to digest and include supporting information in the form of links, whenever possible.

Once you have a bio you’re comfortable with, remember that it’s not set in stone. You’ll want to modify and update it periodically to reflect changes and to keep it fresh. It’s also a good idea to create a few different versions – an abbreviated version, a long version, and even copies that are appropriate for different audiences.

Do you have a bio? How do you use it in your business?

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Image credit: Geri-Jean Blanchard

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  • Elena

    This is great advice and destined for Delicious.

    • http://pivotalwriting.com/category/how-to-write-a-professional-bio/ Mike Russell

      Yay for “Make your opening attention-grabbing…” and “use a conversational voice…”

      Just posted a video on how to write a bio (using a before/after example for context). http://pivotalwriting.com/how-to-write-a-professional-bio-1/

      Hope it helps!
      -Mike

  • php_penguin

    some examples? Always helpful for this sort of thing…

  • http://www.WebTrafficAcademy.org RogueScripts

    “It’s also a good idea to create a few different versions – an abbreviated version, a long version, and even copies that are appropriate for different audiences.”

    That’s a good idea.

    I disagree that its better to write your bio in third person, I think it depends upon the audience. Like like you said, maybe have a first person version and a third person version. I think you can connect with your audience better and get them to relate to you more if you write it in first person, but it could be that “The third person also enhances the professionalism and makes people more willing to trust what is being said.”

  • matthew booth

    Matthew Booth likes writing comments in third person. He has never tried it before but after testing it first on this article he thinks he will use it frequently.

    I too disagree with saying that third person is better (in all situations). I think it would be more appropriate to have version in first and third versions. If I were to submit an article to a website that would show a brief bio along with the article, then I would want it in third person.
    However, if I was writing the bio for a personal site (and it was obviously MY personal site) then first person should be used. If I was one of several owners of a website (maybe a design firm) then third person would be best.

    I guess the rule of thumb should be the context, if it’s a blog or personal site then first person. If the bio is on a third party website or book then third person should be used.

  • hbw

    There are fill-in-the-blank bio templates at http://www.HowToWriteBio.com

  • http://twitter.com/BarbraSundquist BarbraSundquist

    There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Consider using a fill-in-the-blanks bio template to save time and headaches.

  • Harold Lamma

    Alyssa,

    Thank you very much for the simplicity of your article. You definitely added value to me!

    Thanks, Harold

  • http://pivotalwriting.com/category/how-to-write-a-professional-bio/ Mike Russell

    Alyssa,
    Yay for “Make your opening attention-grabbing” and “use a conversational voice…”!

    Just posted a video on how to write a bio (using a before-after example for context) here:
    http://pivotalwriting.com/how-to-write-a-professional-bio-1/

    Hope it helps!
    -Mike

    • http://www.thewritedesignco.com Marcie

      This video was a great help in my time of need.

  • http://pivotalwriting.com/category/how-to-write-a-professional-bio/ Mike Russell

    Find tips and before/after analyses for writing a bio that sells at pivotalwriting.com
    Best of success!

    • http://www.thewritedesignco.com Marcie

      I am downloading this book now. I need to write one ASAP. Thanks for the resource.

  • hanna

    great that is awesome information

  • Aleja

    Thanks, very helpful info.