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As a marketer, you’ll likely need to write a professional bio at some point.
Whether writing one for yourself, a client, or coworkers listed on your company’s “about us” page, it’s a common piece of content you might be asked to create.
They appear everywhere, from social media profiles, to blog post author boxes, to personal and business websites. Too often though, they’re treated like an afterthought, which is unfortunate. After all, what’s the first thing you read when you come across an interesting blog post, a new company, or social media account?
A bio is a natural place to start. So, what happens if what you find sounds boring or generic? You’ll think that person is boring and generic too, and that isn’t the kind of impression any serious marketer should want to make.
Fortunately, business doesn’t have to be boring, and neither does anyone’s professional summary. In this post, you’ll find:
Sure, you could settle for boring and generic. But, you’re better than that. So, keep reading and learn how to do the job right.
Best of all, you don’t have to write one from scratch. Instead, download these free templates and you’ll be able to fill in the blanks to write one well.
There are options here for the following:
Snag ‘em now and continue with the rest of this post.
In general, they’re a description or summary of someone’s professional background, educational history, skill set, and/or achievements. In some cases, such as a Twitter bio, they might be short, or in others they could be a few paragraphs (such as on an about page on a blog or website).
People come across so many different pieces of information on the web that it’s tough to keep everything straight. It’s impossible to remember every interesting thing you come across, let alone filter through the overwhelming amount of junk you see that isn’t interesting at all.
So, make your first impression something that sticks.
If a social media user sees a stray post that catches their attention, they’ll want to see if it came from someone who looks and sounds trustworthy. The same goes for a blog post they might read, or a new company they’re scoping out for a potentially lucrative partnership.
Whatever the case may be, a strong bio is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression.
If it’s written well, people might be more influenced to consider you an authority, someone to remember to reach out to, or eventually, even make a purchase from.
There are lots of different situations where you might need to provide a bio.
Here are a few:
Those are common scenarios everyone encounters sooner or later. Since they seem so easy to write, they can quickly become a trap though, something that doesn’t get done until the last minute (and things that get done at the last minute, tend to get done poorly).
Plus, there are all kinds of places where it’s useful to have a crisp, clean, and creative description of yourself (or client or coworkers).
Take a look at this list:
Certainly, you can probably think of even more, too. But, if you have one that’s well-written, it can easily be repurposed and repackaged to fit wherever it’s needed.
And that leads into the next point in this post.
There’s no one-size-fit-all answer here. Social media accounts often have obvious restrictions on character counts that limit length. If you’re writing one to appear in a press release boiler plate or a blog bio box, a paragraph is generally sufficient.
But, if you’re writing one for a website page, you might be able to run as short, or as long, as you’d like. In fact, there are arguments to be made for keeping things concise or going more in-depth.
People have short attention spans.
According to the Nielsen Norman Group (via Crazy Egg), you have 59 seconds to hook a website viewer’s attention before they’ll leave.
And they’re going to see a lot of things before they even get to your bio (headlines, homepage copy, and product pages are all possible places they’ll visit first).
If hooking someone’s attention is hard, keeping it might be even more difficult, and arguably, no one wants to spend too much time getting to know you if they don’t have to. So, why not just get to the point?
Take a look at this example from Influence and CO. founder John Hall:
It’s just a couple concise paragraphs, plus a line for his email address. Note the smart inclusion of a Twitter follow button, too.
This works because:
But, what if you’re writing a description of a seasoned professional with tons of experience? How do you condense everything important to know about them into a short amount of space?
That can be tough. And if people are likely to want to know all about the person’s story, it might make more sense to go long (spanning a few paragraphs, or even a whole page or more).
Here’s another example from Darren Rowse, the founder of ProBlogger:
While this bio is still fairly compact, it spans multiple paragraphs, and even includes a video. Then, it extends a bit further to include more information about Darren and his business:
This works because:
If you’re looking for more sample biographies to follow, scope out this list. It includes executives from all different kinds of industries.
For most types of bios, there are a handful of tips that’ll help keep your writing sounding crisp, clean, and convincing.
If you’re writing about yourself, you might be able to make a stylistic decision between writing in first or third-person.
Generally, though, third-person is the way to go (and really the only option if you’re writing one for someone else).
Cut out any fluff or extraneous words. Even if you’re writing a longer bio that fills a full page or more, if it’s not essential or doesn’t add value, then cut it out.
This is a “professional bio,” and so it should sound, well, like you’re writing about a professional.
But, what that entails might be different depending on the subject.
If you’re writing for someone in a traditional business environment or industry, then sticking to a more formal style might be best.
When writing a bio for someone in a creative or startup-type atmosphere, though, you might be able to loosen up your style a bit.
The key takeaway is this: express the personality of the person you’re writing about in a way that’s appropriate for their industry. And you can use your best judgment here.
Equipped with all of the previous background information, you’re now ready to start writing yourself. With some simple planning, you can streamline the entire project and get it knocked out quickly without sacrificing quality.
If you’re writing one about yourself, this should (… hopefully) be easy.
But, if you’re writing about someone else, you have a little bit of homework to do.
Start by figuring out the person’s job title and what they actually do. This means developing a basic level of understanding about the person’s function with their company.
You can do this in one of two ways:
If you’re writing a short piece, or if your subject is highly busy, you might be fine starting and stopping with the first point above. But, if you’re writing a more involved bio, then getting 30 minutes of their time can be helpful.
Here are some basic questions to ask:
Those should be enough to get you started.
Once you’ve done your research and rounded up all the background you’ll need, it’s time to start writing.
Now, it’s important to prioritize the order you’ll write everything in. Here’s a fairly standard outline:
Pretty simple stuff. Following this order will keep your bio sounding crisp and clean.
Following your outline, start with their first name and their function. Here’s an example:
Susan J. Marketer is the Chief Creative Officer at Awesome Company in Funky Town, Florida.
No need to over-complicate this.
Next, explain what makes this person exceptional at what they do.
Continuing on from the example established above:
Her responsibilities include strategy, copywriting, and guiding Awesome Company’s business direction.
That meets the purposes of this sentence, sure, but it’s pretty dry (especially for someone who works at, well, Awesome Company and lives in Funky Town … bear with us here).
Here’s another example of the same idea:
She crafts creative concepts for companies small and large, turning boring brands into game-changing industry leaders that get people talking. How does she make this happen? With crisp copy that cuts through the noise, backed by sharp strategic thinking that differentiates exceptional clients from the also-rans.
That’s a hypothetical example, but you get the idea: give it some life and go beyond repasting bullet points from resume.
Before your subject got where they are today, walk the reader through how they got there.
This helps tell their story and show the path they took toward their current position.
You don’t necessarily need to tell your individual subject’s entire life story. But, if you can, summarize relevant points while connecting their beginnings to where they’re at now.
For someone with a handful of recent positions, this should be easy. But, if someone has been in their career for a few decades, this could get to be quite a long list.
Try following a format like this:
Prior to joining [COMPANY], Susan developed her rockstar skills at [COMPANY] and [COMPANY], where she quickly established herself as the go-to expert on [TOPIC].
Something like that.
Anyone can claim they’re awesome.
What’s more impressive than empty declarations about being great, though, are actual accolades and achievements that show someone knows their stuff.
So, once you’ve established what your subject does, show how and why they’re good at what they do with some third-party affirmations.
This could include mentioning:
To keep the previous example going, here’s what this might sound like:
Susan won Copywriter of the Year from the National Association of Awesome Copywriters in 2018. She also routinely appears on the speaking circuit, with recent appearances at [INSERT CONFERENCES HERE]. Her writing and expertise is also regularly featured on the CoSchedule Blog and other leading publications.
That gets all the main points across in just three sentences. Can’t get much more concise than that.
And no, the National Association of Awesome Copywriters isn’t an actual organization. :)
This isn’t an essential item to include, but sharing something about personal interests can help humanize your subject, showing they’re an actual person and not just a list of skills and accomplishments.
If they have hobbies or interests that correlate into their role, then so much the better.
But, even something as simple as, “as a mother/father of three, they enjoy spending time with their family” is okay, too. Sometimes, small details like this can help authoritative figures comes across more personable and less intimidating than they might be.
Does your subject have a social media presence? Does their writing regularly appear on any websites in particular?
Now, it’s time to pull everything together and actually write this thing.
If you still could use some assistance, consider filling in this template (editing it as you see fit along the way):
[NAME] is the [ROLE/JOB TITLE] at [COMPANY/ORGANIZATION], where [SHE/HE/THEY] work to [BENEFIT] [TARGET AUDIENCE] by [ROLE 1], [ROLE 2], and ROLE 3].
In [YEARS AT CURRENT COMPANY] with [CURRENT COMPANY/ORGANIZATION], [LAST NAME] has [PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT]. They have also [PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT], an achievement made possible by their [SKILLS/ATTRIBUTES].
Prior to joining [COMPANY/ORGANIZATION], [NAME] was responsible for [ROLE] at [COMPANY/ORGANIZATION]. While there, [SHE/HE/THEY] achieved [GOAL] by [SKILL/ACTION], driving [CHANGE/IMPACT] for [TARGET AUDIENCE].
[NAME] has appeared [AT CONFERENCE/EVENT, or IN LIST OF PUBLICATIONS]. [SHE/HE/THEY] have also [WON / BEEN RECOGNIZED WITH] the [AWARD], [AWARD], and [AWARD].
A graduate from [UNIVERSITY], [NAME] holds a degree in [AREA OF STUDY]. When not hard at work doing [JOB/ROLE], [SHE/HE/THEY] enjoys [HOBBY], [HOBBY], and [HOBBY]. Find [NAME] on [SOCIAL NETWORK/WEBSITE], [SOCIAL NETWORK/WEBSITE], and [SOCIAL NETWORK/WEBSITE].
If you’d like to use this template in a pre-made Word doc, click here to move back up this post and download it. You’ll also get several additional variations of this template, too.
You have everything you need to get this job done right. Now, all that’s left is to buckle down and knock it out. Do you have any tips or examples you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.
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