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The Write Question is a weekly video podcast all about writing. Today’s question focuses on how to write a better bio. If you have a question you’d like me to answer you can email me at email@example.com, tweet me @pubcoach, or leave a message for me at the Skype account, The Write Question.
Do you need to learn how to write better bio? That’s the topic I’ll be addressing today in The Write Question. I’m Daphne Gray-Grant, the Publication Coach.
Here’s an email question from Debbie Garrity, a business owner based in Chicago.
“I’d like to know how to write a more engaging bio. What can you tell me?”
Thanks for the question, Debbie. Of course, there are lots of different types of bios — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, “about” pages for your website and speech intros. I’ll give you some general principles for a great bio — just be aware that you’ll need to adapt them for your specific need.
Today, I’m going to give you seven tips:
Tip #1 Be a REAL person. When people read or hear your bio they should get a sense of you as a living, breathing human being. Share some info that isn’t entirely business related. And don’t be too formal. Use common, everyday language. YouTuber Sara Dietschy has a personality-filled page. See link below.
Tip #2 Turn your bio into story. Don’t just list facts and accomplishments. That’s boring. Instead, tell a story that shows how your life has come together as a whole. All stories have a beginning, middle and end. They have characters and plot twists. The best stories are never items on a list! They’re way more interesting than that. Web designer Joe Payton has a great “about” page. I love the way he tells it as a story. See link below.
Tip #3 Watch your word count. Every bio needs to fit within a certain length. Twitter bios, for example, are short. Speech intros should be less than two minutes and often less than one. About pages for your website should be somewhere between 500 and 1500 words. Look to see what others are doing and match your word count to that standard. I like the way Tim Farris provides both a short AND a long version on his “about” page. See link below.
Tip #4 Consider what person you want write in. Some people, like me, write in the 1st person. That means I use the word I. Others write in the 3rd person. They say “he” or “she” even though they’re writing about themselves. Some people argue it’s better to write in the 3rd person because you can use your own name more frequently, which is great for ranking in Google. But I like the warmth of the 1st person voice. Just think about it carefully before you decide. Branding expert Marc Ensign has a great 1st person page. See link below. And the lifestyle page Cupcakes and Cashmere has a great 3rd person bio page. See link below.
Tip #5 Offer links to your own work. It makes perfect sense to include links to your own products and services on your bio page. The design agency Anton and Irene does a particularly unusual and effective job of this. See link below.
Tip #6 Have a really great photo. A good photo is always worth a thousand words so make sure your bio includes one. I get really a good photo taken every three years or so. It’s expensive for me, but it’s worth it. French sculptor Pierro Caron offers an especially compelling assortment of his work on his about page. And when you think about it, that makes perfect sense for a sculptor. You don’t care about where they went to school. You want to see what they’ve created. See link below.
Tip #7 Update your bio regularly. As I was preparing this video I realized that updating your bio is a key part of the job — and it’s not something I’ve been doing myself. Yikes! Thanks so much for asking this question, Debbie, because you’ve encouraged me to raise my own standards for producing a better bio. A link to my bio page is included below.
Finally, let me wrap up with a quote from American businessman Michael Eisner: “I’m not interested in when people become successful. I’m interested in what made them successful.”
Debbie, the vast majority of people don’t write great bio pages. If you can describe to your readers WHAT you’ve done that’s made you especially effective at your job, you’ll have taken a first step to a truly engaging bio.