It’s a timeless struggle: You can write well about anything––except yourself.
It trips up even the best writers. For some reason, writing a bio about a stranger is easier than writing a bio about yourself.
And they’re crucial to success. If someone sees your bio at the bottom of a guest post you wrote, they’re a potential colleague.
I can personally attest to this. At the start of my writing career, I wrote bios. A lot of bios. I even developed a formula for writing bios.
When I launched my site, I realized I had to write a bio about myself. I froze. I didn’t know what tone I should use, what information I should include, or how long it should be.
Eventually, I wrote one, and I learned about writing a bio about yourself. It can seem impossible, but it’s completely doable.
For other self-bio strugglers out there, here are my top 10 tips for writing a bio about yourself. At the end, I’ll share a sample bio. And I’ll even give you one of my trade secrets––for free.
1. Make a list of essential info.
No matter your field, you’ll want to include your job title, a description of your skills, and a few noteworthy accomplishments. If you’ve been published online, I recommend listing published pieces.
You can add nonessential info as well, like your location. But be careful when adding extraneous material (see tip #4).
2. Use the inverted pyramid.
When writing a bio about yourself, the most important information should come first. For professional purposes, this means your job title (and maybe a description). This is followed by your skills, expertise, and accomplishments.
Many people end their bios on a personal note. If you choose to include personal info, make sure you place it at the end. It’s the least important in professional terms.
3. Use your bio as advertising space.
Your bio is the perfect place to advertise yourself. It can convert a reader into a client or colleague and help you forge new connections. Your bio is subtly telling a future employer or client why they should hire you.
Take advantage of the power of the bio by listing your most impressive accomplishments and describing your skills in a vivid fashion. You don’t want to brag, but you do want to outline your benefits.
4. Don’t be too casual.
A bio should be tidy and professional. This article from Forbes recommends “break[ing] the rules of writing” and adding “a splash of humor.” While a bio shouldn’t be stiff and impersonal, it also shouldn’t be too casual.
Including information about your family or location is fine, but don’t go overboard about your personal life. Professional bloggers and potential clients don’t want to read about your twelve pet lizards; they want to read about your credentials.
5. Make the first and last lines memorable.
This might be obvious, but it’s classic advice. The first and last lines will bookend your bio and frame it, so it’s important that they’re the best.
In the first and last lines, tell the reader who you are and why you’re good at what you do. Use powerful, decisive language here to cement your value in the reader’s mind. Think of it as an even more condensed elevator pitch.
Tip: The last line is an ideal place to mention your newest project.
6. Write efficiently.
You want to say as much as possible with the shortest length possible. This means that every word has to be chosen carefully. Every word is you selling yourself, and they have to be the most effective they can be.
I once heard this tip somewhere: Imagine that every word you write costs you a dollar. You want to spend as little as you can and get your money’s worth. Take a note from Strunk and White, and “omit needless words.”
Tip: Find ways of combining two or more elements of your bio (for example, your job title and experience).
7. Steal like an artist, but do so carefully.
If you’re writing a bio about yourself and getting nowhere, it’s a good idea to look up others’ bios and see what they’re doing. It’s especially worthwhile to read the bios of successful people in your field.
The key here is to pick and choose. See what elements are working and which ones aren’t. Then, make your bio a synthesis of all the good parts.
8. If you’re really stuck, ask for help.
Writing a bio about yourself isn’t easy. We tend to know ourselves so well that we can’t think objectively. In that case, consider asking someone else to help. Someone else in your field will be able to give helpful feedback on what you should include in your bio and how you should say it.
9. Include links.
This one’s important––how are people going to find you if you don’t show them? Make it easy for potential connections, and provide a link to your site, blog, LinkedIn, or other profile. One link is plenty, but you can include two or three that link to your published work.
10. Consider adding a shorter version.
Once you have a bio you like, consider writing a bio about yourself that’s shorter. Some sites may prefer the more concise version, and it’s easier to skim. A good short bio usually consists of your first and last lines, but not always. Experiment and see what you like.
Bonus tip: Bold your name.
This is a secret technique I’ve been using for over a year now, and it works. By bolding your name, you draw attention to yourself and build a presence from the start. It’s a good way to make your name stick in someone’s mind. Another plus: It looks nice and professional. Try it out for yourself.
John Smith is a freelance blogger and marketer with over a decade of experience. He serves as Senior Editor of SomeWebsite.com, and he’s been published in Respectable Publication #1, #2, and #3. He is the recipient of Some Cool Award #1 and Some Cool Award #2. He’s currently working on An Exciting New Project, which you can read about here.