For many successful professionals and entrepreneurs, writing a bio is a painful process. You’re not sure what to say, how to word it, and what information to include or exclude. As someone who has written a ton of bios for myself and supported friends in revamping theirs, I’m sharing a blueprint for writing the bio that clearly and powerfully communicates who you are. Most importantly, I’m providing a list of guiding questions that help you revamp your bio anytime you need to.
1. How does my past inform my present?
A good bio doesn’t rattle off everything you’ve ever done – it explains your past work and achievements as a segue way for what you’re doing now.
2. How do I currently make money?
Many people slip into the habit of using fancy titles and descriptors like “innovator” or “thought leader” when these are generally not the actual activities they do to get paid. If you want more clients or a new job, you need be specific about what you do that earns income and the reason you’re qualified to do it.
3. What are my aspirations?
A good bio should lead the reader to the place you want to be in the future. Your aspirations should be framed in the context of how your current affairs are preparing you for that or how you intend to make the transition at some point in the future.
4. What’s different about you?
Your personality should be revealed in your bio even if you’re a straight-laced person. A reader should come away with some sense of who you are and what you’re about. Sometimes this can be communicated through a personal note at the end. For instance, I include a note about my hobbies such as flying planes and taking trapeze lessons. Instantly, you get an idea for what my personality is like and my appetite for adventure.
5. What can you omit?
It’s tempting to want to tell your whole story, but the point of a bio is to provide a snapshot of your career – not a photo album. Decide what the beginning, middle, and end of your bio story should be and write within that framework.
6. What image should people have of you?
Are you creative, funny, serious, or nerdy? Use your opening line to hook the reader with a clear and compelling statement about who you are as a professional.
Here’s an example of all of these tips working together:
John Doe is what happens when a social change agent melds with a powerful networker. [Instantly, we have an image of John and we can guess the types of professional activities he may engage in.]
John is the founder and CEO of SocialBeat, a company that connects professionals with philanthropic opportunities. In this role, John oversees the strategic direction of the firm and manages business development. [What does John do and how does he get paid]
Prior to founding SocialBeat, John was the Chief Marketing Officer at Bytes, a technology company. Inspired by how the company used data to create systems for its clients, John decided to apply this thinking in creating his company. [What did he learn in his previous role and how is relevant to the present]
John holds a degree in Finance from American University . He writes for several media outlets including Social Good Times and SocialPress. Building on his passion for sharing knowledge, John is now preparing to pen his first book. [What’s next and why]
An avid outdoorsman, John spends his weekends hiking the Rocky Mountains with his four dogs. [What’s John do with his free time?]
See how this bio is short and sweet but informative? It’s really about figuring out how you can share who you are and how people can work with you.
Use these tips to make your bio pop and be sure to share with friends who may need a little help sounding more interesting on paper!