By Erin Pittman
So, you’ve been asked to write your bio. After a few sighs and a fair amount of procrastination, it’s time for you to dig in. But where do you start?
Where Are Bios Used?
First, let’s discuss where you typically find bios. Bios are used by authors for books, articles and blogs, on social media sites and websites, for various professional uses, on school or job applications, in online directories, and as intros for speeches and presentations. Before you can start writing, you’ll need to know where the bio will be used.
What Should the Bio Look Like?
Once you’ve determined where your bio will live, it’s time to consider what’s appropriate to write.
- Write in third person, unless otherwise directed.
- Include verifiable facts, not your hopes and dreams.
- Include education and work experience relevant to the position or occasion for which you’re writing the bio.
- Include professional memberships and volunteer positions you’ve held.
- Answer unspoken questions, like “Why are you qualified to be in this position or offering a presentation on this topic?”
When it comes to the writing mechanics, there are a few best practices to keep in mind, as well.
- Be clear and concise. This isn’t a place for lots of fluff and flowery language.
- Use strong action verbs.
- Vary your sentence length to make it flow well.
- Pay attention to the appropriate tone. You want to sound smart, not arrogant or like you are talking down to the audience.
How Do I Write Each Type of Bio?
What and how you write certainly depends on where and how your bio is going to be used. Such information affects length, tone and the information you include. If you’re writing your bio for your latest book on gardening, readers probably won’t care that you begin your professional career as a barista. Keep the information relevant to the topic and, without shouting “I’M AN EXPERT!” tell them why you’re the expert.
Social Media Bios
Social media bios, like most things on social media, should be brief. Your followers don’t jump on to read 3,000-word dissertations. They want entertaining or factual info they can absorb quickly. When it comes to social media bios:
- Know the word count or character length limits.
- Use hashtags where applicable.
- Get the basics in.
- Sneak in a little humor or lighter writing, if you feel it’s appropriate.
Author bios may appear on book jackets, websites, or right at the bottom of articles and blogs. When writing these:
- Keep it jazzy and interesting.
- You only need a couple of paragraphs at most.
- Remember the correct tone – smart, not superior.
- Include the number of publications you’ve written. If it’s a lot, name a few major ones.
Bios are used all over the internet on business websites and blogs. You may be asked to write your bio to be used on your company’s team page or to be featured after winning an award or receiving a promotion. For this type of bio:
- Know the length you’re working with ahead of time.
- Check out others to use as examples. Model the tone, style and facts mentioned after ones already in use.
- Ask for specifics if there are no examples available.
- Keep the info relevant to the company, article or award your bio is being paired with.
Now you’ve got the information you need to cease the sighing, put fingers to keyboard and make yourself look good in writing. You’ve got this.
“Your Words Mean Business” provides insights and tips to business owners, organizations and professionals seeking to better their performance and increase their bottom line through sharpening written and marketing communication skills.
Erin Pittman is Lead Editor and Content Development Lead for Prince William Living.