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“What goes in a bio?” That is the question I am most often asked when the subject of bios and About pages comes up. In 2014, I taught a workshop on this very topic and to help attendees get a better understanding of how to write a bio, I created the below 7-point strategy for writing a bio along with a Biographical Worksheet that helps you ask and answer the questions that will help you shape the content of your biography, version by version.
Read through the 7-point strategy and download a FREE copy of the Bio Worksheet. It includes more detailed instructions for how to write a bio, a targeted questionnaire to help you pinpoint the type of information you should include in your bio, and live online samples from gurus you may know who are applying these same principles as part of their marketing effort.
So, you want to learn how to write a bio?
Let’s get right to it.
A bio is a narrative. People think of a biography as their life story. It’s actually a short narrative written with a specific audience in mind. If you know your audience, you can figure out what to put in the bio. Download the handbook and compare the two biographies listed in the Targeted Biographies section.
You biography is a living document. It should evolve as you do. Revisit it at least once per quarter, maybe even once a month. This is especially true if you are in the midst of a transition or building your skill set.
There’s no wrong way to do it. You may be able to write a better version of your bio. You may be able to write a more interesting version of your bio. You may be able to write a more cohesive or engaging version of your bio. But keep in mind, most times it’s obligatory. It’s, by no means, New York Times best seller material.
Every professional should have at least three versions of his or her biography on-hand. Four, if you’re on Twitter.
- A full-length bio can contain more than 1,000 words. Have at least one up-to-date, official version of your biography on-hand at all times for social media, your About Page, press releases, media inquiries and marketing in general.
- A short bio usually has up to 250 words. Use it to provide core information about your brand, but keep it interesting.
- A mini bio generally has around 100 words. It bullet points the highlights of your career and clearly defines your value offering.
- A micro biography came to widespread appeal from its use on Twitter. Here, you write 140 characters of guts and glory.
Your biography is a reflection of your brand. I suppose the easiest way to demonstrate this is to look at a few bios for people you may know.
- Case Study: Chris Brogan – His brand is down to earth, helpful, and matter-of-fact. Read both his short and full-length biographies. Visit Chris’s site to read his bio.
- Case Study: Tyler Perry – A storyteller. It makes sense that his biography is long. He’s influential, wealthy, and powerful. He is known for writing, directing and starring in inspirational movies with a spiritual influence. Read Tyler’s bio here.
- Case Study: Seth Godin – Thought leader. Seth is famous for his concise, helpful, minimalist, common sense, just-do-it approach to marketing. His 209-word full-length bio is absolutely on-brand.
Qualities of a great biography
- It’s Up-to-date
- It’s a good read
- It property positions you as:
- The hero of the story.
- A trusted expert, leader or influencer in your space
- It matches your real identity
- It sells you.
What goes into a biography
- Your name and claim to fame – This can be your position, title or current mission. Goes in the first paragraph.
- Your accomplishments – Why should anyone listen to you? What have you done? High profile accomplishments, put at the top to generate excitement and compel the reader to continue. Otherwise, put your accomplishments at the bottom.
- Education and credentials
- Personal information – yes, but only a few words about your family unless lifestyle over work is a significant part of your brand identity (like Tim Ferriss).
Unless you’re Ann Coulter and it’s critical to your brand and book sales, steer clear of inserting controversial interests or hobbies.
Now that you have the basics, it’s time to download your worksheet to help you organize your thoughts and put pen to pad on this one.
Click here to download your worksheet.