This post was last updated on October 5th, 2020 at 12:46 pm
We’ve all been there: agonizing over how to write a bio that doesn’t sound too self-promotional or fall flat with modesty.
Writing a biography that’s professional and actually sparks interest can be tricky. And optimizing it for greater visibility in search engines can make your job even harder.
In many cases, your personal biography will define your first impression online when you’re Googled by:
- A potential employer or client before an interview.
- Someone at a networking event who wants to learn more about you.
- A potential client or customer looking to get more info before working with you.
And when someone finds your social media profiles, personal website, or company bio page, your bio will be there to greet them.
It can make or break whether someone wants to take the next step and work with you.
So it’s important to make it count.
1. How to write a bio that checks all the boxes.
When it comes to writing a personal or professional bio, there are a few items that are standard to include. While a bio may not have all of these things, if any of the following apply to you, then they should be included. Use the following bullet points to write out a list of information about you. From there, you can draw info from each line item to start crafting your bio.
- Your current role
- Hometown/Current place of residence
- Work experience
- Education history
- Special skills & attributes
- Professional accomplishments
- Personal accomplishments
- High-level personal goals & aspirations
- High-level professional accomplishments
- Hobbies & pastimes
- Personal passions
- Awards or Accolades
- Press Mentions
- Miscellaneous (What makes you unique!)
Starting with a list ensures you won’t leave anything out.
2. Introduce yourself… like a real person.
This is one of the most important pieces of understanding how to write a personal biography. Always start with your name.
When many people start learning how to write a bio, they skip this important part. People need to know who you are before they learn what you do. Remember that your most important details should go in the very first sentence.
Keep the first sentence short and sweet either by describing what you do at a high level or going into more detail about your specific role. Aim to describe yourself in a way that’s professional…but also, human.
3. Watch your word count.
When you start writing a bio determining the length may seem like an afterthought – something that just happens once you stop typing. However, it is something that you need to think about before you start writing – and your ideal word count may shift depending on your primary focus.
From an SEO perspective, the more words you use in your personal bio, the better. If you are filling in the bio section of a profile, find out the word or character limit – that’s how long your bio should be. If you are writing the bio on your personal website, the longer the better. Plan to write 500 words – minimum. If you have 1,500 to 2,000 words in you, that’s even better.
From a branding perspective, you may have a different take on the length of your bio. Perhaps you would prefer to keep things short and sweet or don’t feel the immediate need for a 1,500 word count. If so, that’s fine too. Cater your personal bio to your goals. Start small. The length suggestion can change based on your situation and ultimate goals.
4. Write your biography in the third person.
This is one of the most common steps that you may struggle with when learning how to write a bio about yourself. While it can feel strange to talk about yourself in the third person at first, there are some very clear benefits from doing so:
From an SEO perspective, writing a bio in the third person allows you to include your full name throughout the bio. This lets search engines know that this lengthy, original, and well-written piece of content is about you. While making it clear that this awesome work is about you is important when it comes to search engine optimization, don’t let speaking in the third person become too much of a good thing.
Never overuse your name when writing a bio or include it in a way that seems unnatural. Instead, use your name when it is appropriate. By dropping your name too frequently, search engines may think that the article looks suspicious/spammy – or isn’t written very well.
5. Write a story, not a list.
When writing a personal bio, it can be easy to fall into the trap of rattling off accomplishments, but that’s what your resume is for. Your bio should go above and beyond your awards and get to the core of who you are and what you’re about.
Now, that may seem like a tall order, but with a bit of planning you can pull it off. You can understand how to write a bio from a technical standpoint, but looking at it through this lens will help be your guideline going forward. Ask yourself questions like, “Who is your audience?”, or, “What are the main takeaways for your reader?”, and, “What events in your life best illustrate those main points?”. Turn your biography into a story that engages the reader.
Those who have mastered the steps of how to write a bio spend a lot of time doing this. If you approach writing a bio like a story, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to differentiate yourself from others and truly connect with the reader.
6. Edit ruthlessly, analyze with free tools, and update constantly.
Your online bio is the authoritative source on you. That means that it needs to reflect you in the best light possible. This also means that it should be kept as up to date as possible. The proper action plan for how to write a bio is never truly finished because of this.
A lengthy, well-written, and regularly updated piece of content is like search engine gold. So when you complete your initial version of the longer personal bio that you will use on your website, know that you’re not finished.
As you gain more experience or perhaps shift your professional focus, include these changes in your bios. And keep asking other people that you trust to take a look at your main bios to edit them. Writing a bio is an ongoing process that you should never ignore for too long.
Read your bio aloud to yourself, use free editing tools like the Hemingway app, Slickwrite or any other number of free resources that will help you write a great bio about yourself that keeps readers interested.
7. Link to your work.
Regardless of your profession, it’s likely that you have samples of your work that are pertinent to the audience reading about you. In addition to being an introduction to who you are and what you do, let your personal bio act as a marketing tool. Many people want to learn how to write a bio effectively, but they don’t spend enough time learning how to use it as a promotion.
You can do this by including links to your product, company, or service. Avoid doing this in a heavy-handed way since nobody wants to read a direct sales pitch when they’re trying to learn about a human being. Mention the product, company, or service in a way that helps you tell your own story in a natural way.
These links should enhance and illustrate what you’re already describing yourself. This shouldn’t be a distraction or take anything away from the main thrust of your personal narrative.
If you have a lot of work and accomplishments to choose from, be selective! Highlight work that’s impressive, relevant, tells your story, and makes you proud.
If you don’t currently have much to link to within your personal bio, don’t worry. Start by learning more about personal branding. Make a note in your calendar, planner, or journal that this is something to work on outside of creating your personal bio. But don’t let this fall by the wayside, set some time aside in the next few weeks to actively work on fixing this.
Whether it’s writing an article on your company’s website, submitting a post to a site that’s related to your industry or finally getting your passion project’s website live… do it! And once that is live, get the most out of it by linking to it in your bios. Look to other professionals in your field who have a well-developed online presence for inspiration.
8. Don’t forget to share your contact information.
Even if you have a contact page on your site, or perhaps widgets on your website that link to your social media sites, make a point to include the most direct mode of connection at the end of your personal bio. This could be your email address, a link to your contact page, or a link to your LinkedIn account. When it comes down to it, understanding how to write a biography aids you in creating new and valuable connections.
By including this type of information at the end of your bio, you’re not only letting your audience know how you prefer that they get in touch with you but directing them to another hub that lets them learn even more information about you (if you so choose). Give some thought about what you want your audience to do after they have just been introduced to you through your personal bio.
9. Write a bio for all of your different profiles.
As you build your online presence, you will need different versions of your bio. They’ll vary in length depending on where you place them. So to start, don’t feel like you have to fit your entire life story into one bio.
It’s important to have multiple versions of your bio for two main reasons:
- From a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) perspective, unique content helps your profiles and websites rank better in search results. Why? Because search engines like Google want to provide a broad range of information, not content that seems plagiarized (even if you just plagiarized yourself).
- From a branding perspective, it’s helpful to have different versions of your bio at the ready for different platforms. For example, your Twitter bio will be very short due to character limitations, but your LinkedIn bio (called your summary) can be longer.
Both of these reasons fit into the bigger picture of managing your online presence. A lot goes into this process, which is why we put together this comprehensive online reputation management guide.
10. Use an online tool to ensure the bios on all your profiles are well-branded and optimized to rank high in search engines.
Understanding how to write a bio is a lot easier when you have a little help. At BrandYourself, we’ve built reputation management software that walks you through building an impressive online presence.
It includes a useful personal bio analyzer that helps you ensure your bios across all profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter, About.me, your website, etc.) are well-branded and optimized to show up as high as possible in Google. Just submit your profiles, and quickly find out which bios need improvement.
If you want to analyze the bios on your own profiles, create a free account now. Just submit your main profiles, then click “optimize” on each one to see a list of ways you can improve them – including enhancing your personal bio.
11. Get help from an expert.
Sometimes you just need a second pair of eyes on your personal bio – or you can have a specialist write it for you. That’s part of the larger reputation management services we provide at BrandYourself.
If you’re interested in working with one of our in-house reputation specialists, we can help: as part of your kickoff strategy session, we’ll help define the most powerful way to talk about yourself, position yourself effectively against others in your industry, and ensure your bios are working for you across all your online profiles and websites. Our reputation specialists understand the ins and outs of how to write a bio that helps you achieve your goals, and it’s one of the first things they go over with you.
To learn more, check out our reputation management services here. Otherwise, don’t hesitate to check out our other blog posts as you continue your journey building your brand. And if you don’t want to miss out on similar tips and tricks in the future, just scroll up and subscribe.
Personal Bio Examples
1. Noah Kagan
Read Noah’s full bio.
This a good example of a biography that does a lot fo the things we’ve mentioned well. Noah links to his work, writes with a friendly style, and even connects the reader with people he works with.
The reason why we’re highlighting this bio though is that Noah makes it easy to get in touch with him via email. So many biography examples that you might find will include links to social media accounts only, which is fine. However, if you want to build up a fast connection with someone who just found you, email is the way to go.
Not only that but because he wrote this bio in a fun and conversational style (the little mention about taco gift cards) it actually encourages people to reach out. Noah is great at building connections with people, and this biography example is no exception.
Read Katerina’s full bio.
The biography example from Katerina Jeng illustrates how to introduce yourself like a real person while demonstrating professionalism at the same time. Katerina covers her background, useful traits, current work, and hobbies – all while keeping things light and conversational.
The balance in this bio example can be tough to replicate, but it’s worth exploring if it fits your writing style.
Going too casual or stuffy can leave a bad impression professionally, and won’t give you the best possible opportunity to stand out. This is a good example of how to write a bio that does both.
Read the full bios.
On Barack and Michelle Obama’s page, you can find textbook biography examples that show you how to write your bio in the third person without making it awkward to read. So many people struggle with this, so hopefully, these bio examples will make things easier by seeing it in action.
Both of these bios do a great job not going overboard and varying the kind of third-person mentions you can include. This makes your biography more natural to read while still ensuring that it has the best chance to be seen when someone looks you up.
4. Darren Rowse
Read Darren’s full bio.
Using ProBlogger as a biography example for our tips is a perfect fit. When you check out the page you’ll see that Darren wrote this bio to be comprehensive but also lead viewers right into his offerings (very smart).
He is mindful of his word count and makes sure to expand a bit more after he’s done talking about his background by continuing into what he’s working on now. This biography is a perfect example of how not being too brief can help the bio you wrote rank well in search engines, while also catching the reader up if it’s their first time hearing of you.
5. Tim Ferriss
Read Tim’s full bio.
Tim is a master at promoting his work and when he wrote his bio he took full advantage of the opportunity.
Throughout Tim’s bio he seamlessly links to his work, credentials, social media accounts, and books he’s written. If you had never heard of him before, he makes it quite easy to get up to speed and find out about his work.
One thing we like about this biography example is that he alternates between lists and paragraphs to help break things up. So many times people write their bio as an extremely dense and text-heavy monster that ultimately never gets read fully. If you give the reader a break (especially in this age of skimming) more will be consumed in the long run.
6. Pete Kistler
Read Pete’s full bio.
Pete’s bio works in both his personal & professional story. Instead of being just a list of facts, it includes the story of how he was mistaken for a drug dealer in Google — and how it became the turning point in his career that lead to BrandYourself.