We’ve all been there: agonizing over how to write our bio in a way that doesn’t irritate readers with too many bragging rights – or fall flat with modesty.
Writing a biography that is professional, personable, accurate, search engine friendly and engaging can be tricky. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. If you take just a little bit of time to plan, you can come up with a personal bio that tells your story and acts as the cornerstone of your personal brand. More often than not, your personal biography is the first thing that someone will see before meeting you – so make it count!
Below are our top tips on how to write your personal biography in a way that represents you well and is search engine friendly:
1. Write different bios for different sites.
As you start to build your personal brand online, remember that you are going to be writing different versions of your bio that will vary in both content and length depending on where it’s posted. So don’t feel like you have to fit everything about your entire life story into one bio. It’s important to have multiple versions for two main reasons:
First of all, from an SEO perspective, unique content helps a profile or website rank better in search results. Search engines like Google, want to provide users with a range of information. Your websites and profiles have a better chance of ranking well if the bios are unique than if the same bio is copy and pasted on all of your properties. While some of the core information will naturally stay the same, make a point to diversify how you write each bio.
From a branding perspective, it’s wise to have different versions of your bio available with the platform where it will ultimately be published in mind. Consider the tone in your writing, it should vary for different audiences and contexts. Keep in mind that different sites have different allowances in terms of word count – find the word and character allowances before you start writing for that site.
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. 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. What you consider to be “important details” can change depending on where you decide to publish this bio. When you have more space, share something personal about who you are. A passion, a core value, an outlook on life – something that speaks to you as a whole.
Also include something more tangible like your job title, industry and location. From a search results standpoint, you want your name to be associated with your location, job title and industry. This way, people looking for you in a professional capacity can find you associated with those words immediately.
However, it’s important to showcase yourself more fully so that people can get a sense of who you are when they look you up online. Aim to describe yourself in a way that’s professional… but also, human.
3. Watch your word count.
Determining the length of your bio 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, 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. As we have mentioned before, search engines value lengthier content (when it is also well-written and original), so get to it!
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. Start small. The length suggestion can change based on your situation and ultimate goals.
Consider organizing your personal bio into sections that you can add to later that will bring up your word count over time. Even from a branding perspective, word count is still important because you want to make sure that you are sharing as much relevant information with the reader as possible. Don’t short change the audience. So take your time and craft something that makes you proud and gives your audience an accurate take on who you are.
4. Write your biography in the third person.
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 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 third person become too much of a good thing.
Never overuse your name when writing your 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.
Speaking in the third person suggests that someone else is speaking about you. And since it’s likely that others will use your various bios as a resource to describe you, writing in the third person makes it easier for others to talk about you using information straight from your bio.
Whether you have an upcoming speaking engagement that requires a bio blurb, or a colleague introduces you via email to someone you’ve wanted to work with for years, your third-person bio makes it easy for others to share information about you with people who you want in your corner.
Writing in the third person makes information about you shareable and accessible. From a branding perspective, this alone is reason enough to write in the third person! If you want to learn more about how this all works, check out our online reputation management guide too.
5. Edit ruthlessly 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 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.
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.
While you should update your bio with obvious milestones like a promotion or a degree, feel free to sprinkle in seemingly smaller accomplishments in your life.
Update your bio so it includes information about running your first 5k, taking a Tango lesson and only falling twice, adopting a rescue dog – anything that paints a clearer picture of who you are and what you value.
6. 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. 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.
If you approach writing your bio like a story, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to differentiate yourself from others and truly connect with the reader. If this makes the process even more challenging, think about your favorite stories. What is it that makes them memorable? Without going overboard, feel free to infuse your bio with your favorite authors. You want to grab the reader and force them to pay attention to you. What elements that make a great story can you use for your bio?
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 bio act as a marketing tool.
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 about 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 online, don’t worry. Start by working on your personal brand’s foundation. Make a note in your calendar, planner or journal that this is something to work on outside of creating your 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.
Also, when you are regularly updating your bios, make sure to check that all of your links are not only relevant, but that the actual links work. Broken links not only make for a frustrating user experience, but likely hurt your search results.
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 interview sites, make a point to include the most direct mode of connection at the end of your 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 bio.
If you give your audience a real way to connect with you at the end of the bio, you’re also sending the message that you’re approachable and want to be accessible. This is particularly helpful if you end up going a little bit “accomplishment heavy” earlier on. The caveat though, is that you should actually respond to people trying to connect with you in the way that you suggest here.
While the process of writing a bio about yourself can be strange at first, these 8 tips will help you to write a great introduction to who you are. Take advantage of them and you won’t be disappointed with the results!
9. Use an online tool to ensure the bios on all your profiles are well-branded and optimized to rank high in search engines.
At BrandYourself, we’ve built a DIY tool that walks you through building an impressive online presence. It includes a useful 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 “boost” on each one to see a list of ways you can improve them – including enhancing your bio.
10. Go beyond your bio.
An effective bio is incredibly important, but it’s only part of your personal brand. We’d be remiss not to mention how important it is to clean up and improve your entire online presence; our national study with Harris Interactive shows just how much your digital footprint affects your earning potential. Luckily, helping people improve their entire online reputation is our bread and butter here at BrandYourself.
Before spending too much time on your bio, it’s important to make sure employers, clients or investors can’t find any “red flags” when they search your name online. Since providing tools and services is how we keep the lights on here, we’re particularly excited about our tool’s newest feature, which lets you scan your online presence for any potential risk factors. Using machine learning and millions of data points, it automatically finds any webpages, social media posts or images that could put your career opportunities in jeopardy. Many people are surprised by what they find using our technology – what will it find about you?
It’s important to take preventative action in finding any potentially inappropriate photos someone tagged you in years ago, ill-advised tweets sent at 2AM you forgot about, or someone portraying you in a negative light in a blog post deep in Google. You can find questionable content like this and then remove it – before an employer, potential client or investor finds it and decides not to do business with you.
Once you’ve cleaned up your online footprint, our tool walks you through the process of building the positive, relevant content you want people to find when they search for you online.
So if you have a minute, we recommend trying our tool for free now. We’ve also got an awesome support team that’s here to help if you have any questions along the way.
11. Get help from an expert.
Sometimes you just need a second pair of eyes on your bio – or would rather a specialist write it for you. That’s part of the larger Concierge service 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.
To learn more, check out our 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.
BrandYourself.com has helped over half a million happy customers advance their careers by cleaning up, protecting and improving their online reputation. Did you know that 83% of employers use the web to research job applicants? If you’re ready to proactively control your Google results and get hired, rather than cut from the applicant pool, try us for free and start controlling how you’re perceived online.