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.
But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
In many cases, your personal biography will define your first impression online:
You may be Googled by a potential employer or client before an interview.
Or by someone at a networking event who wants to learn more about you.
Or even by a first date who want to scope you before meeting up.
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.
If you take just a little bit of time to plan, you can craft a personal bio that tells your story and acts as the foundation of your personal brand.
Below are some of my top tips on how to write a personal bio that maximizes your career opportunities.
1. How to write a bio for all of your different profiles.
As you build your online presence, you’re going to 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).
So your websites and profiles will have a better chance of ranking well in Google if each bio is unique.
That’s why it’s important to switch up exactly how you write each bio, even though they’ll follow a similar theme.
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. If you do public speaking, the “intro” blurb people use to introduce you shouldn’t go on and on for too long. If you’re a writer, your byline should communicate who you are in just a sentence. If you have a personal website, your bio should be thorough and comprehensive (500 words at a minimum).
And remember to consider the tone of your voice on each platform. It should be targeted to each audience and context.
Keeping this in mind up front will make the process of writing a bio much easier.
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.
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 holistic person.
Of course, a personal bio should include essentials 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.
An example for inspiration: Katerina Jeng
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.
3. Watch your word count.
When you start writing a bio 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 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. As we have mentioned before, search engines value lengthier content (when it is also well-written and original), so get to it! When learning how to write a bio about yourself that ranks well, this is one of the most important tips you can remember.
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.
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.
Solid word count in action: Darren Rowse
Using ProBlogger as a biography example for this tip 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.
4. Write your biography in the third person.
This is one of the most common steps that people struggle with when learning how to write a bio. 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 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.
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 personal 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.
When practicing how to write a bio about yourself effectively, you can’t spend enough time focusing on this. 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.
Two bios you can learn from: Barack and Michelle Obama
On Barack and Michelle Obama’s about 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.
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.
Example bio that includes a story: Pete Kistler
You can check out my bio above to see how I included a story in it. I could’ve just listed facts about myself. But I briefly told the story of how I was mistaken for a drug dealer in Google – and how it became the turning point in my career that led to BrandYourself. It humanizes the bio, makes it a bit more engaging, and helps people understand who I am today.
Do you have a story that sparked your career, your passion, or your purpose?
If trying to force a story seems too challenging, don’t worry.
Just think about your favorite stories. What is it that makes them memorable?
Without going overboard, feel free to infuse your personal bio with what you love from your favorite authors. You want to grab the reader and give them a reason to pay attention to you. What elements that make a great story can you use for your bio?
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.
While you should update your personal 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.
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 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 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 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.
Learning how to write a bio that performs well also means you need to do a little housekeeping from time to time. 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.
Mimic this example for great results: Tim Ferriss
We could think of no one better than Tim Ferriss for this particular biography example. 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.
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 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.
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!
A biography example that does almost everything right: Noah Kagan
This is a good example of a biography that does a lot of 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.
9. 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 a online 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 “boost” on each one to see a list of ways you can improve them – including enhancing your personal bio.
10. Go beyond your personal 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 learning how to write a bio about yourself, 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 reputation management software for free now. We’ve also got an awesome support team that’s here to help if you have any questions along the way. It will make the process of writing a bio much easier once you have everything else taken care of.
11. Get help from an expert.
Sometimes you just need a second pair of eyes on your personal bio – or would rather a specialist write it for you. That’s part of the larger online 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.
BrandYourself has helped nearly a million 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? And it’s not just employers. If you’re ready to proactively control your Google results and advance your career, try us for free and start controlling how you’re perceived online.