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How to Write Your Own Effective, Professional Bio

I've written hundreds of bios. I love writing them, and (sometimes against my will) I take them deadly seriously. A bio or biography is a showcase, a first glance. It shows off all you have to offer, both professionally and personally. CVs are the dullest things alive. A bio adds some flavor. They are fascinating, like choosing a haircut or the color of your living room walls. A first glance at the bigger picture, it's an introduction to a personality. So what makes a bio work? What separates a dud that needs a full rehaul from a bio that makes me grin with fuzzy pride?

faces. bio. purples. simple. minimalist. illustration drawing by Katherine M Kennedy


What Is A Professional Bio?

A professional bio highlights your unique skillset, approach to business, experience, and personality, but it does so much more than that. My biggest frustration is when people don't tell me how they feel about their achievements. That sounds wishy-washy, but a bio is wishy-washy. Fantastic, you have your master's, but why did you get it? Do you use it regularly? What skills do you think studying equipped you with?

Topics Ideas

  • Experience

  • Achievements

  • Employment

  • Mission statement and values

  • Personal and professional goals

  • Interests and hobbies

  • Soft skills

  • Hard Skills

But those high-level topics don't make a bio pop, and if you follow them too closely, you'll end up with a CV (Curriculum Vitae), not a bio. A bio is more personal. It's a more exciting read and tells your reader more about you as a person than a simple CV. A bio takes a CV and lets the reader know what you think, how you think and feel, what you took from your educational experience, why you're proud of your greatest achievement, and why you value the things that you do. A professional bio can be short and concise, but it should do more to justify its paragraphs. At the end of reading your professional biography, your reader should have an idea about whether they would get along with you or not. Hopefully, they will.

Should You Write Your Own Bio?

Writing your own bio is incredibly difficult. I'm a writer, and I struggled to write my own—and honestly, it's a mess, one that I'm strangely fond of and will likely use for a long, long time. People, we're weird. One of the biggest drawbacks of writing your own bio is that you don't have the objective distance to recognize where you may have high-value soft skills and where your proudest accomplishments—while excellent—aren't relevant to your current audience.

I highly recommend hiring a professional writer to type up your bio—it doesn't have to be me. But if you decide to write your own, then make sure you get someone (preferably the brutally honest type) to read and critique it to make sure it is polished and showcases all you have to offer.

If you decide to hire a professional writer, read How to Get the Best Out Of Your Content Writer.

Decide If You Are Going to Write Your Bio In First or third Person Point of View.

  • I, me, we

  • they, he, she, names (Kath, Jack, etc.)

I understand the appeal of first person, particularly for people who want to highlight their personality as a valuable element of their professional profile. Still, third person, POV is the best for bragging. It's as simple as that: it's harder to boast about your achievement and skills in first person without sounding vain. Particularly if you are writing a longer bio—longer than 200 words—where it is likely to become tiresome reading, you toot your horn.

Third Person:

Katherine is a skilled, dynamic writer who highlights your personal and professional achievements for a better standard of content. Seamless and effective, Katherine makes you look good through high-quality writing that reaches your audience.

First Person:

I am a skilled, dynamic writer who highlights your personal and professional achievements for a better standard of content. Seamless and effective, I make you look good through high-quality writing that reaches your audience.

Even writing that example was a struggle. In the first person, all objectivity is lost. Every word is taken with a massive dose of salt because, of course, you're only going to say nice things about yourself. That doesn't mean you can't write a bio in first person. I've written a few, and if I do say so myself, they were rather good. Importantly the people I was writing about wanted to showcase their personalities as much as possible, and they had lovely, big personalities that translated well when written. One was extremely funny and not at all afraid to showcase the more humourous side of her personality. Another was filled to bursting with a charming Southern twang. A style that would have been jarring if it was written in the third person, even condescending. So there is a time, a place, and a personality that fits first person, that needs first person.

How To Start Your Bio

It's essential to include your name, surname, job title or profession, and company or brand name( if you have one) as soon as possible. There is some kind of psychology going on here. People are more likely to apply a long list of skills and attributes to someone if a name comes first. It has something to do with how we read, one word after the other, applying the next word to the one behind it and not the other way around. Sometimes you might want to mix up the sentence structure to keep it interesting for the reader, but by in large, you will want to state your name and then apply achievements, skillsets, successes, etc., to the name. It's only worth a build-up if it's something shocking or surprising, which a name is not.

For example:

Skilled, beautiful, and perseverant, Katherine does it all.


Katherine is skilled, beautiful, and perseverant. She does it all.

Don't Write Your Bio iIn Sequential Order To Match Your Life (Don't write your CV like that either)

People always want to start at the beginning—I was born in 1989, attended High School, etc., etc. Start with the most relevant information and go from there. CVs have to have some kind of sequential structure, but you always start with your last job first and then work backward. Always. ALWAYS!

The same applies to a bio. Sure, you can start with where and when you were born. It does provide some insight into who you are, your age, and some other implied stuff that comes with the place you were raised. I like to start with a summary and then expand on it as we go along. A prologue before we get into the nitty-gritty.

How To Approach a Bio if You Don't Have Much Experience

If you are a newcomer to an industry with minimal experience, then it's a toss-up. In third person POV, we can show off your soft skills and pivot previous jobs and experiences so they apply to the new role. In first person, we can try and overshadow your lack of experience through a personality-filled bio that leans heavily on you as a person and the way you apply life experience to your new role or profession. Personally, I recommend third person, as a first person bio can be a bit of a giveaway that you are inexperienced.

Often very experienced professionals can use first person to showcase their personality because their experience in the industry is a given. The names they have worked with are so big that they don't require an explanation. I worked with Apple/ Microsoft/ Marvel is enough information. It only requires a little information to impress the reader.

SEO and You—It's Not as Scary as You Might Think. You Got This.

If your bio is going to go on your website, blog, or any other online forum, then you have to consider SEO.

  • Your industry and profession are going to have some keywords. Use them.

  • Space your content, so it is easy to read. Your readers and the Google crawlers will appreciate it.

  • Use headings to increase readability and make it easy to understand what each section is about.

  • A bulleted list never goes amiss.

A Quick List of Helpful Tips To Get You Started On Your Professional Bio

  • Start with your name, job title, and company (if applicable)

  • Apply SEO if your bio is going to be used on websites

  • Include the most interesting and impactful information in the first paragraph and build on it throughout the rest of your bio

  • Use first person POV if you want to showcase your personality and third person POV if you're going to indulge in a little bit of modest boasting.

  • A bio is not a CV, don't bore the reader with a long list of your accomplishments and qualification. Inject more of your personality and perspective into the writing.

  • Consider hiring a professional writer to compose your bio (it doesn't have to be me); they will show off your skillset better than you can.

  • Blend soft skills with hard skills, it's nice that you have a doctorate in astrophysics, but people want to know how you apply it and what differentiates you from others with the same qualifications.

  • Research your target market and write for them, not for you.

  • Get someone you know to read your bio and check it's up to snuff.

Don't want to deal with all the nitty-gritty wishy-washy details of writing your own bio. I'll do it for you. Contact Katherine M Kennedy (that's me) for a bio showcasing your skills, personality, and everything you offer. It's more than you think.


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