How to Write a Biography – And Why You Should!

How to Write a Biography: And Why You Should

Let’s Get Some Perspective

  • 1. It’s your bio, so do what you want.
  • 2. There’s no right, but there are some wrongs.
  • 3. There’s lots of conflicting advice. For example, Pete Kistler’s post about how to write a professional bio gives some advice that’s different from what you’ll read here.
  • 4. So do what you want, after thinking about the repercussions…

 

Why Learn How To Write A Bio?

Here are some reasons – and note that some of them imply that you need different versions:

  • You need a really short bio for social networking sites – you know, things like Twitter.
  • If you do a blog, you need two bios – a very short “About” on your blog’s landing page, and a longer version for your “About” page.
  • You’ll frequently need some kind of bio if you speak somewhere, guest blog, or otherwise volunteer your services.
  • A bio is a great adjunct document to use in your job search.

How To Write Your Bio

I bet you can think of others as well. You can see right away that some need to be more condensed than others. Contrary to advice you’ve received from others, some are better written in first-person, and some in third-person. (“I am a blogger” vs “Feigenson is a blogger”). It’s really pretty easy to do several versions if you start with the longest one first. Then you can prune it down for the shorter versions, and change the voice of the bio from first- to third-person easily. Just to be clear, if you’re obviously talking about yourself, it’s more natural to write in first-person. But if the bio is going to be used by others, then third-person is more natural. How long should different versions be? There’s no hard and fast rule, but here’s what I’d suggest:

  • The shortest version is your personal branding statement. I’ve written about this topic several times, and here’s a good starting point. Let’s just say that your PBS should be able to fit on a single line on your business card.
  • Tiny version should be under 50 words.
  • Short version should be about 100 words.
  • Long version should be one page (but leave room for your picture).

The Length of Your Bio Will Be Dictated

So you may end up with even more versions… There are other posts on this site that provide more nuts and bolts instructions for how to write a bio (see “8 Tips to Write a Professional Bio” and “How to Write a Short, Professional Bio on Yourself”). Well, actually do a search for the word “bio” and you’ll find still more posts. And since these are pretty comprehensive, I’m going to finish up with some things people don’t normally write about on this topic.

First, everything you write should support your Personal Branding Statement. This focus is essential to promote the brand, or image, you’ve decided on. Everything you do or say needs to support that effort. For example, a fellow I know posted a status message on LinkedIn: “xxx is a Compentent Comunicator…” Some of you may recognize this as an announcement that the writer had just attained the level of competent communicator at Toastmasters. I hope you will all realize he spelled both competent and communicator wrong. So if you make a claim, please be sure to support it! So, your bio – any length – starts out with your Personal Branding Statement. Then be sure to include the things you’ve done that support your PBS. And please – whether you write in first- or third-person – include something about who and what you are. When people read bios, they want to get some feeling about you, they’re looking for a personal connection.

Finally, you should consider making a single-page document about yourself – your personal bio – that will complement your resume. It should be clean, well-designed, and interesting. There are times when this bio will be more effective than a resume in your job search, especially as you advance in your career. Check out Brand-Yourself’s other articles on how to write a bio, see which tips work best for you, and get started on your own bio:

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