Unless you want to spend the rest of your life in a cave and never have a freelancing assignment again, you need a good bio. A “bio,” short for “biography” is a summary of who you are, what you do, and why people should be interested in you. If it’s well-written, a bio will help prospective clients to know, like and trust you–enough to want to hire you. It’s pretty useful. You’ll want to include one in your resume. It’s a must-have in your freelancing website and buzz piece. If you write articles, press releases and other content, you’ll need a brief bio for those as well. Also, whenever someone interviews you, they’ll need a bio to introduce you to their audience.
What Makes A Good Bio?
A good bio is interesting. It’s like a little story that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read to the very end. It’s easy to read, more conversational than academic in tone. It shows off your expertise, but is 100% honest. Just as you shouldn’t “pad” your resume, neither should you fabricate things to make you look better on your bio. A good bio gives a glimpse of your personality. It portrays you as a living, breathing human being. Finally, a good bio is as long as it needs to be (which varies, depending on what it’s used for. More on that below).
Elements of a Good Freelancer Bio
Given all the hard work a bio must do, here are the different elements you should consider including in yours:
- One-sentence summary of who you are and what you do for your clients. Begin your bio with this. Make as big a promise as you’re comfortable with. One formula you can use is, (YOUR NAME) is a (OCCUPATION) who helps (TARGET CLIENTS) to (RESULTS YOU GET FOR YOUR CLIENTS).
Joan Lynch is a public relations consultant who helps non-profits find more donors through publicity and exposure in traditional and social media.
- Qualifications. After you make your big promise, back it up with your qualifications. Mention your experience, education and other specialized training.
- Achievements. If you’ve won awards or made other achievements, mention them! Remember, you’re telling the reader why they should believe you and care about what you say or do.
- Notable Clients. If you’ve done work for Fortune 500 companies, celebrities or influential people, then include them in your bio (ask for permission first).
- Uniqueness. What sets you apart from your competitors? If you have a distinct niche, service, approach or anything else that makes you unique, tell your readers about it.
- Services. Make it clear you’re a freelancer for hire! Mention the top services you offer.
- Affiliations. If you’re well connected, show it. In this section, list the blogs, magazines or journals you write for. If you create other forms of content, such as podcasts or Internet radio shows, include them here. This is also where you talk about professional groups and organizations you belong in.
- Personal Stuff. You never know what will resonate with your prospective clients. It’s not necessarily something related to your skills or services. For example, Chris Garrett, a social media consultant, recently posted that a coaching client hired him because he talked about struggling to learn how to play a guitar. The lesson? Feel free to talk about your passions, hobbies, and interests. If you’ve done anything unusual, like climb Mt. Everest or spend a month in a monastery, share that. As I said, you never know…
- Current Projects. If you’re working on something interesting, you can mention that as well. If it’s a client project, do so in broad terms, without divulging details that could be detrimental to your client. For example, don’t say, “Richard is currently developing a Facebook app for ABM Media that will help users video chat with each other.” That would alert ABM Media’s competitors to develop their own competitive app! Instead, say something like, “Richard is currently developing a multimedia app compatible with one of the top social networking sites today.” You could also mention an interesting personal project.
- Testimonials. Weave in one or two killer testimonials in your bio. Don’t choose anything over-the-top, though. A testimonial that talks objectively about results your client achieved with your work is ideal.
- Photo. People want to see what you look like, so include a nice, personable photo of you. Preferably, with you smiling. I know we say we’re not judgmental, but let’s be honest, we judge each other based on looks.
- Call to Action. End your bio with a call to action. if you have a buzz piece, let readers know where to go to claim it or other free content you offer. Definitely, let them know how to contact you.
Ready to write your bio, or improve your existing one? Here are some tips for you:
- Make the tone conversational. While you don’t want to use inappropriate language, neither should your bio sound stiff and stodgy. A conversational tone is best for most bios. However, you may need to write different versions for different occasions (see below).
- Proofread and pre-test. Nothing destroys your credibility more than a bio with grammatical and typographical errors. Ask another person to read it, because you can get so used to your own writing that you overlook mistakes. Let a few trusted friends and family read your bio and ask them if it’s interesting, engaging, and makes them want to work with you.
- Write different versions. Bios are used for many different things. For this reason, you’ll need different versions of your bio. Consider writing your bio in different lengths and levels of detail. You may also need different tones, one casual and one formal, for example. Also, while most bios are written in the third person, you may want to write one version in the first person. You can use this in the About page of your website and social networking profiles.
- Check for consistency with other materials. Make sure your bio is consistent in terms of content, tone and personality with your other materials, such as your resume, business cards, etc. You don’t want your readers wondering if they’re reading about the same person or if you’ve somehow had a personality transplant.
- Update. Just as you should always have an updated resume, so should you regularly update your bio. I must admit, this is advice I need to follow myself. Let’s strive for an update every six months, shall we?
What do you think of these bio-writing tips? Did I miss anything?