How to write a powerful bio about yourself: 10 Top Tips

Although writing about yourself for business, voluntary work, sports or leisure information, etc. has many common denominators, writing short bios (1-2 paragraph biographies) is a bit of a special art.

How to write a powerful bio about yourself: 10 top tips

Usually you have very few words to play with, from maybe 30 words at the painful shorter end and up to, say, 150 at the more relaxed end. The bad news: this does not allow you much room for manoeuvre. The good news: unless the requirement is horribly general, readers will be interested in some of your attributes – not all of them. That narrows the field a bit.

Squashing yourself and your good points down into such a short space can be intimidating, but here are some tips to make it easier for you…

10 Top Tips on how to write a powerful bio

1. Especially, but not only if you’re asked to provide a bio more than once in a blue moon, write yourself a shopping list of all your “selling” points. You’re not preparing to write a CV / résumé or a LinkedIn profile, so you just need to capture the upshot of what you have achieved in a few words. I know, this sounds long-winded, but bear with me. It saves time later.

2. For once, you don’t necessarily have to focus on “what’s in it for them,” because a bio is truly personal, about you. Key points on your qualifications, achievements, awards, accolades are all OK here.

3. And also because this is about you, include everything you’re proud of – not just your work. Add all of the following elements as well, in a few words each:

    • Social life
    • Family
    • Sports
    • Voluntary work
    • Community work
    • Hobbies, crafts, etc.
    • Survival of medical conditions
    • Interests
    • Etc.

4. Write all these out in a long list. If you’re a bit of an OCD freak like me, you can order them into categories if you want. Assuming you save this to your trusty desklapcellmobiletablettop (how’s that for a new compound noun?), you now have a bijou database of all your attributes from which you can cherry pick whenever the need for any kind of bio should crop up. I said above that it seems like a long-winded approach, but trust me – once you have done it, it will help save you a lot of time in the future. And as time goes on, of course, it’s easy to add to.

5. Now, go and research the organisation, website or other body that requires you to provide a bio. Obviously your first priority is to be fully aware of what its readers are interested in, which immediately should start you focusing on a smaller selection within your shopping list.

HTWB me6. Don’t just take the requester’s word for it when they ask you for “a few words about yourself, up to X characters.” If possible have a look at what other people have written in their bios in the same context. Are they written in the first person, or third person? What qualities stand out in their bios? What writing style do they use – formal, informal, chatty, academic, etc.?

7. Once you know all that, go back to your shopping list. Assuming it’s in digital format either copy the list and paste it into a new document, or save the original as a new document and then edit from that.

8. Delete all the elements in the list which are not relevant or required for this particular purpose.

9. Reassemble the points that are left into an order that follows either your own logic, the logic used by the organisation and/or other people with bios in the same place if there are any, or indeed a combination of the two. This way you will end up with a skeleton that is relevant – and the know-how to write up your bio in a style that suits the purpose.

10. Write it up. Many people say you shouldn’t worry about length when your creative flow is flowing, but I say hmmmm… if you know you need to keep it short and snappy, start by keeping it short and snappy. Saves a lot of time later. Keep checking your word count and prune unnecessary adjectives, adverbs, etc. first, then lesser attributes second.

Et voilà.

Good luck, and if you have any questions, give me a shout in the comments below.

What advice can you add about how to write a powerful bio?

Would love to know, so please jot down your thoughts in the comments below or in the social media.


Image with many thanks: 

By AOL Inc. and/or Pumpkinhead, Inc. ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons