How to write personal “about” pages and bios

Personal “about” pages can take many forms, not least of which is the page that appears on your personal (or your 1-person business) website, blog, blogsite or whatever. These are usually called “bios” (short for biographies) and often a bio is what you’ll asked for to support contributions to a website or magazine, a special interest or sporting magazine, etc., as well as on a platform of your own.

In our current mood of business being driven, to a significant extent, by the influence of social media, these personal “about” pages or bios tend to be informal and chatty and as such provide you with a very good opportunity to express your true personality through what you write.

All the same, you must still bear in mind what your audience wants to know about you, and why. This can vary quite a bit from one purpose to another, but it’s not difficult to tailor your text to suit the requirements.

Let’s say you work as a graphic designer, you live in Milton Keynes with your wife and two young children, your hobbies are gardening, bird-watching and fishing, and you are disabled. For a general “about” piece you would include all that information in roughly that order.

But let’s say you’re contributing a guest post to a blog about fishing. Your order of priority then would change as follows:

Your hobby of fishing and experience of it

  1. Your location
  2. Your job
  3. Your family and other hobbies
  4. Your disability (if you want to, but only if you feel it’s necessary)

If you’re writing for a parenting blog or magazine, the priorities will change again:

  1. Your two children and your wife
  2. Your disability (if it affects the way you parent)
  3. Your location
  4. Your hobbies
  5. Your job

If you’re writing for a publication or website connected with your disability:

  1. Your disability
  2. Your job and how it’s affected by your disability
  3. Your family
  4. Your hobbies

And so-on.

First person or third person?

“About” bios aren’t quite the same as personal selling documents like CVs, however I prefer writing in the third person for more business-inclined and/or formal purposes, and only use the first person where I am expected to write in an informal, me-to-you style.

Here are a few examples of my own texts. Although much of the core information is the same pretty well throughout, you can see how I adapt it and re-angle it to suit the purpose concerned. You’ll see that I use the third person except for the about page here on HTWB, where I think (perhaps wrongly!) that you readers want to read a personal message from me.

100 word bio for writers’ website

Canadian born Suzan “Suze” St Maur has worked as an advertising copywriter, script and speechwriter since the 1970s, as well as researching and writing more than 30 published nonfiction books – with several more in the pipeline. Her key area of expertise is writing for business and general nonfiction, where she helps people produce more effective written material of their own, more quickly – from entire books down to micro-blogging. One of her latest books, “How To Write Winning Non-fiction” is an Amazon category best-seller, and currently she is working on a new book on business writing for the 21st century.

 Personal “about” page on own website

 Check out my About Suzan St Maur page on here!

Bio on book jacket,The Pony Lovers’ Joke Book

Canadian born, UK based Suzan St Maur is a leading international business writer, editor and best-selling author. She has written more than 30 published books including several joke books, of which the all-time favourite, “The Horse Lover’s Joke Book” has been consistently in the top ten Amazon category best-sellers since the early 2000s.

Suzan started riding when she was 11 years old and soon joined the Whaddon Chase Pony Club, of which she has very fond memories and to whom she now occasionally offers her help. She is also a committee member of the BRC affiliated Aspley Guise & District Riding Club. She has had to have a few years off riding due to ill health but spends many a weekend writing for dressage judges.

Suzan lives in Bedfordshire with her son, three dogs, and three cats

Bio on book jacket, “How To Write Winning Non-fiction

Canadian born Suzan “Suze” St Maur has worked as an advertising copywriter, script and speechwriter since the 1970s, as well as researching and writing more than 30 published nonfiction books – with several more in the pipeline. Topics are an eclectic mix ranging from business and marketing to weddings, green living, jokes, jewellery, health and safety, and of course – writing. Suze also edits other people’s nonfiction books as well as coaching them through the writing and publishing process. She lives near Milton Keynes, UK, with her student/musician son and numerous rescued pets. For more information go http://HowToWriteBetter.net

 Bio on book jacket, “The A to Z of Wedding Wisdom

Canadian-born Suzan St Maur is a researcher, writer and author specialising in business, consumer and humour topics. She has extensive experience of writing across all media in both corporate and entertainment fields, and is also well known as a business and humorous columnist on hundreds of websites internationally. As well as writing her own material she edits other people’s books, scripts and text, and advises on book preparation and publication.

She has over 30 published/commissioned books to her name including the popular “Wedding Speeches For Women,” also by How To Books.

Suzan lives in Bedfordshire, UK, with her teenage son and various pets. She has been married more than once and consequently has personal experience of most of the main issues affecting weddings!

You can read more about Suzan and her work on her website, http://HowToWriteBetter.net

And so-on. All you really need to remember is to adapt your core information to suit the publication, website or other medium involved. Happy writing!

Write right – and make them love you:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

photo credit: moonjazz via photo pin cc

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Thoughts

  1. Good morning, Suzan.

    Found you at last – I forgot to bookmark the ‘discussion’ we were having about cars and as I said, you are top of my list for info about our new mode of transport due for taking the world by storm this Christmas… well, it will be if my partner ever pulls his finger out and gets his part of the package perfected!

    And having just quickly scanned your beautifully written Bios, I just know you’re going to love them. That’s right – more than one. We women don’t faff about when it comes to innovation, do we?

    I’m looking forward to following your brief writing course – heaven knows, I need it!

    Apparently I’m tending towards being more than a bit bawdy (according to a gentleman in America, who for both our sakes will remain nameless), so hopefully you’ll turn me into a fine and upstanding English lady whose works are a wonder and the epitome of elegance. But then again…. why change the habit of a lifetime?

    And as my mother always said – you can’t make a silk purse out of a pigs ear. This was in relation to my attempts to master the art of war-paint… err, make-up. I’m sure she loved me dearly – just had a warped way of showing it!

    Now I’m waffling, for which I sincerely apologise.

    Happy day!
    L

    • Hi Linda … that chat we were having about cars was on BirdsOnTheBlog, not on here … more’s the pity! Thanks for signing up to the course – it’s great to have you on board. If you want a more in-depth resource for business and other nonfiction writing, have a look at my “Business Writing Made Easy” here – http://amzn.to/UTcW7s…!

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