“What goes in a bio?” That is the question I am most often asked when the subject of bios and About pages comes up. In this article, I’m going to teach you how to write a high-impact, spot-on, branded bio.
** This post was originally published to my blog, Iconic Woman and is part of The Wily Mompreneur book series. **
So, you want to learn how to write a bio?
Let’s get right to it.
A bio is a narrative. People think of a biography as their life story. It’s actually a short narrative written with a specific audience in mind. If you know your audience, you can figure out what to put in the bio. Download the handbook and compare the two biographies listed in the Targeted Biographies section.
Your biography is a living document. It should evolve as you do. Revisit it at least once per quarter, maybe even once a month. This is especially true if you are in the midst of a transition, or building your skill set.
There’s no wrong way to do it. You may be able to write a better version of your bio. You may be able to write a more interesting version of your bio. You may be able to write a more cohesive or engaging version of your bio. But keep in mind, you’re writing a bio because you need one for a specific reason. It’s, by no means, New York Times best seller material.
Every professional should have at least three versions of his or her biography on-hand. Four, if you’re on Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat.
- A full-length bio can contain more than 1,000 words. Have at least one up-to-date, official version of your biography on-hand at all times for social media, your About Page, press releases, media inquiries and marketing in general.
- A short bio usually has up to 250 words. Use it to provide core information about your brand, but keep it interesting.
- A mini bio generally has around 100 words. It bullet points the highlights of your career and clearly defines your value offering.
- A micro biography came to widespread appeal from its use on Twitter. Here, you write 140 characters of guts and glory.
Your biography is a reflection of your brand. I suppose the easiest way to demonstrate this is to look at a few bios for people you may know.
- Case Study: Chris Brogan – His brand is down to earth, helpful, and matter-of-fact. Read both his short and full-length biographies. Visit Chris’s site to read his bio.
- Case Study: Tyler Perry – A storyteller. It makes sense that his biography is long. He’s influential, wealthy, and powerful. He is known for writing, directing and starring in inspirational movies with a spiritual influence. Read Tyler’s bio here.
- Case Study: Seth Godin – Thought leader. Seth is famous for his concise, helpful, minimalist, common sense, just-do-it approach to marketing. His 209-word full-length bio is absolutely on-brand.
Qualities of a great biography
- It’s up-to-date
- It’s a good read
- It properly positions you as:
- The hero of the story
- A trusted expert, leader or influencer in your space
- It matches your real identity
- It sells you
What goes into a biography
- Your name and claim to fame – This can be your position, title or current mission. Goes in the first paragraph.
- Your accomplishments – Why should anyone listen to you? What have you done? High profile accomplishments, put at the top to generate excitement and compel the reader to continue. Otherwise, put your accomplishments at the bottom.
- Education and credentials
- Personal information – yes, but only a few words about your family unless lifestyle over work is a significant part of your brand identity (like Tim Ferriss).
Unless you’re Ann Coulter and it’s critical to your brand and book sales, steer clear of inserting controversial interests or hobbies.
Now that you have the basics, it’s time to download your worksheet to help you organize your thoughts and put pen to pad on this one.
Click here to download your Biographical Worksheet.
Click here to download How to Write a Bio.
Whether you’re a car salesman or a plumber, you have a body of knowledge that others will pay to have. Here’s how to start the process of packaging your expertise. It’s time to get paid to teach others what you know.
Value. Value. Value. That’s the Name of the Game.
As an expert in your field, you already have a wealth of knowledge, and your expertise is valuable.
Valuable and monetizable.
The secret is knowing what to monetize and what to give away for free. That’s what this article is really about.
After ghostwriting hundreds of articles and dozens of books for authors, public figures, and business people, I have learned there are three types of creators:
- The High-Value Creator who wants to give people as much value as possible, even if that means there’s nothing to monetize.
- The Reciprocity Guru is only interested in giving away enough information to justify asking people to buy in the immediate future… usually at a pretty steep price
- The Information Miser thinks you should pay for every drop of information he or she gives out
Let me make this crystal clear: I firmly believe your goal in teaching other people what you know should be adding value.Yeah, well if I give away all my knowledge, there won’t be anything for me to monetize.
I have two responses to that. First, most people are satisfied just consuming content. They aren’t going to actually execute, so giving away knowledge is not going to stop them from buying your product, too.
Second, If you really are an expert in your field, you will have so much experiential wisdom and knowledge to share that you can tell the whole world all there is to know about your business and still be able to monetize your actual strategies. In other words, give away give away the gold (the who, what, when, where and why) and sell the platinum (how to do it).
Always aim to give your audience far more value than they expect. Your reputation (brand) will earn you a shot at getting their attention. When you deliver on your promise to educate and entertain, you will be able to keep their attention.
How to Know What to Give Away and What To Sell
How can you freely share with your audience the gold nuggets of wisdom you have acquired from working in your business? Your gold nuggets of wisdom help people get things done.
For your own blog, free downloads and YouTube training videos, focus on providing your audience with a perpetual list of ideas and insights that fall into the what-to-do category: Do this if you want to increase conversions on your site. Do this if you want to boost your income as a hair stylist. Do this to get a shot at writing for a national magazine.
Then there’s the platinum-level information. That’s the premium content – the master’s secrets that you save for your paying customers. These are the deep insights and the turn-key systems that help people streamline the process of reaching their goals. Your premium content and your highest-value knowledge is what you sell.
The premium content you create for your paying customers can be step-by-step instructions on exactly how to do everything you have told them to do. If you told them to write a pitch in order to increase their chances of writing for a national magazine, your premium level content should include a step-by-step chronicle of exactly how to write a pitch, what to say in the pitch, what makes a pitch stand out, sample pitches that have worked for you and your colleagues in the past. Tell them how to contact the magazines, provide a list of magazines to contact, and links to their contact pages.
That is the difference between giving gold and platinum level information.
Here’s what you do next:
- Ask yourself: What do I know that I can organize and formalize into a training program?
- What problems do I solve for my clients (braiding hair, buying properties, potty-training kids) that I can teach through videos or written materials?
- Create a list of topics you know enough about to teach on for at least 90 minutes.
- From that list, identify the one topic you know the absolute most about and write down 5 to 10 points someone would have to know and understand to be able to do what it is you know how to do.
- Now, sweeten the pot by doing a little bit of research on the topic. So, if you are teaching a braiding class, maybe you can do some research to find out where the particular braid style came from or when it became popular. Maybe you can talk a bit about the best face shape or the best hair to use (or the hair that’s best-suited) for this particular style. People love a good backstory.
- Write down a few points about how you learned to do what you do. Who taught you? How long did it take you to learn? How many times have you done it. This is the information that qualifies you to teach others.
After that, there’s nothing left to do but teach. Talk about what you teach, then put a call out for people who want to learn.