How to Write a Bio
- Start by writing a professional bio.
- Personalize your bio with values you care about.
- Consider adding humor, personal anecdotes, and an extended version.
A short, professional bio is one of those things most people don't think about until, all of a sudden, we've been asked to "shoot one over via email" and have approximately one afternoon to come up with it.
That's when we scramble.
And when we scramble, our bio ends up reading like this:Rodney Erickson is a content marketing professional at HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers. Previously, Rodney worked as a marketing manager for a tech software startup. He graduated with honors from Columbia University with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing."
... Woof, that was dull. Are you still with me? I swear, not even adding a tidbit about his cats would liven that bio up.
To be fair, in certain contexts, your professional bio does need to be more formal, like Mr. Erickson's up there. But in many cases, writing a bio that's readable -- even conversational -- is actually a really good thing. That means dropping that traditional format of listing your accomplishments like a robot and cramming as much professional-sounding jargon in there as you can.
Remember: The people reading your bio are suffering from information fatigue. If you don't hook 'em in the first line, you'll lose them quickly.
Alright, I know what you may be thinking ... So what? It's just a bio.
(P.S. Want to give your professional brand a boost? Take one of HubSpot Academy's free certification courses. In just one weekend, you can add a line to your resume and bio that's coveted by over 60,000 marketers.)
Why Does Your Professional Bio Matter?
I mean, how many people actually read those things, anyway?
The answer: A lot of people. More importantly, though, there's no way to tell exactly who is reading it -- and you always want it to be ready for when the right people to come across it. And when they do, you want it to catch their eye. In a good way.
You see, while your resume is only useful for when you're actively applying for specific positions, your professional bio is much more visible. It can live on your LinkedIn profile, your company's website, your guest blog posts, your speaker profiles, your Twitter bio, and many other places.
And, most importantly, it's the tool that you can leverage most when you're networking.
Bottom line? People will read your professional bio. Whether they remember it, and whether it makes them actually care about you, is a matter of how well you present yourself to your intended audience.
So, what does a top-notch professional bio look like?
Let's take a look at some great examples. We've curated some of the best real professional bio examples we've ever seen online. Check 'em out, and use them as inspiration when crafting your own.
6 of the Best Professional Bio Examples We've Ever Seen
1) Phil Gutowski
Phil is a real estate broker for the East Boston neighborhood, and he's mastered the art of adding a warm personality to the professional bio on his website.
First, check out the header of his bio: "Promoting positive community and economic growth in our neighborhood."
The header isn't all about him, nor is it a hard sell about his business. Instead, he's chosen to start with a value proposition. Why? Because Phil knows that his value proposition is the core of his competitive advantage. In header text that stands out on the page, he clearly articulates why someone would want to hire him instead of a competitor: This guy doesn't just sell houses to make money; he promotes community and economic growth in the area.
The rest of his bio includes personal touches that make him more human. He does talk about his business history and accomplishments, but he does so while including personal details that invite readers to relate to him as a person.
For instance, he talks about where he's from (a relevant detail for a real estate broker), his love of the water, why he started his business, and how he's committed to the local community. His bio indicates he's friendly and probably a pleasure to work with, which is important for a real estate broker someone would be working with one-on-one.
2) Ann Handley
If you're a marketer, you've likely heard of Ann Handley. Her list of credentials is lengthy, and if she really wanted to, she could go on and on and on about her accomplishments.
But when people list out all their accomplishments in their bios, they risk sounding a little egotistical. Sure, you might impress a handful of people with all those laurels, but many people who read your bio will end up feeling either intimidated or annoyed. Think about it: Is that how you want the majority of your readers to feel when they read your bio?
To minimize the egoism that comes with talking about yourself, think about how you can list out your accomplishments without sounding like you're bragging. Ann does this really well, choosing a tone in her bio that's more approachable.
It starts with the excerpt in the footer of her personal website. Give it a quick read, paying close attention to the opening and closing lines:
"This is Ann Handley's website, and this is a bit of copy about her ... That's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So read more here." This is the kind of simple, friendly language that invites the reader in rather than shutting them out.
Follow the link and you'll be led to a page dedicated to a fuller bio, which she's divided into two parts: a "short version" (literally a bulleted list of key facts) and a "long version," which includes traditional paragraphs. There's something in there for everyone.
3) Mark Gallion
As a venture capitalist and an executive at several start-ups, Mark Gallion has different versions of his bio all over the internet. You can imagine some are more formal than others. But when it comes to his Twitter bio, he carefully phrased his information in a way that helps him connect with his audience -- specifically, through the use of humor.
Why would he choose humor when he runs four start-ups and constantly seeks funding for them? Well, Mark's tactic is totally intentional: it's a lever he pulls to refresh his brand while maintaining his already impressive and established identity as an entrepreneur.
Mark leverages his Twitter bio because it’s place where he can be human. And it helps him relate to his followers and potential investors.
When crafting your own Twitter bio, consider your audience and the personal brand you're trying to create for yourself. Use it as an opportunity to be relatable. (And check out this list of amusing Twitter bios for inspiration.)
4) Lena Axelsson
When it all comes down to it, your professional bio is no different than any other piece of persuasive copy -- no matter where it lives. One of the most common mistakes people make is thinking of it as its own beast, separate from other pieces of writing. If you think about it that way, you're far more likely to write something painfully uninteresting.
When you sit down to write your professional bio and you're watching that cursor blinking on the screen, think about how you would introduce a blog post. You don't just dive right into the meat of the thing, now, do you? No. You start with an introduction.
The best bios are often concise (around 200–300 words), so you don't have a lot of room to play around. But a single sentence that tees your reader up and provides context for the accomplishments that follow could make the rest of your bio that much more persuasive.
Take Lena Axelsson's bio, for instance. She's a marriage and family therapist -- a job where empathy and compassion are a big part of the job description. That's why she chooses to open her bio with a great introductory sentence: "When human beings experience trauma or severe life stressors, it is not uncommon for their lives to unravel."
Then, she goes into why she's passionate about her job, how she helps her clients, and how she caters her approach to each individual patient. The necessary educational information is left for the end, after the reader has been hooked.
Your bio doesn't have to be super serious, nor does it have to start with a joke. This bio shows how you can capture your reader's attention by being empathetic or telling a brief story.
5) Mark Levy
Mark Levy is a small business owner who's taken a more traditional approach to the professional bio on his website -- but in a way that takes care to speak to his intended audience.
What we love about his bio is the way he's set it up: On his business' "About" page, he's listed two biographies, which he's labeled "Mark Levy's Biography #1" and "Mark Levy's Biography #2."
Click here to see the full version.
Like Ann, Mark's given his readers two different options. The first biography is a "short version," which includes a combination of bullet points listing his credentials and a few short paragraphs.
Everyone desires and deserves to look good in his or her professional space. Whether it’s on LinkedIn or attending a business event, you ensure to look good in front of others. And why not? You are constantly being judged on the basis of how you present yourselves to the world. Hence, you take grooming seriously. But, many of you constantly overlook an area that deserves much more attention. It’s how you look on paper. Precisely speaking, it is your professional bio. And if you think that how many people go through such things (if you have one)? I’ll say that there are lots of people scanning it. And even if you are not taking it seriously, they are (I assure you that).
Professional bios are much more visible than your resumes. You can use it on LinkedIn, Twitter, on your blog or website, as an author bio and any place where you need to present yourself. In a nutshell, professional bio is your juju to empower your professional network.
Well, you can find out how to create a five-star professional bio by clicking here. But before that, you should see some examples of first-rate professional bios. They are less in number but certainly inspiring. Continue to read.
1. Mark Levy
Mark Levy (he founded Levy Innovations) has different bios (they differ in length) for different purposes. Here is a shorter version of his professional bio. Have a look at it:-
“Mark Levy is the founder of Levy Innovation, a marketing strategy firm. David Meerman Scott has called him “a positioning guru extraordinaire,” and Debbie Weil referred to him as “a horse whisperer for writers and business thinkers.” He has written for The New York Times, and has written or co-created five books. His latest is a revised, expanded, and re-subtitled edition of his bestseller, Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content. Mark also creates magic tricks and shows. His work has been performed Off-Broadway, in Las Vegas, and on all the major television networks. Visit him and read his blog at levyinnovation.com.”
2. Ann Hardley
Another wizard from the marketing world, Ann Hardley, has her awesome manner of telling things about herself without bragging too much. She has got the credentials to build a lengthy list but as she keeps it short and smart to keep the audience interested in her. Have a look at her bio on her website:-
“Ann Handley is a veteran of creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals. Ann is the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content (September 2014, Wiley) and co-author of the best-selling book on content marketing, Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (2011, Wiley). She is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs; a LinkedIn Influencer; a keynote speaker, mom, and writer.”
You can also see the shorter and longer version of her bios at the same place.
3. Lena Alexson
A professional bio is not at all different from a persuasive article and Lena Alexson proves it through a very engaging professional bio. A Family and Marriage Therapist by profession, Lena uses first person narrative in the entire bio and describes beautifully about herself.
The text is written below:-
“When human beings experience trauma or severe life stressors, it is not uncommon for their lives to unravel. My great passion is bringing healing to people who have been through a traumatic/stressful experience. I help my clients, who include children, adults and families, to find healthy perceptions of themselves and strengthen their relationships so they can know themselves as peaceful, complete, whole and safe.
I know that no single approach is the right one for every individual, and so I have been trained in a range of modalities including Relational Gestalt Therapy, Gestalt Play Therapy, Somatic Experiencing and NARM somatic approaches to the treatment of trauma
My educational background includes a MA in Counseling Psychology and a Doctor in Clinical Psychology from Ryokan College in Los Angeles. I have a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Stockholm, Sweden a graduate certificate in Gestalt Psychotherapy from the University of Derby in the U.K.
Call or Email Lena Axelsson for a free phone consultation now – (831) 216-6727.”
You can find another version of her professional bio (third person narrative) on her official website.
4. Laura Zigman
Laura has a good sense of humour and that reflects in her professional bio. She takes the help of third person narrative to describe her journey as a blogger and a novelist. Here is how she does it:-
“Laura Zigman grew up in Newton, Massachusetts (where she felt she never quite fit in), and graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (where she didn’t fit in either) and the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course (where she finally started to feel like she fit in).
She spent ten years working (slaving away) in New York in book publishing where she was a (much-abused under-appreciated) publicist for Times Books, Vintage Books, Turtle Bay Books, Atlantic Monthly Press, and Alfred A. Knopf.
After moving to Washington, D.C. (because she was burnt out and didn’t know where else to go) and working briefly as a project manager for The Smithsonian Associates (she had a cubicle) and a consultant for Share Our Strength, an anti-poverty non-profit group (she didn’t even have a cubicle), she (finally) finished her first novel (that she’d been writing in her “spare time” for the last five years).
(The thinly-disguised autobiographical novel) Animal Husbandry was published in 1998 by The Dial Press and became a national bestseller. It was published in fourteen countries (or more, she’s not sure — see here) and in 2001 the film based on the book, Someone Like You, (they changed the title at the last minute because they were afraid people wouldn’t “get” the meaning of the original title — not that she’s complaining or anything) starring Ashley Judd and (excuse her while she drools) Hugh Jackman, was released by Fox 2000. Her second (thinly-disguised autobiographical) novel, Dating Big Bird, also published by The Dial Press, came out in 2000, and her third (thinly disguised autobiographical) novel, Her, published by Knopf (where she once worked — an exquisite irony), followed in 2002. Her latest (thinly-disguised autobiographical) novel, Piece of Work, to be published by Warner Books on September 25, 2006 (finally, after four long years in between books — maybe her parents will now leave her alone), is based on her (horrific but entertaining) experiences as a publicist and has been optioned by Tom Hanks’ production company, Playtone Pictures, with My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s Nia Vardalos (luff her) set to write the screenplay and star in the movie (please God let that happen).
She currently lives outside Boston (in the same town she grew up in — how weird is that? — and where she now feels like fits in) with her husband and young son.”
You can find other versions of Laura’s bio in Huffington Post and Twitter.
5. Jacob Cass
Jacob Cass has a got an impressive professional bio. The graphic designer has also got great credentials like Anna and has listed them with creativity. Not too much of talking. Help yourself with his bio.
“Hello, my name is Jacob Cass and I am the founder of JUST Creative which is my design studio and graphic design blog.
I specialize in logo design, branding, web design and offer design services to businesses of all sizes around the world, ultimately improving their bottom line by crafting creative solutions to their business problems. Shoot me a quick email to see how I can help you!
Past clients have included the likes of Disney, Nintendo, Jerry Seinfeld and hundreds more. Feel free to read some lovely testimonials from them.
I hold a Bachelor of Visual Communication (Graphic Design Major) from The University of Newcastle, Sydney, Australia with a Dean’s Recommendation of Honours, and have over 15 years of experience in the field with multiple awards under my belt, including the ‘Best of Brand Design‘ awarded by LinkedIn.
I’m a digital nomad and I travel the world while freelancing & blogging (currently up to 80+ countries). You can see my current location on my travel blog, JUST Globetrotting. Rest assured, my clients are always my first priority.
Please do check out my graphic design portfolio and get in touch especially if you’re in need of a distinctive brand identity.”
Lastly, I like to be surprised and surprise others.
So, here’s a section to show you how cool an About Us page of a company can be (I couldn’t resist to show it to you as I am in love with it).
To get more of it, click on the source.
Hence, these are some great bios I would like to share with you. Hope it will helps to carve your first-rate professional bio in mind and paper. If you want to learn how to create them, refer to the link provided in the introduction.
A last piece of advice: First person narrative or third person narrative, it doesn’t matter as long as your content is interesting. Consider your professional bio as as any other write up and make sure that it’s interesting. Also, do not brag too much about yourselves and annoy your audience. Rest of the things will follow.
Thank you for reading!
Who is Kavita
Kavita is Marketing Analyst at LoginRadius- leading customer identity management platform. Die hard lover of chocolates, novels and adventures, her aim is to write a novel based on her own life. Connect with Kavita on Twitter and Linkedin!