Writing content for your website can be difficult. What do you need to say? What does Google read? What helps with your SEO? What will your audience want to read? Writing a great bio is about helping your reader KLT — Know, Like, and Trust you. Today’s article is about how to write a bio for your about page or downloadable press kit.
It is important to note that you will be writing three versions of your bio. One detailed biography of 4-7 paragraphs (your story), one abbreviated biography of 2-4 paragraphs (your stage intro or simple bio) and your short bio of only one paragraph (your expanded byline). You will be starting with the detailed biography and then will edit from there.
Why three versions? Because you will need a bio for all environments — short one paragraph for bylines, simple descriptors, and your story.
Here are 13 tips on how to write your bio for your website:
1. Update your LinkedIn profile.
Start by updating your most relevant work history in LinkedIn. As you are making those updates, begin thinking about the audience on LinkedIn. What you have on LinkedIn should coincide with what you have on your website. On LinkedIn, you want to ask yourself a few questions: What do they really care about? What key metrics show your proficiency or expertise in your area of concentration? What titles have you held, what roles have you played? What were you instrumental in creating, launching, supporting? This part of the exercise will jog your memory and help you create language around your proficiencies for the about page.
2. Write your draft in chronological order first.
Have you ever forgotten important milestones in your career before? I have. When you have a career that spans over many years, and you have been fortunate to have so many amazing experiences, you are bound to forget a few things. Before you can craft a well-written, informative and creative biography, you need all of your facts in order. Make a list of everything you have done, from your first job in high school to the present. Don’t leave anything out.
3. Don’t forget to write out all of your philanthropic and volunteer work.
Part of a good bio is the ability to show that you aren’t just an expert widget maker, but you are a good person too. You don’t have to use all of the information on your giving-back list, but some of that will help shape the more personal aspects of your bio. Let people see a glimpse of who you are and what is important to you.
4. What are your hobbies? How do you spend your downtime? How do you recharge your batteries?
How we spend our downtime is a great way to connect with your reader. What you do when you aren’t working helps people relate to you and connect even more. Maybe you fly trapeze on your days off (my colleague fly’s trapeze on her day off), or you are an avid reader. What kinds of books do you read in your down time?
5. What do you want to say about your family or relationships?
Do you want to mention that you are single, married, have kids, grandkids, etc.? Your personal information is on a need to know basis. You don’t have to write about it if you don’t want to. You might want to put a statement or two in there if your audience seems to care about that — is your target audience family oriented? If you have a family, then don’t be afraid to write about it.
6. What have you achieved in your professional career?
This section is a bit different than your job titles and education history. Make a list of all the professional accolades you have received specific to your target audience. I mention target audience for a reason. Many successful business owners have worn multiple hats and performed multiple jobs. What we are going for is relevancy in your industry. I have advanced degrees that are not specifically related to my business strategy and marketing services. Are they interesting? You bet! Do they help you see me as a credible force in business strategy and marketing? Not one bit. Make sure that what you are focusing on is what your reader needs to know about you. You can share what I call accessory data in other areas, just don’t make it a highlight.
7. Don’t use jargon.
My first dip into the tech space was WAY BACK IN THE ’80s. Talk about an early adopter! I remember the early days of desktop computers and the newness of the language. Motherboards, 256K floppy disks, BUS, RAM… (I remember the wholesale price for a megabyte of ram was $495.00!) Anyway, I digress…point is, in some industries there are a lot of words that work if you are in a room with peers but may not work with your audience. I’m not saying you can’t use keywords or phrases that are significant to your industry. Just be aware of what you need to say to be clear and what you are comfortable saying because it is colloquial.
8. Unless you are a comedian, don’t try to be funny.
Sometimes humor doesn’t translate in text. Sometimes you think you are funnier than you are. Don’t overuse humor and be careful with how certain statements translate in other languages if your audience is international. You can be clever, but don’t rest your reputation on your ability to spin a few words.
9. Use testimonials sparingly.
If you have a list of kind words that peers or clients have written about you, feel free to use them when appropriate. However, don’t stuff your bio with them. Don’t name drop just to name drop. If you had lunch with Richard Branson, we don’t need to read that. If you worked with Richard Branson and he said something great about you, we might care about that. Name dropping is tacky. Use testimonials to support what you have done, not as the only thing in your bio.
10. Keep paragraphs and sentences short.
You aren’t writing a novel. Remember that most people don’t read, they scan. Help them scan your bio with short, grammatically correct sentences and paragraphs.
11. Rewrite your bio at least twice a year.
Time moves so fast. Movers and shakers stack up accomplishments and milestones like crazy. As you are moving through life at breakneck speed, pause long enough to update your bio and add the important things to the list.
12. Use Video — Make sure it is well done.
Video is a great way to showcase your story. But only if it is well made. Your bio on your website should be the best representation of you. Organic and raw video only works if your brand and business is built around that look and feel. If you are going to use video, invest in a professional.
13. Assemble your headshots, images and supporting collateral.
Your bio isn’t just text. Include current, relevant images on your about page.
And now you write
Whew, now that you have written enough text to fill all the pages in the Harry Potter series, you can begin telling the story. A good bio is a list of important information that connects with your audience. A great bio is a story that leads the reader on a journey with you and in the end what you are going for is trust and action. Does your bio make the reader want to work with you, learn from you, follow you? If the answer is yes, then you have a great story.
Once you have written your story, you will want to distill that story down into your simple bio. A simple bio is usually 2-4 short paragraphs with the credibility highlights and a short personal paragraph to establish a connection. Finally, you will want to distill that down even further to the most relevant one paragraph about yourself.
Once you have the three versions complete, now you can put them on your website. Your stage intro is what you want to post in full text on your About page with a link to read more that will take the user to your detailed story.
Finally, don’t forget your contact information and social links. Where can they find you, engage with you and connect with you. ~ Lisa