Faster than a speeding About page.
More powerful than an elevator pitch.
Able to communicate your expertise in a single bound.
It’s your professional bio!
All Superman jokes aside, getting your bio right gives you a huge advantage over your competitors (and the millions of other voices in your industry).
It’s a sales tool that can help you get work, sell products, or otherwise bring attention to your mission
It puts your best foot forward (especially if you’re a writer).
And most importantly, it’s an opportunity to help others — especially your target audience — get to know you.
Consider this example from an article I wrote for Copy Hackers:
In two sentences, it tells the reader who I am, how I’m different, and how to find me online.
Or this oldie-but-goodie from a guest post I wrote for UCreative (back from the days when I focused more on website copy than marketing content):
Once again, in two sentences you know who I am, what I specialize(d) in, and a few fun facts about me.
A nicely written bio isn’t just great to have for articles and guest posts, though. It can be used on the team page on your company’s website, your social media profiles — just about anywhere you need to quickly communicate who you are and what you offer.
In fact, as you’ll learn later in this post, it’s good to have a few different versions handy.
Here’s a one-line bio of mine on the Copyblogger Certified Content Marketers listings page. And you know what? When I get leads from this page, they’re almost always good fits for my services — because I’ve left no room for guessing about what I specialize in.
I’ve written bios for myself (clearly) and for many of my clients — and I believe the only hard-and-fast rule for writing your bio is to consider the audience when you’re writing it.
That said, there are a few things you can do to punch up your bio for any audience.
4 Ways to Make Your Bio Stand Out
When done well, your professional bio does a lot of heavy lifting in only a few sentences. Follow these four tips for better results right out of the gate.
1. Be concise, yet meaty
You don’t have room to spare for non-essentials in your bio. Get right to the point, and cut the fluff.
As Meredith Fineman, founder of FinePoint, says, “If a journalist or recruiter cannot figure out who you are in under 30 seconds […], you’ve lost your chance.”
That said, if you have room for it, let your personality shine.
For example, see how Wade Yeaman, founder and CEO of Fluid IT Services, has a dash of character in his concise and ultra-professional bio:
2. Include a professional headshot with your bio to improve engagement
A 3M study reveals that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. That means that with a great headshot you can make a positive impression — and a personal connection — before the viewer has read a word.
This stellar example is from Sarah Bird, CEO of Moz:
3. Use more content words
Language lesson ahoy!
A “content” word is a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, or a word that can stand on its own.
A “function” word, on the other hand, doesn’t mean much on its own and mainly serves to create grammatical relationships. Function words include pronouns (he/him, she/her), articles (the, a), conjunctions (can’t, won’t), etc. But interestingly, interjections — like this one — also fall into the “function” category.
Eye tracking studies show that readers pay much more attention to content words (85%) versus function words (35%). So maximize every word in your bio by using content words heavily and eliminating unnecessary function words.
4. Try the 8-letter word trick
That same eye-tracking study also found that 2-3 letter words are almost always ignored — but 8-letter words are almost always fixated upon.
How can you use this little nugget when you’re writing your standout bio? Use one or two longer words to highlight your greatest strengths. It’ll be much more likely that your readers will latch onto those words — and remember them.
Dean Leffingwell, co-founder and chief methodologist at Scaled Agile, does a great job with this in his bio:
Make Your Bio Work Harder in Seconds
Got your bio written! Great! There are two quick-and-easy things you can do to make it work even harder for you.
- Bold your biggest takeaway
Think about the audience that will be reading your bio. What is the most important thing you want them to learn from your bio? Bold that text.
This is rarely done, so it really stands out. Plus, bolding text attracts they eye, making it less likely your reader will gloss over that fancy degree you want them to see or that impressive metric that makes you look like a rock star.
- Include a clear CTA
Again, think about your audience. If you know that this bio is going to be read by a very narrow segment, make it a very specific CTA — such as “Schedule an introductory call to discuss your blog writing needs.”
Or, if you can get away with it, link to a lead magnet that’s super specific to the subject on the page.
In most cases, though, your bio is going to be read by a very wide audience — and the owner of the website might not take kindly to you linking to a lead magnet (though you’d be surprised how generous website owners can be — so don’t hesitate to ask!). In this case, it’s perfectly fine to simply link to your website. Though I caution you to consider which page on your website you link to. Don’t just default to your homepage when you’d get more benefit by linking to your Services page.
Your Professional Bio Can Be a Lead-Gen Machine
Remember, your professional bio isn’t just a virtual nametag — it’s a sales and marketing tool too. And just how different marketing assets work with different audiences, different bios will work best in different places.
Keep bios of three different lengths on-hand for quick use (and quick tweaking):
- Full bio — one page max, but still concise. Here’s an example from Brian Halligan, co-founder and CEO of HubSpot.
- Short bio — around 75 words in a single paragraph.
- Mini bio — around 25 words, or a short “tweet.” Like Brian Halligan’s Twitter bio.
Your bio shouldn’t be an afterthought. It’s an opportunity to tell the world who you are, and create a connection with your target audience wherever they find you.
Got a great bio you want to share? Add it in the comments here!
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