Your bio might just be the single most important aspect of your writing submissions. Writing a good bio is an essential tool for freelancers. This one TINY little blurb – ranging from 50 – 250 words in most situations, is the place that someone who took the time to read your writing is going to decide if they want to learn more about you. (Or, decide if they want to hire you for a service.)
You want your bio to impress by showing the impact that you can have through your writing and activities.
With that in mind, here are some things you should NOT do in your bio, and what to do instead.
- Do NOT write a novel – you may literally be a novelist, but your bio is not the place for this. Instead, quickly summarize what you do and how you do it. Concisely.
- Do NOT refer to yourself in the first person. As a submissions editor, this drives me bonkers. You should always refer to yourself in the 3rd person. Always.
- Do NOT LAUNDRY LIST. You don’t need to list out every accomplishment you’ve ever made. Keep it relevant and short. Power punched with the most impactful. And that may change depending on where/what you are submitting. Be SURE to highlight what you DO more than what you have done.
- Do NOT use a canned bio. I almost always update or tweak my bio depending on where I am submitting. I want the info in my bio to be as relevant as possible to the audience who will be consuming my piece.
- Do NOT go on and on about your educational background. To be honest, no one cares if you graduated High School or Harvard (UNLESS of course this is relevant to where you are pitching and the audience that will receive it.) Refer back to #4 for this.
- Do NOT write more than 250 words. Unless you’ve been instructed to write a long bio. Most places prefer short and sweet. So do most readers.
- Do NOT be redundant. Short and sweet. #7 feels redundant to me right now. Hopefully I’ve made this point. 🙂
- Do NOT forget to let people know where to find you. It’s fine to include links in your bio. You SHOULD. When I read something really compelling, I want to find the writer to find more of their genius. Include a website or social media links. If it’s for an online publication, be sure to embed those items.
- Do NOT fill your bio with passive voice or unnecessary descriptives. Instead, write in strong active voice, without a bunch of extra adjectives and adverbs.
- Do NOT stray from your writing tone. Your bio needs to include as much of your writing personality as possible. So, if you’re a humor writer, make sure the bio is funny. If you’re a grief counselor, you probably don’t want to be funny in your bio.
- Do NOT include statements that can be offensive. Keep it clean (unless you’re writing for a place that likes it spicy) and keep it professional.
Here are some sample bios that work well! (Note, we did not write these, we copied them.)
Crystal Ponti is the founder of Blue Lobster Book Co., a self-publishing boutique. Prior to launching her own business, she worked for and advised some of the largest sites in the world and spent a number of years as a business and marketing planning consultant. She recently served as Managing Editor, Contributing Author, and publisher of the books The Mother of All Meltdowns and Clash of the Couples. She blogs at MommiFried, an outlet for her creative writing and a way for her to share her later-in-motherhood experiences with all women and parents.
When she is not busy consulting, blogging, or writing, she can be found nurturing a beautiful family of five children, a wonderfully Italian husband, and an African gray parrot with a colorful vocabulary.
Marcia Kester Doyle is the author of the humor book, Who Stole My Spandex? Life In The Hot Flash Lane and the voice behind the midlife blog, Menopausal Mother. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, The Huffington Post and Scary Mommy, among others. Marcia lives in sunny south Florida with her husband, four children, one feisty granddaughter and two chunky pugs.
Mandy Schort founded Proofed after tripping over a baby gate with her infant son in her arms. She writes about simple ways to demystify the daunting proofing process on her website Proofed.
If you need help with a catchy bio, please contact me today!