How to write your own bio
The emcee read a bio from folded piece a paper riddled with handwritten notes that seemed to stretch on for hours. The introduction was boring, arrogant and I began to wonder which would be worse, this or the performance. The emcee had good voice inflection and stage presence but bad writing is bad writing.
A weak applause sparsely covered the seats as I made my way towards the stage. As I unwrapped the mic cord from the stand I asked myself, “if I can’t even write my own bio how could I ever promote and preserve the history of cowboy poetry with my poems?”
Let’s examine my blemished bio a bit closer:
- I listed every award and nomination to prove the validity of my writing. The names of the organizations that presented these awards were a mouthful and looking back, I doubt they carried any weight.
- I grasped at details from my childhood to create a platform in my twenties that had nothing to do with my new life. I thought name dropping the ranch I grew up on was more significant than the ranch I was currently a wife on.
- I mentioned my age often, as if an apology for my work. Listing an age is great if you’re a child prodigy at something, listing it as a 20-something was just a blaringly obvious lack of confidence.
As a cowboy poet, I was paid to perform things I had written yet couldn’t write my own bio! I was not the only writer that struggled with this, much less creatives in other artistic endeavors. If this sounds like you, read on!
Your bio may be the first introduction of you and your business. It’s important to tell a compelling story that your potential customer, collaborator or media contact see themselves in. If the reader fits into your ideal customer avatar they will be hungry to find out more. More may look like visiting your website, your social media, joining your email list, or booking you for an interview. Are you currently leaving opportunities on the table from a poorly written bio?
1. Start with the end in mind.
What is the number one part of your story that you’d like your bio to highlight?
Maybe you are a gear maker that started producing the kind of tack you needed for work, making your cowboying experience a defining characteristic in your brand.
Maybe you have a Bachelor’s degree in web design and dream of bringing those skills back to your small town to empower rural, women-owned businesses. In this scenario, your adventure to the big city and the reasons you came home to raise a family is how people will connect with your story.
And, maybe still, you’re a photographer with a unique perspective of a specific part of the world, your identity entwined with the nature around you.
Regardless of what defines your story, call it out. This will provide a baseline to compare plot points against, determining what facts are relevant to this specific story or not. Remember, we’re not writing your life story, just your story as it relates to your business.
2. Start at the beginning.
Not your beginning, but the beginning of your brand. There is nothing worse than thirty years of history completely unrelated to meat and potatoes you showed up for!
Did you right an injustice which became the basis of your non-profit?
Were you unable to physically do a task any longer but stumbled into teaching it?
Have you always done something but finally found a way to get paid for it?
Many businesses owners have a business that began with a story. Find yours!
3. List the middle.
Start fleshing out the details of what happened after your business launched. Were there milestones such as expanding to a new location, hiring your first employee, or creating the product you are now known for? Personal events may make sense in this list too! Did getting married, having kids or a major medical set back alter the course of your brand?
4. Cut the fat.
Compare each event on your list to #1 and ask yourself, “does this detail support this story’s final destination?”
5. Write it all out.
Now that you have a beginning, middle and end, let’s bridge it all together! I also challenge you to create a final sentence to the effect of, “When (your name) is not (insert the outcome your company crafts for its clients) you can find them (list three hobbies, obsessions, etc.)
Read the entire bio aloud several times, listening for smoothness as it rolls off the tongue. Would this bore someone or leave them eager to find out more? Also reach out to a close friend, mentor or long-time client to see if this story gets to the heart of your brand.
I can see those creative gears grinding as you process this information but before you go, let me share a few do’s and don’ts.
update your bio often,
list your most recent/highest honor,
and write from third person perspective.
list all of your awards,
or feel pressured to make it sound like anyone else’s.
If you’re still stumped, or would rather contract your bio out, Branded in Ink can help here!
Also, if you are close with a content creator or author, they may be great resources for you as well!