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15th of November
Your professional bio is one of the most crucial pieces of marketing material you will ever write. As a freelancer, you are relying 99% on your online bio and portfolio to get you work and keep you paying your bills every month.
You may get some work via word of mouth through previous customers or via networking, but even these clients are likely to take a browse around your profile before they commit to working with you.
Which is why it is essential to write a bio that immediately sells you to prospective clients.
Let’s explore what makes a great professional bio (and what doesn’t).
Consider writing your bio in the third person
On your personal online portfolio or CV you might consider writing in the first person, but if you are writing a bio that can be shared and used across multiple platforms and mediums then it is generally accepted as good form to write your bio in the third person. For example, instead of saying “I have been a designer for four years” you would say “Jane Bunner has been a designer for four years”. It comes across as having been written by an objective third party and allows you to apply your biography to a multitude of channels – regardless of whether you are referring to yourself or someone else would like to reference you.
Reference solid, provable facts
It’s all very good and well to talk about your aspirations and goals in your “about me” section on your personal portfolio, or perhaps in your manifesto, but for your bio stick to the hard and fast facts that you can prove and qualify. If you do reference a passion or personal fact, let be as part of your greater portfolio. For example, “Jane holds a great passion for the local coastline, see here the design work she has completed pro-bono as part of the Beach Clean-up foundation”. In other words, only reference facts which are relevant and which you can prove to be true, preferably via a clickable link to the end work.
Share your qualifying education and experience
Any work which you’ve completed which is relevant to the job at hand should be included in your bio, as well as any courses you may have taken or education you have received. If you have a background in teaching and you are hoping to do work for an educational design program, then this is relevant information. If you’re becoming involved with something unrelated – like a coffee shop – then you’re teaching experience is not relevant.
List your memberships and societies
If you are a freelance writer who is a member of a literary or editing society then bring that information into your bio. It shows your dedication to, and involvement with, your field.
Keep it succinct
Don’t use four words when one will do. You want to keep your bio interesting, punchy, and to the point. Don’t get lost in “reams” of adjectives and niceties. If a sentence doesn’t need t to be there, cut it.
Add your unique selling points (USP)
Just like any product you may ever sell, if you are a freelancer you are selling yourself and your services. Make sure that your unique and special skills are highlighted so that a prospective client can easily see why you would be the best fit for them and their company.
Start with a killer opening line
You really want to hook the reader right there in the very first sentence. That first impression is often the deciding factor as to whether or not someone will read the rest of your bio. Make sure you make it count and for goodness sake don’t let it have any errors in it.
Talk about your previous clients
It’s a great idea to talk about one to three of your past clients, especially those who are well known and will add credibility to your reputation. Just make sure you have their permission first. Some customers who make use of freelancers don’t want it publicized that their work was not completed in-house, especially if you are a ghostwriter who is being published under another name.
Edit without mercy
After you’ve completed your bio, take a break. Go for a walk, do something completely unrelated, and then come back and edit hard. You need to make sure to cut any unnecessary fluff, and also make sure you didn’t forget anything essential. If you do have a friend who knows a thing or two about writing, let them give it a once over for you.
Have a professional headshot taken
Nothing ruins a great bio faster than a poor quality, DIY headshot. Your Bio can be flawless, but if your profile photo shows you on the lawn at your mom’s house your credibility will suffer. Invest in getting at least one set of professional headshots taken. Make sure you have a neutral background and wear neutral colors with no or very minimal print details as editors may want to use your bio in a variety of backgrounds. Make sure you look neat and presentable and try to smile.
Update your contact information
Make sure to include the relevant contact information for the platform being used. You don’t have to give your personal phone number on a publicized website, but it is a good idea to give people some way of getting hold of you, preferably something suitable to the situation. This could be a LinkedIn page, a Twitter handle or an email or web address. Choose the information you give according to the platform your bio will be published on, and remember that anything that goes to print in hard copy can’t be clicked on – so in this instance include a full URL, not just a link.
Last but not least – always, ALWAYS, keep your professional bio just that – professional. Keep overly personal details for your personal social media accounts. This is business.