Writing a stand-out bio can be difficult for even the most seasoned writer because many people have a hard time talking about themselves, especially in a positive light. In order for your bio to be effective and professional it has to contain a few primary things: First, it must have impeccable grammar and spelling. It must also be short — but not too short — and it has to make the reader want to know more about you and what you do. You’ll also need to decide whether or not to write your bio in first or third person format. Second person will not work, not even if you’re avant garde and had an angle bob hair cut before anyone else did, so cut that shit out immediately. Which brings us to the cardinal rule: do not swear in your bio, even if it’s part of your regular vernacular.
When it comes to putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, or blood to quill (I don’t judge), remember that this is no time to be modest.
One caveat: if you are a humour writer — maybe you’ve even been called “funny” and have on several occasions caused people to laugh and not just at your fashion sense — please do not tell us how funny you are. Proclaiming “I’m funny!” is tacky and if you tell me that you are hysterical you’re going to have to prove it continuously before I stop thinking you’re a windbag. Telling someone you’re funny is like going on a blind date and mentioning to your prospective partner in an offhand manner that you have a gigantic wiener. Even if it’s true, I am never going to see it because while you’re in the bathroom I am asking the waiter to a rush order my steak to go and I’ve got one foot in a cab.
If you’re saying “But Jeni, I really am funny!” then that’s great. Let’s meet up and have a good guffaw. But, just like a date with a big penis, this is best if discovered organically and in my own time.
You should also try to incorporate some interesting personal background. You are more than the domestic or societal role you play. Nothing drives me as crazy as the “Just a Mom” bios I read. You may be a parent and a partner, but your bio should be more 3 dimensional. Mention being a mom if it’s a point of pride and relevant to your profession, but remember that even if you fought tooth and nail and nature and biology and a lawyer and a complicated and complex legal system to become a parent, you are more than “just a mom.”
Tell me about what makes you interesting outside of what happens with your sex parts. New rule: no mention of your underpants area in any capacity.
Who you are. Make sure your bio includes your name. I once forgot to wear shoes to a parent teacher meeting so don’t tell me important things can’t be overlooked.
What you do. You can list some places you’ve worked, but it may be better to leave them out unless they’re spectacular. Companies and publications go out of business all the time and most of the time “freelance” writer will suffice, unless of course your main gig is a permanent job. The something like “Editor-in-Chief at Most Awesome Publication” is cool.
Where they can find you doing what you do. Twitter and your blog are good places to start, and then go check that those pages show an additional contact channel and/or an email address. If you make it hard — or impossible — for people to find you, chances are they won’t keep looking.
When you did the stuff you do. This point is more complex and could involve a brief history or perhaps what brought you to the place you are now. People like background, but keep it brief.
Why you do what you do. Don’t get all existentialist, but give us an idea of your purpose. Are you currently on a work-release program or enjoying the new freedoms of parole? Great! But maybe don’t mention it. Did you organize a start-up to provide reading materials and corrective lenses to under-privileged orphans after visiting a third-world country? Forge ahead.
To recap; this is not a good bio:
I am Jeni. I do writing good. Got me some kids; like ‘em most of the time. Sometimes I’m a real bitch, but seriously; I’m totes profesh at work. You can hire me by finding me on the Googler. Peace out; mofos!
A stand-out bio will encompass all or most of the 5 Ws and perhaps a few of your choicest career highlights, or awards and accolades. (Sorry, “World’s Best Mom” as voted by two out of two kids in your house don’t count, despite your dried macaroni plaque stating so.)
Have a few sets of eyes look at your bio before you go public and compare it to others in your field to make sure it doesn’t seem fresh off a bio-template app. Try to keep it under 250 words, otherwise you’re getting into long form bio territory and that’s a whole new ballgame.
Because I understand that humans are primarily visual creatures who don’t always follow directions even though they’re laid out right here I’ve also provided an easy to understand infographic below on Writing a Stand Out Bio.