When Your Bio Needs A Makeover

Does reading your bio make you feel confident, happy, excited to be you? (Can I have a “yeah, baby”?)

Or does it make you cringe, frustrated that it doesn’t really capture you—your savvy, your style, your contribution to the planet. It’s got no sizzle…

Can we talk makeover?

Sure, you can hire yourself a bio writer (there are clear advantages to getting a fresh perspective), but maybe you want to take a stab at it yourself first. To get clear on EXACTLY what will sear you into the collective memory of your sweet-spot audience. Try simmering on four questions.

What’s the singular purpose of your bio?

You have to pick one thing you want your bio to do over all others. Get yourself hired? Sell your books/products? Score media attention?

You’ll most likely need at least three to five bios: a full story for your website, a modified version for LinkedIn, a short snappy Twitter-length bio (which can often do multiple duty for Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and/or Google+), a slight variation for Facebook and a full media bio.

If you create content for other websites, you’ll need additional bio versions that fit with their requirements, but still showcase your talents. (Tip: keep a master list of all your bios so you can update them quickly when needed.)

Who’s your audience?

Who are you most writing for? Have you created a client avatar or two? If you haven’t, it’s time to get exquisitely clear on your sweet-spot clients, buyers or audience. Who are they, what do they care about? What’s their biggest source of pain? What are their greatest opportunities and fondest hopes and dreams? How does their future life change when they experience you or your work?

It may be tempting to skip this step, but don’t. These are the people you do your best work for. Spend serious time really understanding their motivations and needs. Only then can you speak to them and start to pull them into your circle, your tribe.

First person or third?

Experts tend to gravitate to writing their bios in the third person. It feels more comfortable. A bit loftier perhaps. The problem is, third person bios create distance between you and the reader. Speaking directly to your sweet-spot audience—first person—requires you to own what you’re saying about yourself. There is no hiding behind superlatives.

And you’re much more apt to tell your story narrative-style, which is all we really want to know anyway.

What’s your story?

Every great story has five elements: setting, characters, plot, theme and conflict. And so does yours. You are the central character of course, but how did your setting influence your career, your life? Did you grow up on a farm or the big city? Stay where you were raised or go adventuring?

Your plot is always unfolding. By showing your audience how you got here and where you’re going, you’re giving them a plot line to follow. To decide if they want to hop on with you and see where the story takes you, together.

Your theme is the current that runs throughout your entire story. Maybe you live to champion the underdog or you’re a dyed-in-the-wool entrepreneur. Your theme may be a logical “well of course” or a challenging “aha” you have to search for—at its best, it ties together your life and your work.

But what most experts tend to neglect—because we’re so busy proving how smart we are—is CONFLICT. Every great story needs it or you’re just a “meh”. When were you down, defeated, beaten even? How did you overcome the odds? What reserves did you tap into that bring you to where you are right here, right now?

Oh, and don’t waste precious time being embarrassed about your failures—we all have them. Embrace them. They give your story (and your bio) heart. Remember, we like routing for the underdog and helping him win.

Ask yourself these four questions over and over again. Take notes and let them simmer for a while. Then start writing (here are a few copywriting tips). Leave it and come back to it. It may take several—or 10+—iterations to whip it into shape. But don’t give up.

Dedicate the care and attention it needs to gel and become, well, unforgettable. Because your story deserves to not only be read, but to be part of the glue that binds you to your very best tribe.

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  • Love this advice – especially the part about not fearing including your rough spots in your story.

    Also love that you encourage crafting bios for the platform – so much I curated it 😉

  • Earlier this year — at your recommendation, I adapted my home page to the first person. I continue to grapple with the first person bio. If I go that route About Corey may evolve into “My Story” when/ if I convince myself its the way to go. I my need to offer a happy compromise that offers a bio download in the third person for media and related purposes if I go first person. I look forward to this exercise that first got suggested during as you engaged me and several other professionals in your Instant Authority workshop. I create stick-em notes that make sure I process and complete these kind of tasks.

    • Rochelle

      Hi Corey, It’s always good to have a 3rd person bio for media (and a media section is often an excellent idea). But I do so prefer first person everywhere else when building a personal brand. It’s so, well, personal–makes the audience feel like you’re speaking right to them…

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