Recently, I was listening to a podcast and by the time the host had finished the guest’s intro, I was hooked. Like, “I think I need to hire this guy today” hooked. Y’all, it’s a good bio that sells before the person has ever said a word. Those are words that are working overtime.
If you’ve been through my Before You Pitch Press-Kit-in-a-Day training, you know one of the essentials for a publicity-landing press kit is a well thought out bio (actually, a collection of bios, but we’ll get to that in a minute). The bio is one of the first things your media contact sees when you pitch them, so it needs to be
You may have heard this saying: “Give me 5 minutes to cut down a tree, and I’ll spend my first 3 sharpening the axe.” When you want publicity, like every other area of business, success often happens when your careful preparation intersects with your openness to opportunity.
So my question for you is whether you’ve ever taken the time to sharpen your axe and write an outstanding bio for yourself? If not, why not read through this post, and take 20 minutes to get it done today?
One added benefit is that you’ll have a stellar elevator pitch when you’re finished. 😉
Your Bio Should Do More Than Just Tell Who You Are
Way too often I see people write a bio that misses a major opportunity to capture new leads. When you pitch to the media, initially, it’s the reporter, producer, editor, or podcaster who considers your bio, so you want to wow them. However, that bio is then typically pulled directly over to the finished piece, so it needs to be written for the audience that will eventually read or hear it.
Your Bio is Persuasive Copy
So what should a great bio do?
- Generate trust and credibility
- Sell the concept of you or your brand before you make an offer
- Move the audience to take the next step
And it definitely doesn’t hurt if your bio does a little dazzling to the person who reads or hears it.
Imagine you saw the following two bios. If you needed to hire a copywriter for your sales pages, who would you rather spend your hard-earned money to work with?
Ummm… there’s a pretty clear answer here. In 3 sentences, Elena up there has set herself apart from her competition, and not only persuaded a potential client, but likely the editor she pitched. That doesn’t mean Cami isn’t just as qualified, she’s just not showing us. When you’re trying to build the know-like-trust factor, it’s hard to like and trust if we don’t know you.
Elena’s bio can be dissected to several specific elements that a winning bio should have if it’s going to convert. Let’s dig in.
A Wow-worthy bio
A bio that persuades is simple to create, and it:
- should be clear
- should be concise
- should be specific
and it needs to include:
Who you solve a problem for, and How you solve that problem (bonus points if you can showcase how your method is different than your competitors’)
- Understand your client and their pain points
Your most relevant credential or evidence of authority
- This doesn’t have to be a degree or certification (but definitely include that if it’s relevant). Instead, think about your proof of credibility. If you have to showcase one thing (or maybe two) that proves you can do what you say, what would it be?
- Some examples might include:
- Your results for clients
- The number of clients you’ve worked with or items/dollars sold
- Awards, recognitions, or accolade (ie: best-selling book, 40 under 40 recognition, etc.)
- Impressive clients you’ve worked with/places you’ve worked in the past
- Impressive media features you’ve landed
- An accomplishment that showcases your skill or system (launching 4 successful startups in 6 years, reinvented your photography services to stay profitable during COVID quarantine, etc.)
Your Call to Action, or how the audience can take the next step with you
- What should they do next? Visit your website, buy your book, follow you on social media? Direct them to the platform where you capture email addresses (hint: this should never be Instagram or another social media platform where you have no control over changing algorithms. #Don’tBuildOnRentedProperty)
- Use a hyperlink whenever possible. Why? If your bio is copy/pasted into a website, that hyperlink will make it easier for the reader to access your site, and gets you a backlink that improves your SEO.
Add a small touch that shows you’re a real & unique person—this humanizes you and makes you more memorable.
- Avoid generic likes/dislikes that render you indistinguishable: We don’t need one more business gal who loves pumpkin spice lattes and messy buns, or one more guy who loves sampling bourbon with his friends in his free time. Those may be true about you, but there are much more interesting—and more importantly, more memorable—facts about you.
- Embrace your inner kookiness. Tell us if you love a chocolate/peanut butter/pumpkin yogurt combo (is that just me?). Are you the parent of 6 girls and you’re in business to keep them in ruffles and bows? That’s good stuff. Maybe your wife has threatened to make you move into the barn if you bring home one more pig/chicken/alpaca. Maybe your idea of a great Saturday evening is roasting marshmallows over the stovetop, fire extinguisher at the ready, or you will roast anyone who tries to beat you at Star Wars Trivia.
- I love entrepreneur Mark Gallion’s take on this in his Twitter bio: “Can read a spray chart and a balance sheet. 1 part Executive, 1 part entrepreneur, 2 parts geek and 3 parts baseball coach. Too many parts?”
- Though you definitely don’t have to tie your interesting details into your area of expertise, there are times when it presents an opportunity for driving home your skills. For instance, one version of my bio mentions that I, “live on a vineyard, or what I call farming with a better publicist.” The fact that I live on a vineyard is memorable in itself, but the connection to my PR work helps embed the power of the publicity for small businesses.
See if you can find all 4 elements in this bio (and they may not be overly obvious at first):
“Sara Salazar believes that real food should be real good, real fast, and real easy. With over a quarter of a million Instagram followers drooling over her (mostly) gluten-free, veggie-packed dishes, Sarah’s recipes are a hit whether it’s family game night (for her brood of 7!) or a romantic date night (with her hubby, a recovering picky eater). She’s dishing up your next favorite recipe at saraeatsrealfood.com.”
Ok, time to pass your quiz up. Just kidding! Let’s break this down:
You can see that there’s lots of flexibility in how you create your bio, as long as you’re getting the important elements tucked in there.
Let’s Get (Bio) Makeovers!
This is not a good bio. It may be accurate, but it is not effective:
Cadi Ferguson is a Booneville, Kentucky writer.
This is a smidgen better. At least it pinpoints what she writes about and how she gets that info into the world:
Cadi Ferguson is an author and food foraging expert who teaches and blogs about natural medicines.
Lots of people would have stopped with the previous bio, but not you, because you know what it takes to craft a bio that dazzles. And we won’t stop until we get there!
Cadi Ferguson has been leading expeditions for beginning and advanced food foraging for 8 years and is the author of the best-selling book, Wild Foods & Useful Things. You can learn more about Cadi’s classes and read her blog about natural cures and medicinal foraging at www.wildcadi.com. She loves stinging nettle tea and thinks kale is overrated (but her weird dog loves the stuff).
*Note that instead of calling Cadi an “expert,” we actually give the proof of her expertise. That’s always a much better call. One of my massive pet peeves is when someone writes a bio that calls them by an accolade without proving it. Don’t say you’re an “expert,” you’re “highly regarded,” you’re “respected,” or you’re “accomplished,” without offering evidence of that praise.
Watch out for pitfalls
- Too long: You’ll notice every one of the bios I shared was short (1-3 sentences). If you can’t speak it easily, or it makes you bored, it’s probably too long.
- Too generic: We can’t tell you apart from a dozen others in your industry (there’s a reason that brands that are completely different than their competitors become profitable so quickly).
- No CTA or next step to interact with you: Give them a reason to want more. If you aren’t generating interaction, driving traffic, building your list, or selling, your media coverage isn’t working as hard for you as it could be.
- Using the same bio everywhere: I alluded to this earlier, but once you have the basics down, you’ll want to build a small collection of powerful bios. They may differ in length (a podcast intro might be longer than a guest post byline bio), differ by niche (take photos of brides and babies? Write yourself up a different bio that appeals to each, and use them when you pitch niche-specific media. You’ll see I use a slightly different bio when I’m talking to audiences in the creative/lifestyle industries than the one I use when I’m talking to agricultural/farm/food audiences; I highlight the specific credentials that are relevant to those audiences), or differ by service/expertise you’re pitching (want people to buy your book or read your blog? Your bio might look a little different than when you want them to hire you for your done-for-you services).
- Never updating: As your business grows, your focus shifts, your niche adapts, you get better results, and you land more press coverage, be sure to update your bio to reflect those wins, shifts, and progress!
Once you have a wow-worthy bio in place, you’ll find it easier to land media coverage and confidently tell your customers (and maybe even grandma) what it is you do.
Want to see what else you need in a publicity-landing press kit? Snag Before You Pitch, your go-to press-kit-in-a-day training (one famous TV personality/best-selling author said it’s the best PR training resource she’s ever seen, so, ya know, maybe go jump on that train)!
Know you’ll want this later? Pin it to win it.