“TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF”
It’s one of the curses of life on the Internet. Whether you’re dating or networking, you have to write about yourself. Your bio has to do a lot. It has to reflect who you are—your goals, your experience, your personality. It has to be attractive, so a potential employer or partner doesn’t swipe or scroll past you. And it has to do it fast, in the microsecond spans of internet attention. No problem, right?
There are listicles galore offering tips and tricks for writing the perfect bio. But they’re not much help. Instead of illuminating your individuality, they tend to force it into a straitjacket. The result is a sea of bios that more or less sound the same. “I’m active in philanthropy—and on the golf course!” “I’m a proud dog dad to two beautiful golden retrievers.” On the Internet, everyone’s different—in exactly the same way.
Recreating your bio with Biograph, you can stand out by being yourself. Our app amplifies your voices, helping you tell your story in your words—so that your bio is authentic, original, and, most important, a true reflection of who you are. Here are 6 tips from Biograph’s staff to help you get there:
1. TELL A STORY
Your bio should be more than a laundry list of your accomplishments—because you’re more than a laundry list of your accomplishments. Your bio should tell a story: about who you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. That means filling in the details a little.
Let’s say you’re switching careers. You could write, “Kimberly Hamels worked in IT for over ten years. She recently started a new career as a seventh grade English teacher.” It’s all true, but it doesn’t have any spark, any life.
Why would I want to learn more about Kim? I have questions—like, how did you make that jump? Are you bringing any skills or lessons from your old job—or are you starting over from scratch? But she doesn’t encourage me to ask them, let alone answer them.
She could try something more personal, something that reflects who she is and what she values: “After ten years working in IT in the corporate world, Kimberly Hamels realized she wanted to give back to the community on the South Side of Chicago where she grew up. She’ll start teaching 7th grade English in the Fall of 2021. Her years dealing with faulty printers and finicky routers give her the patience she needs to thrive teaching middle school.”
To create a great and unique bio, we have to do some reflection. We have to dig deep and find those veins of passion and commitment that have shaped our lives. The Biograph app is here to do that. More than a writing tool, our app is designed to save your time and experience, to empower you with the self-knowledge necessary to create powerful language, whether you’re writing a professional bio or a memoir. We’ll guide you to discover the key moments in your life or career, the moments that have shaped who you are—so that you can tell a story that will shape your future.
2. FOCUS ON PROCESS, NOT PRODUCT
So you’re staring at a blank page, overwhelmed by the task. You have to write the perfect bio, which means you have to write the perfect opening sentence. But everything you write seems hollow and wrong. You write a sentence, then delete it; write another sentence and delete it again. If you find yourself trapped in this loop, you might be worrying about the wrong thing. Strange as it seems, to write a good bio, you need to start by forgetting all about your goal. Instead of obsessing over the first sentence or the proper format, give yourself space to explore. You can refine later: for now, let the language pour out of you.
Writing is about the process, not the product. To write a great bio, give yourself permission to enjoy the journey, without worrying about the destination. I know, I know: this sounds like very #inspiration advice. But there’s a practical side to what we’re saying here. Behold this sleeper: “Ronald Johnson is project manager in the commercial real estate space based in Chicago.” Ron’s a detail-oriented dude—he has to be in his business. But the writing here is anything but detail oriented—it’s flat as the Chicago prairie.
Ron should take some time and focus on the writing for its own sake. Luxuriate in the power of verbs. Look for fluidity and action, instead of stasis. When we asked Ron to give it a go, he rolled his eyes—but did it anyway. Fifteen minutes later, he came back with a new version: “Ten years of experience working in Chicago’s demanding, fast-paced real-estate commercial market has taught Ronald Johnson everything he needs to know—about real estate and life. He’s learned to reinvent himself, to keep learning and growing. Ron earns his reputation everyday as a trusted industry leader who never rests on his laurels but constantly seeks the most dynamic opportunities the market has to offer.”
Biograph can help you get into this headspace: confidence without arrogance, detailed without TMI, self-promotional without selling out. Affording you space to start talking, thinking, or writing without worrying where it will take you, Biograph helps you know and represent yourself in the best light.
3. SURPRISE YOURSELF
Writing is about more than meeting a deadline or filling out a template. It’s about discovery and exploration. Often, our clients will stop in the middle of an interview to reflect on something they’d just said: “Gosh, I’d totally forgotten about that until just now,” or, “I didn’t know I felt that way until just now.” That’s when we know an interview is really going well: our clients aren’t just telling us their usual cocktail anecdotes. They’re discovering something new—and true—about themselves.
Writing your bio, you want to get to the same space. Don’t just tell the usual stories or give your usual elevator pitch. This is an opportunity to really reflect on who you are in this moment, where you’ve been, and where you want to go. Let our questions take you places you didn’t expect. Tell stories you’d forgotten. Ask yourself questions you don’t usually ask. Instead of “Where do you see yourself in five years?” try, “Where am I going?” Push yourself beyond your usual, comfortable answers. That kind of honesty and self-examination will make your bio stand out. Readers can always tell when a piece of writing comes from a true and deep place—and they can always tell when a bio is just regurgitating the same old cliches and worn-out stories.
4. LISTEN FOR YOUR VOICE
You’ve spent some time exploring, experimenting, asking yourself open-ended questions with the Biograph app. Now you need to refine the raw materials you’ve developed, finding the stories and ideas that best represent your voice, your journey, and your experience. This can be a tricky step. Our clients often feel stuck or confused when they get here. They have so many possible routes. How do you separate the wheat from the chaff? How do you find the right way forward?
Our recommendation is simple: listen carefully to the material you’ve created. Where do you hear your voice? Where do you sound most like yourself—passionate, animated, full of energy and conviction? Using the Biograph app, you can listen back to all of your answers. And you can use the free transcripts we provide to search for keywords, helping you get back to the moments when your voice comes alive. Flag those moments: they’ll form the skeleton for your bio.
5. REVISE, REVISE, REVISE
Writing doesn’t happen all at once: one burst of inspiration, then you’re done. Instead, revision is part of writing. As you revise your bio, you may find yourself repeating some of the steps we’ve outlined above. You’ll discover new things about yourself and your story. You’ll hear your voice afresh. Enjoy the process—don’t worry about the product.
And as you do so, focus on a couple of key goals.
- First, efficiency. How can you tell your story as quickly and smoothly as possible? Cut unnecessary words—and unnecessary details. Refine your bio until it’s smooth and lustrous.
- Second, honesty. As you reread and rewrite your bio, look for places where the language doesn’t feel right to you—doesn’t feel like When you find those places, consider doing some rewriting. Maybe another session with the Biograph app will help you go deeper, find something truer.
- Third, audience. Write with the expectations that your audience will have—professional or not. Make sure you fulfil their expectations in all the key places—so that, when you break their expectations, your story and voice will be all the more dynamic, individual, and effective.
6. PAY ATTENTION TO EXPECTATIONS…BUT NOT TOO MUCH
One more word about expectations. They matter–a lot. You wouldn’t send your Tinder bio to a potential employer: “Matty loves long walks on the beach and getting CRUNK with the bros. Hit me up for some Netflix and dolla dolla bills.” In fact, Matty shouldn’t send that bio to, like, anyone. If you’re writing a professional bio, you’ll want to edit carefully for tone and style, ensuring you sound professional and respectful throughout.
For instance, if you’re writing a professional bio, you’ll probably need to write it in the third person. And you’ll probably need to be a bit formal. (So, instead of saying, “In college, I learned research skills that I still use” try “At the University of Illinois, Diane acquired strong research skills that continue to inform her work as an entrepreneur”).
How do you calibrate your writing? We recommend a simple step: read a couple of other bios on the same site. See how people you admire put theirs together. How do they start and finish their bios? Where do they go in between? How formal is their writing? What do you like—and what do you dislike? What moves do you want to steal? You can use other people’s stories as models for how to present your own.
But remember: your goal is not to discipline or tame your stories or ideas. Rather, you’re seeking a frame for them—a structure that will make them shine. Keep those moments of passion and intensity in their full, untamed brilliance. Readers will appreciate having a frame. But they’ll remember the moments when your voice breaks through that frame in its full individuality.