I recently discussed “About” page copywriting. Website bios are a big part of robust About pages. Often, brands will include bios for key people on the management team, and someone needs to pen those narratives, right? That brings us to the subject of this blog post: How to write a great bio for a website.
You can apply the advice I share below to other “types” of bios for other applications, like LinkedIn or conference speaker bios.
And if you learn better by watching a video, here you go.
What is a bio anyway?
A bio, which is short for “biography,” is just that—it’s a short narrative about a person. “Short” is relative here. Some bios might only be a paragraph or two. Others might be as long as a full page. I rarely see bios that go longer than a page.
A good bio tells a good story. But it doesn’t include every last detail of a person’s life.
Your job is to capture relevant highlights about the person’s life while giving us a sense of who the person is. That last bit isn’t always easy to capture—a person’s essence. And the truth is, not all bios require that. Some bios are very much “just the facts, ma’am.”
It all depends on who the bio is for and how it’s being used.
Why do people need website bios?
Have you ever been on a website and it’s just . . . sparse? And you’re wondering if it’s legit? You go poking around to see if you can find any info on people in the company, and you come up empty. How’d that make you feel? Probably not all that inclined to buy from the business, right?
Website bios lend credibility. Look! There are real people behind this business! Plus, many consumers like to know who they’re doing business with. They’re interested in learning more about the people behind the brand. (This can be true for b2c or b2b companies.)
Website bios and pics can also make it easier for customers and prospects to connect with the person they’re doing business with, like a sales rep or an account manager.
And bios offer an opportunity to glean whether the person has the credentials you’re looking for.
How to write a great bio for a website: What should you include?
What you include in a website bio is up to the business, the person being written about, and even the writer (if the writer is directing the bios for the entire team).
Usually, website bios include relevant education and credentials, relevant employment, details about the current position, and—ideally—some personal info. “Robyn lives in a suburb of Boston with her faithful plush sloth, Stewart.”
I always encourage clients to have fun with their bios.
- I often use “lightning round” questions after the main bio where I ask some fun questions. The person’s answers help bring their bio page to life. Here’s an example of a website bio I did that uses this approach.
- I encourage clients to include candid photos in addition to professional headshots. Again, this helps bring more personality to the website bios. Here’s an example of a website bio I did that uses this approach.
Should website bios be written in first or third person?
Like so many things in life, it depends. I’ve written them both ways. It will depend on the business, the people, and the goals.
For the urology practice I write for, I draft the doctors’ website bios in the third person. For this morning radio show consultant, I wrote the bio in the first person. For this mortgage broker, I did a combination of first for the opening of the “About Me” page before transitioning into a bio written in the third person. (And I cheekily made reference to the switch from first person to third.) For my LinkedIn bio, I wrote it in first person—and as you might expect, it’s not the “typical” bio.
I would say this: I think consistency is key. So if you’re writing website bios for 10 people on the same team, it makes sense to choose either first or third person.
Another caveat: If the person has a lot of credentials, awards, etc., it will come across much less braggy if the bio is written in third person.
Is it OK to write your own bio?
People are often very protective of their personal bios, which makes sense. If someone wants to take a stab at writing their bio—or maybe they had a bio at another company and they update it for the new one—I’m OK with this. I’ll always review and fine-tune to make sure the bio is consistent with others in the company.
Some folks, however, hate writing about themselves. Or they’re modest and don’t know how to write about themselves.
And that’s where copywriters come in.
How to write a great bio for a website: Tips for getting the info you need
This is often where the heavy lifting comes into play.
You can . . .
- Put together a bio “input” form. I do this for one of my clients that’s always adding new people to the team.
- Conduct interviews via phone/Zoom. Make sure you record.
- Use a person’s CV/resume. For basic “just the facts, ma’am” bios, this usually provides enough info.
Make sure you have a go-to set of questions that you use as your building block for all bio-input forms. You can customize them for the business and/or person in question.
How to write a great bio for a website: Use these professional bio interview questions to get started.
Here’s the bio-input form I use with one of my clients. (I’ve removed any identifying info.) Feel free to copy and paste and customize it for your bio-writing needs.
I email these instructions and questions to the person I’m writing about.
What I Need from You:
Please provide three short paragraphs about yourself and your work experience. Use the existing bios on our site as a guide. I’ll lightly edit what you send me, as needed, but you’ll get final approval.
If writing isn’t your thing, please thoroughly answer all questions below and I’ll draft a bio for you. (You will get final approval.)
- Please share your name and title as you’d like to see it appear on the site.
- Where are you based?
- Tell me about your role with AWESOME COMPANY—what will you be doing day-to-day, week-to-week?
- What do you love most about your job with AWESOME COMPANY?
- Please provide a brief paragraph on your experience: work experience and relevant education. Definitely highlight any relevant experience as it relates to AWESOME COMPANY.
- You’re at a cocktail party and someone asks you what you do for a living. What do you say?
- When you’re not working, what do you like to do?
- What’s something you wish everyone understood about your job, and why AWESOME COMPANY is different/better than its competitors?
- Please include a link to your LinkedIn profile (and make sure your profile is up to date and has a picture).
- Anything else you want to make sure I include?
Fill out whatever you’re comfortable with and feel free to add something else:
- Star Wars, Star Trek, neither:
- Favorite (food, author, movie, sport – pick/share something):
- A little-known fact about yourself:
- How you unwind:
- Words to live by:
- One headshot – you can take it with your phone. Just make sure the lighting is good, the background is plain/solid, and that you shoot from the shoulders (or so) on up. See the website for examples.
- Three candid shots, at least one of which should be a “you” shot. The other two can also feature you (family photo, childhood photo, you jumping out of a plane), and/or pets, a prized possession (car, boat, piece of art), you get the idea. Something that captures the essence of who you are. Again, see the existing bios on the site for inspiration.
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