How to Write Better Professional Biographies

I Show You How to Break Away from the Boring Bios

One of the natural progressions that my copywriting has taken is more of a story telling approach.  People want to be entertained.  Doing that develops trust, and we know that people buy from those that they trust.

When you hit the “About” page on someone’s website, or read their bio on LinkedIn, what do you usually find?  It’s probably something like this:

My name is Ted.  I earned my finance degree from Big University.  I now work for Big Financial as a Very Important Manager.  My wife is Tina.  We live in the suburbs with our two kids.  We like to play golf on the weekends.  We have a dog.

No offense to all Teds and Tinas out there, but that’s about as boring as a professional biography goes.  And that’s how ALMOST EVERY BIOGRAPHY IS WRITTEN!

Listen up.

You want to wow your audience?  You want to create a better connection with them?  Then tell the real story of your life.  Tell them why you’re such a bad ass that they feel bad if they don’t do business with you.  I’ll show you my process on how I write a kickass bio so that your clients are in awe of you.

Do Some Internet Stalking

copywriter and small business bloggerOne of the best ways to get to know someone is to discover what they’re like when they’re not putting on a performance for you.  Let’s face it, whether we admit it or not, we put on different performances depending on what situation we are in.  We act differently around friends than we do family; different in business settings than in social settings; different when alone picking our noses than in public picking our noses… you get it.

In order to really understand a person and what they’re all about, find out what they do in different settings.  Naturally be coy about his, stalk gently, and obviously keep it legal.  If you’re hiding in their bushes spying on them eating dinner (yeah… eating dinner… that’s what people spy on all the time right?) then I’m going to come slap you.

Hit them with a Questionnaire

As you’re spying on them – I mean doing your best internet sleuthing – send them over a questionnaire that they can start to ponder.  Naturally nobody will want to look at that questionnaire and get excited to fill it out.  Nearly everyone HATES talking about themselves!

ProTip: I’ve uploaded the bio questionnaire I use; just download it and save yourself 11 minutes of prepping your own questions.

In order to assuage that uncomfortableness (a much better word than the proper term: discomfort), tell them that it’s just for reference.  It is to give them an idea of the questions that you will be asking when you get on the phone with them in the near future.

At the same time, set up the phone interview.  Determine a time when you can go through the questionnaire and really discover who they are.  Lock it down early, because if they’re like everyone else, they “totally super busy” and “barely have time to poop” and “can’t be stuck on the phone forever.”

Of course if everyone loves to claim that they’re far busier than they really are (I once-upon-a-time wrote about how we fall into a pretend “busyness” trap).  We’ll save that for another day.

Conduct a Phone Interview

Here’s the easyhard part.

Talk to them.  Start at the top of the questionnaire, and just ask the questions.  You will recognize why the phone call is important and that leaving them to fill out the questionnaire on their own doesn’t get the information you need.

You know how I said that people hate talking about themselves?  They REALLY hate writing about themselves.  If they simply wrote the answers to the questions, you would get one or two sentence answers; and surface level mumbo jumbo that nobody really cares about.

As you go through the questions, you can ask follow-up questions.  Discover more of what they know.  Learn little nuances about how they live life and what their worldview is.  The tricky part, though, comes when you’re discovering what they’re all about.

Professional Biographies

An actual picture of me conducting an interview. ca 2021. Colorized.

Discover what they’re all About

If you get on the phone with someone and you ask them, “So, what are you all about?”  You will be met with a blank stare (as much of a blank stare as one can send through the phone anyway).  So you have to know what to listen for, and what questions to ask them to pry this information that they desperately want to share with you, but stubbornly hold inside.

Listen for inflections in their voice.

If the pitch of their voice goes up, or they start talking faster, you better pay attention.  This is when they’re talking about something that’s important to them.  If you ask a question and they reply with, “Oh my gosh, Scott, let me tell you…” don’t forget a word they say next.

These are the things that you want to convert into a badass bio for them.  These are the unique abilities, passions, and the “stuff” that’s close to their heart.

Ask questions until you start to pull these things out of them.

Create a Story About Why They’re Awesome

If you’re like me you will leave that interview with a couple thousand words about this person.  I type notes that are detailed instead of bullet pointed because otherwise I will completely forget the important bits.

storytelling copywriterNow, you have your behind-the-scenes stalking done, and you have the phone interview where you wrenched and pried information from them, it’s time to put it together into succinct info.

My process is to make an outline.  If I don’t have to include work history, family history, education, and all that nonsense, I don’t even put it in there.  Because when you’re reading about someone, do you really care that they received their Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology from Montana State University?  I mean, hardly anyone knows what Anthropology is anyway, so they skim past all that.

Create the story about WHY they are who they are.  Talk about how awesome they are with their passions, show that they have a huge heart for <insert something here>, create a bond between the reader and that professional so that when the reader is done they’re wiping away tears thinking “where’s my phone I want to meet this person!”

Hire a Professional Copywriter to do the Dirty Work

Of course, you know, writing in that manner doesn’t come easy.  It comes with literally years of practice.

You know who does a great job writing kickass biographies?

A copywriter named Scott Sery.

Since 2014 he has been writing a couple of family stories every single month for a local publication.  It has helped him hone in on how to tell a story that stands out from the rest.  He has helped a bunch of professionals and business owners create the most badass biographies that they literally fainted when they read them (true story).

Get in touch, let’s write something awesome together.

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