Your bio is one of the most important features of your CV Portfolio, or any writer profile for thatmatter. I’d say that your bio and writing samples are the two most important factors brands take into consideration when deciding whom to give assignments to.
And that means it had better be good.
This is where most writers suddenly remember they have houseplants to water or spices to alphabetize. No writer likes writing their bio (which is an interesting conundrum, when you think about it). But if you’re wondering why you keep raising your hand to be considered for assignments, but brands aren’t picking you — come out from behind that spice rack and keep reading.
Today we’re discussing how to write a compelling bio for your CV in the ClearVoice Talent Network.
What to include in a freelance writer’s bio
Your CV Portfolio bio should:
- Summarize your skills and establish credibility
- Tell the reader a little bit about yourself
- State your areas of expertise
- Focus on bringing clients value
Let’s break those down using my bio as an example.
1. Summarize your skills and establish credibility
Let them know up front that you’re qualified to be here. Get right to it; they want to know why they should hire you, so tell them. You are worth being considered for their writing assignment by virtue of facts A, B and C. Check out the opening of my bio:
By day, I’m a content manager at a Phoenix marketing agency. By night/weekend, I’m a freelance writer who loves helping companies create great content. With 15 years of writing and editing experience, I have the right combination of editorial skills and marketing fluency, and my copy is clean, concise and always on time.
In the first few sentences I tell potential clients that I do this professionally, I have experience and what my major skills and qualifications are. Do something similar; start your bio with two or three things that qualify you to write their content.
2. Tell the reader a little bit about yourself
Yes, you should show some personality. Of course! Great idea. Just make sure it’s in an appropriately personal manner. This is what I tell readers in my bio:
I’m passionate about words, language, grammar, punctuation and style, and I’ve been known to engage in lengthy discussions about hyphens and compound modifiers (that stuff is actually fun to me). People call me “outgoing,” “optimistic” and “enthusiastic,” all of which fit.
Sharing a little bit about yourself should always serve a dual purpose: You want the reader to get a glimpse of your personality and what it would be like to work with you, but you also want to back up the idea that you’re good at your craft. By emphasizing my passion for words, language, grammar, punctuation and style, I’m also sending a signal that I’ll take great care with the content I write for them.
Please note: If whatever personal information you’re sharing with them doesn’t at least faintly relate back to why you’re a good choice to create content for them, don’t include that information. An original Smurf collection from 1981 is impressive, yes, but do not put it in your bio. They won’t help you write good content.
3. State your areas of expertise
This one is pretty self-explanatory. You selected the industries you are qualified to cover when you set your marketplace settings, but go into a little more detail here. There’s no “substance abuse” category in those industry categories, for example, so I add that info here.
My areas of expertise include: substance abuse; grammar, writing and editing; content marketing and SEO; managing/working with freelance writers; software and technology; and internet and e-commerce.
4. Focus on bringing clients value
Odd as this may sound, your bio isn’t really about you; it’s about how you can help them. Close your ClearVoice bio by reminding them about the value they’ll receive when they hire you.
I create clean content that engages your target audience, drives leads and boost conversions — and generally makes your life easier. I am looking forward to working with you!
*Warning* *warning* *warning*: Don’t go off the rails.
Can you get creative? Well, yeah, sorta… (she says with so much major hesitation).
You can be mildly creative. Mildly. But I beg of you: Kill the kooky stuff. Don’t try to stand out in some super clever way.
The best way to demonstrate this point is to show you some examples of real live bios people submitted to ClearVoice. Here goes:
I was raised by a pack of SEO wolves who taught me the martial skills of analysis and acquisition. Then the villagers took me in and I learned the humane arts of psychology and persuasion. I grew up to become a copywriter with the cold, data-driven heart of a digital marketer.
A writer who enjoys hot tubbing under the stars. I have a passion for storytelling and making the mundane interesting. I can also tap dance and speak in gibberish. I know. Very impressive.
What good are wings in a cage? If a child washes his hands, he can eat with Kings. I am a critical (cosmic) thinker that has been inspired from the source to enlighten new ways of thinking, creating more trailblazers in this world as well as getting people balanced in life.
Keep it simple, straightforward and professional. Personality is fine, but err on the side of caution if you’re not sure if you should include something. There are no bonus points for crazy.
About college degrees
Should you include your college degree? I’m inclined to say no, unless it qualifies you as a subject matter expert and demonstrates expert-level knowledge in a niche industry. I got my bachelor’s in English 20-something years ago, which is pretty unremarkable and doesn’t really qualify me to write content for brands today. But if you have a master’s in sustainable energy technology and you’re trying to establish yourself as a SME (subject matter expert) in green living, by all means include it.
The other side to my argument is that you should include your college degree, simply for the fact it lends you a degree of credibility that can be easily confirmed, “Yes, she did graduate from such-and-such place with a degree in such-and-such.” It’s one factor a brand can use to vet you.
And if you have a degree in English, Journalism or Writing— although it might be irrelevant to a writing about solar power converters — it might signal to an editor, “Yes, this writer might understand deadlines, be on time, know grammar, and take less time to edit. Less work for me. Good.”
About point of view
Do you have to write it in the third person? Nope. You don’t have to be Elmo or an illeist.
I know this flies in the face of the conventional bio-writing wisdom, but I’m sticking to it. For bios on guest posts and similar off-page activity, stick to third person, for but your CV Portfolio, go ahead and write in first. This is the writer’s equivalent to breaking the fourth wall in theater, and doing so creates a personal connection with the reader. They know you wrote it and you know you wrote it, so why is everybody pretending you didn’t?
About your hopes and dreams
Don’t include them.