Having a bio on your site, or blog, or in your submission package, is important because, obviously, not everyone knows you. It can be difficult to write about yourself, but your bio is the only way some people will ever “meet” you, so you want to make sure it leaves a good impression. These are guidelines, not rules, for writing a professional bio.
Imagine You Don’t Know You.
It can be very difficult to write about yourself. After all, who knows you better than you? But try to think about what you want to know when you’re looking into other people. what makes you click the ‘about me’ link on someone’s website? What kind of information do you hope to find?
Don’t just write words to fill up space. Where are you from? What do you do? Is there anything you are exceptional at? What makes you professionally interesting? Loving grilled cheese is great, but what does it tell the reader about you as a creative-professional?
If you want to write a novel, that’s fine, (and some people will even scroll down to read it all), but generally a bio should be brief and to the point. If you are going to write something longer, you should consider having second version that is no more than one paragraph.
Photography is your passion? No kidding. You picked up your dad/uncle/plumber’s camera at the age of 7/13/9 and have been hooked ever since? Probably true, but is it important? Cliches are just another way of saying nothing.
If you’re submitting a contributor bio to a magazine, pick up a magazine and see what a contributor bio looks like. If you’re part of a group exhibition, read the bios previous exhibitors have prepared. How long are they? How formal? What do they say? There’s nothing worse than showing up to a party under-dressed. See what is appropriate for the venue, and write to match.
Use A Second Set of Eyes.
Have someone who knows you look it over to make sure everything is clear. Again, it can be hard to write about yourself, so there may be an accomplishment you’ve missed, or a detail you’ve overlooked.
Keep It Current.
As you move through your career, you’ll find that the bio you slaved over in first-year university is not as relevant as it once was. Tweak it here and there when something changes. Add the award you won, mention that you were recently published in the New Yorker, update your location when you move to Chicago. Your bio should change and mature with you.