Professional Bio. Ugh.

How can something so short be so difficult to write? Well, mostly because it’s so short. The less you write, the more pressure there is on each word.
And when you’re writing a short bio (for a blog post, an offer on your website, an article, a professional association, or a social media page, just to name a few places you need one of these pesky pieces of writing), you’re not only trying to squeeze good writing into a small space. You’re trying to squeeze your entire professional existence into a small space.

The Power of Writing Recipes and Frames

The answer to your bio blues is a recipe plus sentence frames. Sentence frames are like those paint-by-numbers art kits from when you were a kid. The tell you what to put where so that you end up with something that looks really good.
Actually, sentence frames are even better. Because no two kits contain the same picture. I’ll end up with a lovely lighthouse, and you’ll get a unique unicorn. Even if we both use the same recipe and frame, our bios will still be our own because they will be about us and in the language we naturally use.
So really, writing recipes and sentence frames are more like butlers: they bring you exactly what you need for the situation and make you look like a boss while the fade into the background, out of sight.
Had enough similes? Should we get down to business? OK, let’s do it!

What’s a bio for, anyway?

A short-form bio…

  • Summarizes who you are and whom you help
  • Gives some examples of the results you get for your clients
  • Makes you stand out from your competitors
  • Shows your dedication and passion
  • Helps readers see themselves as your potential clients

Now that you know the reasons for writing a bio, let’s go through exactly how to do it, step by step. I’m going to start with a big-picture view so that you’ll be able to orient yourself and see the purpose of each step.

Bio: Big-Picture View

Sentence 1: Big Picture Statement

Sentence 2: Point A to Point B Statement

Sentence 3: Best Person for the Job Statement

Sentence 4: Passion Statement

Sentence 5: Reader in the Picture Statement

That’s all a bit abstract, though. So here’s my own paint-by-numbers example:

I’m Megan Barnhard, a writing coach for entrepreneurs and creatives who want to make an impact. I provide custom how-to recipes so you can write with more success and less stress. Whether you want to write books, blogs, or business content, I’ll help you find your voice and your process. As a life-long procrastinator and a reformed perfectionist, I know what it’s like to want to punch writing in the face.  My approach is fun, positive, and customized to your needs. I’m committed to helping big thinkers wrangle their words and finish those important projects they’ve been putting off. Do you have a story to tell and a passion to share? Let’s set up a free consultation so I can help you bring your writing into the world.

Take a minute to match up my sentences with the Big-Picture View. So far so good? By the way, the sentences in the actual bio and in the the Big-Picture View match up with the bullet points above, so if the titles of the sentences aren’t doing it for you, try looking at their goals.

Bio: Step-by-Step View

When you’re ready to create your own bio, go through these steps in order with an experimental attitude. Try out a few different frames in each step to give yourself options. Hold off on judging (or deleting) your ideas until you get to Step 6.

Step 1: Big Picture Statement

Goal: Summarize who you are and whom you help.

Big Picture Statement = You + Your Clients + Your Clients’ Challenges + Your Clients’ Outcomes
Frames to try:

  • I’m [your name], a [describing word] [title] who loves helping [clients] [challenges] [outcome].
  • I’m [your name], a [describing word] [title] dedicated to helping [clients] [challenges] [outcome].
  • I’m [your name], a [title] specializing in helping [clients] [challenges] [outcome].

Pro Tip: Try several different describing words, clients’ challenges, and outcomes within each frame.
Need some inspiration for how to fill in those brackets? Check out the lists below.

Your Title

coach             teacher                    practitioner              facilitator                specialist
leader            mentor                   artist                  guru            wizard            therapist              

Describing Yourself

dedicated                               passionate                     uncompromising               
mindful                  caring               no-nonsense              driven                committed
fanatical                   avid                   intuitive               big-hearted              relentless
die-hard                    dyed-in-the-wool                      fun-loving                 compassionate

Naming Your Clients

newly-divorced men            pregnant women             busy professionals       pro athletes
families with special-needs children           cancer survivors               active seniors
small business owners                  high-achieving students                 overworked moms

Naming Your Clients’ Challenges

with                                     who struggle with                    who feel
who wish they could stop            who are afraid they’ll never be able to         who worry they’ll
who are stuck                   who feel stuck in/at                   who worry about
who are tired of                   who can’t seem to                  who can’t seem to stop
who want                             who are ready to                      who are done

Your Clients’ Outcomes

learn                  understand               see              feel        choose            reach their            
realize           make peace with                    know how to           become          transform          

Step 2: Point A to Point B Statement

Goal: Offer readers some examples of the results you get for your clients

Point A to Point B Statement = Where Your Clients Start + Where They End Up
Frames to try:

  • I show people how to stop [Action A] and start [Action B].
  • I teach people the skills they need to go from [Feeling A] to [Feeling B].
  • I take people from [Mental State A] to [Mental State B].
  • I guide people from [Condition A] to [Condition B].
  • Whether they want to [Action / Feeling 1], [Action / Feeling 2], or [Action / Feeling 3], I give people the tools they need to [Outcome].
  • Whether they want help with [Problem 1], [Problem 2], or [Problem 3], I offer people the support they need to [Outcome].

Step 3: Best Person for the Job Statement

Goal: Stand out from your competitors.

Best Person for the Job Statement = Your Experience or Background + Your Special Insight or Approach
Frames to Try:

  • With extensive experience in… I help clients finally get to the root of…
  • With specialized training in… I offer my clients the absolute best support for…
  • With my diverse background in… I help people understand…
  • With over [# of years] experience as a… I know how to get my clients big results.
  • After years of struggling with… I know exactly how my clients feel when…
  • As a former / current… I know firsthand what it’s like to…  

Step 4: Passion Statement

Goal: Show your dedication and passion.

Passion Statement = Your Fire + Reiteration of Your Clients’ Results
Frames to try:

  • I’m committed to helping my clients… so they can…
  • I’m passionate about getting my clients real results so they can…
  • I love to see when my clients… because I know it means they’ll be able to…
  • I know I’ve done my job when my clients…
  • Nothing brings me greater joy than seeing my clients…

Step 5: Reader in the Picture Statement

Goal: Help readers see themselves as your potential clients.

Reader in the Picture Statement = Your Big Picture Statement + Your Reader + Immediacy!
This sentence very naturally introduces a call to action. You can place it right before a “Schedule a Free Consultation” button or a “Check out how I help people just like you!” link.  
Frames to try:

  • If you’re ready for…I’m here to help!
  • If you’re ready to stop… and start…, I’m here to help!
  • If you’re tired of being let down by… and ready for real results that let you…, I’m here for you!
  • If you’re ready for the guidance that will take you from… to…, I’m here for you!
  • If you’re done… and ready to…, I’m here to help you!

Step 6: Putting It All Together

Now you can turn up your judgment a bit as you look back at all your experiments. But don’t be too harsh; after all, these sentences are rough drafts. 
Look for the sentences from each step that you liked the best. Start pasting sentences together in order from one to five. Mix and match your different outcomes until you like what you have.
And then get in there and make adjustments. Listen to how it flows. Tweak and refine. 

It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect

Don’t worry about getting your bio perfect.  As your business or practice evolves, you’ll return to your bio again and again. Maybe you’ll start offering different services. Maybe your target audience will change. Maybe you’ll just want a change of tone.
You can use this same template wherever you go in your professional life. Whether you work for a big company, a small start-up, or for yourself, you can use this template to let people know just how fantastic you are at what you do.