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How to Write a Bio (Case Study)

Type the phrase “how to write a bio” into Google and one of the first results that comes up is my bio template site called Write a Bio. As a result of this high Google ranking, I get enquiries on a daily basis from people needing to write a bio. Most of the time people are in a hurry to write a bio and therefore happy to simply purchase one of my bio templates. Sometimes, though, I get into an email exchange like the one below. I’m reproducing it here because it’s a good example of the issues that come up when trying to write your own bio (names and some details have been changed to protect confidentiality).

—–Original Message—–
From: Smith, Mike X.
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 10:36 AM
To: barbra@sundquist.ca
Subject: Hi

Hi Barbara. Are you in Canada? I found about you through another Web page where I think you might have been involved in writing the bio for a company (sorry can’t remember the name). But I am also interested in coaching as a possible business. I’ve been in IT for 25 years, 50 years old, midlife blah blah… Anyway, I have been talking with another coach in Canada (which is why I ask). I really like him but I may need a different opinion regarding my own coaching practice. As part of getting my name out there I am really struggling on my own bio. It’s like I’m on autopilot – I got right into the CIO mode when that’s not what I want anymore. Can you suggest someone who is really good at writing a bio? It is really weak but my current bio is at:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/mikexsmith

From: Barbra Sundquist
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 12:48 PM
To: Smith, Mike X.
Subject: RE: Hi

Hi Mike
Great to hear from you! What a small world we have these days with the internet, right? Yes indeed I am in Canada, Vancouver Island to be specific. And yes, I can help you with your bio. In fact, I have a service where I provide bio templates.
You can see it here at Write a Bio
If you’d like my help with your bio, you have two options:
1) TEMPLATE BIO
You would purchase a fill-in-the-blank template for “Coach”. To do this just go to Write a Bio , choose your template and pay $39 USD. You will then receive your template immediately by email.
2) CUSTOM BIO
Your other option is to have my company write a custom bio for you (which includes an initial draft and then one rewrite based on your comments). We can do either a short bio or a long bio for you.
Thanks for your interest in my services!
Warmly,
Barbra Sundquist

—–Original Message—–
From: Smith, Mike X.
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 11:01 AM
To: Barbra Sundquist
Subject: RE: Hi

Thank you Barbara. I would be interested in the custom option. I think the best bios are written by a 3rd person. But I need to do more internal work. I have morphed myself into so many people over the past 25 years I am having trouble writing a bio that talks about who I am – and less about my illustrious career (although I realize that may unavoidable).

—–Original Message—–
From: Barbra Sundquist [mailto:barbra@sundquist.ca]
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 5:17 PM
To: ‘Smith, Mike X.’
Subject: RE: Hi

You’re so right. I can easily write bios for other people, but when it comes to myself I find it agonizing! Just let me know when you’re ready.

—–Original Message—–
From: Mike X. Smith
Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 7:41 AM
To: Barbra Sundquist
Subject: Hi Barbara

Barbara, I really am enjoying reading your articles, and as someone who has become extremely interested in a coaching practice, I think I need to get to know you better. My bio is nagging at me, I need to sit with someone who really can help extract pertinent information (pertinent being information I forgot or don’t care about, but might interest other people). This comes from my wife. So this needs to be more than a routine exercise or someone using a template – I can do that. But I need a bio that can convey who I am as a person, but not (as you say) make it a biography. Tall order, I know, but that’s what I’m thinking I need. Regardless, I need to know you better somehow.
Mike

—–Original Message—–
From: Barbra Sundquist [mailto:barbra@sundquist.ca]
Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 10:07 AM
To: Smith, Mike X.
Subject: RE: Hi Barbara

Hi Mike
I understand completely what you are saying. It’s so important when you are making a this type of career transition to really define who you are (as opposed to what you’ve done) and what you can offer. Check out my bio on www.becomeacertifiedcoach.com for a combination “achievement” and “personal story” type bio. It’s what eventually felt right to me. There’s another custom one that I wrote for a coach that you might like to look at – www.kathleenjohnston.com

Good luck! From my experience the process you are going through right now is one of the hardest steps in making the transition to coaching. Once you get this settled everything else will seem easier!
barbra

—–Original Message—–
From: Smith, Mike X.
Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 10:43 AM
To: Barbra Sundquist
Subject: RE: Hi Barbara

You are so sweet Barbara. Thank you. I will look at the bios.
————–
Nice ending. Happy customer. Happy me.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Karen Lynn September 27, 2007, 3:49 pm

    Great point about people needing to “know” you better for a custom bio to be written. Biography writing can be extremely personal, and oftentimes the process reveals things about the person the subject hadn’t considered. It is often a carthartic experience. Some folks need that extra attention, especially if they are experiencing a big change in their lives (like a career). Great article.

  • milton kline March 12, 2011, 4:54 am

    I have read all of your information and I would like to write a bio or profile that will show up on google. It looks like I need a website. Does it have to be mine or can it be on a business colleagues. Or can it be a link on his website. When someone googles me I want them to observe my past history and what I am currently doing. I could go on facebook, but i prefer not too.

    Please get back to me and give me a heads up.

    than you

    milt kline

  • Barbra August 11, 2011, 3:11 am

    Hi Milton, there are lots of free services where you can put an online bio.

    Check out About.me. It’s a free and easy-to-use service where you can put up an online business card with a bio.

    Most people are probably going to Google your name, so filling out profiles on prominent social networks is a good way to make sure that what they find is what you want them to know about you. My recommendation for the most professional online network is LinkedIn.com.

    Another option is to register with a free online social media aggregator, such as Chi.mp. If you do a Google search for ” free virtual business card” you will be sure to find some other services to choose from.