How to Write a Professional Bio

Direct Knowlege Contributor David A. Smith
  • By David A. Smith, Founder & CEO, Direct Knowledge
  • David Smith has a B.S. and M.S. in Mathematics and has enjoyed teaching calculus, linear algebra, and number theory at both Tarrant County College and the University of Texas at Arlington. David is the Founder and current CEO of Direct Knowledge.

If a reader wants to learn a little more about the author, then where do they look? Most readers are going to hope to find a bio for the author to introduce them to the writer and their credentials. You and I also love getting to know a little bit about the writers we read. Contributors should know the most effective way to craft these bios to build credibility best. That’s why it’s crucial to understand how to write a full-length professional bio.

A professional bio is a written description of a writer and their personal and professional information. Bios inform the reader about the author’s qualifications and credentials. A bio can also help a writer to connect to their audience on a deeper level. A bio can range in length from just a couple sentences to a full, multi-paragraph write-up. The medium on which the bio exists determines whether it is short or full-length in structure. 

Contributors will need to provide a bio so readers can learn more about them and their work. On Direct Knowledge, all bios need to follow the Contributor Guidelines as well. Writing a compelling bio can help connect you to your audience, and I want to help you craft the perfect template. 

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Short Bio Versus Full Length Bio

An author’s bio helps to establish the writer’s credibility and expertise to readers. Writing a quality bio helps to show audiences you know what you are talking about and can cover material adequately. If written correctly, then a bio can help readers from wondering why they should take you seriously. 

What should I include for both types?

A bio should include your name and some information about you, no matter how long it is. Most readers are going to read your bio to learn more about you. By providing readers with a description of your personality and interests as well as your expertise, they can get to know you better. Building a meaningful relationship with readers is more comfortable if they have some idea of who you are. Try not to overthink the things you say. Instead, write some thoughts down ahead of time. Those notes can help sum up who you are and what you bring to the table. 

Short Bio

A short bio is like an elevator pitch. You use a brief explanation of yourself to explain who you are and what you do. Even a short bio must be full of quality language. Choosing what to say with a limited character or word count can be tricky. To nail the format, don’t be afraid to look at what other people use. For example, Twitter bios are concise. You don’t need to come up with something brand new, just something that’s going to be effective. The goal of a short bio is to gain your reader’s trust without listing endless examples of your authoritativeness.

Short Bio Template

So, what types of information should you include in your short bio? Across the internet, you can find countless templates that show different ways to structure this information. The best way to find one that works for you is to explore short bio templates and ideas. When looking up how to write a professional bio, be sure to include the phrase short in your searches. Otherwise, you could end up finding templates that are much longer than you desire.

In any short bio template, a few things are going to be standard. Within that first sentence or two, you need to include your name, job title, and what you do. This information immediately establishes that you hold a position that warrants readers to find your insights meaningful. A quality bio should start with this because it creates credibility from the beginning. Once those elements exist, it’s crucial to include something about why you do what you do.

A great example of this is to include a dynamic action word. For example, “working to build sustainable communities around the world” sounds better than “helping people.” It’s the space in your short bio where you can sort of answer the questions of why your work matters. You might not always have room for this element. For example, a social media bio is usually under 40-50 characters. In a standard short bio for a website, you typically have up to 10 sentences to introduce yourself. If you do have the room, then including action words to describe your work can go a long way in connecting to your audience. 

When you research tips for how to write a professional bio, you’ll find some that are far longer. Full-length bios include a different approach to how you build a quality description of yourself.

Full-Length Bio

A full-length bio still requires quality writing but gives authors more room to include additional information. These bios often include further detail on an individual’s education and personal life. The goal of a full-length bio is to let readers a little deeper into your professional and personal life. You often find these length bios on websites or blogs as opposed to social media platforms. When writing a full-length bio, authors should make sure to adhere to contributor guidelines about writing an article. An excellent full-length bio should include information relevant to the audience of the website on which it exists. Likewise, these bios should consist of pertinent information to the industry and the topic on which they write.

Don’t make these mistakes.

When writing a high-quality bio, there are some mistakes to avoid. Firstly, be sure to stay consistent and update information regularly. Likewise, avoid merely listing accolades or qualifications and don’t use verbs that lack detail. This bio is your chance to make an impression, so be clear and precise with the way you describe yourself and your work. Also, refrain from using words that chip away at credibility, such as “freelancer.”

The Full-Length Bio: Step by Step

Writing a high-quality, full-length bio can help you build credibility as soon as a reader discovers your work. Finding the best ways to structure your bio can be overwhelming. Several sites online try to offer tips, but I want to give you the best method for crafting this form of article. On Direct Knowledge, all full-length bios must adhere to the Contributor Guidelines. Be sure to review those requests before starting your bio. If you finish reviewing those guidelines, then you’re ready to begin your full-length bio. Let’s first start with an essential element to the style of a bio.

1) Tell them about yourself in the third person.

All bios take on the writing voice of third-person. Third-person writing includes no uses of “I,” “you,” “me,” or “we.” Third-person style writing takes the perspective of an outsider looking in. Even though you write your bio, it should read as if someone else is talking about you. To achieve this, use third-person pronouns like “he,” “she,” or “they.” Likewise, write with authority about your qualifications. Avoid questioning your credibility and don’t use words like “maybe” or “possibly.” A sentence in the third-person might read, “they are a professional mathematician and teach classes at a state university.” Avoid questionable word choice and first-person language like “I” or “me,” you will be in good shape.

Be (appropriately) personal, and be authentic about yourself.

A bio or about the author should include personal information about yourself. If you look up tips on how to write a professional bio, then one thing you see a lot is authenticity. Make sure you don’t present yourself as something you are not. If you are honest with your readers, then they will appreciate you and your thoughts much more. To increase your authenticity, genuinely write about yourself. Don’t describe things you think readers want to hear; be truthful about yourself and what makes you who you are. If someone is reading your bio, then they want to know the real you.

Choose a high-resolution photo of yourself.

A high-resolution photo of yourself should accompany your professional full-length bio and about the author. Make sure this image fits the professional tone you are going for in your writing. For example, avoid taking a selfie or making a silly face. You should get someone else to take the photo for you and smile in a natural way to you. Be sure not to include others in the photo; that could confuse readers as to which person is you. Also, make sure your face takes up the majority of the picture. The photo should be a headshot and not a full-body portrait.

Use three paragraphs for your opening.

Every full-length bio should feature three useful sections. A professional bio should be a conversation you start with the reader. In the first paragraph of your full-length bio, start a conversation by including thought-provoking information or facts related to your background. In the second paragraph, you want to introduce who you are and why you are credible in a point-blank fashion. The second paragraph should be heavily reliant on facts and straightforward statements. The last section should rejoin the conversation. Take this section to preview a bit about what is going to occur in the remainder of the bio.

2) What is your affiliation? Be sure to write about it in your professional bio.

If you want to gain contributor roles for your professional career, then your affiliation is essential. Professional associations help to influence editors to choose your pitches for publication. Readers also look to the author’s professional or educational relationships as a means of credibility and scholarly significance. An affiliation can include things like who you work for and where you graduated from college. This information is standard in a full-length bio to attribute your work to the place in which you gained your education or experience on the matter. Affiliations help to determine how to write a professional bio that postures you as an expert.

It’s not really about you.

Even though a full-length bio or about the author contains information about you, the content exists for the reader. For this reason, the bio is not really about you. Readers want to know more about your affiliation and credentials to influence whether or not they find you trustworthy. A reader may also want to read a bit about you, but that comes after your credibility. Including your affiliation in your professional bio helps to satisfy the reader’s need for meaningful and authoritative content. You can help ensure the reader you are knowledgable on a topic by including your affiliation in your bio.

Where do you work?

Your affiliation is often related to where you work. When including this information in your bio, be sure to signify what role your employer plays in your articles. Include whether or not the research is possible due to the organization for which you work. Likewise, make a note of any ongoing research projects that might extend one article’s findings or details into another future project. Also, include contact info for the organization if inquiries into the content should direct towards an employer. In most cases, questions will go to the author, but it doesn’t hurt to include an organization’s information either.

And while you’re at it, explain what you do.

Concerning your affiliation, be sure to include what you do at your job in your about the author. These details often include a job title and a brief description of your responsibilities. Don’t feel the need to provide a full job description. Be sure to include any relevant information to the content you are contributing to the publication. Likewise, make a note of what the organization does if it pertains to the subject matter of the article. Anything that relates to the duties you have to your professional affiliation should go into your professional bio.

What are some accomplishments?

In your profession, there are likely things you completed or accomplished worth noting for your credibility and experience. Include a few of these items in your bio or about the author. These accolades show that your efforts earn notice or recognition in some form or another. Listed accomplishments should occur during the time with which you hold an affiliation with the organization you include in the bio.

How do your values guide your career?

Lastly, an essential item to include as you work on how to write a professional bio should be your values. Values develop while affiliated with an organization and guide your work. Including this information shows readers what you and your affiliated organization stand for while completing tasks and setting goals.

3) Include alumni information.

Previous jobs and organizations can also play a role in your full-length professional bio. For example, the place at which you earned your college degree can be a notable thing to include. Readers gain respect and confidence in authors who write about their academic career and achievements. Likewise, if you graduated from a great program, then that name carries a level of trustworthiness. For example, someone who graduates from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business holds authority in their field of study. Providing readers with your education is a great way to show them you qualify to talk on a matter.

Previous jobs can also serve as a vital listing in your bio. Make sure to include values or a specific focus you honed during your time at this job. These things determine what experience you have for readers that might help them learn something new. Listing your past educational and professional relationships isn’t enough. Make sure to go one step further.

Include an element of validation

One thing readers want to see is validation during your time at a school or job. You don’t need to upload a PDF of your degree or transcripts. Nor do readers expect you to provide a portfolio of your work during your time with an organization. Instead, list achievements accomplished while at a job or during the completion of a college program—something like graduating with honors or making a 40 under 40 list go a long way for readers.

Audiences love seeing authors who do great things during their professional and academic careers. If you completed a graduate degree, then include the topic of your thesis or dissertation. These further examples of validation can help readers to see you as an informative figure in the field. These elements help to build trust in your readers, so they observe your work as top of the industry insights.

4) Establish credibility when you write a professional bio — truthfully.

While a bio or about the author establishes credibility with your reader, it’s up to you to write the information accurately. Your professional reliability directly relates to the ability of a reader to believe what you are saying. If you list off several accolades you didn’t receive, then you are misleading readers. While they may not catch on to your deception, the practice of dishonestly writing a bio must no occur. Your credibility as a contributor is your name and what you accomplish. If those come into question, then you will have trouble finding work. Here are the best ways to establish your credibility truthfully to best engage with your readers.

Mention various credentials

Credentials are like a shortcut to readers learning your professional background. The most common credential included in a professional bio or about the author is a college degree. If you earn a bachelor’s degree, then that makes you broadly knowledgable in a topic or subject. This expertise helps readers to know that you are credible in what you discuss in your articles. Likewise, additional academic accolades like recognitions from faculty or accomplishments you earn during your studies can increase your trustworthiness as well. As you know, other credentials exist outside of earning a college degree.

Credentials across your professional background also help to bolster your professional bio. Anything that can help boost your competency should show up in your full-length bio. Credentials are also helpful in showing you are sincere about your writing. Backing up your insights and viewpoints with credentials in the field show readers that you have a good idea of what you study and research. Credentials also help you show readers that you are accountable for your commentary. For some subject matter, opinions or articles can hold a high significance over the beliefs of readers. With proper credentials, your credibility increases as a sign that you understand the information you provide audiences is meaningful and impactful.

How have you grown?

When you consider how to write a professional bio, it becomes clear that the process is a lot like telling a story. In any story, you follow the progress somebody undergoes as a means to see how far they’ve come. While you shouldn’t get too detailed about personal experiences, showing a clear path of progress is a way to provide personal insights to your audience. For this reason, many start with their educational career. From here, detailing accolades earned in jobs shows that you are developing into a professional. Then, any additional areas of growth can show that you are always learning in your work. These themes help audiences see what you did to become an expert in your field.

Why is this important to readers? Credibility has a lot to do with knowing someone’s story. If you know someone took advantage of opportunities to learn more and increase their expertise, then you will think of them as trustworthy. Provide your readers with a trajectory of growth in your bio or about the author to help show them that you worked hard to be where you are today. Some writers have a hard time talking about themselves, but it’s a good thing to get over. 

Focus on value and don’t be afraid to brag

Readers are expecting a bio to be the author’s greatest hits, to put it. Everything included in a bio should eventually lead the reader to think that you are a well-qualified professional and expert authority in your field. For that reason, be sure to manage two elements of this very carefully. Firstly, instead of listing things off one by one, including the values you gained in your experiences. Beliefs can help inspire audiences to reflect on critical aspects of the human experience. Doing so helps connect them to your thought process more effectively and build a bond.

Secondly, don’t hesitate to brag about your achievements. Nobody reads a bio expecting the writer to be humble and downplay their accomplishments. Own the awards and accolades you receive and explain to the reader that those experiences made you who you are today. This way, you build your credibility by showing that you earned it throughout your life.

5) Include Awards & Previous Works when you go to write a professional bio

Awards and recognition for your previous work can go a long way in gaining credibility with the reader. A significant mistake some writers make in listing accolades is not explaining what the award is the correct way. Firstly, recognition goes to professionals from industry-specific organizations. If it’s not clear from the title of the prize or company what you did to earn the award, then briefly explain it in your bio. Likewise, if there are acronyms that are well-known within your industry, then you cannot assume readers know them too. Be sure to make it clear what the award is and why you earned it from your peers.

Another thing to consider is the relevancy of the prize. If the recognition occurred a long time ago, then it might not still be relevant to what you’re doing now. Likewise, make sure the award pertains to your professional life. “World’s best mom or dad” isn’t going to hold much weight with your readers. Lastly, make sure your awards listed in your bio reflect the area in which you want to gain credibility. An award for your driving skills might not hold weight with an audience interested in your expertise in physics.

Include achievements that build credibility or are helpful for the reader

What progress do you have in your career that might earn you credibility? Trustworthiness can come in a lot of different ways, but one popular method is to list achievements. Your version of a goal you achieved could be starting a group for fellow professionals in the field. Likewise, you could have publications in a journal that is highly popular in your industry. Achievements earn you credibility by showing you are actively contributing to the study in which you work. Having a job isn’t necessarily an achievement, but holding responsibilities and starting to new projects can be. 

Try to remember that there is an instance in which academic honors matter most. If you are a recent graduate, then academic accolades might be worth noting. Something like graduating with honors can always exist in your bio. Other things, like scholarships and academic awards, might not be applicable after you work in the real world for a significant amount of time. Every accolade should come with the year you got it, so keep an eye on ancient awards and consider subbing them out for new accomplishments. If you don’t have any fresh additions to include, then it’s time to analyze what you’re doing and find ways to turn your job’s tasks into achievements.

Include previous publications

Publications go a long way in building credibility as well. For example, writing pieces for popular journals can be a great way to show readers you are respected in your field. Academic journals are peer-reviewed, so these publications also show that fellow professionals regard you as an expert. There are plenty of scholarly writings and activities that you could include, such as journals, presentations at conferences, and panel discussions. Even if the site for which you are contributing is not academic-minded, then you can still use these sorts of publications to build trust with readers.

When adding a book or article to your resume, be sure to mention the title of the item or paper. Plus, include the website or journal in which it exists. This way, readers can look into your publications for further reading. Plus, this provides proof that you are not bio-stuffing your content. Don’t feel the need to include every paper in your bio, either. Just pick the few that relate most to the topic on which you are writing. This way, you stay relevant to the subject matter in which you want readers to trust you. It’s easy to get trapped into listing everything, so think critically.

6) Offer social media channels when you write a professional bio where readers can engage with you by adding a CTA.

Finally, be sure to provide readers with additional ways to engage with you. The most common way to do this is to plug any social media channels you use regularly. This inclusion can help to give readers a place to follow you and your professional online presence as well as a more personal side to you. If you don’t use a social media platform often, then don’t include it in your bio. If you use one that is relatively inactive, then they might think you are not worth following. Usually, the best places to share information are Facebook and Twitter. Instagram and Tumblr are also popular but often include more casual spaces in which users interact.

It’s also vital to use social media plugs as a means to show readers who you are personally. These are great ways in which audiences can get to know you better without needing to email you or ask questions.

Briefly tell your readers who you are off the clock.

Nobody is in work mode 24/7. Because of this, readers might want to know what you do in your spare time or what hobbies you enjoy. This inquiry into your habits can help them to connect better with the person behind the post. Include an area towards the end of your bio where you tell readers what you do on the weekends. This section can consist of where you like to go in the evenings, or in your spare time too. It’s a fun way to let audiences into a little glimpse of your personal life. Knowing a bit more about the author can help readers think of you more as a person than just a writer.

If you want to build a following, then be sure to interact with readers in these spaces. A bio is an effective way to let them know where to find you in more informal channels and digital areas. Importantly, add a call-to-action in your bio.

What other channels?

For a more discussion-based activity, you engage with online, be sure to let readers know if you use forums or similar sites. Places like Medium or Reddit are great for having discussions with a diverse audience. If you’re frequently using one of those websites, then let them know what you like to do. This blurb does not need to be related to your job or profession. Just let people know what you want to do online as a fellow internet user. You might even find out that readers of your contributor posts enjoy using the same sites and forums too.

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3 Examples of a Well-Written Professional Bio

A great biography can be hard to picture without proper examples. If you’re someone who likes to learn by seeing, then here are a few examples of a well-written professional bio.

CEO and Founder of Direct Knowledge David A Smith’s bio is an excellent example of summing up years of experience succinctly. With over two decades of experience teaching at the university level, David’s bio could be thousands and thousands of words. Instead of listing countless examples of career highlights, David thematically connects his jobs and teaching years together. By highlighting student feedback to his teaching as well as personal points of pride, David gives you a great idea of his authoritativeness in a precise way.

Direct Knowledge contributor Taylor Bauer also wrote a great bio worth reading for ideas and inspiration. His career history is shorter since he’s only a few years removed from graduate school. Therefore, Taylor takes more time to depict his college career as a point of education and experience. With a review of his undergraduate and graduate research and roles, he can provide a detailed background of his expertise. Because his accolades in graduate school significantly provide trustworthiness to his experiences, he takes the time to highlight those. 

Lastly, Direct Knowledge contributor Megan Matheney’s bio is a useful reference for those with numerous experiences across different industries or disciplines. Megan efficiently covers her various areas of expertise in her professional bio to show her versatility as a writer. You’ll notice that each academic and professional experience listed in her bio has a common theme: learning. She connects jobs that are not related to one another through the lessons she learned during each period of her professional life. Your bio will not look exactly like hers or the other examples, but these well-written bios should help. 

Professional Bio FAQ

Hopefully, I have assisted in your knowledge of how to write a professional bio. To continue learning the structure, take a look at these helpful inquiries.

What should I write in a short bio?

Individuals should write a short bio using concise language that gives a quick but effective description of one’s career. There isn’t much room to include details, but a few key things to include are a name, affiliation, and job title. Depending on the character limit, professionals can also add a few projects on which they are currently working.

How do you write an engaging bio?

An engaging bio should include details that help build credibility for the writer while also informing readers more about the person. Don’t hesitate to brag a little bit and include impressive accolades and awards to bolster trustworthiness. There are plenty of readers who want to hear about the great things writers accomplish.

What is a professional bio?

A professional bio is a description of an individual’s academic and career accomplishments. The bio serves as a description of what someone accomplishes and does for a living. Past and current achievements should exist in the bio to help readers learn more about the person who is writing an article or book.

What should I include in a professional bio?

Individuals should include concise descriptions of their accomplishments in a professional bio. A bio should also add a high-quality headshot photo to help readers put a face to the name and text they are reading. Likewise, make sure to list accolades and affiliations within the bio to help boost credibility.

Conclusion

By the time a writer finishes their full-length bio about the work they’ve done, readers should come away with three impressions. Firstly, readers should think that a writer is an expert in the topic on which they are writing. Secondly, readers should perceive writers to have authoritativeness in their discipline. Lastly, an author should seem trustworthy in the subject they discuss in their posts.

Readers should also clearly be able to tell what a person does for a living, including a job title. Furthermore, audiences should know the academic credentials of the individual once they finish reading the bio.

How can writing a high-level bio help a writer build more credibility? What ways do bios help the author, and how do they also help the reader?

Why does a high-quality photo help authors connect to readers? It’s much more straightforward to build a relationship with a writer when we know a bit about them, including how they look. Why do you believe this reality of being real?

When does a short bio become a full-length bio? Why might someone want to have two versions of their bio that vary in length to use across different channels?