What Should Your Writer Bio Say?

A freelance writer excited to see her article published in her favorite magazine.

If you’re taking inspiration from the inside flap of your favorite book, your bio probably needs some work! As a freelance writer, your bio is just a short paragraph that accompanies the content you create. Simple, right? Well, it’s easy to end up saying all the wrong things and coming across as totally unprofessional.

Before you send your bio over to a client, here’s some advice to help you find the perfect words.

What is a bio?

Call it your bio, byline, blurb, or “About the Author” section — The purpose of this little paragraph is to convey who you are and, more importantly, why the reader should trust your content. 

Most often, these little bios appear on blogs underneath the content you write, but they may also end up in magazines, inside of PDFs, or even on the back of a brochure. Wherever your bio is going, it needs to come across as confident and professional. 

Things That Do NOT Belong in Your Bio

It’s easy to get side-tracked when writing your bio and end up focusing on your life and hobbies After all, it’s supposed to be about you, right? I, too, have been mislead by the flowery descriptions of authors’ lake houses and cookie addictions. 

Unless you’re writing fiction, in which case it’s totally cool to give readers a glimpse at the (wo)man behind the curtain, you want to stay away from anything personal. When you’re writing content for non-fiction publications or paying clients, try to avoid:

  • Talking about your hobbies
  • Listing off your pets or kids
  • Describing where you live

Yes, I know. The inner flaps of those classic books seem to do all of these things. But, you know you’ve gone astray if you start a sentence with: “When I’m not writing, I’m…” 

What to Include in Your Bio

When writing your bio, use it as an opportunity to convince the person reading it that they should trust the content you create. What qualifies you? What unique insights do you bring to the table? Social proof is a great way to boost your bio.

  • Your title (if relevant)
  • Publications you’ve been featured in
  • What you hope to help the reader accomplish

You’ll probably edit your bio each time you hand it over to a client, just to tailor it a little more to their publication’s subject matter and audience. However, when you write a strong bio, it should really work as a boilerplate that you’re comfortable using anywhere. 

Great Examples of Freelance Writer Bios

I’m mostly a ghostwriter, but here’s a variation I created for my work here with the Society: 

Leveraging her six years of experience as a business ghostwriter, Emily Reed now helps freelancers develop marketable skills in her role as Editor-in-Chief for the Society of Writers. She is most passionate about exploring the nuances behind finding work, getting paid, and helping freelance writers turn their careers into sensational success stories.

I kept it simple, highlighting three convoluted areas that I am truly interested in breaking down and simplifying for you and the rest of the community. 

Now, how about an example that’s more general and isn’t specific to a single publication? Here’s one I made up for a faux fitness coach who I hope really does exist somewhere…

Mable Jones is a personal fitness blogger and coach with 15 years of experience in the sweaty world of hot yoga, pilates, and destination cycling. Mable is on a mission to help everyday women build confidence and stop stressing about their physique by sharing her one-two combo of delicious food and exhilarating fitness adventures.

The above example manages to effectively target Mable’s ideal client while intriguing them with vivid terminology. This bio leaves them with the impression that her approach to fitness is accessible, enjoyable, and sustainable without trying to sell it as “easy” or “quick.” 

Want another one? Here’s one I made up for a travel guide author from Sicily…

Born in Palermo, Cecile grew up in the heart of Sicily where her father cultivated her passion for history and cuisine. She is the author of Cecile’s Sicily, a travel guide that incorporates local accounts to bring the area’s world renowned destinations to life in a beautiful, relatable new way. In all her work, Cecile is devoted to authenticity and historical accuracy.

Uhm, I’d totally read that book! See how it makes sense to talk about Cecile’s childhood in Palermo as it adds to her authority as a local travel writer? You’ll want to consider your hobbies and life experiences in the same way. 

Your Freelance Writer Bio Checklist

  • Only include personal details if they directly add to your expertise
  • Don’t share a laundry list of accomplishments 
  • Keep it to 3 sentences or less
  • Write in the third person
  • Use a casual voice

Sometimes, a publication may prefer you to write your bio from a first-person perspective, but it’s pretty rare. They may also request a more formal voice, like in the case of a medical or scientific publication, so be sure to double-check their guidelines before you send your bio over. 

Having Trouble? Here’s A Simple Formula 

Having trouble putting your experience into the right words? No matter how talented of a writer you are, it’s tough to write about yourself! So, here’s a little formula or template I made that you can use to get started.

Variation 1: Boilerplate for No Prior Experience

[Full Name] is a [industry] expert who has devoted her career to helping [people or brands accomplish goal]. In all of her projects, [First Name] is guided by an overarching commitment to [value 1], [value 2], and [value 3].

Here’s an example of how this template looks: 

Martha Hearth is a personal finance expert who has devoted her career to helping people navigate the complexities of money and come out on top. In all of her projects, Martha is guided by an overarching commitment to integrity, transparency, and getting time-tested financial advice in front of those who need it most.

Variation 2: Writing for a Specific Publication

As [Title] at [Publication], [Full Name] is dedicated to creating [noun] content that helps readers [accomplish goal]. With over [#] years of experience in the industry, [First Name] is most passionate about explaining the [noun] of [short list of topics]. 

Here’s an example of how this template looks: 

As a guest contributor at the Society of Writers, Jessie Hyland is dedicated to creating insightful content that helps readers turn their side hustles into successful writing careers. With over six years of experience in the industry, Jessie is most passionate about explaining the nuances of pitching, selling, and building sustainable income as a freelancer. 

Variation 3: The Fancy Schmancy

[Full name] is a [type of writer] whose work has been featured in [Publication 1], [Publication 2], and [Publication 3]. Her content is rooted in [subject matter] and explores the intricacies of [sub-sets]. Her book, [Title], has received accolades from critics like [Critique] and, in [year], she was awarded with [Award]. She’s currently working [on {project}/as {title}]. 

Here’s an example of how this template looks: 

Heather Jackson is a health writer whose work has been featured in Healthy Eating, Women Today, and The Gym. Her content is rooted in physical fitness and explores the intricacies of dietary implications, hormonal health, and overall wellbeing. Her book, Fitness Holiday, has received accolades from critics like Lance André and, in 2020, she was awarded with the National Prize for Healthy Living Inspiration. She’s currently working as a personal fitness instructor for celebrities like Chloe Bee. 

When should I give a client my byline?

If you’re a ghostwriter like me — which means you aren’t credited for your work — you don’t need to provide your byline when delivering content to your clients. In all other cases, it’s handy to include your byline: 

  • In proposals to potential clients
  • When making guest contributions
  • When submitting work to publications
  • When your client is planning to credit you

If you aren’t sure whether or not the final piece will have a byline for you, go ahead and share your bio just in case so it’s easily accessible for your client. Remember, you might want to tailor your bio to the publication, depending on the type of work you do. 

How often should I update my bio?

I find myself changing my bio a bit every few weeks, and that’s a good sign! As long as you’re still growing from a writer and earning new accolades, you’ll likely find yourself updating your bio fairly frequently. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to go back and retroactively try to update your bio for all your published works. That’s not feasible! Just update it as you go along and come to terms with the fact that various iterations of your bio will live on, frozen in time, all across the web. 

Some notable things to consider adding to your bio include:

  • Years of experience, especially once you top a decade!
  • Recent features in relevant publications 
  • Books you’ve written

Since you don’t want your bio to become long and boring, I’d suggest sticking with one or two book titles and limiting your “featured in” list to 3 publications. That will keep your bio readable and impactful. 

Ready to thrive as a freelance writer? 

Are you looking for more ways to build authority and become a successful freelancer? Here at the Society of Writers, we’ll do more than help you write an impressive bio, we can help you find opportunities to get featured in the publications you love. Join our Slack channel!

Sydney Chamberlain
Sydney Chamberlain
As Founder of the Society of Writers, Sydney Chamberlain is devoted to helping women navigate the complexities of freelancing and hone the skills they need to build a thriving business. Her expertise is rooted in nine years as a content writer where she earned first-hand experience with the personal branding, finance, and negotiation tactics that she now teaches the Society.

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