We don't know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don't always appreciate their fragility.
Your bio is one of the most important pieces of content you should be writing for yourself. It can come in many forms, and you'll probably want to have more than one version on hand. Take time to craft a couple bios you can use for your portfolio, website and to accompany articles on client sites.
Elements of a Strong Bio
Every bio should contain a few key elements:
Highlight your experience. Do you have years of writing experience? Or do you have years of experience as a professional in a certain field? Maybe you're fresh out of school, but you have a unique perspective on certain issues. Make note of those.
Be clear about your niche(s). It's great if you can write about anything, and you can create a compelling bio (accompanied by a strong portfolio) that works. However, most clients are looking for people who specialize in their business or audience and are willing to pay for that specialization. Clearly explain your niche as detailed as possible. Instead of just saying healthcare, drill down to reform, billing or healthcare technology.
Note your special skills. What are you great at? This can be areas of expertise in writing styles like ad copy or whitepapers for example. Or maybe you're great at blog posts and designing infographics.
Personality. It's okay to let your personality shine through. You can share hobbies, especially if they're relevant to the field. Food writers, beauty bloggers or entertainment writers may have more leeway to get cute than software or healthcare writers. Just make sure that attempts at humor or personal interests don't overshadow the skills you're trying to sell.
Types of Bios
You don't have to have a personal website, but you must have a portfolio. Most sites have space for a brief introduction. For this type of bio, you'll want to highlight your skills and experience. The personal side should be limited to one or two sentences. Keep in mind that the main audience for this bio is potential clients. Because it leads into your portfolio, you don't need to highlight companies you've written for, but you can note any awards you've won.
If you do have a website, include an About Me page. This should a have a nice, professional, smiling photo of you similar to what you'd post on LinkedIn. On this page, you can expand upon your portfolio bio with more details on specific areas of focus within each of your niches. You can highlight top clients you've worked for or award-winning publications. Link to your portfolio or provide a couple links to some of your best work. You also have room to be playful and get a little personal on this page. After you've noted how great your work is, you can also share that you love your dogs or enjoy goat yoga on weekends.
Some clients may include your headshot and a brief bio at the end of articles you write for them. This can be similar to your portfolio bio. You usually only get three or four sentences. The audience for these is readers, so you want to highlight your experience and why you're a trusted source. You can be a little more playful here than in your portfolio bio.
Take time to look at how you're currently introducing yourself and work on crafting strong bios for multiple uses in each niche.
P.S. In case you were wondering, goat yoga is a thing.