Author profiles are necessary when you need to introduce yourself in publishing (such as for an article byline or a publishing credit), and are now almost essential when you write online. Even if your writing is limited to using social media, you need to be able to describe yourself, at least briefly. You may, likewise, need to write a profile, or biography, on behalf of someone else, or with the purposes of presenting yourself for work.
Though a complete biography can span all of your life and experience, an effective profile should only include the most important information. What the most important information is will depend on the purpose of the profile. You may need to write very different profiles for different contexts.
For example, if you were writing a byline for a blog article on diets, you might include relevant information about your experience in health and any health-related successes you have had. You might have achieved great things in business, but it would not be relevant here.
On the other hand, if you were writing for a business journal your profile should reflect your business successes, and not the elements of your life that relate to health and fitness. Both, of course, may be valuable areas of expertise, but are only relevant depending on the context of the article.
If your business article is related to a fitness enterprise, the biography would be different again.
The easiest way to write a profile is to start with everything that seems relevant and cut it back until the barest essentials remain. Set a word limit to help with this. Profiles should always be short and to the point, particularly for publishing credits and online profiles.
Profiles should be factual and simple. They need to be easy to follow to make your achievements and the important details clear. Profiles have a job to do, though, in selling the experience, so they should flow like a story and use language that highlights the subject matter.
Always consider the response you would like your biography to get from a reader. The purpose is usually to convince a reader that you are worth their attention, rather than to merely recite facts.
Bear in mind that you must be convincing, not merely interesting. Using specific facts, figures and other details is more effective than relying on describing words. Consider the difference that precision makes in these examples:
- Leon built many houses across Essex. (vague, not engaging)
- Leon built 24 houses, across the towns of Brentwood, Harlow and Thurrock. (specific details, more convincing)
- Thelma had a fantastic, long run as a lead dancer in Moscow. (subjective, descriptive language)
- Thelma led the Moscow Flamingo dance troupe for 15 years. (specific details, more neutral and therefore more convincing)
Try to connect sentences by picking out ideas that are linked thematically.
This does not always have to follow a chronological order, particularly if you are writing with limited space:
- Mr James was a successful businessman in the ’80s and used that experience to open the Queen’s Park Hotel in 2012. He had also studied botany during his time at university, which proved useful for tending the hotel’s grounds.
In this example, the first sentence follows the theme of his professional development and the second explains his development of the grounds. Building an image in this way, you can draw out important details without telling a linear story.