When applying to any freelance writing job, you need to include a writer’s bio in your query letter or cover letter. For some reason, I find writing my writer’s bio a most daunting task, even now that I have actual experience to point to. When I was a fledgling freelancer, the task was even more difficult. I felt insecure. I had nothing to show off. I was one little writer-fish in an ocean of writing-sharks.
There’s no surefire way to construct a writer’s bio that is guaranteed to land anyone a job. Finding a job takes thick skin, a measure of confidence, and persistence. But a tight, concise, and compelling writer’s bio certainly helps, too.
You writer’s bio should be short and succinct. It will take some editing to produce a great paragraph that defines you as a professional. Here are some things to make sure you put into your bio:
Important First Line: The first line should introduce you, what you do, and where you’re from.
Just the Facts: Are you a graduate of any writing courses? Is your college degree relevant to the job you are applying for? Were you editor of the school paper? Have you had any fiction of poetry published? (Any writing publication is fair game for your first writer’s bio.) If you have not been published, it’s okay to mention any writing projects you are working on. Be honest: your bio should reflect your passion and commitment to the writing craft.
Experience: If you don’t have any “professional” experience, it’s okay to list any web-writing you may have done for e-zines, blogs, etc. This at least shows that you are an active writer.
Writing Niche: What do you love to write about? And what makes you qualified to write about it? If you have run several marathons and enjoy writing about health and wellness, mention it.
Writing Community: Absolutely mention that you’re an active member at Scribophile. You may also want to consider joining a writers guild or a writers union. (You will have to do careful research- many demand publications before joining and most require some type of a fee. However, these things look great in a writer’s bio.)
Something Personal: Don’t write a book, but a unique fact about yourself will help your bio stand out. Appropriate humor is a plus.
Here are some things to avoid putting into your bio:
Dreams and Aspirations: Don’t write that you hope to someday become a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. You will only get eye rolls. Though you won't be able to see them. Because you sent a letter. But I digress.
Negative Information: Don’t lament the fact that you haven’t been published yet. Never put down that you dropped out of anything. (Example: don’t say college dropout; instead say 2 years of college courses.) Focus on the positive without sounding conceited.
My name is Jane Jones and I am a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. I am a graduate of Literature from the University of Ohio, where I edited the literary journal and tutored students in writing. I am an active member of the writing site Scribophile.com. As an avid traveler and a gourmet food aficionado, I am actively seeking to publish restaurant reviews and cutting-edge articles about culinary culture.
If this were a bio for an actual publication, it would need to be written in the third-person:
Jane Jones is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. As an avid traveler and a gourmet-food aficionado, she publishes restaurant reviews and cutting-edge articles about culinary culture. This is her first article with The Novice Gourmand.
(In a writer’s bio for a publication, the shorter it is the better. Since you’re not necessarily selling yourself, only the most relevant information matters. And yes, I made up that magazine title myself. Quite frankly, I think someone could make a go of a magazine like that.)
It goes without saying that your bio should be free of grammatical, syntactical, and spelling errors. But I said it anyway.
Make sure to keep your bio on file, and make the necessary updates as you gain experience and become a published writer.
Your bio should be a short but real reflection of you. Be genuine, highlight your best writing qualities, and you will soon stumble upon the perfect client-employee match.