What to Put in a Mini-Bio or Author Byline

Updated on April 7, 2018
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Sally Hayes is a writer, speaker, and communications coach. She teaches her clients how to express themselves with power and impact.

What is a promotional byline and why does everyone who freelances as a speaker, writer, or designer need one? Learn more about how to write a mini-biographical note that sounds professional, yet approachable.

An article byline is valuable promotional real estate!

Your byline should be included with articles you write for magazines and newsletters. It can also be used in the program guides for your speaking engagements, lectures and keynote events.
Your byline should be included with articles you write for magazines and newsletters. It can also be used in the program guides for your speaking engagements, lectures and keynote events.

Your byline is just one if many different tools you can use to promote yourself while looking for a new job, promoting your latest creative endeavor, or forging a new career path.

Think of a mini-bio or byline as an elevator pitch in print form. In the space of two of three lines you have to convince the reader that you are qualified in your field, interesting and relatable, and easy to get in touch with. To demonstrate your authority on a topic, you should develop a unique and compelling personal blurb for each writing or speaking project you do.

A well-written, customized bio, blurb or byline:

  • Introduces you to your audience
  • Creates an opportunity for readers to find common ground and connect with you
  • Provides information on how to get in touch with you or where to view more of your work
  • Strengthens your personal brand
  • Increases your online search ranking

Follow these simple tips for writing a unique bio that will appeal to each audience you are reaching out to.

Customize your bio for each promotional opportunity or creative project. Make your bio relevant to the people who are going to read it. For example, if you’re writing an article on home décor projects that parents can do with their kids, make sure that the writing credits included actually relate to home décor and parenting issues. Including a credit to your article in a scientific journal on the mating habits of hummingbirds isn’t as useful as a reference to the article you wrote for a parenting publication on decorating a nursery.

Although you may be proud of the diverse range of topics you’ve written about, listing your multiple degrees and jack-of-all-trades work experience isn’t necessary for an effective bio page. Your audience doesn’t need to know everything you’ve ever accomplished in order to view you as a reliable author or speaker.

Another reason to write a unique introduction or biographical note for individual writing projects is that you’ll optimize your online visibility. Search engines don’t like duplicate content. If the same paragraph about you is showing up, word for word, on multiple articles and websites, webcrawlers and bots may ignore these pages as duplicate content. This can hurt your ranking when people search your name on the internet.

Keep your bio brief and to the point. Be clear, concise and professional. Write your bio to match the prevailing tone of the publication your article is appearing in. Open with your name and occupation and write about yourself in the third person. Describe yourself in short, clear sentences. Avoid jargon or fancy job titles that make it harder for readers to relate to you.

Your mini-bio is like a friendly, confident handshake

Think of your byline as an invisible handshake that you give each of your readers before or after they read your piece. You want it to be friendly and firm, conveying your self-confidence and authority on the subject you've written about.
Think of your byline as an invisible handshake that you give each of your readers before or after they read your piece. You want it to be friendly and firm, conveying your self-confidence and authority on the subject you've written about.

Be interesting. Include a unique tidbit of information about yourself that will make you stand out. This little bit of trivia about yourself should make you seem approachable and human---someone people can easily relate to. Did you win an award or accolade that you're proud of? What prompted you to take an interest in the subject at hand? How do your personal values reflect the article’s main message? If the byline you're writing is for a work-related project, try to include a detail that would be interesting to your work colleagues and potential employers. So for instance, while the people in your knitting club might be fascinated by your penchant for yarn-bombing things, that information may not be useful to a head-hunter or job recruiter.

Write your mini-bio in third person. It may feel awkward to write about yourself in the third person. We don't talk about ourselves in the third person when speaking to other people. It's generally considered rude and arrogant to do so. But what sounds odd in person can still be quite acceptable when written down. Think of your bio as though it was being read by an MC introducing you before you give a speech.

Use active language. Avoid using passive language to get the most value out of a tight word count. Passive language can add up to five unnecessary words to a byline. Use contractions (i.e.; It's vs. it is) to ensure that your byline is as tight as possible.

Don't let your readers get away!

Once readers finish your article, make sure they can reach you by including a clear and compelling author byline at the bottom of your article.
Once readers finish your article, make sure they can reach you by including a clear and compelling author byline at the bottom of your article.

Here's where to insert your customized author bylines:

  • in your email signature
  • as part of your summary for inclusion in event programs that you will be speaking at
  • at the bottom of guest posts you write for other blogs
  • on your social media profiles
  • on the back of your business card
  • on your website
  • underneath web and print articles and editorials you've written

Think of your customized bio as a mini business card attached to every article you publish, every speech or workshop you give and every media release you send out. A strong bio should make it easy for people to understand why you, of all people, are most qualified to write or speak about the topic at hand.

Image Source: Pixabay.com

© 2016 Sally Hayes

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  • Glenn Stok profile image

    Glenn Stok 2 weeks ago from Long Island, NY

    This is a very detailed and useful guide that will help writers understand how to create a bio for their articles. You did a great job, Sally, at explaining every aspect of the method.

    One thing that you said that I feel is most important, is that one should write a unique bio for each creative project. This applies most importantly to the way our articles here on HubPages are organized into categories and niche sites, I have always written different bios for each subject category, but I see some other writers who have just one bio for all their articles. They really should be reading this helpful guide you wrote. It will help them all.

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