Writing an Effective Bio

Recently, I have received numerous client requests for written bios. Many times, these are needed for websites, speaking engagements, or workshop proposals. While you may be tempted to include everything, you need to remember that it your target audience that counts. Think of the bio from their point-of-view and only include the necessary information.

Here are my top ten tips for writing an effective bio:

  1. Identify your purpose. Are you speaking at an event? Who will be reading the information?
  2. Utilize the third person perspective. Using this approach makes the information sound more objective. I tell clients to think of the back of a book jacket – consider what you would read about the author.
  3. Shorter is better. Impressive people have short bios. More importantly, people have short attention spans. Capitalize on your most important information first and get to the point.
  4. Have length options. Your bio may be requested in different lengths. Keep a running document of a short bio, a medium bio (about a paragraph in length), and a long bio (up to one page in length).
  5. Invert your pyramid. Put the most important information first. If someone quits reading your bio, what do you want them to know about you for sure?
  6. Start with your name. Although this may seem obvious, it is important for people to correlate your information with your name. For example, my bio begins, “Heather Rothbauer-Wanish founded Feather Communications in 2008…”
  7. Add some personality. Readers want to know YOU as the person. If appropriate, add some humor and a memorable fact so that the readers recognize you and your information.
  8. Don’t include everything. You can’t be everything to everyone. And, you simply can’t put all of your information into your bio. Include the information that is pertinent to your audience.
  9. Contact information. End your bio with your contact information (if appropriate). You want to make it as convenient as possible for someone to contact you.
  10. Read and rewrite. Your bio is ever-evolving. Ask a trusted friend or colleague to review and proofread your information. Review your bio on a regular basis – this will save you time in the long-term.

Finally, if you have tried to write an effective bio and it just isn’t working, please contact Feather Communications today at 715-559-6378 or heather@feather-communications.com. We love working with clients and making their information shine!

Cost Effective Marketing Ideas Make an Impact

As a sole proprietor, I understand when business owners feel like they can’t afford certain marketing activities. Funds are precious and limited. So, how do you grow your business? Is there a way to stretch those marketing dollars and get the most effective use of your hard-earned cash?

The answer is to be creative. And, when I say creative, I mean C-R-E-A-T-I-V-E. You have to think of ways to spread positive word-of-mouth about your business without eliminating all of the cash you have on-hand. Also, don’t be afraid to copy or modify those marketing techniques that you have seen; most marketing ideas can be modified to fit almost any budget. Below you will find several activities that I have done; fortunately, they have been well-received and continue to make an impact.

First idea: Print cards that contain your logo. I tend to call these “thank you” cards, but they can be used for so many different reasons. The cards that I have simply have my logo on the front and my contact information on the back; the inside of the card is completely blank. This gives me the freedom to use the cards as ‘thank you’ cards, ‘it was nice to meet you’ cards, or ‘I hope to see you soon,’ cards.

Second idea: Do the unexpected. I send Thanksgiving cards to all of my clients. How many of you receive Thanksgiving cards? My guess: not that many. And, that’s the point. Sending Thanksgiving cards allows my information to stand out among various vendors. Everyone sends Christmas or holiday cards; why not beat the rush and get your information there a month earlier? And, my Thanksgiving cards are simply my own printed cards with foam Thanksgiving stickers attached. This is a cost-effective marketing idea that works!

Third idea: Spend money on promotional ideas that actually get use. When I attended a local event this summer, it was hot outside. While pens and sticky notes are usually taken as free items, this year I handed out can coolers. In the hot July weather, these were a major hit. And, almost everyone drinking any drink during that event had a purple can cooler that said “Feather Communications.”

Finally, consider talking to others about what they have done in the past and what has worked for them. My cousin and her husband recently started Computer Restore, a computer repair and sales store in Eau Claire. When I worked with them to help develop marketing ideas and told them of the Thanksgiving cards and various events she could attend to promote the business, she was amazed at the amount of opportunity in the community. Find the opportunities in your own community and think of creative ways to spread your message. Small business owners need to realize that marketing does not have to cost a fortune to make an impact.

Importance of the Writing Process

As a freelance writer through my business, Feather Communications, I am often asked, “How do you write?” Or, “I always find it so difficult to put my thoughts into words, what is your secret?” While I don’t know that there is a secret to writing success, I often turn to the writing process I learned years ago.

The writing process is certainly no secret and many of us learned it in elementary school. However, as we get older, we concentrate so much on using the ‘right’ words, that we forget the important part of the process.

First, a good writer does pre-writing. I consider this stage to be the research stage. Think about what you want to write about and jot some notes. This could be considered a mini-outline. While you are not writing during this stage, you are making notes and sketching out a practical way of organizing your information.

A good example of pre-writing is what I do each month for the Menomonie Optimist Club Newsletter. I receive information throughout the month for this 4-page newsletter. I create a new file for each month’s newsletter. As I receive information, I save it in this file. Then, when I am ready to create the newsletter, I make a list of each item I have and determine the best way to incorporate it into the newsletter. This pre-writing stage saves me a great deal of time. If you do this when creating a longer document, I can help you work toward completing each section. These mini-goals will keep you motivated.

The second stage of writing is the actual writing stage. This is probably the shortest stage. The mistake that many people make is trying to write the document perfectly during this stage. This is nearly impossible. When I write articles, newsletters, press releases, or other materials, my focus is writing the information and getting it ‘written.’ While it is nowhere near perfect at this time, that is okay.

The last stage is revising and proofreading. This is the stage where a writer should spend most of his or her time. When writing for a client, I typically revise and proofread several times before I send the document for approval. During this stage, you can focus on using descriptive adjectives, exciting verbs, and specific words. This is the time to ensure you are saying what you want to say and you are saying it HOW you want to say it.

When you have your next writing project, think about these stages. Remember that most of your time should be spent in the pre-writing and revising stages. The actually writing should be the shortest of the three stages. Take these tips and put them to use. After all, who doesn’t want to make the writing process easier?