Maximizing The Effect Of Your Freelancer's Bio

Mar 14 22:00 2003 Angela Booth Print This Article

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Summary: If you want to be a successful freelancer, you need to learn the art of the bio.

Category: Writing, Small Business

Words: 1100

Maximizing The Effect Of Your Freelancer's Bio

Copyright (c) 2003 by Angela Booth

Your freelancer's bio is a vital job-hunting tool.

While traditional job hunters have CVs and resumes, independent
writers and other independent professionals have biographies,
because as an independent, you're working *with* your clients as
a consultant, rather than working *for* them as an employee.

Yes, bios, plural. You need at least four bios of various
lengths: 200 words, 100, 50 and 25. Over time, you'll create
dozens of bios, as you emphasize your various strengths to suit a
situation.

Many writers find it excruciating to write about themselves. If
you feel this way, don't despair. You will get over this shyness
in time. Until you do, force yourself to write at least three
bios. I promise, after you've created your fourth and fifth,
writing a bio will be a breeze.

=>It's not about you, it's about them

Self-interest rules. So before you write a word, ask yourself
about the client and the client's needs. You must approach your
bio from your client's perspective.

If you're answering a job ad, this is easy. You know what the
client wants, because she's told you. Make sure that you slant
your bio towards the requirements expressed in the ad.

Usually you'll introduce yourself to businesses without a job ad
to guide you. The most effective way to do this is with a mini-
proposal. You send a mini-proposal, because you should never,
ever send out a naked bio; you must have a reason, other than
self-interest, for contacting a business. (More on naked bios
below.)

A mini-proposal is a single page, with:

* a description of a problem (or need) you perceive the business
has;

* an outline of the solution;

* why you're the person to solve this problem --- what skills you
have (your bio).

Mini-proposals are easy to write, and once you've written a few,
you should be able to write two an hour.

And because your mini-proposal is focused on your prospect, it
will be kept by the business you send it to. I often receive
calls from companies I sent a mini-proposal to three or more
years ago.

Did you notice how the mini-proposal focused on the client and
the client's needs? After saying who you are, you talk about the
client, not about you.

That said, you should start your letter or email message with a
very quick statement of who you are. Like this:

Dear Mr Jones

I'm Cindy Cooper, of Cooper Copywriting. I write for business. I
found your Web site, and ... (here's where you describe the
problem or need you think Mr Jones has that you could solve).

After this super-fast introduction, the bulk of the letter/ email
message will be taken up with your outlines of the need the
business has, and your proposed solution. KEEP THE FOCUS ON THE
CLIENT.

Finally, after presenting this information, comes your bio, and
your bio should be no longer than a quarter of the length of the
entire letter. So let's say that your need/ solution outline
takes 200 words; in this case your bio will be no longer than 50
words.

*Your letter MUST focus on the client and the client's needs.
Your bio needs to be short in comparison.*

==> Don't send a naked bio!

I can't emphasize this enough: keep the focus on the client's
needs! Don't send a naked bio - that is, a bio on its own, which
you've simply decided to send a business, hoping that the
business will have work for you.

This message in a bottle stuff doesn't work. Freelancers get into
the habit of whizzing their resumes, CVs and bios to anyone they
think might be remotely interested in hiring them. Then of course
they wonder why there's no response. THERE'S NO RESPONSE BECAUSE
PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR THEM, A BIO OR CV ON ITS
OWN IS NOT ENOUGH.

Yes, I know I'm shouting, but this is important. Never, ever,
send a bio on its own.

=> Your bios' style

Every book you own has a bio of the author, so take a few books
off your shelves and study the author bios. Most are short.
Novelists' bios mention the writer's interests, partner, children
and pets. The bios of non-fiction writers emphasize the writer's
academic credentials if it's important to the writer's
credibility, or the writer's experience in the field the book
covers.

So what do you emphasize? This is where your bio's slant comes
in. If you're sending a mini-proposal, emphasize your
experience/qualifications/ interest in the business's industry.
See why you need many different bios, and the confidence to crank
them out quickly?

==> HELP! I haven't got any experience!

Freelance consultants in areas like graphic design, financial
services, and management have employment experience to draw on,
so this plaintive yodel usually comes from freelance writers.

A lack of experience in a specific area worries new freelance
writers, and it shouldn't. You're a writer. You can create
SAMPLES of your writing capabilities anytime, to order. Write a
sample, and hey presto, just like magic, you've got experience.

I write for several editorial agencies, and often they'll send
out messages to their stable of writers asking for a 200 word
bio, and a work sample for a particular job. It takes me about an
hour, research included, to crank out a fresh sample.

This is where a Web site or blog (Web log) is important. It gives
you instant credibility, because you can refer people to it to
check out your work samples. And as explained, those work samples
don't need to be work that you were paid to do.

=> Where to use your bios

Your longest bio, of no more than 200 words, can be posted on
your Web site. You can also use it in a presentation folder, with
a photo, that you give or send to clients. It's also appropriate
to use this long bio in a media kit.

You can send your 100 word bio to editorial and other agencies,
so that they have some information about you on file.

The 50 word bio is the one you'll use most. Tack it onto direct
mail letters, and mini-proposals that you send to companies.

Your short 20 word bio is ideal as a signature file --- a few
lines that you tack on to the end of your email messages. You
email program will take on your sig automatically; read the Help
file to see how to set one up.

If you haven't created a bio yet, do it today. Your bios are a
vital freelancing tool.

***Resource box: if using, please include***
Veteran multi-published author and copywriter Angela Booth crafts
words for your business --- words to sell, educate or persuade.
E-books and e-courses on Web site. FREE ezines for writers and
small biz: http://www.digital-e.biz/

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About Article Author

Angela Booth
Angela Booth

Writer, journalist and author Angela Booth has been writing for print and online venues for over 25 years. She also writes copy for businesses.

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