16 comments on “How to Avoid the Tragic Writer Mistake That Reveals You’re a Noob
  1. Terri H says:

    The the wording of the bio has never been a problem for me. The need to be brief in that portion always seemed to lessen stress levels when dealing with it. However, it’s the placement of the bio that always seemed to slow me down. I’ve always been told to add your bio at the end of your pitch. However, I seem to have more success in which I place my bio at the top and then mention my website towards the bottom.
    Terri H recently posted..5 Types of People You’ll Encounter on Your Way to the Top

    • Carol Tice says:

      Interesting! This is why I tell writers to experiment — every writer seems to have their own style that works for them. As long as you keep it short about you, and long on how you can help, I think it can work.

  2. I don’t ramble a lot in my bio, unless there’s a specific need for details– i.e. the prospect is asking for a detailed background. Other than that, I never write more than 2-3 lines about myself and my credits. I always thought of it as a lack of modesty and a blatant show-off. :)

    ~ Luana
    Luana Spinetti @ Writer’s Mind recently posted..Writing Innocence, Where Have You Gone? — The Adult’s Writer’s Block (And How To Get Rid Of It)

  3. Amandah says:

    Great tips!

    I can’t believe some writers would include a sob story or spotlight their shortcomings in their pitch. Yikes! You always want to present yourself in a professional manner. Remember, it’s not about what the client can do for you, but what you can do for the client. :)
    Amandah recently posted..Exhausted? How to Grow Your Blog without SEO and Social Media

    • Carol Tice says:

      Those are all actual quotes from letters of introduction I’ve reviewed, Amandah. I think there’s a thing with new writers where many are nervous about this part of the LOI, where you say who you are. You feel like you don’t have enough to say…and then you end up saying way too much.

  4. Lisa says:

    Love this. It was such a relief to me when I realized I didn’t have to list all my credentials (or lack thereof!). Short is simpler in this case. Two sentences is plenty!

    Also, totally off topic, but I had to tell you how much I love this headline. “Tragic” and “noob” in one headline — brilliant! I saw it in the sidebar of the Freelance Writer’s Den and HAD to click. Then I saw it in my inbox and had to click again. Even though I already read it. I was compelled by your headline magnetism.

    Sharing your sob story in your bio really is tragic, though.

    And I now have a goal to use tragic in a headline, so thank you.
    Lisa recently posted..5 tips for picky eaters that every mom of a toddler can use

    • Carol Tice says:

      I do work hard on headlines, Lisa, so glad it’s paying off! Headlines need to be intriguing. I’ve been leaning a lot from Jeff Goins on how to inject emotion into my headlines…think that’s starting to work.

      And glad you bring up the “list all my credentials” issue, which is another common problem I really should have listed.

      Nobody wants to read your entire resume in an LOI! Also, so much of why businesses hire writers is because they have trouble being concise and need a pro who can sum it up. So by presenting that pithy bio, you’re helping to demonstrate you’re a writer who can get that done for a client.

  5. Amandah says:

    @Carol… My rule of thumb is…less is more. I think most editors are concerned with hiring writers who can follow guidelines, meet deadlines, and write. All you need is a couple of solid clips (or even a blog) and great headlines to get noticed.
    Amandah recently posted..Exhausted? How to Grow Your Blog without SEO and Social Media

  6. Debra Weiss says:

    I think writers should sum up who they are and what they do in one sentence. My one sentence bio is this: “Debra Weiss is a freelance writer and speaker who loves to encourage teens and twenty somethings.”

    Then I add a second sentence that mentions where I’ve been published and I customize that second sentence depending on who I’m pitching to and what the publication style is.

  7. anne grant says:

    That pic of the little noob cracks me up!
    About all most clients want to know is “What’s in it for me and can you deliver?”, whether you are a writer, an attorney or selling plumbing supplies.
    anne grant recently posted..This One Thing Can Either Make You Or Break You

    • Carol Tice says:

      I know, isn’t he adorable? I actually did a lot of search for the right image on this one before hitting on the idea of a kid in a business suit — there were actually quite a few on istock to choose from, but I fell in love with that guy.

      It’s true — I think writers want to go on about me me me often, but what the client wants to know is “have you written about healthcare, or do you know about it? And have you done white papers before? Also, what’s your personality like — would I like working with you?” Straightforward stuff.

  8. Lucy Smith says:

    And spell stuff right! I once had a guy email me wanting some copywriting work, and at the end of his email, he put ‘Thanx’.

    I didn’t even bother to reply to that one.
    Lucy Smith recently posted..When marketing works

  9. Charley says:

    This is practical advice well conveyed. Most of the mistakes you mentioned can be noticed in bios on article directories like ezine, and to think that I used to look there for inspiration whenever I’m unable to form a bio… I know better now, and I can’t thank you enough for the beneficialness of this article :-).

  10. Angela says:

    I read the tips in this post several times while putting together an email query offering my writing services to a local business. Excellent advice about what not to do. I kept it concise and more about them than about me. I stuck to a short description of my experience and specialty area, so we’ll see. *deep breath *clicks “send” to the prospective client :)
    Angela recently posted..Learn to Podcast for Free From UC Berkeley

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