One of the writing projects I hear about the most (and which seems to cause the most angst for agents and brokers) is the real estate bio. It's often the first place people want to start when they're beginning to create content or beginning to create an online presence.
Whenever I'm approached to write a bio, I hear, almost without fail, the same thing: "I hate my bio." I've often wondered why so many people are frustrated and dissatisfied with their bios.
Maybe it's because they wrote it when they first got into the industry. Maybe it's because they're not sure what they should say. Maybe it's because they are assuming everyone else has a great bio (which isn't true) and it's only their bio that sucks.
My goal is always to write a bio that the client loves so that they never again have to feel that frustration. And, having written hundreds of them, I'll confess something to you — they're not easy. In fact, bios are probably the most difficult type of writing I do.
Partly it's because I know that the client's expectations are so high for this piece of writing. Partly, I think, it's because it's so personal to the client and there are so many ways that you can go wrong.
Mostly, however, I think it's because it's so difficult to get something new into a real estate agent or broker's bio. My goal with every bio is for it to feel new and fresh, and for the reader to get a sense of the essence of that person. That can be difficult, to say the least.
If you're struggling to write your own bio, I want to make sure that you know that it's not your fault. It is a tough task to take on, but you can do it — and end up with a piece of writing you can be proud of.
It starts with getting rid of these common problems that could be undermining your bio-writing efforts:
1. Don't rush the writing process
So many people dread writing a bio, so they just dash it off and post it, happy to have finished the task. Instead, take your time. Write a draft and let it rest, then look at it again and rewrite.
By taking your time, you're more likely to end up with a finished product you'll feel good about, and you're less likely to leave something out or make a mistake.
2. Don't over-generalize
Many people worry about getting too specific in their bios. They're afraid that if they talk too much about their specialty or a narrow niche, they'll lose potential clients. The thinking goes that a client will assume that they only work with one type of narrowly defined transaction, and they'll go to someone else.
This is simply not how people use bios. They look at your bio when they've heard of you and want to know more about you. Ninety-nine times out of 100, your bio is just there to reinforce what they already know, not to introduce you for the first time. They won't be put off by finding out you're the expert in a specific type of niche; they'll be impressed.
3. Don't overdo the acronyms
I've never really liked the tendency of Realtors to put a long string of acronyms after their names. The people who are meant to be impressed (leads and clients) don't know what those letters mean and the people who know what they mean (other Realtors) have a similar string of letters themselves.
What's worse is when people put all of those letters — indicating their certifications and designations — in their bios. Don't make the reader play a guessing game. Talk about the certifications and designations you have, yes, but call them by their names and talk about how they help you help the client. That's all anyone is interested in anyway.
4. Don't undermine yourself
One of the hardest things I have to deal with in working with a bio client is their fear of "bragging" or sounding arrogant. It's the strangest tendency and it happens all the time — agents coming to me for a bio and begging me to underplay their accomplishments.
Fight this with all of your might. I think that you're imagining your mom or your best friend reading the bio and teasing you for being vain. That's not what's going to happen. A lead or client is going to read that bio and they're going to be excited to work with someone like you. That's the point, and that's the reaction you want them to have. You're not going to get anywhere by playing small.
5. Don't aim for a specific length
Many agents and brokers think that their bio needs to be super-sized to be effective. Others are influenced by the five-paragraph essay format they learned in middle school. Still others want to go on for page after page, trying to convince the world of their worthiness.
Some of the most accomplished high-end agents I've ever met have bios of only one or two paragraphs. You don't have to go on and on in your bio, although you may choose to if you wish. The point is that there is no right answer to the question of "How long should a bio be?" It should be as long as it needs to be to do what it needs to do.
One way I get around the question of length is by writing both long and short versions of every bio. The long one tends to be around five or six paragraphs and the short version is two or three. That way, the client has options, perhaps using the long version for their website and the short version for social media.
6. Don't try to sound like everyone else
You don't have to be like every other Realtor out there. You don't have to use the same phrases or approach your bio the same way. In my view, the more your bio sounds like you, the more authentic it is, and the more effective it will be for the reader.
I have so many clients who come to me and say, "Be sure and say that I take care of my clients" or "Be sure and say that I offer full service" (whatever that means). They pull phrases from other bios that they want incorporated in some way. Why do that? Stop trying to sound like everyone else — you do you.
7. Don't repeat yourself
One thing that I always do at the end of the writing process for a bio is go back through and check for repetitiveness in a couple of different ways. That's because often we end up using similar words and phrases again and again: expertise, experience, knowledge, and so on.
First, read the bio out loud to yourself. That will help you "hear" when a word is repeated. Then, use the Find and Replace function to search for words that you may be using too often. Look for ways to rephrase and replace those repeated words so that you're keeping the writing fresh all the way through.
8. Don't forget to proofread
You don't want to do all the work of writing a great bio, only to have it undermined by misspellings, typos, or grammatical errors. Be sure to proofread and proofread again, and use Grammarly or a similar spelling and grammar checker to review the text.
If grammar is not your strong suit, go on Fiverr or Upwork and find a copy editor to give it another run-through. Alternatively, if you have a colleague or family member who's great at writing, ask them to give it a look before you publish.
9. Don't forget to revisit in the years ahead
Once you've got a bio you love, you'll probably be tempted to post it on all of your online profiles and forget about it. Don't. You need to refresh and renew it every few years or anytime you've got something new to add.
Did you move into a new niche? Start serving a new market? Get a new certification or win a new award? Any of these offer the opportunity to revisit your bio.
In addition, as you grow in your business, you may want to rethink the way you're presenting yourself. You might want to go more casual or more formal. You might want to add some humor or make it a bit more serious. You might want it shorter or longer.
Like your life and your professional reputation, your bio is a work in progress. While you can be happy with it for the time being, you should never be totally satisfied with it. Keep working to develop it so that it's always keeping up with your ever-changing, ever-evolving real estate career.