It’s a conundrum: you can’t sell your articles because you haven’t been published, and you can’t get published because you haven’t sold anything yet!
It’s similar to getting a job in many fields: you can’t get hired without experience, and you can’t get experience without working.
What’s a writer to do?
The worst part is that your author bio shines a spotlight on your lack of experience. It’s like your resume – or at least a snippet of your resume.
Here’s the dilemma:
“What if someone has no credentials, hasn’t written anything impressive, missed out on an education? What if this person has just an obsessive desire, learning as much as he can, and practice with every comment he leaves?” – Craig.
“I’ve been wondering what I can charge once I have proven myself with my “gratis” article that I have been asked to write for a new magazine. Freelance writing sounds like the perfect career to me and I love that you make it out to be so doable. Like Craig, I was wondering what I can put in my bio as I don’t have any published experience as yet. I have a blog but it isn’t quite ready for release to the public yet! Thanks for your help!”- Trish.
Both writers left their comments on How to Write an Author Bio to Accompany Your Byline.
Here’s what I think…
Highlight your non-writing, non-published strengths
What type of freelance writer do you want to be – what’s your speciality? This is a good thing to think about when you’re starting a writing career. Frances Bula is a Vancouver-famous writer and blogger who gave a talk about niche writing; I share her tips in Should You be a Niche Writer? 5 Reasons to Specialize as a Freelancer.
If you’re planning to specialize and write about, say, yoga or women’s fitness, then your short author bio may read “Susan Powter is a yoga junkie (yogi!) whose goal is to hold the firefly pose for four minutes straight.”
Also, remember that you don’t need an author bio to get published. Hundreds of people write magazine articles, newspaper articles, and blog posts – and they’ve never been published before. Their author bio might simply read, “Georgie Kienlen lives in Vancouver, BC.”
Write guest posts for blogs
Yahoo Shine accepts free guest posts – and so do thousands of websites and blogs! Write for some of the more popular ones. I think Yahoo Shine would be a good start, because “Yahoo” is a brand name. You don’t have to mention that you wrote for free!
Here’s an example of an author bio that includes guest posts:
“Honor Ability has written for several online websites and blogs, including Yahoo Shine, Quips and Tips for Successful Writers, and Problogger.”
Writing one or two guest posts or free articles isn’t enough. You need to amass more clips than that! Which leads me to my next tip…
Get writing experience – forget the author bio for now
Writing this made me wonder if creating an author bio should be your focus. I don’t think it should, actually! Getting solid writing experience should be your focus; when you do that, then your author bio will fall into place.
So, instead of fretting about writing a bio when you’ve never been published, focus instead on writing solid pitches, selling or giving away your articles, and compiling a list of 10 websites or blogs that you’re proud to have written for.
Here’s a great article on getting published as a new freelancer, by Jennifer Roland: Need Writing Experience? How to Get Clips and Get Published.
Also — I can’t overstate the importance of reading as much as you can about freelance writing! When I first started out, I read as many books as I could about freelancing. Here’s a good start: Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer by Moira Anderson Allen.
What do you think, fellow scribes? What am I missing?
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello and share your thoughts below. If not, go well....and don't forget to come back! :-)