About pages and bios: expectation vs reality

Gillian Jones

Taith Copywriting - working with b2bs, b2cs, providing web copy pages, bios and profiles. Available for quick turnaround projects.

Since I’ve taken on the niche of about pages and bios nearly a year ago now, I’ve noticed that expectation and reality are two entirely different things when it comes to crafting someone’s story.

You could argue that this is the case will almost all copy, sometimes you’ll defy expectations and sometimes you’ll disappoint. We’re almost always encouraged to defy people’s expectations and over-deliver, and that’s a wonderful thing. In fact, we all try to do that, I know I do.

I find that with bios, however, things get a bit more personal. Clients will hire you because you do about pages. They’ve heard that you do wonderful things, and the person that recommended you thinks you’re great. So we’re about to embark on an odyssey of self-discovery.

Here, more than anywhere else, there are extremes between the responses you’ll get, because once you produce the work they’re either going to love it or hate it.

In most cases they love it. On rare occasions, I’ve almost felt the air thick with anticipation as the other person tells you – it’s not you, it’s them.

I realize that everyone’s backstory is personal, but what people expect a lot of the time, is the same as before, just slightly different.

They don’t want it to be too different or too avant-garde. They want you to re-write parts of it so it sounds a bit more, well, like what they expected really, except perhaps, a little bit different, but not too different.

They expect well written, they expect one or two surprises secreted carefully within one or two carefully crafted sentences. What they don’t want is too different, too different is bad, too different will not work, they know this.

After all, this is their business, they have to play it safe, they don’t want to lose customers, a legitimate concern I’ll admit.

Or possibly it’s more a case of them feeling uncomfortable about certain aspects of their business lives, their backstory being highlighted or exposing aspects they hadn’t considered important.

Even when you follow the instructions by the book, making sure what they want to see and hear on the page is in the order they wanted it, it’s still a difficult pill to swallow for some.

It’s like taking a picture or having your portrait done, you have an idea of what you look like in your mind, and there’ll be one mirror in the house that tells you what you want to see.

But the reality is the photographer or artist will always see you in a way you hadn’t, and the reality of who you really are – is there for all the world to see.

I ask myself ‘but isn’t that the whole point’ – the unveiling of a person’s story, a pulling away of the curtain, a ‘ta-dah’ moment where their story will kick-start their business and their success like nothing before, where both themselves and their customers will be astonished and impressed in equal measures.

It’ll be a story that conveys hard work, determination to succeed, a refusal to give in, breathtaking ambition and the fight to conquer the inner demons as you climb inexorably towards that all-important goal.

The story that made you, the story that led you to create a business is special, I mean really special, and how you tell it matters. It really does.

It’s about a carefully crafted story that’s dedicated to the telling of it that magnifies your brand in the best possible way and connects with your target audience beautifully.

You could accuse me of romanticising this. After all, this is copywriting not a creative writing class. But sometimes you just have to take a risk.

Yes, I’ll make sure it’s about your brand, your business, your products or services and make sure it follows a certain trajectory,  but let it also be about owning all the hard work it took to get here, the blood, the sweat the tears.

Trust me with your story and it could be the one thing that helps your readers identify with you – and more importantly buy from you, work with you, create long-term business relationships with you.

The reality is – this could be the best surprise you’ve ever had, for you and your readers.

Yes, I want to provide a service that’s unorthodox and yes I can be unconventional, but no matter how ordinary or matter-of-fact you think your story is, or how mundane or serious you think your business is, everyone has a story, and nobody is ordinary, not really.

We’re all really pretty bloody special – and that’s not an expectation, that’s a reality, and one I firmly believe. It takes blood, guts and courage to create a business and then run it, and that’s without all the other stuff you’ve had to contend with along the way.

I can give you conventional if that’s what you really want, but I can also give you the unorthodox and the simply fantastic…if you’ll let me. Let both of us defy people’s expectations together.

Should you write in the third person or first when writing a bio?

If you’re writing for one person, I always write in the first person. If I’m writing for a group I might be tempted to write in third, and often do. If it’s individual team members possible first or third.


They’re never copywriting books (my bad), but they can still inspire.

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