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Growing Your Business with Marketing, Week 5: Do your bios suck?

Posted by Colleen Wainwright on

This is Week Five of a 52-week project/experiment in DIY marketing. Armed with nothing but a copy of the 2009 Grow Your Business Marketing Plan + Calendar and my bare wits, I’m applying the skills you need to grow a business in real time, day by day, and reporting on them week by week. You can follow along here every Monday; check in with my companion blog, A Virgo’s Guide to Marketing, for additional links and information.

This week: Optimizing your social media bios

After two tortuous weeks of cold research calling hell, I can barely express my relief at being back on some kind of familiar ground.

I love social media! I love writing bios! I love updating my social media bios!

Well, that’s not completely true. I do love social media, and I’ve grown to enjoy writing bios, if only for the puzzle-like challenge they provide: how do I best express myself quickly, in terms of my prospects (or fellow denizens), in a way that is appropriate to the space I’m in while remaining true to myself and consistent across the board?

Come on! It’s a party and a half, folks!

Seriously, it can be a lot easier and certainly more fun—not to mention less crazy-making—if you learn a few tricks to help you in your quest. Here’s what I’ve learned in my travels so far. Hopefully, my trials and errors will save you time and precious brain cell space.

The Power of The Formula

This troika of questions, which burst forth from my mouth in one elegant spasm as if channeled from on high, will change the way you write bios (or any kind of copy about yourself or your business) forever. It is a FANTASTIC tool for keeping you on point no matter where you are or whom you’re talking to. Ready?

  1. Are you this person with this problem?
  2. I can help!
  3. Here’s how…

I’ve written about how to apply this tool on the Creative Freelancer Conference blog and expanded on it over at, so feel free to read up on it there. Basically, if you can come up with one block of copy that answers these three questions, you’re golden. You can then extrapolate from it to create one-line bios, elevator pitches, 30-second statements: you name it, it works.

Different sites, different (flavors of) bio

This week’s stated goal is to “optimize your online presence”—i.e., create your profiles for the various online networking sites that work for your stated goal if you’re not on any yet, or to update them if they do.

I’m pretty much everywhere big at this point (although I’m always on the prowl for new sites, and always grab my name when I find a good new one) so my job was clearly to take a look at what was up and tweak if necessary.

A word of caution before we proceed: I’m one of the least “business-y” business people you’ll meet. My market is creative solopreneurs, and my distinct personality seeps into everything anyway, so I try to be as upfront about it as I can without offending anyone. Which is to say, don’t click on the Twitter link if you’re easily offended, and never click on any link that cautions about “swears” or “NSFW” (e.g., “not safe for work”) unless you have a thick skin.

The main places I hang out these days (other than the mothership, communicatrix-dot-com) are LinkedIn, Biznik, Facebook and Twitter.
There are probably a lot of sites I’m on that could stand sprucing up,
but these are the most integral to my platform. The links will take you
to the various sites so that you can see how I changed it up for each
one, and if you want to see the whole magilla in action, you can check out my about page, my long-ass bio page, and my super-secret hire-me page on my main site. All are works in progress, and you could argue that there’s a bit of schizophrenia happening, but I believe that any one of them is a solid companion to any other, and that they represent a cohesive voice and POV, which for now, is my main marketing and promotion goal.

Updating bios: the modern version of herding cats

It is not easy to keep everything updated and in sync. Over a certain number of profiles, it starts to feel like spinning plates on sticks: you’ve no sooner gotten four of them going when five more threaten to crash to the ground. Here are some tricks to help keep you sane.

  • Schedule it. I was relieved to see this turn up in the Marketing Calendar because it made me realize a simple habit could be a game-changer: put “update bios” into my own task list (Things for Mac, right now) as a recurring task. In the same way I’ve automated “check credit report” by slipping an index card with the name of each of the three reporting bureaus into folders four months apart in my tickler file, I can pretty much automate bio updating. (In case you didn’t know, you’re allowed one free credit report annually from each of the three services—a great idea to keep an eye on things and make sure nothing funky is going down with your money.)
  • Keep archived copies of your bios in a folder on your hard drive. I started doing this in my acting days, back in the Stone Age. Whenever I was in a new show, they’d ask for a picture and bio for the program. Once I figured out this would happen each time, I kept a text file with the bio from each show. Then, depending on whether the next show was a comedy or drama, needed a short bio or a super-short bio (no one ever wants a long one), I could pull it out and edit it as needed. Saved hours of aggravation, believe me.
  • Maintain a “social media” folder in your bookmarks toolbar. Put all of your bio or login pages for all of your social media sites in one folder in your Firefox or Safari browser (or—shudder—Internet Explorer, if you’re still using it.) It does two things: makes it easy to check in once or twice daily, and makes it easy to find the sites when you’re ready to do some maintenance.

A few final notes on Week Five’s assignments

It was really cheering, getting such warm reassurances from people that it was okay to not be perfect at any of this. Each of us are better at some things and, um, not as good at other stuff. While my online writing output remains good, my networking continues at a good clip and I’m filling my pipeline with the speaking gigs I really want, I’m nowhere near where I hope to be by the end of the year with my consulting and paid writing gigs. It’s just me for now, and there are only so many hours in a day. (I can’t wait until I can hire you, Deidre, or whoever else you refer me to because your dance card is full!)

But I’m starting to see some results, and in places I never figured. For one, the writing and connecting online (and off) that I’ve been doing for the last two years is starting to manifest itself in better numbers and more queries, even if not yet more actual fame and fortune. My newsletter subscriptions continue to rise, along with the open rate (huzzah!) so I’m learning there, too.

The most shocking thing to happen though, was actually having a little bit of fun with my research calls this week. Yes, I still did them in off-hours so no, no one actually picked up, but I’m getting more comfortable with the whole idea of calling (hey, it’s just about connecting a different way, right?) and also, I had a little fun doing some background research on the individual people I was calling which made getting even their voicemail kind of…dare I say?…fun. Yikes! Next thing you know I’ll be selling plots of land in Florida and asking for the good leads.

How’s your week gone? Now that we’re a month into this, have you noticed anything getting easier? Or less dreadful? Are you maybe even having fun with some of it yet?

The post Growing Your Business with Marketing, Week 5: Do your bios suck? appeared first on The Marketing Mix.

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