Your fingers are hovering over your keyboard, “My name is. . .” Backspace, backspace, backspace. “I am a licensed. . . ” backspace again. You’re stuck at your computer screen trying to write an “About Me” section for a website or a journal, and you have no idea where to begin.
Writing about yourself can be uncomfortable, particularly if you’re in a field that’s so focused on others. But as a private practitioner, a short and snappy bio is a must-have for just about every part of your online presence. Your bio needs to grab your prospective clients right away. It has to communicate that you’re professional yet approachable within seconds—because your headshot can’t do all the talking.
Let’s talk about different kinds of bios, and what each one should achieve. Don’t worry, we have examples too.
Your Website Bio
First off, if you’re running your own business, you should already have a website. Your clients have to find you somehow. And when they do, they need to be able to decide if you’re a close enough fit to make that first phone call or online appointment request.
Resist the urge to recreate your entire CV on your website. Prospective and existing clients may be curious to know what credentials you hold. But more importantly, they want to know how those qualifications translate into actual session work.
Be explicit about your communication style and any characteristics that differentiate you as a service provider. As much as you’d like to think your professional side can exist separate from your personal life, you’re actually doing your business-self a disservice if you leave out your true self. Who you are is precisely what makes you unique and valuable in your role.
All of this said, consider keeping your website bio no longer than three to five sentences. Run-on sentences don’t count—and avoiding this will help keep your bio readable and concise. Consider using first-person language to appeal to your website visitors on a more personal level. Third-person can read awkward and overly academic, especially for people who may be in a vulnerable position when asking for help.
The first sentence should focus on your role, your niche audience, and high-level goals clients can expect to work on. Your second and third sentences should talk about your tactile and philosophical approach to reaching those goals.
Any work you do outside of the clinical—like speaking engagements or workshops—should be included in a separate paragraph to reinforce a clear distinction from in-session work. At the very end, don’t be afraid to add a call-to-action sentence for your website visitors. This will help prompt them to know more about how to work with you, and can let them know how you prefer to communicate.
“I’m a [food relationship expert] committed to helping [women] learn how to [build healthier relationships with food and their bodies]. My work focuses on [targeting ineffective behaviors, habits, and beliefs around food]. I believe in [taking a collaborative approach to helping clients reach their goals].
I’m passionate about [creating resources] for [individuals struggling with eating disorders], and am interested in participating in [workshops, speaking engagements, webinars, and podcasts].
If you’d like to [schedule a consultation] with me, please send [an appointment request]. I look forward to hearing from you.”
Directory or Network Profile Bio
For directories and other network profiles you may have, you can use the bio you’ve written for your website. If your website bio includes specifics like client focus, treatment approaches, and high-level goals, it should be sufficient. This type of bio should not include any information that’s not directly related to your clinical, client-focused work.
People reading about you on a directory or network profile are likely looking to connect with you as a service provider (as opposed to a collaborator or referral source), so you’re really speaking directly to your prospective clients. They might even be reaching out to a professional for the first time, so clarity about your approach is key here.
Social Media Bios
Social media bios can be tricky because you want to be as personable as possible without losing your professionalism. And to make matters worse, the character counts tend to be quite limited. (Twitter, we’re looking at you.) So, let’s make it as easy as possible.
You can avoid proper, full-length sentences here. Consider using the pipe character on your keyboard, which you can insert using “Shift” and “\” between your snippets of text. This provides a clean, modern way to capture your most important takeaways to your audience.
To keep things short and sweet, try a quick catchy phrase that emphasizes your mission or area of focus. And even if your handle or account name already has your name it, it’s worthwhile to include it again spelled out with proper capitalization.
Add your specialty or important credentials, and one or two unique pieces of information about you. Emojis can be used on platforms like Twitter or Instagram, but should be avoided for platforms like LinkedIn. Regardless, emojis should be used sparingly. Lastly, you can include the handles for any other accounts you’re associated with, and links to other relevant projects that you’re working on.
“Dr. Jane Doe | LMFT | Published Author | Currently Accepting Clients 👋”
“John Smith, MA, LCSW | PTSD Specialist | Podcast Host @TherapyPodcast”
“LMFT dedicated to empowering the LGBTQ+ youth community”
Your Author Bio
Your author bio can be the most intimidating bio to write, since it’s usually printed and can’t be deleted or updated after it’s been inked onto thousands of copies. Just like with the rest of your writing, you’ll definitely want an extra set of eyes you trust to copy edit and proofread it.
In this situation, you should tout your expertise and credentials, whether your audience are your colleagues or your possible client base. It’s recommended to use third-person language in this instance. Make sure the information you share about yourself pertains to the information you share in your book or article. This will help validate you as a reliable subject-matter expert.
Feel free to add a final sentence to add a touch of personality to an overall academic bio. Three to five sentences tends to be the best practice, but always consider the physical dimensions of where your bio will be printed. Pro tip: Don’t overuse third-person pronouns to start sentences. Mix it up with your last name.
“Best-selling author Dr. Jane Doe is the founder of the Behavioral Clinic in Denver, Colorado. She has more than 25 years of clinical experience as a licensed marriage and family therapist, and nearly 20 years of experience running a private practice.
Her work focuses on helping fellow therapists find purpose and fulfillment in private practice by exploring their deepest motivations in life. Dr. Doe currently lives in the Denver area with her partner, two children, and GoldenDoodle named Roxy.”
The good news is, no matter what kind of bio you need to write, it’s largely a one-time effort. Once you have these foundational bios written, all you need to do is periodically update them to reflect your latest work, accomplishments, and current projects. Since the core of who you are as a practitioner won’t change each time you need to write a bio, that part can stay consistent on every platform.
It can feel uncomfortable to talk up your work or accomplishments. And that can make writing a bio seem like a much bigger undertaking than it is. But at the end of the day, a thoughtful and intentional bio is the best way to let everyone know what you have to offer as a practitioner.