How to Write a Snappy, Tight Professional Bio

This coming Sunday, I'll be speaking as a panelist at C2E2 as part of the International Game Developers Association's panel on the Chicago game industry's climate. If you haven't heard of C2E2, it's the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, at the McCormick Place's North Building. You should come by Sunday afternoon and check it out.

Now that I've gotten that plug out of the way, let me get to the point of this post: On Wednesday the IGDA shot me an email saying, "David - I'm starting to compile an "Oh, wow" list of things we've done in the past year. I'd love to get one from you about any major news sites you've covered, big stories, awards, etc."

In other words, they wanted me to shoot them back a quick bio, something everyone has to do in their career sooner or later. As a freelance writer, I have a standard one I tend to use for most of the places I contribute for, but I instantly knew two things:

1) I would need to send one off relevant to a games-enthusiast audience.

2) That meant writing a slightly new one to reflect my most recent hustling for new gigs.

It took me about a minute to fire off a new bio for them, but I realized that some folks might a bit more gun-shy about how to write one of these about themselves. Let me help.

Cater your bio to where you're sending it. Think of the bio as an elevator pitch for what's on your resume. Unless you have some really unusual bragging rights you think is relevant to your intended audience, keep it focused on related things. This tells your audience, hey, this person knows what they're talking about. Or if you have scattershot experience, play up how multifaceted you are.

Keep it short and simple, stupid. No one likes a braggart who just likes to hear themselves talk. I've seen some people write bios on themselves that are exhaustive lists of every place they write for or almost everything they've done. Nobody cares where you went to college, even if you're an Ivy Leaguer, and it's 10 years out and you haven't done anything with that fancy degree. And if you're still coasting on accomplishments you made a decade ago, that seems a tad queer. Whatever it is, make it two to three sentences, max. No semicolons.

Try to end with a joke. This one isn't necessary, nor is it mandatory, but it helps to show a little bit of personality. If the best you can think of is a joke about how you're writing blurbs in the third person, either think of something better or scrap it. The intention here is to humanize you a bit, that's all.

Really, that's it. Above all else, just be sure to use your own best judgment, and don't be afraid to ask a colleague or peer to take a look at it for you. They might catch a typo or also suggest something else you should add. Anyway, if you're curious, here's what I sent to the IGDA:

David Wolinsky is shocked to report that he writes for just about every single gaming publication he read growing up, like Nintendo Power and EGM. In addition to helping getting The Onion A.V. Club's games section off the ground, he now reports, reviews, and previews gaming stuff for Topless Robot, Mac|Life, Edge, PC Gamer, @Gamer, and many other fine publications. This summer he'll be covering E3 for the show's daily and launching a game-flavored podcast. He also is the 1995 Blockbuster store champion at Donkey Kong Country. 

Hope to see you there this weekend. And now, here's my NBC bio…

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a columnist for EGM. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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