Real Estate Copywriting FAQ's - Why Bios are written in the 3rd person

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Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Why are most real estate agent bios written in the 3rd person?

A good question, and one that agents often ask when I begin their bios.

Agent bios are probably written in the 3rd person because it seems less self-centered. A narrative written about you sounds somehow "softer" than a page filled with "I," "I," and more "I." 

The truth is, even on an "about me" page which is supposed to be about the agent, saying "I do this" and "I believe that" comes across as self absored. It doesn't matter that every time you say "I" you're relating ways that you help your clients.

A reader scanning down a page and seeing paragraph after paragraph beginning with "I" feels somehow put off.

Of course, the same thing can happen with a 3rd person narrative. If you begin real estate agent thinkingeach paragraph with the agent's name, it's a bit "too much." So the trick is to turn the paragraphs upside down.

 Instead of saying "Sally believes in spending as much time as necessary to educate her clients, so that they make good decisions," you might say "Good decisions come as the result of good information, so Sally takes as much time as necessary to educate her clients."

You could, of course, use the same method to "Hide the I's" by moving them away from the focal point at the beginning of each paragraph.

"About you" should be about you...

An "about me" page should definitely be about the agent - and should reveal reasons why prospects will benefit by choosing that agent. At the same time, whether writing in first person or third a writer needs to tread carefully in order to avoid making the agent sound arrogant.

A good quote from the agent absolutely does have a place in such a bio. And I can envision an effective "About" page written n first person if the agent writes it in the form of a heartful letter to his or her future clients. That is, it would be effective as long as the agent remembers to "Hide the I's" in the body of the paragraphs.

Writing agent bios is a bit tricky, because while the page is about the agent, underneath it all, it's still about the client.

Image courtesy of Dreamstine.

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Rainmaker
858,512
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Valerie and Jordon - It's always good to give them a tune up - sometimes things change.

Charita - I think we have to blame our Mom's for that. Writing about me is the hardest thing I do.

Debbie - There are always exceptions. You need to do what works best for the situatiion.

Lenn - Perhaps because you are royalty. I know I've seen mention of you as the "Queen of Active Rain."

Michael - Which is why it sounds "softer."

Bryant - That's your style and it works well for you.

Richie - You've hit on another important factor - making it interesting.Most readers lose interest when every sentence begins with I.

Susan - That's pretty bad when it's so blatant that you start counting. All I can say is someone was trying, but they missed the concept. So sad that all you remember is the bad commercial - and not her name. Or - maybe that's not so bad since the ad didn't make her look very intelligent.

Mark - You don't need to avoid or hide the "I" when giving your opinion.

 

 

Jun 03, 2012 09:15 AM #28
Ambassador
1,107,243
Karen Fiddler, Broker/Realtor
HOM Sotheby's Intl Realty, 949-510-2395 - Laguna Beach, CA
Laguna Beach & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

It's funny, I learned in high school english to never write in the first person, but I do. On my site we use the "team" as a "we," but then on AR, I have "I." Something for me to think about.

Jun 03, 2012 09:19 AM #29
Rainmaker
314,220
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

Hi Marte, excellent post with great advice. I used to have the third person and changed it to the first person because it sounded less stilted. I'll look at it again.

Jun 03, 2012 09:21 AM #30
Rainmaker
858,512
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Karen - I think it's really OK either way, as long as you don't make I, we, or even Karen the first word in every paragraph.

Instead of saying "I return all calls promptly" you can turn it around and say "You can count on me to return all calls promptly." It just changes the focus and the tone.

Sandy - "Stilted" can happen in either one. It sounds like your words probably just flowed more naturally when you wrote in first person. Sometimes getting it right just takes a lot of rearranging.

Jun 03, 2012 10:46 AM #31
Rainmaker
93,115
Nancy Lamb
Home Smart Premier - Fountain Hills, AZ
Lori Webster & Loving AZ Team-Fountain Hills AZ
Marte. This is good food for thought. It has always perplexed me as to which was better for content, first or third person. It would be interesting to have a consumer take on it as well, as to which they felt conveyed the better message for them. Thanks for an informative post!
Jun 03, 2012 10:53 AM #32
Rainmaker
679,519
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"

Excellent tips here on bio writing, Marte!  Thanks for sharing with us the best ways to make them sound client-centered rather than all about "me."

Jun 03, 2012 10:57 AM #33
Rainmaker
858,512
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Nancy - Yes, it would be fun to ask consumers to choose, then tell us why. We could write a bio with the same information,  but one in first person and one in third. The trick would be getting it in front of them and getting them to respond.

Maureen - That's the secret - whether you write in first person or third. It's about you - but really about them. A challenging (but fun) balancing act.

 

Jun 03, 2012 01:26 PM #34
Rainmaker
342,764
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley R since 1976;408-565-8177

Marte,

Interesting and something I have already wondered about.  Both first-person and third-person bios sound weird to me which is probably why I hate writing them.  I guess that's why a copywriter comes in handy, huh?

Jun 03, 2012 01:46 PM #35
Ambassador
1,112,835
Melissa Zavala
Broadpoint Properties - Escondido, CA
Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County

Marte: Good advice here. One thing I often catch myself doing (but sometimes do not change) is that I mix between second and third person in my blog posts. As a former English teacher, it's clearly a no-no, but sometimes it is nice to say 'you' when writing for a buyer or seller.

Jun 03, 2012 03:17 PM #36
Rainmaker
858,512
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Lloyd - Yes, I think it is. It's hard for almost everyone to write about themselves.

Melissa - I catch myself doing that too, and I think it's OK. We're writing to real people - and that's how real people talk. Just like we use fragmented sentences and dangling participles. No one but a grammar purist will object or even notice.

"You" is one of the most important words any of us can use in marketing copy - it's the word that attracts your reader's attention because it refers to his or her favorite subject.

Jun 03, 2012 04:44 PM #37
Rainmaker
542,279
Eric Michael
Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI - Livonia, MI
Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519

Marte, Eric believes that you're on to something here. He also likes that you gave the alternative wording to not look like he's speaking in the 3rd person.

Jun 03, 2012 05:04 PM #38
Rainer
211,709
Beth Paterson
Reverse Mortgages SIDAC, NMLS #173899 - Saint Paul, MN
CRMP, NMLS #342859

Great advice!  I think mine is okay but I better go check...  Thanks, Marte!

Jun 03, 2012 05:48 PM #39
Rainmaker
579,767
Corinne Guest
Barrington Realty Company - Barrington, IL
Barrington Realty Company

I hope many more agents are now hiring you to write their bios, one of the best investments I ever made :)

Jun 03, 2012 06:12 PM #40
Ambassador
1,932,792
Judi K Barrett
Judi Barrett~Integrity Real Estate Services~Idabel, Oklahoma - Idabel, OK
Broker/Owner, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDAB

When I was ready to work on profile, did some research and what I read said that the profile should always be written in the third person.  I forget the reasons cited.. but I did. 

Jun 03, 2012 06:23 PM #41
Rainmaker
858,512
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Eric - Marte appreciates your comment.

Beth - The last time I checked mine... I re-wrote it. As I've said before, writing for myself is a hundred times harder than writing for someone else.


Corinne - Thank you for your support. I remember that lady who connected with you because you're both so "well traveled." I thought that was fantastic.

Judi - I don't know that it HAS to be 3rd person. Some people do have first person bios that work. I started to say that I don't believe in "shoulds" in general, but that isn't true. There are a few "rules" of copywriting that shouldn't be broken - like writing letters focused on the prospect rather than yourself, limiting the number of "I's," and sticking to a conversational tone.

Jun 03, 2012 07:54 PM #42
Rainmaker
769,627
Mike Jaquish
Realty Arts - Cary, NC
919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate

I spoke with Mike Jaquish about this.  Mike is contemplating. 

Mike is not too sure about the conversational aspects of a 3rd person approach, which might indicate that Mike is detaching himself from the conversation.
I think Mike likes cautious use of 1st person, as long as it does not become gross adoration and admiration of that 1st person personage.

Jun 04, 2012 04:56 AM #43
Rainmaker
858,512
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Mike - Of course that's another way to look at it. Maybe the practice started because people couldn't figure out how to write about themselves in the first person without the "gross adoration and admiration" - or because people whose mamas taught them not to brag simply couldn't bring themselves to write "I."

Jun 04, 2012 08:55 AM #44
Rainer
10,478
Kim Corbitt
Keller Williams Realty Capital District - Latham, NY

Writing my bio for all my profiles continues to stump me! First person, third person ahhhh some person- please write it for me! LOL

Jun 05, 2012 01:56 PM #45
Rainmaker
858,512
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Kim - If you're serious, get in touch. Tha's one of the things I do for agents. Otherwise, take a deep breath and use my questions to get you started. You can find them at: http://www.copybymarte.com/questions.html

 

Jun 05, 2012 02:04 PM #46
Rainer
38,937
The Niche Agent
The Niche Agent
Your Niche Is Our Niche

Great post! Speaking of copywriting, I wanted to share the episode of my podcast that I just launched where I interview Chris Barr from Barr Direct. Chris is an awesome copywriter and we discuss real estate and copywriting. 

www.TheNicheAgent.com/Episode16

 

Ryan Smith - The Niche Agent

Apr 28, 2014 04:02 PM #47
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