How to Write a Strong Byline
It’s hard for a writer to establish themselves and the brand they represent in a memorable way. A strong byline is key to freelancers standing out and cultivating their unique personal brand. Whether you’re creating content for your website, to submit to a publisher, or for a featured piece, knowing how to write a byline is an opportunity to build your brand and stand out in your field.
Our tips in the comprehensive guide below outline how to highlight your strengths, write a strong byline, and improve your writing skills.
What Is a Byline?
A byline is a text line that tells readers who the author of a piece is. At minimum, it will include the author’s name, but strong bylined articles typically have a short bio to let readers know the background and experience of the writer.
Bylines are a chance to familiarize readers with your work and field. Relevant and impressive bylines help present you as a credible authority on the subject of your article and help cement your brand as a writer. Think of your byline as your first impression that encapsulates your values and builds trust with your readers.
Why Are Bylines Important?
A byline tells readers who you are, what you value, and what makes you credible in your field. A strong byline can support readership, credibility, and your portfolio all at once. Especially in the freelance world, it’s important to establish yourself with a unique viewpoint that only you can offer.
In addition to readership, your byline can help associate you with the publications and brands you write for. If you work for a revered company that is highly regarded and trusted by customers, you are more likely to be trusted by readers by pure association and reputation.
What Should You Include in a Byline?
As a writer, your byline is your foot in the door with readers and their first impression of you. Here’s what to include to ensure your byline is the most effective it can be:
1. Who You Are and What You Do
It’s important to show your readers who you are. Personal information like where you’re from, where you live, and where you were educated are important inclusions to highlight your background while building credibility with readers. A byline may include a clear, professional photo of you (typically a headshot) that represents you as a writer.
Here’s an example: Dr. John Doe is a scientist specializing in microbiology. Doe studied at Harvard Medical School and runs a genetic disorder practice in Boston. He is the author of Genes Up Close.
You can even include a fun fact that shows off your personality if it fits the tone of the publication. Your byline will be edited for each publication — like a resume — so be prepared to make tweaks and adjustments for specific publications.
Looking at the example again, we can show off Doe’s personality a little more with the addition of: In his spare time, Doe is a tour guide at the Boston Museum of Science.
2. Previous Experience, Areas of Expertise, and Fields of Knowledge
Your byline should include your areas of expertise and fields of knowledge. If you’re publishing a scientific magazine or journal, include studies you’ve conducted in the field, certifications you have, or other background experience that qualifies you.
A byline from Science News for an article on climate change and Antarctic glaciers cites the author’s travel experience and funding to showcase experience and prestige: Douglas Fox is a freelance journalist based in northern California. He was funded by the National Science Foundation to travel to Antarctica from November 2019 to January 2020.
Fox builds trust with readers and subscribers as an authority through direct experience and first-hand study. Your byline should provide relevant information on why you’re trusted on your topic, as Fox does here. Previous experience writing in that field is always helpful.
As a writer or editor, your writing is your personal brand, so in order to build your business, you need readers to trust you. This will lead to higher retention in return readers. It helps you cultivate brand loyalty and grow your business.
3. Your Portfolio, Blog, or Website
A byline is an opportunity to connect your readers with more of your work. Including a link to your portfolio, blog, or website allows readers to find your work instantly and connect with your writing. This ultimately builds subscribers and helps you to create lasting bonds. If someone reads your piece and enjoys it, give them instant access to all of your writing in one place.
Your brand consists of your work and what you present to the world, so make sure your byline will boost and strengthen it. Include your niche as a writer and what makes you the right fit for each piece. A great byline is like a digital business card that connects your readers directly to you — so take the opportunity to build readership!
How to Write a Byline
Not sure where to begin or how to write a byline that will impress readers and search engines alike? Look no further. When you’re writing your byline, keep these tips in mind for the strongest and best results:
Keep It Short and Sweet
To get the most out of your byline, keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Limit it to 50 words or less and about two or three sentences. Don’t try to include everything here; your byline should show off your skills without overselling.
Include only the information that is most relevant and important to your piece. Ask yourself what the readers need to know for context and which information is pertinent to the story you’re telling. If your readers are curious and want to know more about you after reading, your byline will direct them to your portfolio or personal website.
Tailor to Each Publication
When you write your byline, think of it like a resume — you will need to tweak it for each specific article and publication. Relevance is key to your freelance success, so don’t include credentials on literature for a scientific article. Edit your byline to each specific publication your work is featured in.
Use a Great Photo
If available and appropriate for the domain, add a high-quality, professional photo that represents your brand. Your readers are more likely to remember your work when they can put your face to your name. Choose a high-quality, clear photograph that shows off your professionalism and your personal style. Don’t let an LQ or busy photo overshadow your writing.
What Is a Strong Byline?
Now that we’ve covered what a strong byline should incorporate, we’ll look at examples. These established writers are published in prominent newspapers, magazines, and newsletters.
Here are a couple examples of excellent bylines from sources you already know and trust. Different writers and publications also have different styles, so don’t be afraid to personalize and make it your own.
Our first byline is from Saul J Takahashi, a contributor to Al Jazeera, covering conflict in the Middle East. While his website or portfolio isn’t linked, the author establishes their authority as a contributor to the publication. He lists his details, credentials, and location:
Professor of Human Rights and Peace Studies at Osaka Jogakuin University in Osaka, Japan
This next byline is from ContentWriters’ blog. Derek Johnson, Director of Content Strategy, covers the topic of “5 Organic Marketing Strategies for Lead Generation.” Why should we believe Derek’s tips? The byline with background and certification information highlights relevant experience and builds trust with the reader:
Derek is ContentWriters’ Director of Content Strategy. He has helped hundreds of companies improve their web traffic, conversion rate, and content creation efficiency. Derek is particularly knowledgeable in full-cycle sales, eCommerce, SaaS, and B2B marketing, having consulted in those areas for over 5 years. He is HubSpot Content Marketing certified.
Our last byline example is from Time magazine, from a column on how to fix U.S. election issues. The author establishes her authority and includes links to her other work for the publication:
Thornton is the Senior Vice President of Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She previously served overseas in leadership positions at the National Democratic Institute and International IDEA.
Through these varying styles and different examples, we’ve shown just a few potential inspirations for your byline. By highlighting your field, your goals, and your publication, your byline will be its strongest.
A byline is so much more than an author tag on an article. Bylines are an opportunity to build your brand, establish your credibility, and grow readership. Your byline tells readers who you are and what your background is, and it also helps establish your authority on a subject that readers can trust and rely on.
Bylined Articles for Businesses
At ContentWriters, we leverage our writers with expertise and experience valuable to our clients. We offer bylines of our US-based writers with subject matter expertise to be published on your domain alongside our high-quality content. If you need to build your team of writers with diverse experiences and perspectives, connect with our team to discover how we can help.
Kelly C. has a master’s in English and has been writing for over a decade for Fortune 500 companies, startups, nonprofits, and reputable publications. She is a research nerd and loves discovering new organizations and technology that makes others’ lives better or easier. She has a business savvy not common in most writers and weaves it into everything she writes. In her spare time, she reads a lot, works as a literacy tutor, and hikes in the Rockies with her husband and hound dogs named Daisy and Lilly.