Does your Instagram bio look like an itemized emoji list that consists of unconnected words and phrases? Do you run out of space trying to explain to the newcomers what exactly you do, for whom and why? Do you wonder how to communicate your business vision in a couple of sentences?


You’re not alone in this struggle. Online language teachers have shared in our community how crafting the right bio is challenging. Because of the character limit you have to be specific in what to include and what to leave behind. 


If you wonder why you’re not getting business requests or growing your list through your Instagram, you might be surprised to discover that your one-liner bio is part of the problem.



For the purposes of this post I will refer to a bio more loosely, as something that includes not only your job description but a call-to-action and a link that follows. I am also giving a disclaimer that these tips are based on the most common gripes I hear from the online language teachers in my community, such as:


I get a lot of requests but no business.

Everyone is complaining I’m charging too much.

The moment I talk about pricing, the future client is gone.

I’ve been using Instagram to promote my program but I got no takers.

Why can I not grow my list through Instagram?


The bio is one of the culprits in the process of converting a follower into a client, so in this post I will tackle just that. In the next 2 posts you will learn more tips on how to improve your Instagram account so it brings you business.


Let’s dive in and look at several important aspects of a stellar bio.


  1. The clear, not clever, bio that explains and promotes your work.
  2. The focused call to action that helps you deepen your relationship with followers (so they can buy from you).
  3. The one strategic link that you need to place on Instagram.


1. The clear, not clever, bio that explains and promotes your work.


Conversion is a process that allows your followers to take the next step on their journey to becoming your client. Intuitively we think that in order to become our client we need to write something like:


“An ESL teacher with a DELTA certification giving lessons tailored to your needs.”


There are a few problems with this bio:


  • What exactly is ESL or DELTA? You know it, but not many of your potential clients do. While you think it gives some credibility to your qualifications, it creates confusion.


  • Giving lessons immediately implies that the person looking at your account wants just lessons, which is not always the case. What people look at initially is whether or not you can help them solve their problem.


  • “Tailored to your needs…” I know this is a popular cliche (along with these) but it states the obvious. If you’re working with clients 1:1 you will certainly tailor the lessons to the person’s needs. Why state the obvious? Imagine a seamstress saying, “I’ll create a dress tailored to your size.” — I sure hope you will! Don’t put me in a sack and call it ‘a dress.’


We online teachers feel the need to include something either too clever or too generic into our bios, which of course doesn’t help us turn our followers into fans. 


Here’s how you can improve it:


  • Ditch the lingo. STOP using terms, abbreviations and phrases — lay folk don’t know them.


  • Focus on the one thing that you do. Without being too clever or sophisticated, you can use a simple line that speaks of the work that you do, the services you provide.


  • Speak to the people you want to work with. What is the “you” in “tailored to your needs?” Whose needs are we talking about?


Here is a simple and effective bio formula:


I help/helping/training/ (who?) to do (what?) so they can (your benefit).

I help travelers to Spain improve their listening so they can feel more at home in Spain.

I help lovers of Italy learn basic Italian so they’re ready to visit Tuscany and talk with the locals.

I help time-crunched business professionals become confident in English so they can run their meetings without fear.

I help rusty German learners get back into German through reading novels so they can improve without textbooks.


You might cringe and wonder if these bios are “too static” or not creative enough, but I can guarantee you if the right person sees this, they’ll follow you and stick with you, and eventually will become your client.


But the first line in the bio isn’t the only important component. 


Shed words that don't make sense. Add words that promote and sell your work. Create a stellar Instagram bio.Click To Tweet


Smart online teaching


2. Add a focused call to action that helps you build relationships with your followers (so they buy from you).


There is only one call to action you can ask people to do in your bio, and it has to make sense. Not having a call to action creates a vacuum that prevents you from gaining new clients in the future. But any call to action won’t work either.


Many of your followers are not seeking to hire you. Not the second they get on your account, not until they know exactly that you’re there to help them, not until they trust you can help them.


So it’s illogical to ask people to book a free session right there because the majority are not ready. Also it’s not going to work if you invite people to sign up for something that doesn’t really go well with your I help description.


For example:


I help time-crunched business professionals become confident in English so they can run their meetings without fear. Download my FREE Grammar textbook to improve your Present Tenses.


I mean, really? I need to go through your Grammar textbook to get through my meetings at work?


Instead of adding a random call to action to a random free gift (aka lead magnet) try to think the way your ideal clients might think. 


In this case, they are a time-crunched business professional who feel bad about his/her English and want to make some changes without taking out extra textbooks or spending 3 hours in English classes a week, learning those silly dialogs with the 25 most common “Business English” expressions.


As an expert in Business English you need to think what your ideal client might need. What can you help them with right now? Is confidence a linguistic parameter at all? What if it has to do with the mindset?


Based on that, you can create an e-guide or an e-book that teaches your clients how to prepare for a meeting (for instance) so they don’t feel like an English pronunciation failure again. And for the convenience of a time-crunched professional, why not turn that guide into an audio-book? Then your bio will look like:


I help time-crunched business professionals become confident in English so they can run their meetings without fear. Download my free audio book to help you learn 3 strategies of successful meeting preparation to improve your communication.

Then you trim the “fat” to make sure the bio is no more than 150 characters:

I help busy CEOs grow confident in English so they can run meetings without fear. My free audio book: 3 strategies to prep for a stellar meeting. (145 characters + you can add a few emojis.)

Want to start using Instagram to find your dream clients? Join our course.


3. The one strategic link you need to post on Instagram.


You might believe that having a link with multiple links (e.g. Linktree, Taplink, etc.) is helpful. But I believe that adding more choices to a social media account, unlike the homepage on your website, makes it harder for your skimming, scrolling followers to make a decision.


Here I will speak differently from some of the Instagram teachers who say you should have a link with several options. As a user, I find it hard to remember what the person wants me to look at. Say I read the bio, and now I’m interested in downloading the audio book. But then I click on the link that gives me 5 options, and I’m quickly lost because:


SIGN UP for my BRAND NEW speaking program for business people.

My newsletter is FREE!

The Audiobook is here.

Book a session for a ridiculous price.

Buy my books.


All of a sudden, I forgot that I wanted to get an audio book. Now I want to check out your program. Your program costs more, but by the time I get to the sales page I get sidetracked and forget where I was. My child pulls me away, and when I get back on Instagram I don’t even remember your name.


You might wonder what kind of person does this, but I will tell you I do it all the time. Only you remember all of your programs and offers. None of your followers, even the most engaged ones, remember everything.


So think strategically before you create your new Taplink with 5 options. Do you really need all of them? How helpful is it? And if you’re running a launch and want people to sign up, why not change the link depending on your context for the time of the launch?


Generally it’s best to direct followers to your lead magnet where they can sign up and receive your email course, your e-book or your checklist. By reducing the number of their choices to one you know that nothing will distract them from that one step you want them to take. 


So to summarize, whenever you write a bio remember that it needs to be less creative, flowery and “clever,” but more clear, specific and focused. Think of the step you want your future client to make and give them only that link to reduce distraction and anxiety over making a choice.


In the next few weeks we’ll cover two other important areas to improve your Instagram account: using design to increase conversions and creating stories that turn your followers into fans.


Do you struggle with writing your bio? I’d love to hear what your main issues are!


And if you want to keep reading, here are more posts on how to use Instagram for your online teaching business:



[This post was updated in March, 2021]


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