A profile essay is much like a tabloid ‒ an article describing relevant facts, or events, or personalities. In other words, profile writing talks about a notable character, an event, or a place.
Look: it doesn’t have to be a person or location everyone knows, rather it stresses on particular details that readers will find fascinating about the subject.
At this point, it’s safe to say that the main purpose of profile essay writing is to create a well-defined profile.
Since we have tackled the most crucial question of what is a profile essay, let’s go into the nitty-gritty of steps to write one.
Super Simple Steps to Write a Profile Essay
It’s easy to assume that composing profile essays is a big deal; well, yes, it is, in a way or two.
But here’s the most interesting part.
Profile essays may not be as common as argumentative or descriptive writings. However, they are not as difficult as you think. To helps simplify, use the next outlines for writing
- Writing― an introduction paragraph, body and concluding paragraph
Start From Selecting a Subject to Researching
Start your essay by doing extensive research on multiple sources about the topic. Read the most amount of examples of the topic you want to write.
For example, if you’re discussing the most common facts about cancer, or elaborating on why Alaska is a must-see for Christmas holidaymakers or simply taking on Neil Armstrong, as the first man to reach the moon. The entire research must be about similar topics.
Here are the resources you can use
- Internet materials eg, blog posts from websites such as The Newyorker, Forbes, Medium, and Entrepreneur.
- Social media eg, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram (but discreetly).
- One-on-one interviews
Once you have the bigger picture, you can start to streamline your view on the specifics.
Now, depending on the subject, the essay can become more or less tricky. Here’s what it means: if you choose a well-known person, it is easier to get more information and details. But at the same time, the idea is not unique. The subject might either arouse curiosity or actively suppress it.
Let’s try to also look at it from another angle: if you’re a student, you obviously have no business writing about celebrities or presidents. You have to stay in touch with your scope. Still, keep it unbelievably interesting. Go for catchy headlines such as “The person that truly changed the world.”
Preferably, choose a subject you can personally interview. If you are talking about a place, pick the one that you know the most, or have more first-hand knowledge. This will give you plenty of details to add. If you have a lot of options, take the one you are most passionate about, that one you could talk for hours without getting bored.
Interview the Subject
Do you really have to interview the subject before writing a profile essay? Ideally yes!
Particularly if you are a journalist. But don’t worry, there are always other alternatives to get the same professional result. If the person is not dead and you can get an interview, get the best out of it with the next simple guide. First, have a clear outcome.
If you know anything about this person, imagine asking such details in the form of questions― what, where, how, when. Additionally, consider closed-end questions that answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ be. Remember to have a focus: your essay’s body and conclusion will depend on this by far. Then, prepare these questions based on the three formats:
- Warm-up: start with some simple but open questions to break the ice and get the person talking. For example: “I know you work really hard in the car industry, what is the part that you like the most?”. It is an open question about a topic you know he loves and is easy to answer.
- Turn on the engine: once the person is more comfortable start getting the quality information, this is where you do more factual questions and ask for personal perspectives and opinions.
- Slow down and conclude: in this part, you have already gotten the main things you were looking for. This is the best time to get into more personal questions. Since you are both tired, it becomes a good opportunity to talk in a more informal manner.
A good quick tip is making them feel comfortable. Say things like, “If you feel at any moment that the question is too personal and you prefer to avoid it, there’s no problem at all. We can jump to the next one.”
If you can’t interview the person or he is dead, you can always get in touch with relatives and other people that know him/her.
Differently, if you are a student and there’s no option, just look for the most detailed information, luckily there’s a lot of biographies and documentaries available.
Writing the Essay
Considering earlier mentioned aspects to write―intro, body, and conclusion, below how to organize and write your profile essay.
A plan is not strictly necessary but truly helpful, because this type of essay tends to have a lot of details. It is only reasonable to structure your work. You also find it harder easy to get confused and go off-track. A well-planned profile essay writing paves your road first to make sure you have the desired result with a clear message. Also, write down all the main points and the most important details before starting out.
Now that you have all the information let’s start writing.
When writing about a place, start by describing the setting. Get people in the timeline and place. Be as detailed as possible. Here are some factors to check:
- Year (age in case of a character)
- Geographic place
- Any war or political movement happening
- Other major historical events that happened nearly
- Available technology at the time
If you’re writing about a person, start out by describing the character’s appearance. Pick a voice for your persona that will generally determine the first impression of the reader about him. Give reference to all of the important attributes about him. For example, “John was right in the middle of WWII, in Germany. You can quickly notice when and where John’s profile began.
Write all the main points you planned in the outline and give an explanation. Describe all the examples and insights you got from the interview. Take each question or main point and elaborate in separate paragraphs to maintain order and let readers have a sense of the structure. Avoid any unclear point or confusion information.
This is where you summarize the whole message of the essay in a few sentences and then give your own reflection of what is discussed through the body. Tell the readers why the essay is useful to make them feel they spent time on something valuable.
Use a final thought or quote to convey the final message of the essay. The quote can even come from the character.
How to Balance Descriptions and Opinions
The fleeting thing about this kind of essay is how much of opinion should you lend? Be careful because doing too much might overwhelm readers and subsequently demotivate them. Doing too little might be even more detrimental to the delivery as it turns the essay into a list of facts with no added value.
Give all the objective facts about the subject. What makes him, it or the period worth writing about. Then when you get into details, add your own perspective and insights.
Here’s an example.
“San Francisco was discovered until 1986, where people didn’t even know it was possible. At the time, people struggled with many diseases and depression. However, they still managed to pull it through.” In order to add more powerful details to enhance the facts but still not go overboard your own perspective, here’s a list of things you can do.
- Grammar, use any available software
- Rule out the copyright. You may use some plagiarism software websites.
- Get a second pair of eyes by asking someone to review it
- Verify all the dates and facts; there’s software that helps with that.
- Check your outline to see if you went off-track.
- Read it out loud to catch any inconsistency.
- Use the appropriate terms to let everything clear, like units of measure.
- Watch out for being disrespectful, even in an unintentional way.
- Check profile samples made by professionals.
- Add a summary sentence for each paragraph.
- Avoid unrelated side-stories.
- Look for different pictures to have a clearer reference.
The most important thing about a profile essay is to inform while adding value with insightful details. Give a unique perspective while sharing facts, manage both, and you will have a work worth reading. Don’t neglect the little details and expose the story in a new way.