How to Write a Successful Profile Essay

, Staff Writer
Updated May 11, 2020
Woman seated in an interview
    Woman seated in an interview
    EMS-FORSTER-PRODUCTIONS / DigitalVision / Getty Images

A profile essay is a type of informative essay describing a person, place, or event. It should be factual and descriptive but enjoyable to read. Get a step-by-step guide for how to write a profile essay that will be a hit with your readers.

How to Write a Profile Essay

Writing a successful and impactful profile essay takes work. Not only do you need to plan out your essay, but it’s important to gather the right information. To be prepared, take these steps before writing.

Read Professional Profile Essays

You can find profile essays in professional magazines and writing. Check out celebrity profiles in publications like the Washington Post, New Yorker, or Esquire. Take note of:

  • Interesting details the writer includes
  • Style and tone
  • Unique introduction techniques
  • Ways the conclusion works
  • Format used
  • Paragraph style

Read as many as you can. Remember, these are the best of the best. Emulating them will make your paper even better.


Choose a Subject

When it comes to choosing a subject, think about a person, place, or event of interest. Typically, a famous person or place will draw more reader interest because people are curious about them. However, depending on your writing style, an unknown person or place can make for a unique perspective.

Your level of interest is what will truly make or break your profile piece. If you’re enthusiastic about your subject, it shines through in your writing. And, it can make research fun.

Find Valid Information

First-hand information is always best because you get details not found elsewhere. Therefore, it would be beneficial to interview a person, event coordinator, or a curator/caregiver of a specific place. In an interview, make sure to ask questions they can expand on. Avoid yes and no style questions, which don’t seek in-depth information.

With a famous person or place, this isn’t an option. In this case, find detailed information describing the person, place, or event through online interviews, books, memoirs, and websites. This can help to craft a fun and engaging profile essay.


Create an Outline

An outline isn’t a required part of an essay unless your teacher says so; however, it will help organize your thoughts. Outlines don’t have to follow a specific format, but a few helpful formats are the keyword and sentence outline formats. Just choose the best one to fit you and begin outlining.

Writing a Profile Essay

With all your information and outline at hand, it’s time to draft your essay. Just like any other essay, include an introduction, body, and conclusion. Let’s look at each part, in turn, to make sure your essay is successful.

Draft an Introduction

An introduction should grab a reader’s attention. Make use of a writing hook to engage the reader. Ask thought-provoking questions or use an unknown detail to capture their interest. For example:

Did you know Calamity Jane was more than just a tall tale?

Consider adding an intriguing original quote from your subject, if possible. In the final sentence of your introduction, add your thesis statement to clarify what points the essay will cover.


Create a Body

With your intro crafted, it's time to write the body. This is the meat of your article. It's important to:

  • Include sensory details like sight, sound, and touch. For example, if you are describing a person, discuss their name, age, looks, height, and so on. If you are describing an event, add details about the weather and attitudes surrounding the event.
  • Add interview questions and information readers will be wondering about.
  • Connect each paragraph with information presented in the thesis statement.
  • Go in-depth with your profile, making your reader feel as if they are there with you.

Reach an Impactful Conclusion

Use the conclusion to sum up concisely all the information presented within the profile essay. Restate your thesis within your conclusion. Some writers also choose to add an ending hook to keep their readers thinking.


Pay Attention to Tone and Style

When crafting a profile essay, use a less academic style. For example, if you’re doing an interview, it should be in first-person. Keep the information professional and journalistic but think of creative ways to make the writing engaging and fun to read. For example, what's something the world doesn't know about Calamity Jane?

And don’t skimp on the details. Including those small, yet important, details are what will make your writing stand out.

A Successful Profile Essay

Profile essays can be fun. Choosing a subject that interests you and including fun details are what will make your writing stand out. Interested in learning more about essay styles? Dive into descriptive and expository essay examples. Tips for writing an excellent essay can also push your writing further.