Profile Essay Writing Made Effortless; Learn How To Like A Real Journalist

Posted on: 28th May 2020

A profile essay may seem easy to write, but many students struggle with it. Maybe due to a lack of writing experience or organizational skills. Many students also struggle to characterize a subject from a third-person perspective. Although one may understand a subject very well, it does not mean that they know how to describe and write about it compellingly.

In your journey as a student, your professor, teacher, or instructor will test your essay writing skills, be they Narrative essays that tell a story, informative essays that paint a picture. These expository essays state the facts, persuasive essays that try to convince the reader to accept a writer's point of view or profile essays. Either way, you always have to be up for the challenge by keeping an open mind.

So, what is a profile essay? Profile essays discuss detailed descriptions of a person, place, event, or object. They have a lot in common with informative essays, but one major difference is that you write profile essays in the third person. This particular type of essay is very familiar in journalism classes as it requires in-depth research and knowledge of a subject.

In this article, we are going to guide you in the process of writing a profile essay and cover essential points that will help you write an impactful profile essay. 

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How to Write Your Profile essay

The main purpose of a profile essay is to provide your readers with a complete description of a subject. In this guide, we are going to use a person as an example of a subject. So from the get-go, you need to understand that your profile essay should answer the following six questions:

  • Who are they?
  • What is their background?
  • What are their interests?
  • What are their talents?
  • What are their achievements?
  • What challenges have they faced?

For example, let's say you wanted to address the question: "What challenges have they faced?" In the essay, make sure to illustrate a challenge that your subject personally dealt with. Look at this profile essay  example from a subject that is passionate and talented about soccer:

"Adversity is one of the most challenging and yet rewarding obstacles that life puts in front of us. Mason was struck with great Adversity when he did not make the high school soccer team in the 9th grade, even though he had been training for several months in advance. He thought he was good enough, but his lack of height, strength, and pace outweighed his technique, and this drove him to train for over a year straight to ensure his place in the sophomore year team."

Also, you need to understand that you don't need to answer those six questions in any consequential order, but you should address each of the questions in your narration.

Preparing to Write Your Profile essay

Treat your profile essay as a work of journalism; consequently, your paper should be informative, factual,  and descriptive. You have to portray information about a subject, in our case person, in such a way that gets the audience intrigued in the content; therefore, it is very important to have a plan and do plenty of research on the person you choose to do a profile on. Here is a guide:

Pick A Subject

A profile essay topic is usually the subject of discussion, and the first step when preparing to write a profile essay is selecting your subject. Assuming your instructor has not assigned you a subject, you will be free to choose the subject of your choice. The subject is not limited to a person. The subject can also be a place, an event, or even a group of people. We decided to use a person as an example of a subject to help you have a better and easier understanding. Furthermore, many times, instructors ask students to write about a remarkable individual on their profile essays. 

There are several considerations to make when choosing a subject:

  • Choose someone interesting to you, therefore, making the profile essay easier and fun to write.
  • Avoid choosing a celebrity or any other person that you cannot meet or because conducting an interview is essential when writing a profile essay.
  • Choose someone that has had remarkable experiences to provide you with intriguing content.

Research and Interview

So after choosing the subject of discussion, the hard work put in the next step will determine the quality of your writing. The second step when preparing to write a profile essay is conducting research and interviewing the subject. When you do these two things, you are essentially gathering information about your subject all the while building their character. In other words, the research part allows you to collect facts and data relating to the subject, and the interview helps to explain, understand, and explore the subject's opinion, experiences, and behaviour.

With thorough research and successful interview, you are building a well-rounded narrative that explains major experiences, milestones, and accomplishments of a subject. The interview is a crucial stage when writing a profile essay. It may seem like a no-brainer, but many students fail to prepare for the interview with their subjects properly. The following steps can help you conduct the perfect interview:

Step 1 -  Prepare questions

Assuming that you have already done enough research and collected important information on the subject, use this information to prepare interview questions. Come up with questions that are broad and open-ended to give room for your subject to explain themselves. You should prepare at least ten questions to ask your subject. Have a look at these examples:

  • Tell me about where you grew up, what was life like?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • What led you to your career?
  • What is your most profound achievement?
  • What led you to your career?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • What are your expectations for your future?

Step 2 – Schedule the interview

Establish a relationship with your interviewee early so that they are comfortable during the interview; you will churn out a more productive interview. So call your subject, inform them about your task, and also tell them why you chose to do a profile essay on them. If they agree to the interview, lay down a basic groundwork of what topics will be covered,  the amount of time needed, and the time and location of the interview. It is important to interview in a distraction-free zone.

Step 3 – The Interview

Going to the interview, make sure you are well prepared to take notes. If taking notes is a problem,  you can ask for permission to tape the interview to transcribe later. Here is a recap of the six questions that you should get answers for during the interview:

  • Who are they?
  • What is their background?
  • What are their interests?
  • What are their talents?
  • What are their achievements?
  • What challenges have they faced?

After you do the interview, rearrange the answers to your questions from the interview to narrate an interesting personal perspective. This will stand in place of your rough draft.

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The Writing Process

An effective way to start working on a profile essay is through brainstorming and narrowing down ideas. Essentially, you should write down a list of your subject's experiences, talents, achievements, and personality traits, and then proceed to think of one or more stories from your subject's life that showed these aspects. 

Here are examples of profile essay topics that may guide you in brainstorming

  • A moment that changed their life forever.
  • A tough choice they were forced to make.
  • The biggest loss they experienced.
  • A near-death experience they had.
  • Something they are proud to have accomplished.

Just like with other essay types, a profile essay outline has the introduction-body-conclusion style. Also, the essay paper will most likely have between one and five body paragraphs, depending on the length requirement set by your instructor or institution.


The introduction should serve to grab a reader's attention. To do this effectively, we advise implementing something known as a hook statement. You can present this statement in the form of an interesting fact, rhetorical question, or better yet, go straight into the action of the story thereby catching the reader off guard and immediately grabbing their attention. Look at this example of a hook statement from our earlier subject:

"When his teammate passed the ball to Mason, he quickly changed direction and sprinted towards the other goal, where he was immediately cut off by an awful slide tackle that landed right in his hamstring – he had never felt that kind of pain before."


This section brings meaning to your essay. It expands the information given in the introduction in an organized format. In this part, you should focus on analyzing the trials and tribulations which have brought Adversity and challenges into your subject's life. Remember, every person develops their character based on the experiences they have faced and the measures they took in response. You should always narrate these experiences from their life story, as proof of achievement helps verify the traits they presented.

Essentially, come up with the top 3 to 5 claims you wish to make about your subject, and display them in your essay paper.

Note that when writing a profile essay, we recommend that you focus on a specific experience or accomplishment. In other words, narrate an event from your subject's life that has had a significant impact on their growth, and help the reader visualize the character traits they displayed during that event.

As an example of the subject we have just used above, Mason used to play soccer for my high school team, and there was a game in which he was tackled from behind and got injured. The injury was to his harm string, and athletes know it is almost impossible to sprint with a strained hamstring. Nevertheless, he stayed in the game and fortunately managed to score the winning goal in that same game.

As you can see, we are not directly stating the subject's personality traits in this story. Rather, we are illustrating them through the actions Mason took in his life events. This is way more effective and more entertaining to read than merely listing out: Mason is this and Mason is that". If we are to take Mason's soccer experience from high school and translate it into a written profile essay form, it would probably look something like this:

"As an athlete, Mason faced several challenges throughout his young career, but none of them was as impactful from a lesson he learned from one game he played in junior year. The game was 0-0 and the second half had just started. Mason received a pass and attempted to break away with the ball. However, before his sprint came, he felt a leg slide and kick him in the back of his right leg. He immediately felt a sharp pain and fell in agony. The coach rushed into the field and immediately wanted to sub him. But no, he was angry and wouldn't let a cheap tackle take him out of an important game. And so he told the coach he was okay. Amazingly, 20 minutes later, he sprinted on a counter-attack and tapped in the winning goal. That simple lesson taught him a lot about will power and patience."


In your conclusion, focus on explaining your findings of the subject after going through those events. Restate the key points and remind the reader of their importance which can be a reflection of their past with a commitment to becoming a better version of themselves in the future. All in all, give your reader a solid idea of who your subject is and what they are striving to become. 

Reviewing Your Work

Reviewing your work is a very important part when writing a profile essay as it gives you a chance to correct any errors that you have made. Grammatical errors and a lack of flow could hinder you from getting higher grades on your essay. Go through your essay and read it from your audience's point of view. Pay keen attention to all the details and make sure your essay is sensible. After you do this, you are officially done with your profile essay. Congratulations!

Time To Get Writing Your Profile Essay!

A well-crafted profile essay paints a clear picture of a person, place, event, company, or even an object. I hope this article has answered most, if not all, of your questions about writing a profile essay. Without further ado, let us get down to writing that profile essay, shall we?

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