6 Best Examples of Profile Stories Plus Top Tips for Creating Engaging Human Interest Features

Discover our guide with tips and examples of profile stories to help you capture and keep your reader’s attention.

Personal profiles are a unique approach to news writing. Unlike hard news stories, they aim to humanize events and individuals by profiling them in a narrative rather than journalistic style. These features are also a popular way for businesses to connect more intimately with their customers.

A profile story on a restaurant’s chef, for example, can bring in customers who are excited by the menu and feel invested in an individual’s success.

What’s a Profile Story?

What's a profile story?
A good personal profile story makes its subject seem real and relatable

A personal profile feature story is a written portrait of an individual whose real-life experiences are compelling in some way. Perhaps they are connected to current events, have achieved something extraordinary, or have overcome incredible odds. Through direct quotes, telling anecdotes, and compelling storytelling, writers, create profile feature articles that shed new light on high-profile figures, events, or places.

What Makes a Good Profile Story?

A good personal profile story makes its subject seem real and relatable. It allows the reader to walk around in someone else’s shoes for a while and to see life from a new perspective. A well-written profile draws the reader in with an attention-grabbing hook and holds their interest by using vibrant and unexpected details. A well-written profile story is a compelling newspaper column idea because it can offer a new take on a dry subject.

6 Examples of Successful Profile Stories

Examples of well-written profile stories offer key insight into what makes these human interest stories so captivating. These five articles each demonstrate the qualities of engaging and memorable storytelling.

1. One of Texas’s Greatest Artists Lives Quietly in East Texas, by John Baxter

This article about the little-known artist and professor Lee Baxter Davis works because it tells an unexpected story. Though Davis is a master of his craft and boasts an impressive list of now-famous former students, he has chosen to live and work in a way that is decidedly beyond the boundaries of the art world.

2. She’s Inheriting Millions. She Wants Her Wealth Taxed Away, by Emma Bubola

This piece tackles weighty issues like taxation and economic policy through the eyes of a young heiress who believes that her inheritance should be taxed to create a more just society. By giving it a personal perspective, the author can grab readers’ attention who might not ordinarily be interested in economics.

3. How a Blind Surfer Got Over His Fear of Surfing (and You Can Too), by Jackie Snow

Pete Gustin’s popular TikTok account gives his more than 680,000 followers an intimate look at everyday life as a blind person. Though he is well known, this article is successful because it relates new and exciting information about his background and his works as a professional voice actor.

4. Brad Pitt Opens Up About His Dream World, by Ottessa Moshfegh

You can’t get much more famous than Brad Pitt. Countless words have been written about this Hollywood darling, yet this personal profile story is fresh and engaging because it portrays an icon as a relatable human being. Readers learn that Pitt’s refrigerator is rather empty, that he keeps a dream journal, and that he taught himself to play guitar during the pandemic. These small details make even a well-covered subject new and exciting.

5. The Eternal Sunshine of Harry Styles, by Rob Sheffield

The rich, vivid detail stands out about this profile of singer Harry Styles. From his pink and mint green fingernail polish to his blue bell bottoms and tuna sandwich, the reader can imagine being right there, spending an afternoon one-on-one with a pop sensation. This article is an excellent example of how details can make all the difference.

6. Jaques Pepin, in Search of Lost Cars and Cuisine, by Jaimie Lincoln Kitman

At 87 years old, renowned French chef Jaques Pepin is a fount of knowledge regarding cooking and ingredients. This profile story, however, centers on his love for French automobiles and how that affinity mirrors his thoughts on food. By framing the article through an unexpected lens, Kitman’s readers gain a new look at an already well-covered subject. 

FAQs On Examples of Profile Stories

What are some ways to write a profile story?

1. Research and plan ahead. A good storyteller digs into their subject’s background. Read other articles on your subject, study their social media, and document the questions that arise as you research. This will help you create questions that will get your subject talking.
2. Talk to others. One helpful way of gathering background information is to talk to your subject’s neighbors, family, friends, and coworkers. Asking people to relate stories and impressions of your subject will shed new light on the person behind the persona.
3. Conduct an interview. Use open-ended questions and allow your subject to do most of the talking. Create a friendly rapport and relaxing environment to encourage your subject to feel safe and open. If possible, observe your subject in their environment. Take photos and record your conversation to make recall easier when it’s time to write.
4. Look for a new angle and create a strong lede. A good profile story reveals a new aspect of the subject, so search for that special something your readers can’t find anywhere else. The most compelling ones always begin with a strong lede – a hook that draws the reader in and makes them want to know more.
5. Paint a picture for your readers. Use a narrative, conversational style and include lots of sensory details to put your reader in the moment with your subject.

Where Are Profile Stories Published?

Companies often hire ghostwriters to show the human side of their businesses through personal profiles of staff and leadership. What is a ghostwriter? Simply put, a freelance writer is paid to take someone else’s idea and turn it into a story. These ghostwritten profiles┬ámay appear on the company’s website or social media.

Journalistic profile stories are published in magazines, newspapers, and online. The New York Times is well known for its Saturday profile. Vogue, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and the Los Angeles Times also publish highly regarded personal profiles.

When editing for grammar, we also recommend taking the time to improve the readability score of a piece of writing before publishing or submitting

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