This is an installment of The Voice Bureau’s blog post series on Writing Your Smart, Empathetic Website. This series is written with active and aspiring brand creators in mind — those of you who know that your website should be your business’s hardest working “salesperson” — and want to make that more of a reality. Click here to visit the intro to this series, and to find links to all the other installments.
I’ve been writing business websites for over 5 years now — not a lifetime, but I’m no newbie, either — & I can tell you without hesitation which site page is the most angst-inducing for clients.
It’s the About page. (In case you’re curious, the second most angst-inducing site page for clients is the sales page. But that’s a future blog post.)
As you sit down to start writing (or rewriting) your About page, this all-important letter to potential clients and customers about who you are and why you do what you do, chances are your feelings run the gamut from mildly flummoxed to rather mortified. For most of us, it can be a bit weird to write a page that will be cached on the web forevermore that’s supposed to be totally (but not totally) personal AND expressive of what makes you wildly hireable or buyable.
How do you distill a professional life’s worth of meaning, achievements, and perspectives into roughly 500 words of compelling clarity and connection?
Each copywriter you could hire will bring a different approach. Each business coach you could work with will tell you that different things are important to highlight.
For the DIY’ers, those of us writing our own website copy, we muddle through, filtering best practices through our own lens on what is important. And we hope our Right People site visitors will agree with us about what’s important!
The variety of viewpoints out there on what makes an effective About page are . . . numerous. This is why we see About pages that read like slightly amputated versions of War and Peace, and About pages that top out at 200 words and actually tell the reader nothing about the brand’s story or the creator behind it.
As you go to write your About page, any one or more of these questions may be tumbling through your mind:
- What’s supposed to go on an About page, anyway?
- What do my Right People — my target buyers or clients — really want to hear about me?
- I’m supposed to have a story. WHAT’S MY STORY?!?
- How long is too long? How short is too short?
- How do I not sound narcissistic when I’m waxing on about myself?
- What should get more emphasis — my professional accomplishments or my personal journey? Is there a golden proportion of personal to professional?
- Do I really need to talk about my hobbies, my kids, my pets? Will my industry not take me seriously if I mention that I take the Polar Bear Plunge every Winter?
The bottom line is this: you, sensitive, thinking business owner, want to write an authentic About page.
You know that depending on who you are and the work you do, this could look and feel quite different from one page to the next. One size does NOT fit all — though there is a flexible structure you can learn, a philosophy you can embody as you write, and a narrative flow you can tap into.
As you may know if you’ve followed me and The Voice Bureau for a while is that we offer copywriting services to solo and small business owners. But paying a premium for a deluxe copywriting experience is not the right choice for all business owners in our readership — yet MOST of our readership needs web copy.
I want to empower you to write your own site copy when that’s what you want to do, specifically the all-important About page.
That’s why I’ve created Write Your Authentic About Page, a NEW 4-week online course for solo and small business owners. You can learn more about it here.
Even if you don’t take the course, which starts and finishes in February, here’s an acronym for you to consider that could blow open your own approach to writing your authentic About page.
ABOUT PAGE PHILOSOPHY, IN A 5-LETTER ACRONYM
A is for ALIGNED
Your About page should be an apt reflection of who you are, how you show up, and why your work is meaningful to you and your Right People. You don’t need to put on airs or strive to be the next version of yourself, but a true reflection of how you deliver today. Note: Your About page is not the place for false modesty, but neither is it the place to paint yourself as the second coming of Beyonce 3.0.
B is for BALANCED
A well-balanced About page focuses on your business’s point of view, your personality as creator or leader, and your Right People’s interests, and finds a healthy ratio between the three. The three stories are very much related, you see, and your job as writer is to find the best entry point to tell that story.
O is for ORGANIZED
Like any well-constructed piece of writing, a good About page has a dynamic sense of narrative flow. First comes this, then comes that. You take readers on a journey that makes intellectual and emotional sense — whether they’re your Right People or not. And the Right people? They’ll opt-in for even more.
U is for UNIVERSAL
Your About page gives you an opportunity to tap into undeniable truths about human nature that your Right People will connect with. Yes, we’re all special snowflakes, but we’re all shockingly alike, too. Your About page should tell the story of how you’re both alike and different from others — so that people can feel the particularity of your universality. (We all love and recognize a good paradox.)
T is for TALK-WORTHY
The best About pages are memorable, engaging the reader’s attention with specific, concrete details that make them marvel at how you see the world a lot like they do, but a way they might never have thought to say it. Simply. True. (See Universal, above.)
I’d like to declare this the Year of the Authentic About Page. If you’d like some support in getting yours started and finished, please check out the new course.
In the comments, I’d love to hear:
What makes an About page land with you as authentic, versus not particularly authentic? Let’s talk about it in the comments.