About pages are the worst (or so they tell me). While I honestly enjoy writing About pages, I hear so many horror stories of pages languishing in Google docs for 18 months at a time, and I see bad copy/paste jobs from LinkedIn profiles.
And I kind of get it. I mean, after all, what are you supposed to say? Why would anyone care? And most importantly, how do you hit that magical balance between making yourself look awesome and making yourself look like an arrogant asshole?
The answer is incredibly simple: it all comes down to your relationship with your readers.
The main point of an about page is to give your target audience the information they need to say yes to working with you. And that means that yes, it does need to have some information about you in it. But it’s not really about you. Instead, it’s about them, and who you are in your potential relationship with them.
Because here’s the thing: while you are a multi-layered, absolutely fascinating gem of a person, not all of those layers are relevant to the people you’re working with. And as one of my favorite quotes says, “If there’s something that’s not adding value then it has to come off the table because if you’re not adding value, you’re taking up space.”
In the context of your about page, taking up space is what keeps people from being able to care about you and work with you. It’s the fluff, the filler, the signal that you don’t know what you’re doing well enough to be able to speak about it in a truly concise, targeted way.
Scary stuff, I know.
But the good thing is that since you now know what an about page is really about, you can use a simple set of questions to determine whether or not to include something on your about page.
Use a simple set of questions to determine whether or not to include something on your about page!
1) Is it true?
It should go without saying, but you shouldn’t lie, misrepresent yourself, or stretch the truth in general on your about page. Not only does this set you up on one hell of a shaky foundation with your readers, but it’s also just not necessary.
Some people do though, and it’s sometimes well intentioned. They get the idea that your about page is supposed to be about you in the context of your relationship to your people, and they take that to mean that they should create a persona that reflects their people’s desires.
There are a couple of problems with this: first, you almost certainly can’t anticipate your people’s desires well enough to create anything more convincing than a paper doll version of what you think they want. Second, doing it this way puts you in a reactive position rather than a leadership position. When your target market shifts, you feel like you have to shift with it, rather than leading that shift yourself.
So when you’re thinking about how you represent yourself on your about page as dictated by the context of your relationship with your readers, filter — don’t edit.
2) Is is relevant to my people RIGHT NOW?
The next thing to think about is whether the information you’re considering including is relevant to your people where they are right now. The info that’s going to matter to your target market is going to be different depending on where they are in their businesses, life experiences, or customer journeys, so you need to target your content accordingly. You may already have a decent sense of this, but if you don’t, try to figure out what your people are doing right before they start working with you, and more importantly, why. This will give you insight into what’s going to be most relevant to them when they’re considering working with you.
3) Will it help them get ready to work with me or not?
Finally, ask yourself whether the information you’re considering including is going to help your people be ready to work with you or not. Everything you include should ultimately aim towards the end goal of conversion, from what you share about yourself and your credentials to how you talk about your potential clients’ experiences. This doesn’t mean that it necessarily has to be cut and dried, but it does mean that it needs to be on-brand and useful.
How to Write an About Page that Makes You Look Awesome (But Not Arrogant)
Now that you know how to determine what you’re going to include in terms of content, let’s talk tone. There are two main things you’re going to want to do with your about page, but absolutely shouldn’t:
1) Don’t try to make it professional by making it boring
While you might be going for a professional look by making your about page “just the facts” or worse, like a corporate resume, all you’re going to end up doing is turning people off.
Professionalism translates differently in the small-biz space than in other spheres, and it’s very much about showing rather than telling. If you want to come across as a professional, then make sure your words match your branding and design.
Even better, use them to send a tacit message. Instead of telling people that you’re a VA who loves to make life easier for her clients, create an about page that makes the decision of whether to hire you as easy as possible for a busy client to digest and execute on. If you’re an incredibly creative coach with a knack for solving the unsolvable, then show off your expertise by giving your people a creative, interesting way to decide whether to hire you or not.
Professional does NOT equal boring on your About page! Check out ways to be fun AND professional.
2) Don’t try to make it personal by making it cutesy or random
This approach is the other end of the spectrum. Often, people who don’t want to come across as stuffy go too far the other way and include random things that are meant to be cute or to show off your personality, but having personality and being personal are not the same thing.
It’s great to show off your personality in your about page (it humanizes you to your target market), but the way you do this still has to be in the context of your relationship with them. The hard truth is that no one cares about your guinea pig unless you happen to be a guinea pig breeder. Your deep love of crosswords doesn’t matter unless you’re a crossword maker.
For the love of dogs, PLEASE don’t make your About page cutesy! Personal doesn’t mean cutesy.
That being said, this works the other way too. If you’re a parenting coach, I better see your kids as part of your about page! If you’re a private chef, then your favorite food is fair game. But if you’re an accountant, you could love oatmeal raisin cookies until the cows come home, and it still doesn’t matter — you see how it works.
Ultimately, it’s about a shift in focus.
When you stop thinking about your about page as being the place where you have to show off how cool you are and instead think about it as the place where you give your people the information they need to work with you, the whole process becomes much easier.
So the next time you’re brushing up your about page and you’re not quite sure whether to include that accomplishment, qualification or personal fact, remember to ask yourself:
- Is it true?
- Is it relevant now?
- Is it helpful?
With those questions as your guide and a good understanding of what creates a professional and a personal tone, you’ll have that page knocked out in no time.
What was your biggest takeaway or a-ha moment? Tell us in the comments how you’re going to make your About page more awesome and link us to it so we can check it out!
About the Author:
Rachel Allen is the founder of Bolt from the Blue Copywriting, where she helps small and brave business owners like you shake up the world one industry at a time with devastatingly incisive copy and content that gets right to the heart of who you are and makes your readers’ synapses sparkle.