If you don’t fancy yourself a natural writer, writing your about page is as enticing as doing hot yoga immediately after hitting up a grilled-cheese truck. (I’ll take the Granny Smith and Brie on sourdough, please.) But fear not, brand builders—today, I’m serving up a few of my favorite tips to make the daunting task of writing about yourself slightly less daunting and so much more approachable. Read on for seven things you should absolutely know before you ever start clicking away on those keys.
I can’t stress this one enough—your about page isn’t about your personality or experience (say what?); it’s about how that personality and experience make you best poised to benefit your clients (read: alleviate their worries and address their needs in a way no one else can). Filter everything you write through that lens.
A tip I always love to give is this: Rather than thinking of it as your ‘About’ page, think of it as your ‘About why I’m the best person for the job’ page.
Instead of simply writing, “I’m a creative copywriter with nine years of experience and hundreds of websites under my belt.”, I might say, “With nine years of experience, hundreds of websites, and thousands of blog posts under my belt, I deliver conversion-focused copy that works hard on your behalf—so you can stop stressing what to say and get back to building your brand with confidence.” The second example is so much stronger because it segues my experience seamlessly into how I use that experience to address my clients’ pain points (they hate stressing about what to write; they want to focus on building their brand instead of worrying about words).
Before you begin writing your about page, answer the following questions:
What is my ideal client’s number-one pain point?
How am I best suited to alleviate that pain point?
What is my ideal client looking for in a [wedding planner, graphic designer, photographer, etc.]?
Which aspects of my personality and life experiences make me best suited to deliver what my client is looking for?
Scrap the laundry-list of irrelevant experience and fancy degrees—and only include what matters in the eyes of your client. If you’re including your degree solely because you think it’s important your audience know you went to college (and not because the degree has anything to do with your current position or serves as a pivotal part of your journey), you probably don’t need to include it.
Letting your ego steer the ship as you write your about page is human (I like touting my degree as much as the next millennial who’s crippled with student-loan debt)—but just keep circling back to the point of relevance to keep you on track: Is your degree of relevance or interest to your client? Is that job you held five years ago of relevance or interest to your client? Is your obsession with giraffes of relevance or interest to your client? (No hard feelings to giraffes.)
It’s a cliché for a reason, people. When you’re thinking through what experience to include on your about page, recall instances throughout your life that show your dedication, grit, expertise, insight, etc. Anecdotes that show just how amazing you are at your job are always more impactful than even the most compelling sentence that simply tells the reader how amazing you are at your job. A few samples?
Rather than telling people I love persuasive writing, I include an anecdote on my about page about how I used to write notes in elementary school to convince my peers I should get a line pass for four-square (true story) and how I’d write notes to convince my mom I should get out of trouble (also true).
When writing the about page for Dee Berkley Jewelry, she told me a story about how she used to take the spiral bindings out of notebooks, cut them, color them with crayons, and fashion them into rings she sold to her classmates. That—not her degree, not her previous experience in the industry—became the first sentence of her bio.
When writing the about page for Revel San Juan, the founder shared a story about herding cats during a wedding ceremony—she literally had to hunch down and discreetly shoo away stray cats that were approaching the altar without any guests seeing. I included that point on her about page as a “fun fact”. In one single sentence, that anecdote says everything a potential client needs to know about their destination wedding planner: This woman will do anything for you. She will literally herd cats to make sure your celebration is seamless.
Listen—I love a good fun fact as much as the next creative copywriter, but they’re a bit out of hand these days. I can’t tell you how many times I land on an about page that has 15+ fun facts listed, none of which have a single thing to do with how the founder at-hand serves her clients.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have any personal fun facts on your about page. Especially if you’re in a service-based industry, people want to connect with you and feel like your website gives them a solid idea of who you are as a human being. Personal facts are great for establishing that connection—but try including them in an elevated way. Take a look at the about page I wrote for Katharine Phillips Event & Design. If you scroll down to “The List”, you’ll see we opted for a short, minimalistic fun-facts section—which feels really elevated and sophisticated, while still giving her clients an idea of who she is on a personal level.
Something else to keep in mind as you’re writing your about page and thinking through ways you can level-up the basic fun fact is this: Ask yourself if there’s a way you can tie at least one of your personal fun facts back to what it is you do or why you’re great at your job—even if just subtly. What do I mean by that? I’ve got you…
If you’re a wedding photographer, people might not care that you like to hike with your dog…but they do care that hikes with your dog are where you learn about playing with lighting and capturing creatures in motion.
If you love a good New York Times Crossword, do hot yoga, or enjoy CrossFit, those are all challenges. This gives you the perfect opportunity to talk about how you love a good challenge in both your career and your personal life:
I.e. “Whether I’m hand-crafting a gravity-defying floral installation for a client’s wedding or having it out with a New York Times crossword, I never shy away from a great challenge.”
Your about page doesn’t have to—and shouldn’t—be the classic 5-paragraph bio you were taught to write in high-school. Use content blocks to break up your copy and make it easier on the eye.
You can use icon sections or tiling to communicate your company’s core values or beliefs up top, before you dive into your bio later on in the page. You can break your bio up into short sections, each with a clever headline. You can write a short blurb about you as the founder and a short blurb about the business itself (your mission, approach, beliefs, or values). You can even write 3 super short sentences with powerful headings and call it a day. The possibilities are endless. Just make sure the content on your about page is anything but one long, visually daunting paragraph. You want the overall page to have diversity, visual interest, and a digestible structure that keeps your ideal client engaged and wanting to read on.
The number-one thing I hear from people when they hire me to write their about page? “I just don’t want to come across as braggy!” I get it—no one does. But writing from a place of fear makes it nearly impossible to position yourself as an expert or to position your brand as worth investing in. Remember—your about page is a sales page; it needs to sell.
While there’s definitely a line between being confident/expert and coming across as off-putting or self-important, I find most people don’t even come close to crossing it. If you’re worried you sound like you’re bragging, you most likely don’t (read: the type of people who come across as off-putting tend to be the ones who have zero awareness of it, ya dig?).
Your about page is all about instilling confidence in your ideal client that you are the person or brand best poised to serve exactly what they’re looking for. If you don’t sound confident in your own skillset, how can you expect a reader to be?
PRO TIP: Remember what I said in the first tip about connecting everything you write back to the benefit you bring your clients? That is key for avoiding the braggadocios tone you’re worried about. When you talk about your experience as something that helps you serve others, you strike a tone that’s more generous and rooted in connecting with the reader (rather than one that’s self-indulgent and simply concerned with explain how amazing you are).
Your website is a sales funnel—plain and simple. There should be a fairly specific journey you’re trying to get visitors to take, and you need drop breadcrumbs on every page to get them to follow along that journey. Those breadcrumbs are your CTAs. AKA calls to action…AKA those pretty buttons that say things like, “Let’s meet!” “Learn more” “Browse my services” “Meet my dog”. OK—none of them actually say “Meet my dog”, but I would totally be down to click on one that did. I digress…
If a reader gets to the bottom of your about page, and you haven’t asked them to take a clear next step (browse your services, schedule a consultation, check our your portfolio, etc.)—you’ve just cut their journey off at the knees (ouch). No webpage is complete without a CTA—and your about page is no different.