There is one homework assignment that I know will send every client into a tailspin: writing their About Page.
An About Page is a necessary part of every professional website. In addition to offering rock-solid products or services, your prospective customers also want to know that they can trust your ability to deliver.
It is also the source of tremendous emotional consternation, since it brings up all of our baggage:
“Am I good enough/smart enough/will people like me?”
“I don’t want to sound like a blowhard!”
“I do not have the same credibility as <insert name of successful and/or famous person who you consider a competitor in your field>.
“This is rambling on forever, who wants to read this crap?”
“Do I have to include cute examples of my personal life? I hate sharing private details in a professional setting!”
Today’s business environment values the humans behind a brand.
Which gets to my biggest pet peeve ever, an About Page that speaks only in third person plural (“We do this … ” “We believe in this …”) without ever telling the story about who “We” are! I want to hear the founder stories and see your pictures, no matter the size of your company.
So how can you convey your trustworthiness in an About Page?
Depending on the type of business you are in, the markets you serve and your personal and business brand, there are countless ways to convey your story using different visual and writing style formats (see below for a sampling, recommended by my community).
Rather than a standard formula or format, I recommend that every About Page answer these three questions:
1. What evidence can you show to prove you can solve my problem?
Have you worked with other people like me and solved a similar problems? In what ways can you quantify that you have done a bunch of this work?
“I have worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs …”
“Since the age of 5, I have been on stage, and have learned every possible pitfall and trick to performing magic…”
“The last 5 companies I worked with double their revenue after implementing my marketing program …”
Think of ways to share clear examples with data points that illustrates your competence at solving problems.
Common fear about this question:
What if I am newer in business and don’t have an enormous body of proof?
If you are starting a business, you have to have confidence that you can deliver on your promises. The more work you do, the more proof you will build. In the interim, use what those in the employee field call “transferrable skills or experience,” such as:
You have done it yourself.
You have done similar things in other industries.
You have an impressive track record of high performance (in education, athletics, or other pursuits) that will lead people to believe you will deliver.
2. Credibility that you have the knowledge, skills and training to deliver your services
Many of us in the entrepreneur world know that professional credentials don’t matter as much as the ability to take action and solve problems creatively. However, professional credibility can make a customer feel more secure about trusting you with their money.
This is the time you want to highlight a powerful selection of academic or professional proof. This can be:
Academic: “Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Stanford. MBA from Cornell.”
Great Brands: “Consulted with Apple, AirBNB and Peet’s Coffee.”
Great Press: “Featured in Inc., Fast Company and The New York Times.” (I have to admit I am proud of my press coverage throughout the years, 95% of it organic and without a PR agent — it helps in big brand work).
Common fear about this question:
What if my academic or professional background is not inherently impressive?
I get it! I went to a tiny liberal arts college called World College West that doesn’t even exist anymore. I have no advanced degree or MBA. My original business plan was based on a Dr. Suess book If I Ran the Circus.
Given that, I have worked hard to find points of credibility with unique experiences, good brands and exceptional partners.
Remember, if you are sweating because your clients demand that you have an advanced degree from an Ivy League school (and you don’t have one), you have the wrong client profile.
Highlight any socially impressive part of your background that demonstrates you have credibility.
3. Indication that you would be fun and easy to work with
Who wants to work with someone who has a harsh personality or no sense of humor?
I guess some people want the business equivalent of a Dance Moms style of leadership, but that is a rarity.
You can have a serious business that delivers tangible results while still being accessible.
Find ways, through voice, tone, images and style, that communicate your true personality and make people excited to work with you.
Common fear about this question:
What if I am uncomfortable sharing personal details?
You don’t have to divulge a lot of private information about your fears or family life. But you do want to give people an insight into what makes you unique and approachable. Do you love great coffee or Star Wars? (We are meant to be friends!) Let people know.
Here are some of my community’s favorite About Pages:
Brian Shea recommends Jules Taggert: http://julestaggart.com/about/
Tamsen Webster Snyder was impressed by Erika Napolitano’s, which she used as creative inspiration for her own.
Shenee Howard has a fun, clear and engaging example: https://www.heyshenee.com/about/
Sonia Quiñones recommended Marian Shembari’s http://www.ohhaicopy.com/about-us/ (who in not so coincidental coincidence, helps people write About Pages)
Berrak Sarikaya just redid hers, and I think it is great: http://www.berrak.biz/
Lisa Tammen Smith shows the power of a personal story: http://thepeacefulparent.com/meet-lisa/
Kwavi Agbeygebe has fun with video in her About page http://www.kwavi.com/atlanta-weight-loss-coach/
Mindy Holohan Peter’s team did a great job on Pat Flynn’s About Page, which she said “We worked really hard to convey the ethics behind the site, and to show that the site is just as much about the audience’s story as it is about his.” https://www.smartpassiveincome.com/about/
Michael Margolis has done a deep dive into the story of About Pages, which he teaches about at Get Storied and demonstrates in his own.
Jodi Ettenberg brings a wonderful origin story to her travel writing business, as well as pictures of her signature love for soup: http://www.legalnomads.com/about/
Jonathan Fields considers Joe Coleman’s one of the greatest of all time (be sure to move the slider on the page so you can see how the copy changes) http://getcoleman.com/
Have fun with it!
Your About Page will develop and change over time. You do not have to start like some of the elaborate examples above. Keep it simple, be sure to answer these 3 questions, and your Right People will find themselves eager to work with you.
Leesa Renee Hall says
I’m a writer so I couldn’t help writing a lengthy About page. And people are actually reading it.
I absolutely LOVE Erika’s About graphic. It totally captures her personality.