Your about page might be the most important (and most visited) page on your website, but that doesn’t mean that writing one feels easy. The good news? It totally can.
Allow me to explain.
I might be a copywriter by trade, but the HARDEST person for me to whip up words about used to be (you guessed it) ME — hands down. There was something about smushing sentences together and hoping they'd somehow encapsulate my entire identity since, well, since BIRTH that felt . . . a bit like pulling teeth, truth be told.
And when you consider the fact that I would've chosen to write an about page for ANYONE else before myself (including but not limited to Sarah Palin, Justin Bieber, and the entire cast of Vanderpump Rules), you can tell I was mired in some sticky mindset gunk over here that was keeping me from just getting on with it already.
I'd get tangled in perfectionism. Obsess over what people might think. Fret that I was sending out the wrong message.
"But what if people don't LIKE me?"
"What if I overshare?"
"What if . . . oh my gosh, what if . . . people think I'm BRAGGING?"
Struggling with the same?
Beyond ::ahem:: hiring a copywriter (being seen -- really seen -- by someone else can be an incredibly powerful experience), here are some things I do to make writing about myself and my business as painless as possible.
Getting Out of Your Head
Writing anything, let alone an about page, can be fraught with self-defeating stories like, “I can’t” or “I don’t know HOW” or “This doesn’t sound as good as X’s.”
To bypass this way of thinking, I do a couple of things:
#1 - I clear my head, first thing. I take the dog for a walk, sit on a bench, and count the sailboats in the cove. Or I take 10 minutes on my couch to shut off the chatter, notice my breathing, and just allow myself to be. Without interruption. And without the exhausting monologue of my ever-whirring brain.
#2 - I write, right after. And I don’t allow myself to edit. This one thing alone changed everything for me. When I write free style — without worrying about spelling or grammar or meaning — I find I’m itching to dig in and edit what I’ve written later.
Identifying Your Message
After interviewing client after client, I noticed there was a “EUREKA!” moment whenever a client answered my question, “What do you want people to KNOW?” That was the thread that pulled everything together — even if a client sold radically different products or services.
Often, when I’m writing copy for people, I’ll use the answer to this question as the headline or the “hook” that pulls people in and compels them to keep reading. It's a great way to grab the attention of those people you most want to serve from the outset.
Understanding Your Why
During those same interviews, I realized something: What set each client apart wasn’t so much WHAT they did or HOW they did it, it was WHY they did it. I’m not talking about selfish reasons, like getting paid or driving a fancy car, I’m talking about why they felt called to impact the lives of others in a positive way.
On some level, I understood why I felt compelled to write copy for a living, but I hadn’t taken the time to articulate that. When I sat down with pen and paper in hand and wrote down my answer, it gave me a level of clarity I didn't have before.
Starting an about page with your why is a powerful way to quickly position yourself as a credible brand and give people a reason to trust you. You might frame it as, "My mission is . . ." or "My goal is to . . ." or "We do this work because . . ." or "We believe that . . ."
For more on the importance of Why, check out Simon Sinek’s TED talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”
Establishing What Sets You Apart
For a long time, I struggled with this — I couldn’t put my fingers on exactly why people should hire ME to write their copy instead of somebody else. And so I used Woofoo's Online Form Builder to create a survey which I emailed to over 20 people (clients, friends, peers) asking them how they would describe me . . . in just three words.
The results left me glowing for weeks!
You could use Woofoo or a free service like SurveyMonkey to create a similar questionnaire for your inner circle. Find common threads in the responses and introduce yourself to your readers using the keywords that resonated most with you. You can also add your job title at this point, or if you're a small business, what you do. (Be specific.)
Telling Your Story
Crafting my story after I’d written for clients who’d been abused, separated from their families, and even JAILED felt impossible. I didn’t feel like I had anything interesting to say — neither did I want my about page to sound like an egotistical mashup of all my accomplishments. I wanted people to see the REAL me. And so I asked myself, “What have you survived?”
I realized that, not only did I leave everything and everyone I’d ever known to move across the Atlantic from the UK almost seven years ago, but I’d overcome fear time and time again. Full-contact Muay Thai fight? Check. Leaving my comfy full-time gig to turn freelance copywriter? Check.
When you start your story at a difficult point in your life, you get to show people how you overcame that — and how you launched your business anyway, against the odds. Here's a great example of this.
Sharing the good alongside the not-so-good builds trust, shows character and helps people feel like they already know you — before they’ve even sent you an email or picked up the phone.
If you're not a personal brand, you might consider talking about everything that wasn't right in your industry when you first started out, why that bothered you, and what you did about it.
Deciding What You Want People to Do Next
Our job as business owners is to decide what action we’d like people to take — “What now? OK, and what next?” Maybe you want them to shop online. Maybe you want them to read more about your services. Maybe you want them to connect with you on social media, or shoot you a quick email and set-up a time to chat.
I wanted my website to feel like a seamless experience, where each page took people one step closer to becoming a paying client, and so that helped guide me.
Remember: Nothing you write is permanent -- you can change it anytime you like.
So, relax, play, experiment.
Write the best about page you can today, and make a date to revisit what you’ve written in a few months.
Also, feel free to share your existing about page in the comments. I'd love to take a peek!
Fed up of online marketing that lacks soul, artistry, and compassion? Nikki Groom is, too. As founder and Chief Copywriter at The F Factor (“F” stands for “Female”) Nikki writes websites for women business owners who long to connect with their customers in a way that's real and compelling and ultimately memorable. Find her at nikkigroom.com