Did you know that your About Page is probably one of the most frequently visited pages on your site?
It’s an especially popular destination for new visitors who are in the early stages of figuring out who you are and what you do. How do you make a good first impression? How do you keep them interested and engaged? Your About Page has an important job to do. Is it living up to the task?
Confession: This post is a little bit of a rant.
I have seen a lot of About Pages and way too many of them not only fail to do their job, but are a detriment to the individual or company they represent. Instead of creating more interest, building trust, and providing a path to deeper engagement, they create confusion, questions, and apathy.
Worst of all, they are dead ends. You don’t want dead ends on your website, do you?
So … how do you know you’re doing it right? It’s not as complicated as you might think. If you can follow these five steps, you’ll be well on your way to crafting an About Page that works.
Step 1: Remember that it’s never about you.
But, Jamie, isn’t that why people read an About Page – to find out about me and my business?
Yes … and, no (emphasis on the “no”).
People read your About Page to find out:
- What you can do for them
- Whether you’re qualified to do it
- Whether they’d enjoy working with you
It’s a subtle but very important difference and it’s all about context.
Common Mistake: About Pages that read like a resume
An About Page that is nothing more than a summary of your career or skills is a wasted opportunity. If someone wants to know about your work history and capabilities, they can visit LinkedIn. Also, most resumes focus on the first person, as in, “I did this and then that and then this other thing.” They don’t answer the visitor’s most pressing question, “What’s in it for me?” In other words, you can shout about your skills and accomplishments until the cows come home, but until you can make visitors understand why it should matter to them, you’ve got nothin’.
Solution: Your story … told in the context of their needs
Yes – your About Page should provide information about who you are and what you do, BUT it needs to do this in the context of the visitor’s needs.
Remember why people read your About Page and write a page that provides them with the answers they need:
What can you do for them? Tell them what you do, but also tell them who you do it for and why you do it. What’s the story behind your business? What got you started? Why do you do what you do – what drives you? Be really specific about who you work with. Use this opportunity to let visitors know that they have come to the right place. You know who they are and you understand what they need. Instead of a generic listing of products and services, share the benefits of what you do – how do you change lives, businesses, beliefs? Tell them a story that illustrates how you’ve helped others with their same need.
Are you qualified to do it? Don’t just give them a generic, unedited list of your credentials. Cherry-pick the experiences and areas of expertise that are most relevant to your audience. Again, focus on the benefits. In most cases, people won’t care what college you went to or who backed the company during a start-up phase – they want to know what you have accomplished for others. Name drop. Include supportive third-party content from mentors, customers, and/or industry pundits.
Would they enjoy working with you? Don’t disregard this question as too fluffy. Experience proves that people buy from people they like. Though logic and reason have their place in the psychology of buying, emotional responses carry at least as much weight. Are you projecting the kind of image that will be appealing to your audience?
Step 2: Include all the important information.
I can’t tell you how often I come across About Pages that are missing key information. There are few things that will frustrate your visitors more than being unable to locate the information they need quickly and easily.
Common Mistake: Assuming visitors know who you are
This mistake is one I see on solopreneur, author, and consultant sites all the time. I notice it because I am a rabid content curator (meaning that I read other peoples’ content and then share it with my audience via Twitter, Facebook, and my blogs). I am a stickler for accurate attribution (indicating who created the content I’m sharing) and frequently click to peoples’ About Pages to get their name and/or Twitter handle.
Unfortunately, many people forget to include this basic information on their About Page!
Simple: if you are a solopreneur, author, or consultant make sure to include your name on your About Page. You can make your name the headline for the page. You can introduce yourself at the top of the page (“My name is _______.”). You can “sign” the page with your name and/or a graphic signature. Just get your name on there somewhere!
In addition to your name, it’s helpful to include links to your profiles on other sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – anywhere you’d like people to connect with you. Though people are usually pretty good about including social links on their home pages and blogs, they often overlook them on the About Page. Don’t miss this opportunity to make it easy for people to connect with you.
Step 3: Make it personal.
We already noted above that people tend to make buying decisions based at least as much on emotion as on logic. The bottom line is this: people are more apt to buy from you if they like you. It’s important that your About Page reflects your personality. People come to your About Page in part to get to know you better. Be yourself. Let them see the real you – not an uber-professional façade.
Use a conversational tone. Introduce some personal details. (Remember, all work and no play makes you dull and boring.) Also – if you are a one-person business – please don’t refer to yourself in the third person. You are trying to make a connection with the reader. Be human.
It’s important to note that even larger businesses can make their About Pages personal. Just because yours is a larger organization doesn’t mean you have to resort to corporate-speak and third-person descriptions of yourself. It’s okay to say “we.” It’s okay to have a sense of humor (and use it). Remember – the people you are selling to are still people, even if they are B2B buyers.
Common Mistake: Crossing the line into TMI-land
Unfortunately, sometimes an effort to be more personal and “authentic” results in a case of “TMI” (too much information). Don’t go there. Wandering too far off on random tangents dilutes your message and increases the chances that your visitor will click away.
While expressing your unique personality and sharing some details about your life outside of work is a good thing, keep it brief and keep it relevant. Go ahead and add a few quirky details, but place them at the end of your page so they don’t distract from your primary messages. Try to tie the personal pieces to your work if you can. As with your professional credentials, pick and choose which things to share based on what will be of interest to your intended audience.
Step 4: Make it visual.
As a writer, I love words. I geek out for the right turn of phrase, the perfect headline, and the engaging story. I know, however, that most people prefer images to text. People just don’t like reading that much. Also, it’s true what they say about one picture being worth a thousand words.
Common Mistake: Using only one image, or – gasp! – none at all
You don’t need to turn your About Page into a photo essay, but it is the perfect place to showcase some images that help tell your story and/or your customers’ stories. A picture-less About Page is a sorry sight to see.
Start with a great picture of you. In general, we respond to images of the human face more than any other type of image. Let people see you – give them a face to put to the name. And, don’t feel like you have to go with the standard profile picture. Have fun with it. For instance, choose a unique setting or use an action shot. Though it’s important to use an image that’s appropriately aligned with your brand, you are allowed to get creative.
Beyond your portrait, there are all kinds of images you can include to help tell your story. Think about what will resonate with your audience. If you sell handmade jewelry, you could share pictures of a work in progress. If you’re an author, you could share pictures of your writing desk or location shots of your book’s setting. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, shots of your store or you interacting with customers might work well. Accent images of your favorite hobbies or quotes can help give the page that personal touch. There are hundreds of ways to bring a little extra life to your About Page with images – give it some thought and then get busy with those pictures.
Step 5: Show ‘em what’s next.
Each time someone visits your About Page represents a chance for you to connect with someone who is interested in you and your business. Don’t leave ‘em hanging.
Common Mistake: Leaving a dead end
If someone has made the effort to visit your site and click past your home page to your About Page, that person is clearly interested in potentially connecting with you or – at the least – exploring what else you have to offer. An About Page that just gives the facts and doesn’t invite the visitor to take any additional actions is a lost lead.
Chances are that the people who visit your site have a problem and are hoping you can help them solve it. Make sure your About Page includes some kind of CTA (call-to-action) that gives them a clear “next step” in solving their problem. For instance, you could:
- Recommend they read your best/most popular blog posts
- Direct them to your hottest new products
- Invite them to download an ebook or other piece of content
- Suggest they sign up for your mailing list
- Ask them to subscribe to your blog
- Encourage them to connect with you on other social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
Remember that whatever CTA you choose, it should be presented in the context of the visitor’s needs. Be helpful. Provide value. Make the offer about them, not you.
You can include multiple CTAs on your About Page, but offering choices can reduce visitor follow-though. Think about which action is most valuable to you, and then focus on that one. I usually recommend going for the email capture since growing your mailing list is one of the most important things you can do to build your business. You can capture email addresses by simply asking someone to sign up for your newsletter or by offering a free download (like an ebook) in exchange for the email address.
If you can follow these five steps – focus on the audience’s needs, include all the relevant information, make it personal, create a better experience via the strategic use of images, and give your visitors a next step – you will have an About Page that pulls its weight and helps you create new connections with your first-time visitors.
How about you? What have you noticed when you visit other peoples’ About Pages? What challenges have you faced when trying to create your own About Page? Do you have any pet peeves related to About Pages?
Love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments! As always, thanks for being here.
Image Credit: Marc Falardeau