The about page is an essential part of every small business and personal brand – after all, your clients want to know who you are before they do business with you!
Simple, right? Well, maybe. But it doesn’t always feel that way.
Somehow when we switch between just being ourselves and writing about ourselves, what ends up on paper is someone we may not recognize.
We’ve all seen the “college yearbook” version of an about page:
“Steve’s a go-getter. He was top of his class, secretary of the golf club, and his hobbies include parasailing and spelunking.”
Then there’s the corporate, super-dry version:
“Steve is committed to analyzing KPI to leverage the potential of the under-utilized team, allowing them to achieve maximum ROI and produce consistently robust quarterlies.”
And then there’s the about page that may be oversharing, just a tiny bit:
“Steve loves spending time with his partner and children, Linda, Lulu, and Ralph. Their six box turtles Fred, Seymour, Ralph, Red, Snappy, and Hoppy have been with the family for years, except for the time that Hoppy ate a LEGO and spent a week at the vet.”
None of these approaches are wrong, necessarily! There’s no rule that says your about page has to be a certain style.
A great about page, however, should reflect who you are and speak to the clients you want.
Here’s how to do it:
Place your story in context
Put yourself in the shoes of visitors to your site. What do they want to know about you?
Let’s take a look at three very different approaches.
Solo entrepreneur? Your personal story is often the story of your brand.
If you’re an entrepreneur who serves others, your personal story will tell potential clients what you’re like, give a sense of your background, and show how you do your work.
The Freedom Hackers about page fires up its audience with empowering language, but it ALSO gives a little insight into who exactly is the mastermind behind the brand:
As you can see, she cuts right to the chase – but still puts herself and her business in context!
This short little section offers up a perfectly-portioned serving of proof that this is someone who has experience in her field and knows what she’s talking about. You don’t need her entire life story – just the parts that are most relevant to the site you’re on!
(Not to mention that the language and design set a very distinct tone. Even without a ton of reading material, you have a pretty clear sense of her personality!)
Let’s look at another way you can structure an about page.
Are you a small business? Your about page can showcase how you do your work.
For a small business that focuses even more strictly on achievements, let’s take a look at Small Girls PR.
As a PR firm, their responsibility is to get their message out clearly, concisely, and with enough flair and personality to wake up overworked editors who’ve seen it all.
Their about section leads with trophy images emblazoned with the media outlets they’ve been featured in. (Hmmm…a PR firm that has great publicity proves they do a great job, no?)
On the left side of the page, they explain “Who we are” with this lead-in:
Bianca Caampued (5’0”) and Mallory Blair (5’3”) are small girls. Together, they steer a team of many talented taller people to power Small Girls PR.
With a few simple words and a unique mental image that literally defines their brand name, they’ve got your attention!
Instead of wasting any more words describing themselves, they let other people do it for them with quotes from major publications. Because, again, that’s what great publicists do for their clients!
On the right side of the page they offer a narrative that explains how they do their work, illustrated by examples. The prose itself is smart, short, and fits right into the social space they thrive in.
By saying that they “curate the right reporter to work with the story at hand,” they reframe the idea of a traditional publicist pitching stories en masse and make it about deliberate, carefully-considered choice. Who wouldn’t want that kind of power for their brand?
Let’s check out one more example of a stellar about page!
Want to stick to a traditionally-professional, third-person tone?
That’s a valid choice, too – and you don’t have to be a corporate business to do it!
Let’s take a look at Meow Parlour, NYC’s first cat cafe.
Answering the question of what your audience wants to know about you is fairly simple – they want to know what a cat cafe is, if they don’t already, and then they want to know about the cats.
And Meow Parlour has got this down.
Concept is the first link in their site navigation, and it gives a simple definition of what a cat cafe is all about.
And what about the cats? Well, Cats is the second link in the top navigation – give it a click, and…
Cat photos abound! (And if you click on each picture, you’ll get a tiny cat bio, too!)
So what about the people who founded Meow Parlour? What if you’re a journalist writing a story, or just curious at who made this amazing dream come true?
Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page, and you’ll see a traditional about page that offers up professional bios of the two co-founders.
These bios follow a fairly straightforward, third-person model that covers training, schooling, some personal details – and yes, more cats.
Now that you’ve seen some about pages, what do you need to make sure yours doesn’t leave anything out?
There are three things that’ll help you along the way…
Gather the ingredients
When you’re putting together the raw ingredients of your about page, you’ll want to have a few things at hand.
A resume, a good friend, and your business plan and/or brand guidelines are all excellent tools.
The resume is for the details you can’t remember about job titles and certifications. (Because there are always a lot of details.)
The good friend can provide a short description of how they see you if you’re shy about assigning yourself superlatives – or even remind you of anecdotes about how you’ve helped people with your work. (Past clients are great for this, too!)
Your business plan/brand guidelines are good ways to remind yourself of your goals, why and how you do your work, and any suggestions of tone or voice to stay on brand.
Always ask why
When you begin to choose the ingredients you’ll use for your about page, always remember to ask why you’re adding them.
Are you talking about that job you had for two years in college because it’s relevant to your work now? What makes it relevant?
When adding personal anecdotes, are you doing it to build trust, or to provide proof by demonstrating that what worked for you can work for someone else, too?
If you find yourself writing about your cats in great detail, are you doing it because you run a cat cafe?
If you want to share a philosophical epiphany you had, is it relevant to the way you do your work now and how that stands out from your peers? (If so, absolutely share it as a part of the know, like, and trust factor.)
As the drastically different examples above show, there’s no single style of about page that works for everyone.
If it reflects who you are and speaks to the clients you want, though, you’re well on your way!
Do you have a favorite about page?
What do you think makes it so effective?
Let us know in the comments below!
(Oh, and in case you’re wondering – you can check out ours right here!)