No matter how much you love talking about yourself (whether it be a whole lot or not at all), I’d wager a fair sum that when it comes to writing about yourself, the page stays blank for far longer than you’d prefer.
But writing about yourself, especially for your website’s "About Us" page, is a pretty important thing, and it only gets trickier the more your business grows. That’s because as you’re adding people to your team, the business’s brand becomes less about you and more about the values you’ve instilled within it.
That said, it is still about you—you as a brand, and you as the head of said brand. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get into the nitty gritty of writing a killer About page.
Why you need an About page
Even though the internet seems anonymous, people do still care about the man or woman behind the curtain, and the About page provides that context as to who you are and where you come from. This is the perfect opportunity for you to turn your website from beautiful but faceless element to a humanized online entity.
Remember, every page on your site is a lead generating opportunity, so the About page is the prime place to put sign up forms to get people to subscribe to emails or newsletters or what have you.
It’s not about you
And it’s not about your company. Your About page is actually about the people who have clicked on your About page, and the content you have on that page needs to speak to how you can help them. Your About page should not look like your LinkedIn profile or be a recounting of your company’s timeline. It should be about you only in the context of how you serve your readers.
So it needs to be about your values, your mission, your "why," and how all those things will help the lucky souls who clicked your page.
The Nerdery does a great job with their About page. It explains the company and its culture, but it also breaks down its staff by their expertise and addresses the problems they solve.
Know who’s reading
Of course, keeping your About page about your readers is only effective if you know who your readers are—or at the very least, who you want them to be. Probably, it’s your customers and your prospects, so keep in mind why they’re visiting your site in the first place: they’re making (or have just made) a purchase decision. That’s why it’s important to keep the about you actually about them.
Give it a voice
Presumably you haven’t struck a bargain with Ursula the Sea Witch, so you need to make sure your About page has plenty of voice. If it’s a page about you personally, your About should be in your voice. But your voice should also complement the brand’s voice.
If you’re writing an About page that’s more about the company, that page definitely must be in your brand’s voice.
Erika Napoletano’s About page is a great example especially if you are your brand. She talks about herself in the context of the people she helps, and lists her accomplishments in a way that’s straightforward without verging into total brag territory. And it’s all sounds very much like her.
Hit the key points
Yes, you can tell people how long you’ve been around or that you were named World’s Sexiest Entrepreneur by People. But those aren’t the things that really matter. Instead, here are the vital points you need in any effective About page:
- What you do
- Who you help
- Why you help them
- How you help them
- Why you are uniquely qualified to help them
- What you believe in
Keep it short
When’s the last time you read 1,000 words about someone you might buy from? Unless you have a lot of extra time and/or an attention span longer than—squirrel!—no one will read the tome detailing the life of your business.
And leaving all that extra info “just in case” probably won’t be beneficial. There are plenty of people who will bounce from the page because they aren’t keen on settling in for Anna Karenina.
Take a look at Tesla’s About page. As interesting and awesome as Tesla is as a product and a brand, their About page is a tad … lackluster. It’s written like a textbook and it’s very technical – not something that’s going to draw in your average person who’s not a car nut.
Perhaps they should get The Oatmeal to craft a compelling About page.
Tell a story
Just because you keep it short doesn’t mean you can’t tell a story—because you absolutely should. Just make sure that story is of the appropriate length and pacing.
Think about when you’re with a group of people and someone has a great story about that one time they got a blood transfusion that turned out to be corn syrup. How long is that story—30 seconds? Maybe, if there’s a lot of great detail, funny asides and impersonations, it’s an entire minute of them talking.
There’s an ideal length in writing, too. And when it comes to your About page, if you’re retelling an actual narrative, it shouldn’t be more than three or four sentences. If you’re weaving the story throughout the page (which we thoroughly recommend – check out Copyblogger’s), you’ve got about 400 words of wiggle room.
Remember, the About page is your chance not only to showcase who you are and why you’re the best choice for your customers and prospects, but its an excellent page to optimize to generate more of those prospects.