Open Google, type any search term, and then click on a few of the results. How many of them have an About Me / About Us page? I just tried it, and the top nineteen results did. So, why are About pages so important?
Why do you need an About page?
Every website needs an About page. Without a face-to-face meeting, it may be the only way for prospective clients to learn about the human being(s) behind the site, to get a feel for the way you work, your expertise, and whether they are going to enjoy working with you.
It is also a chance for you to reach out personally and draw their attention to particular points you want them to know – your best work, your most impressive qualification, and so on.
Who reads About pages?
A basic rule of good communication is that you must know your audience. The style and tone of the page will depend upon the type of clients you want, but all About pages have two types of reader: new ones and regular ones.
1. New visitors like the parts of the site they’ve seen so far and want to know more about the person behind it. The About page is your chance to turn a casual browser into a regular visitor or client.
2. Regular visitors already feel they know you and want to know more. In these cases, the About page is a way to deepen the relationship that already exists and confirm their great decision in revisiting your site.
Why do people read About pages?
Once you have worked out who will be reading the page, you need to work out why they are reading it. Both types of reader read the About page to make sure they are on the right website for what they want.
They want to find out about you:
- Who are you?
- Where are you?
They want to find out what you do:
- What do you do?
- When and how do you do it?
They want to find how well you do it:
- Why do you do it?
- What expertise do you have?
- What do people say about you?
In addition, they want to know whether it is worth returning to the site to read updates, how they can subscribe to mailing lists or RSS feeds, where else they can find you on the web, and for goodness’ sake, don’t forget to tell them how to contact you!
How should an About page be written?
Once you have covered the points I mentioned above, look at how to design the page. Information should appear in a certain order, and you need to find the right voice to appeal to your readers.
1. Lead with the most important information.
A classic metaphor when learning to write is the inverted pyramid. This gives the most important information first, and drills down to more detailed and less relevant information as the reader progresses. The reader can leave at any point whilst still understanding the main message.
So, your husband, your hobbies, or your twenty-nine cats need to be a long way down the page. They may be the clincher for someone who has read all the way, but no one is going to hire you based on a first sentence that reads:
“I live in Smalltown with my husband, Paul (43), and our cats Flumpy, Wumpy, Bumpy, Clumpy . . .”
2. Draw attention to what you want them to notice
Link to your blog, your testimonials, your other web profiles. The About page may be the first place visitors click after the landing page, so it is a great opportunity for you to point them in the directions you want them to take. Complete the circle by making your landing page link to About as well.
3. Use your real voice
While the rest of your site is your shop, the About page and any blog is the shopkeeper – a chance to show the real you. Depending upon your clients, you may want to use the first person “I write great copy at great prices” or the third person “Joanna is a talented copywriter.” You may want to come across as fun, sensible, creative, energetic, quirky, sedate . . . above all, you want to come across as professional, likeable, and honest.
As a web writer, my whole site needs to showcase my writing abilities, but the About page can give that personal touch; where you get to hear my voice, see what I look like, find out what I do.
Remember, all the fine qualifications in the world can’t trump likeability. Personality sells.
So, look at your own About page now – don’t tell me you don’t have one! What changes do you think you could make?