Saturday August 22, 2015

How to write an About page

Lessons from reality TV and more

Beautiful countryside landscape with golden sunset

“It’s so difficult to write about yourself…”

If you can identify with the above (a lament from someone I’m mentoring at the moment) and you’re thinking about writing, revising or powering up your About page, procrastinate no longer!

First of all let’s get one thing out of the way, something that’ll ease the pressure…

It’s not all about you

It’s not all about you, it’s about how you help.

Approach your About page by thinking how you help your clients, customers, your audience and readers.

Why me?

Then consider your “why,” the why you do what you do. Your values and motivation power the connection you’ll make with your ideal audience.

The reasons behind the choices you’ve made and your vision for the future are the emotional part of the equation – the why anyone should care, listen and come to you. It’s what gives you/your business a strong identity and is the differentiator.

Lessons from literature

Never forget, your About page is your sales page, a “how can I be of service?” page.

John Steinbeck captures this sentiment perfectly in “The Winter of Our Discontent” when he introduces a salesman who visits the protagonist, Ethan in the grocery store where he works:

“Ethan could feel…the stranger’s mind, searching for an opening, for a bond on which to build an association.”

That’s what you’re looking to find – that common human thread, that spark from which to forge a connection – making your reader feel that you understand, you get it.

The usual suspects

It’s only when you’ve looked at, and fine-tuned your “how you help” and “why” that you can move on to exploring and extracting the facts.

The more prosaic, nitty-gritty – the who, what, when – will be coloured and brought to life by your outward-looking approach and the resonance of your reasons.

Creating a buying environment

The building blocks of your how, why, who, what and when should combine to create information that eases your reader into wanting to buy from you.

An About page should fulfil 4 requirements for your readers:

1) Demonstrate utility – prompting your reader to think…“I need a slice of that.” “I hadn’t thought of that…I didn’t know someone could take care of my words.”

2) Build trust – your reader can see your image (a good, clear headshot is a must), read your credentials (run some testimonials on the page, link to your social media accounts) and identify with you on a person-to-person level.

3) Keep it real – be a true reflection of the real you in its tone, content and approach. I’m always coming across About pages that I absolutely fall in love with and wish I could have written…and then I remember, they’re great, but they’re not ‘me.’

4) Bring you closer together – by being approachable and making things easy with a clear call to action. It’s essential for you to know what you want to happen next so that you can lead your reader on!

Finding the right words

When I’m coaching clients who are looking to boost their writing prowess, I often find that the best way of empowering them is by tagging on to something that already has meaning for them.

It’s great fun when we discover Steinbeck’s “association” in something totally leftfield and unexpected that we have in common. One such serendipitous stumble inspires the next paragraph…

Lessons from reality TV

Chewing the fat with a client who’s a fellow single mum and has, hats off, drum roll, just completed a degree, we were talking about what we do to unwind. The usual suspects – a glass of wine, box sets – got an airing and then we said it…confessing to a fondness for the trashier end of TV. By this I mean the outer reaches of the reality genre – gems such as The Real Housewives of Insert County (eg Beverley Hills, Orange County or the home-grown Cheshire) and The Bachelor.

As manufactured and processed as a Pop Tart, these particular guilty pleasures are so wrong they’re (almost) right. And they gave me my Eureka! moment as far as the client I mentioned at the start of this post.

As they, or rather, as Mark Twain’s Colonel Sellers said, “There’s gold in them thar hills.”

Think Reality Star

Half an hour with a microwave meal, a cheeky glass of Rioja and “The Only Way is Essex” sorted my client’s dilemma of how to write her About page, following the OMG formula:

O: Orientation – instantly orienting your reader so they know where they are, how you help and what you/your business are about.

M: Memorable – simple words that give a flavour of the real you with strong and consistent characterisation and tone.

G: Growing – giving your business story space to grow. Your About page, like your business, will not be static – think self-contained digestible reads within an ever-expanding, never-ending story.

See inspiration everywhere

So ditch the guilt and remember no experience is wasted – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

And if, like the Real Housewives you’d like to outsource niggles like your About page do get in touch, and I’ll happily write it for you!

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