Don’t you hate it when someone says, ‘hey, tell me about yourself’?
The next words out of your mouth are probably, ‘oh…umm…well…I mean…’
It’s awful. Where do you even start? Where you were born?
‘If we’re going back that far we’re going to need some popcorn.’ — Dylan Moran, Black Books
In business, when someone ‘asks’ about you, often via your About Page, it’s important you can see what it is they actually want to know.
Spoiler: It’s not about your childhood and how your first job was working at a carnival and it really made you want to be an [insert your business role here].
When they ask about you, what they’re actually asking is this:
What is it about you that means you can help me?
Why most About Pages Suck
So many about pages for freelancers go like this:
‘I grew up in XYZ and was [insert unusual fact]. After [education] I worked in [boring job] before moving on to [slightly better job]. But it made me realise that I love [insert love of helping people to some extent] and that my passion is [XYZ].
Now I live in [cottage by the sea/countryside/mountains] with my adorable [pets] and beloved spouse. We have [X] children and spend our free time [doing something wholesome].’
You know what? My business’ About Page was like this for a long time. It was like a token page that I’d read was essential so that readers can get to know you.
And whilst people buy from people, none of this actually allows them to know you. They’re not going to call you up and say they’ll pay you for your services based on the beach house you have fond memories of.
It achieves nothing but telling them that you sound an awful lot like everyone else.
And that’s not even talking about the new breed of hipster company About Pages. Which are genuinely all the same.
‘[Our company] was born (always born!) out of a love of [insert hipster thing here]. We started off in a [shack/shed/garage/plant pot] and experimented with building [product] because we knew it was missing from the world (for good reason).
Our grandfathers were [weirdly hipster thing] and we’re carrying on [an imaginary tradition] through a belief in [something vague]. We grew from [living in our parent’s basement] to selling pioneering (no one seems to know what this actually means)[stuff] because we believe in [creating something sustainable when not creating it would be much more sustainable].’
It’s a modern sort of agony.
What neither of these About Pages do is say anything meaningful. They don’t give the reader any clue as to how the business can help them. They use words that mean very little.
But don’t companies need to be humanised? I hear you cry.
Yes. They do. Absolutely. But it’s crucial that it’s done authentically.
Saying, ‘we were born out of a love of the mountains and believe that the finest cashmere knit will reconnect you to nature’ (I’m paraphrasing) isn’t authentic.
If a business has a genuinely great story to tell about their foundation, tell it. Leave the wishy washy bullshit for someone else.
Your About Page isn’t really about you
It’s about how you can help your reader solve their problem and why you are the best person/business for the job.
In other words, your About Page is really all about them.
Here are some examples of this exact notion:
Jorden Roper: Her Creative Revolt About Page has a bit about her background. But it’s not her life story. It’s very focused on exactly how she came to form her business. Then she tells the reader exactly how her business can help them.
Big Star Copywriting: This company’s About Page doesn’t give you a life story, it doesn’t describe how the agency was built up from the ground. Instead it tells you why they’re great to work with, why they’re different and what you’ll get if you work with them. (full disclosure: I’ve worked with them in the past)
Starling Bank (God, I know, I have to stop writing about these guys. I don’t know who their marketing and web team are but they’re on fire) — Their About Page starts with the founder Anne Boden. But it doesn’t start with her childhood living in XYZ town and dreaming of kicking the patriarchy and building a career in financial services. Or a cutesy story with being ripped off by a traditional bank. The page is simple, customer-focused and has links off it should you want to know more.
Nike — Their About Page kicks off with how they help the reader. It’s ultra-simple, ultra-powerful and is entirely focused on how they make you better.
So how do you rewrite your About Page?
You can still tell your (relevant) story. But it needs to be written through the lens of ‘how does this help the reader?’
You can say where you were born and grew up — if that is relevant. If you’re a restaurant owner in the Scottish Highlands, sure it might be relevant that you’ve spent your life farming there. If you grew up in Milton Keynes in England, probably less so.
Every single part of your About Page needs to be about how and why you help the reader. It needs to be on-brand.
And if you have a really, really cool story about how the business came to be, by all means tell it. But if half of your words are abstract and you’re not backing it up with a ‘how’ (like Nike do) then it’s probably not a story.
It’s probably a dream that you pioneered from a belief in being innovative and unique. (<<ugh)
Need your About Page rewriting so it makes your customers want to work with you rather than roll their eyes? Hit the Get in Touch button and let’s chat.