For the the consultant or small business owner trying to write copy for the website often one of the hardest page to write is the “About” page. You may be tempted to cut and paste the blurb off the back of the brochure from 1997, or just post your resume. But is that what people really want to read?
Why do people read your About page? Is is just about the facts? Probably not. If you haven’t provided the data that people need to make a decision about doing business with you elsewhere on the website then you might need to work on those pages first. My thinking is that people come to your About page to get a feeling for what it is like to work with you or your company. They already have the information they need but they want the details that help build trust. Putting a face on the company they would do business with and knowing a little bit more about you as a person can make working with you more comfortable, less threatening.
Basically what the About page is doing is telling a story. You and your business are not just a product or service. There is a journey, an adventure, and a path of growth and learning that brought you to where you are to today. It is what makes what you do unique. This is what people want to know, not just the rewards you won or the years you have been in business.
“Hmm, so you want my life story?”, you are thinking. You aren’t a novelist and don’t plan to be how can you talk about yourself without getting all conceited or psychological?
I got a good idea of how to get you started from Whitney Hahn, founder of Digital Bard, a video marketing firm in Frederick, MD. She told me that when they do a video profile they ask the same four questions to get the ball rolling. Often these are sufficient to get someone to open up and freely talk about themselves. With a little bit of editing they work just as well to get you started writing the About page. Here are the questions.
How did you get started doing what you do?
Everyone has a story about how they got started. Mine has to do with winning a surprise raffle of PageMaker software. With that simple windfall, I could start doing graphic design from home. So where and when did your business originate? Was there a particular event that created the spark that started it all? Maybe there was a mentor or role model that influenced you along the way. Describe what the first job was like.
Why do you keep doing it?
So why do you keep doing what you do day in and day out? What provides the motivation? If there wasn’t sense of forward movement and moments of something new and fresh, you would have stopped long ago. Do you like the people you meet? The challenges of keeping up with technology? Describe what are the personal rewards of doing what you do and how it has changed over the years.
How do you know you’ve had a good day?
This is a lot like question two but makes you dig deeper. It is your chance to be specific and use an actual example or anecdote. Think of an actual day that did end with a feeling of satisfaction and extrapolate from there.
How do you want other people to describe you/your company?
You could answer this logically, with what are the deliverables and why they provide satisfaction or you could answer this with more feeling, describing how you want people to feel when they do business with you. Both are valid and reflective of the unique way you approach your work and what you do.
So give it a try. Using these four questions can not only help you with your About page but may also make it clearer to yourself why you are in business and what your key values are. And if it is clearer to you, it will be clearer to your web visitor, and potential customer, too.