About the About Page

Fifteen years ago I wrote an article for The Vancouver Sun about the pain of writing your dating profile. Then, as now, dating sites gave tips on how to write a profile that would attract a true love. And like now, they don’t really help. That’s because it’s a horrible job writing about yourself. Or reading about yourself

I liken a well written dating profile to a well written About page. The reader’s subconscious pays attention. And so it helps sell. People or products, it doesn’t matter.

The About Page is Not Really About You

Your About page is always about your product. You’re just mentioned as you relate to your business. Nobody wants to know where you grew up or how many kids you have. This isn’t an obituary. But if you’re behind the business then people have a right to know who you are (and it must match the tone of your whole site).

My first stab at my own About page was to use this skydiving picture you see. I wrote about the strength of character I acquired from the many skydives I made in my twenties and how my business was strong because of this. Maybe. But I missed the point. What I wrote wasn’t about food or writing but my company is. I called it Food Words for a reason.

That’s a good example of what not to do. I have a better one now.

Here’s some pointers on approaching your About page.

Create a Feeling

It’s like walking into a store; you get a feeling. Just because you’re online doesn’t mean you don’t want the feeling. In today’s terms, it’s part of engagement marketing. Your whole website should do this, but your About page helps immeasurably in giving a feeling.

Think Small

I realize everything in business tells you to be big and to occupy your (figurative) space. And you will, but for your About page a whole lot can be said around a small experience and with very few words.

There’s one jumping off point that says so much about you. Use it (just one). Maybe it was something like this:

  • You had an aha moment?
  • You had trouble finding a product (this true of Elman’s Pickles)?
  • You were encouraged by friends and family (who now wonder why they never see you)?
  • You wanted good ingredients?

Tell a Story

The Wize Monkey guys do. They lead with passion on their About page. They have it all – exotic location, unique product, challenges, expertise, philosophy, and brotherhood. It isn’t necessary to go this far, but look how they mix their personal with business.

Your Philosophy

Please, please, not your mission statement. That belongs in your boardroom or posted inside a kitchen cupboard, not on your website. However, a mission statement can be a good guide, especially if it suggests your philosophy. You don’t have to be as outgoing as Chika Boom Popcorn, who cite love of family as their reason. They are clear in what matters to them. They have a philosophy that drives what they make. Which leads me to this next point.

Show Some Emotion

You have to. Even if you don’t want to. Give us some passion. Even a small amount. This is hard for people who believe their product is so good it will sell itself (it won’t). Or for people whose mothers told them not to brag. The thing is, we shop by our gut, not our brain. It’s all about the benefits, only on the About page the benefit is you.

Include a Picture of Yourself  

It’s natural that people want to see who you are. Professional head shots don’t have to look like they belong in the Financial Times. You can tailor them to your industry, like this (scroll down). I ended up using a professional photographer on my About page because I knew he would take it seriously and ignore my whining about yucky pictures of me. It was a worthwhile investment.

Do the Pee Test

Imagine that a person you meet at a party has to go to the bathroom real bad but they can’t leave because your business story is so gripping (trust me, they’d be gone if it weren’t). That’s your About page.

About the photo: This is over Blaine, Washington sometime around 1985. That’s Mt. Baker in the background. I am in the grey and my friend Dorothy is at the other end. She uses this same photo with far more success on her About page