You know why my About Page/Bio Text package is so cheap? Honestly, because some of them out there are so diabolical, I’d actually pay to rewrite them. Why is it that despite being one of the most visited pages, and one of the most important when it comes to showcasing your brand values, the about section is commonly a botched afterthought? It’s like entering a prized pedigree into a dog show, knowing full well it’s going to shit on the table.
The purpose of the about page is to tell your story. That absolutely does not mean you should reel off a self-indulgent autobiography covering everything from the subjects you studied at school to your marriage and children – unless, of course, it’s relevant to your business. The about page should also provide information about what exactly you deliver. But customers aren’t here for jargon either. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you do not want the copy to read like the back of a bran box – all the ingredients are there but does anyone actually care?
If this blog post saves just one soul from about page mediocrity, I’ll be happy. If not, you’ll catch me at your local public restroom, pasting guilt-inducing pledge posters on the toilet doors. For just two euros a month, you can help give neglected about pages everywhere a chance to live again. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and, as a special thank you, you’ll receive a pat on the back – absolutely free! Considering ‘about page’ anagrams to ‘a taupe bog,’ I’d say that’s more than fitting.
Step 1: Grab your notepad and start asking questions
WHO am I? = What do I want to project?
You know that scene in Total Recall when a dumbfounded Doug Quaid receives a video message from himself? Keep the “you’re not you, you’re me” part in mind. Because, when it comes to writing your about page, you are not you. You are the business you, the brand you. You are only the most interesting cross section of yourself, without irrelevant details or personal hangups.
Remember, your brand is a choose-your-own-identity adventure. You can choose to project your authentic personality or you can cherry pick the best bits and create an alter ego. The same applies to a business. Focus on the most exciting, representative parts and save the rest for the small print. Think of the about page as your website’s billboard.
WHERE have I come from?
Finally, a chance to pen your autobiography. NOT. Not even a little personal bio? Frankly, NO! There is a major difference between the about page and the bio text, and that is the customer. Bio texts are best left for artists. Commonly written in the third-person voice, they focus on the artist’s creative journey – and are easily copied and pasted by media and venues. About pages, by contrast, aren’t really about you – despite being written in the first person. Sorry to break the news. They’re about what your customer wants to see in your brand.
Think about this question in terms of its relevance to what you are creating right now. Note down one or two key moments that catalyzed your brand’s journey. It could be that after being transformed by a personal trainer, you were inspired to become one yourself. Perhaps you stumbled upon your business idea by mind-blowing serendipity. Now, cross-check with your brand identity.
This question also includes any standout achievements that you would like to boast about. For example, awards, media coverage, well-known mentors or collaborators. If your where is uninteresting or irrelevant to your current work, leave it out.
WHAT do I do?
Unless you have no concept of what exactly you offer as a business, this is the easy bit. Think about what niche or market you fit into. Write down any unusual tools, practices or techniques you use, or any significant projects or collaborations you’re working on. Most importantly, consider what makes your brand different or special. It could be your unique skill set, creative approach, innovative mindset or attention to detail. Perhaps your herd of lawn-mowing goats are your grassroots answer to the fossil fuel crisis. If you don’t know, now is the time to decide. The what is the backbone of your about page, and your brand identity as a whole, so you’d better iron it out.
WHY am I driven to create or trade?
You can think about this question either in general terms – as in, this is why I get out of the bed in the morning – or more broadly as what you stand for. You might be driven to change the world or make other people’s lives happier. You could be determined to disrupt a decades-old market. In my case, I’m on a two-pronged mission to tell untold stories and raise the bar when it comes to quality copywriting. Consider your values and ethos.
Step 2: Write drunk, edit sober
The drunk part
Whether or not novelist Ernest Hemingway actually penned the famous line, “write drunk, edit sober,” is debatable. Regardless, I stand by it wholeheartedly. Obviously, I’m not advocating downing a Sterni (Berlin’s answer to cheaper-than-water beer) before writing – if you do, at least choose a better tipple. I like to interpret the drunk part as first creating a horrible mess of notes and crazy ideas that can’t stand up on their own.
So, in addition to the former notes, go ahead and use this opportunity to write down even the oddest of concepts or lines that come into your head. Often, if I have a theme in mind, I’ll search that keyword + quotes and see what Google Images throws up. In between the vapid crap your annoying schoolmates share on Instagram, you’ll find inspiring quotes from history’s brightest minds that’ll help you to conceptualize.
Recently, a life coach client and I were in the planning stages for the writing of her about page. I asked her tons of questions to get an idea of her personality and values. A great quirk, I noticed, was her love of cycling – even more so since she’s Dutch. I remembered a great Einstein quote I had recently read: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” With that, I had my creative concept.
The sober part
By now you’ll have created a monster. Re-approach your notes with a critical eye and highlight the points most aligned to your brand. Obviously you won’t be able to include every single one of the answers you initially wrote down – and that’s okay. Like a bat (out of hell), you want to pierce through the fruit of your labor, taking only the juice before spitting out the indigestible pulp.
Take a storytelling approach
Think of your about page as a story and lead with the best part. You don’t have to go writing a full-scale fable, but avoid bran-box boring at all costs. You want your brand personality to shine. And in the case of about pages, words speak louder than actions. If your countryside upbringing ignited your passion for nature, set the scene for your natural soap company there. If you’re pioneering a new technology, describe its life-changing potential first and what led you to create it second. If your feminist lingerie label is a response to tired advertising stereotypes, there won’t be any bras a-burning, but your opening lines should bear that fire.
Personally, I chose to lead with my dangerous addictions to writing and electronic music – dangerous because typing at over 125 beats per minute can get pretty extreme. It’s humorous, but it’s also a sneaky way of telling my cool target audience how efficient I am. Always refer back to your brand and remember: creativity keeps people reading.
A specific structure isn’t that important. But as a general rule, work from the most important or most impactful details to the least important.
Keep it brief and easy to read
100 to 250 words is ideal. But, whatever the length, try to keep it as concise as possible. Even if you think your first draft is perfect, be brutal and edit it down. Look for smoother or less complicated ways to say the same things and take out parts which don’t really add to the story.
If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up at email@example.com or via the social media channels in the footer. Decided you’d like a pro to work some magic on your about page instead? My About Page/ Bio Text package is just 99 euros! Go check out my services.
Hungry for more Cunning Tips? Read my blog post on the business barter.