Do you sometimes wonder why there is so much fuss about your About Page? Well, let’s play a game, stick with me here.
Go to a random website’s About page (it might even be your own) and every time you read something like this:
“Hi, I’m Lucy/Willow/Betsy… I’m a passionate yoga teacher/dog walker/poker coach working with women to/ignite their inner light/so they can thrive/be inspired/beat overwhelm…”
You get a fiver. Do that for a good half hour and you’d make a pretty penny right?! Game over.
You know what?
There’s nothing wrong with any of these concepts or words.
It’s writing from the heart. Betsy lives a purposeful life where these things are important, and she wants you, and the rest of the world, to know that.
Enter: The Internet.
Sharing your passion about yoga/baby massage/photography requires you to be on the internet. And the internet is a noisy place. And lots of people are singing exactly the same darn song.
Fun fact: We’re force-fed more information online via social media before breakfast than we would have consumed in a whole week only 5 or 10 years ago.
Hence; people are bored to death with safe copy.
We’re eye-rolling at Janine and her desire to “reduce the overwhelm” through rebirthing/nail painting/art therapy.
Or worse; we’re not even taking any of that messaging in.
The online world needs stimulating, thought-provoking, action-inspiring words. Being in the choir will only pay peanuts – you want to be front and centre stage with the big hair, big spotlight, making the big dollars.
Before we proceed, a gentle word of warning:
We’re all so petrified of being judged. We spend hours of our lives trawling the internet to look at other people’s – mainly our competitors’ – stuff. The truth is, there will always be someone doing it better than you and there’s always going to be that one person – there may even be a gang – someone’s not going to like you.
Here’s the thing about being unafraid to sing from a different hymn book.
A new song will rattle cages.
You know why? It’s different. The thing about rattling cages is that people are paying attention. If it wasn’t different you’d just be an echo of someone else’s voice – like everyone else on the internet not standing out.
How do you find unique words? It’s like when you keep hearing the same song over and you can’t get it out of your head.
How do find a new song so you make yours stand out?
Let's look at how to write About page copy that sets you apart, marks you as an authority, and ultimately, makes you bank:
Step 1 - Turn that radio off. That is; step away from Google.
That search bar is not your friend and I hereby ban you from your competitors’ websites. Sure, do your homework. Need to know how to structure a Sales page for your target market? Then you can Google. Queries about good layout? Pinterest away.
But don’t even think about sneaking a look at your competitor’s About page. Why? A: when you come to write yours their brand voice will be all up in your head like that song you keep reluctantly singing and B: you’re better than that.
Here’s another boo boo people are making when it comes to About pages. They think good, memorable About page copy is about ‘brand storytelling’ and forget that each page has a significant purpose to the flow through of your website for your reader. Your About page isn’t a just backstory. Its primary function is to resonate with your reader, reassure them they’re in the right spot, and to move them through to wherever you want them to go next – probably your Work With Me or Services/Sales page.
All the pages of your website need to dance together and move your reader through your site to the final call to action. Thinking of your website copy in this ‘big picture’ way goes hand in hand with my next revelation – writing About page copy isn’t just content creation.
Copywriting isn’t writing. Wait…what? Copywriting persuades, it compels. Content informs and entertains. Copy is a painstakingly, hand-picked, expertly arranged bouquet of words that intend to make the reader take an action. This is why incorporating copywriting into writing your About page is one of the most vital elements for making your About page work for you.
Step 2 - Get out of your own way
I’ve found that people, women in particular, are sometimes really awkward when talking about themselves. One of the best tips I received when attempting to write my About page was to pretend you are someone else. Go ahead and channel Liza Minelli or Bette Midler circa Wind Beneath My Wings. Turn your brand voice into a character and let her do the talking. Once you are comfortable being someone else, begin to sing your praises like the gospel belt never knew what hit them. If you are good at something, tell me! I’ve no interest in hanging around your About page guessing you’re OK at something.
Something else that helps is trying to write for your one very favourite, buys everything, always recommends you to people ideal client, rather than trying to be everything to everyone. This method can be terrifically effective as it allows you to focus on persuading, entertaining, and informing just one person.
Having your ideal client in mind in every word, combined with knowing who you are and what you stand for makes your copy strong and confident. Plus having your copy aimed at the right customer will help readers self-weed, meaning you only end up with the ones who want/need to be there.
Step 3 - Remember, safe is not always best
Writing copy that’s a little unsafe – a little disruptive – and a whole lot noticeable isn’t about going hog wild with a thesaurus and slapping random thoughts down. It’s also not about being purposefully distasteful or crass or offensive. (Remember, we already know we’re going to offend someone, we don’t need to try). It’s simply about describing to your reader the benefits of working with you in a way that’s not already cut and pasted around the internet.
Granted, there are people who break all the rules, and they do it damn well. But they’re a purple unicorn. In the real world, you’ve got to know all the rules before you can break them.
OK, time for a little process:
This is the best place to start. Batten down the hatches, turn off the Facebook/Google/Insta noise and write. Bang out your words with wild abandon and don’t stop to spell check or edit. Set yourself 30 minutes and try for between 700 and 800 words. This brain dump strategy allows you to get all the words out in one sitting, all the stuff you need your reader to know.
Watch your passive voice
A broad generalisation for you: women aren’t great at active voice. And while we’re generalising, what’s with all the apologising? “I’m sorry to report...”
An example of active voice is “Susan loves Yoga”. But if you’re using passive voice the example would read: “Yoga is loved by Susan”. See how the object and the subject are switched? It’s not only passive, but the sentence is longer and we’re aiming for punchy, not lengthy. Sentences that are written in active voice are usually easy to understand and move you through the copy faster.
Copy written in active voice sentences can also begin with a verb (a doing word) such as ‘Practice your Yoga in a healthier way...” or “Learn to practice healthy Yoga...”
Look, don’t completely freak out about passive voice. In some instances, it’s perfectly acceptable, especially if you want to start the sentence with the most important word; “Copy rules were made to be broken...” However, if when you read your copy out loud it seems a bit, well, stuffy and uptight, or in any way apologetic, you might want to look at the use of passive voice.
Strong, unique copy isn’t passive.
(It’s not aggressive either – to not be one you don’t have to be the other).
Stir clear of the Jargon
Simple, don’t use it. Don’t use words you wouldn’t use in a conversation.Not everyone speaks the same lingo as you. This doesn’t only relate to lawyers and scientists.
This is an issue that often faces creatives. They speak jargon too, it might not be “nuts and bolts” jargon like an electrician or an engineer, but it can be isolating and for their clients, which does exactly the opposite of what they need.
Self-explanatory really. But I want you to do it like this:
First, read it out loud.
Second, read it out loud.
Hey, don’t think I can’t smell your scepticism from here. But this method works. It helps you hear the clunky words or those awkward sentences. Those ill-fitting words rise and slap you in the face, an effect you don’t get from seeing them floating on the page. Then, delete anything that sounds as if your competitor could have written it.
Once you have edited, go back and edit again. And again. I know a copywriter, who pretty much writes for people the world over, and it took her 174 rewrites before she launched her own About Page. See, and you thought you were the only one struggling to write yours.
If you know spelling and grammar are an issue for you, download the free version of Grammarly. Sentence structure your niggle? Then try Hemingway.
There are two really simple steps to editing. The first is editing. The second is editing.
Lastly, get help!
There’s no shame in asking for help. Usually, we can see the special aspects of other people way easier than our own. And no, I do not mean your mother/best friend/THE WHOLE OF FACEBOOK. Unless they have been editor-in-charge someplace or they are your ideal client, they are not an ideal reviewer.
Your About page is the first taste your reader gets to show them what a working relationship would be like with you. Your reader needs movement, trustworthiness, authority, purpose, a lift of heart when they realise they’re in the right place – they need a dynamic business partner or professional. They are there ready to perform an act of faith and trust you with sorting out their greatest need.
That should not rewarded with an About page that reads like a template.
Your reader deserves better than that. So do you.
So, that's why we make such a fuss about About pages.
If you need hand-holding help with your About page, check out my cheaper-than-a-pub-lunch downloadable mini pack for structuring your About page or my self-paced online course to walk you through every step of writing a ripper About page.
Jay Crisp Crow is a business owner, messy mother, and ex-showgirl who used to sing on the back of monster trucks before having children and getting ‘sensible’. She spent far too many years working in private school communications believing she couldn’t make a living as a writer before having an epiphany and taking her own gig on the road.
She somewhat surprised herself by becoming a multi award-winning copywriter, editor, and copy coach working with women in enterprise around the globe. Building an incredible career based on the art of writing words that sell, Jay has turned her love of stories and people into something she never thought possible – a sustainable, thriving business. She regularly teaches, presents, and speaks in Perth and online on everything copy and words.
For a lifetime Jay believed she wouldn’t be able to make a living as a writer. She is thoroughly enjoying disproving that prediction.