About Pages: How to Fascinate and Engage with Just One Look

If you want your website’s About page to work, you have to answer one crucial question. And no, the question isn’t “how many years have you been in business?”

It’s the one question that’s at the top of your site visitor’s mind. And if you answer it to their satisfaction, there’s a good chance they’ll stick around to see what else you have for them.

Tune in as Pamela Wilson talks to Sonia Simone, Chris Garrett, and Jerod Morris about About pages. You’ll discover:

  • What people are really looking for on your About page
  • Who your About page should be about (it’s probably not who you think)
  • The super simple technique you can use to write an About page with a “voice” that reflects your business’s core values

The Show Notes

About Pages: How to Fascinate and Engage with Just One Look

Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, a digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at RainmakerPlatform.com.

Pamela Wilson: Here’s a question for you. Let’s say you are surfing around the web and you come to an interesting page — maybe you read a blog post that’s got a great angle that you enjoy, or you hit a homepage that peaks your interest, and you’re curious — you’ve never been to the website before, you want to know more about it.

So what do you do next?

I know what I do. I go to the About page because when I’m intrigued, I naturally want to know more about the site. And I especially want to hear more about what else they have for me.

That’s the famous, “what’s in it for me” question, right?

What all your site visitors are asking themselves when they are cruising around your website, and your About page can answer that question better than any other.

You do know that your About page is supposed to be about your site visitor, right?

Well, if you are not clear on that, don’t worry because we’re going to cover everything and more about About pages in detail, coming up.

It’s Pamela Wilson of Copyblogger Media. Thanks for joining me again on Hit Publish, where I cover simple ways to get better results with your online business.

This week I’m bringing in Copyblogger team members to share their answers to your online marketing questions, and show you how to build a business that grows your profits.

I want to thank you for downloading this podcast, and I want to thank Rainmaker.FM for hosting it.

Ready to write an About page that answers that “what’s in it for me” question? Let’s Hit Publish.

What People are Really Looking for on Your About Page

Pamela Wilson: We’ll start today with Sonia Simone. Sonia understands what website visitors really need. She knows what questions they need answers to when they click over to your About page.

So I asked Sonia to tell us what an About page is really about.

Sonia Simone: Well I am totally tickled that you reached out to me on this because I am extremely opinionated about About pages.

Mostly from seeing again, again and again — on sites from people who I know are talented and I know have a lot to offer their clients or their customers — and their About page is just not doing the job. So I have strong opinions, which I will share with you.

The most important thing your About page does, the reason it’s there, the reason it exists, primarily is to let your audience — the people who come to your site — know how you can help them with what they want help with.

So what is your approach to the topic? What is the approach to your client work? Or, what is your philosophy that informs the development of the product you created? What is it about what you do that’s going to help the person who is coming to this website get what they want to get?

Because About pages are not about you, they are about the person you serve, and that’s the big error people make.

Pamela Wilson: We say that all the time. I say that all the time too but I think people have a difficult time visualizing what that looks like. So an About page that’s not about you, that’s really about them, what does that look like, what does it sound like when you are reading it?

Sonia Simone: The funny paradox of this is that one of the first couple of things you want to make sure are on there, are things about you, because people are going to need certain pieces of information before they can relax enough to trust you, to start to take in what you have to say.

So one of the really important things for most people to have on their About page is their photograph. And a photograph that actually looks like you. Not a photograph that was taken 30 years ago, and 40 lbs ago — which is easy for our egos to fall into — but a recent picture, that if somebody met you at a conference they would recognize you.

And your name. I can’t tell you how many About pages there are — and in particular, copywriters are terrible about this, I think they are overly creative. And they jump right into the benefits and the features, and the this and the that, and ‘my philosophy of business’ … I need to know your name. I need to know your name so I know who I am talking to.

Pamela Wilson: Who’s talking and who’s writing this page.

Sonia Simone: Yeah, and I think a lot of the smaller businesses, and especially the one-person businesses — my first business name sounded like a telecom company. Little businesses try to look big.

You need to realize that big businesses are killing themselves trying to look little. You need to look small and trustworthy.

People really like that feeling of knowing, “If I have a problem and something goes sideways with this project, I know exactly who it is I am dealing with. I know how to get hold of them, and I know there is an accountable person for my situation.”

So your About page really does need your name, for sure. Any contact information that you are willing to go with. So if you are willing to talk to people on the phone, include your phone number, your Skype, whatever it is. Definitely, I would use a form for email, so you don’t get infinite quantities of email spam.

For your email address I would definitely use a form, so people can submit the form. But then getting back to the ‘it’s about them,’ on your About page you really want to let people know in a nutshell what you do, and who you do it for.

“I am a strength coach for moms of small babies.” You know, “I help moms of small babies get strong, shed body fat and feel awesome. And my philosophy of the best way to do that is through these kind of workouts, and this kind of nutrition program that respects as a new mom, you need to have good energy levels and you can’t be all miserable and cranky because you’re on a diet. So we are going to respect that.”

That would be something I would put on an About page because it will let the person know, first of all, are they in the right place? Well, if I’m a 17 year old guy. “No, I’m in the wrong place, so I need to go and find another solution.”

So who you serve, how you serve them, what kind of problems you solve for that person? That’s the kind of information you want to have on there.

Websites are so funny. Restaurant websites are the bane of my life. I’m trying to go out to eat. I’ve heard the name of a good restaurant, I’m in my car, I pull the website up on my phone and there’s no map, there’s no information about parking and there’s no phone number. All I’ve got is an image of food.

Pamela Wilson: And you are so hungry, right? I’ve seen some that don’t even have the address. It’s like, “Are you kidding? I’ve got to go look on the web because you are not even showing your address on your site.”

Sonia Simone: Yeah, so you know, for that site think about, what’s the hungry customer need when they get there?

Pamela Wilson: What do they need right away?

Sonia Simone: What do they need when they get there? What do they need to know?

If you are in San Francisco, you better tell me what the parking situation is. I need to know that. Whereas if you are in Lincoln, I don’t know, it might not be as much of an issue, I’m not sure. Probably less than San Francisco.

As the business owner you need to know, what are those things that people need right away, so they feel like, “Okay, this person’s got what it takes and I have the information I need to move forward.” And make sure that that’s there. It might be a little different for your business, so you just need to put yourself in the shoes of that person coming to your site, and think about what they need when they come to see what you’ve got to offer.

Pamela Wilson: Sonia explained that what we need to give site visitors when they come to our site is more information about our businesses, but especially more information about what you can do for them. That’s the question they want an answer to.

Hit Publish is brought to you by the Rainmaker Platform. If you’re looking for an easy way to build a very powerful sales and marketing website that will drive your online business, head over to rainmaker.fm/platform right now, and sign up for our 14-day free trial.

Chris Garrett is up next.

Who Your About Page Should Be About (It’s Probably Not Who You Think)

Pamela Wilson: There are specific copy elements that we should be sure to include on every About Page, and I asked Chris if he would just spell out what those copy elements are.

Chris Garrett: Your About page isn’t about you, it’s about what you can do for your audience, what you can do for your market. So this can be in the form of bullets, or small paragraphs, or it could be a story.

ProBlogger has a really good example of a story format about the history of being a ProBlogger. You need to say what you site is about, who it’s for, who you are, with a picture and a name especially, even if it’s your pen name.

You want to be able to see the person and know what they are called. Why should we care? What would you do for me? What would you help me with? What would you solve for me? Why are you the person to help me with this over other people? And, anything that can support that information — proof, testimonials.

And then what can we do? What should we do next? So that might be a call to action to an opt-in form.

So it’s important that you make a promise, and a lot of people feel uncomfortable writing these.

I feel uncomfortable talking about myself, it’s one of the reasons my About page is in the third person.

But remember, it’s not bragging when it’s true and useful. People actually want this information. Don’t hold back because otherwise they’ll just go to somebody else. If you don’t give them a reason to go to you, they will go to somebody else.

Pamela Wilson: Right, that makes perfect sense. People want to relate what you are offering out into the world to a person — and maybe a goal, right?

But it does sound like the About page should be a lot more about the person reading, than it is about the person doing the writing.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, it’s about connecting to who they are, and where they are, and what their problems are, what’s keeping them up at night. You should come across as a human being, but as a useful, valuable, human being. Rather than just a fun person to know, you should be a fun person to know who can help.

Pamela Wilson: Chris said we need to spell out why your site is the one that can help your site visitors meet their needs above other sites they may find on the web. And we need to try and make a true connection with the people who visit our About page.

The Super Simple Technique You Can Use to Write an About page With a “Voice” That Reflects Your Business’s Core Values

Pamela Wilson: About pages work best when they give your site visitors what they are looking for — but you know, it’s not just about what you say on your About page, it’s also about how you say it. And to talk to us about that, I asked Jerod Morris to join us, and I asked him how we can figure out the best tone of voice to use on our About page copy.

Jerod Morris: This is a great question Pamela, and it’s one a lot of people do seem to struggle with. Really I think it boils down to, “don’t overcomplicate it.” Because what I think really needs to happen is, you need to understand your own tone of voice, or the tone of your business, if for some reason it’s different from your own. Your About page really just needs to fit that tone.

Sonia Simone wrote a post about this on Copyblogger, titled “Are You Making These 7 Mistakes With Your About Page?

I highly recommend that post for anyone thinking about an About page. And she says in the post, “For some reason, when people sit down to write an About page, everything they know about creating interesting content suddenly flies out of the window. Their usually great writing styles starts to suck.”

So what is her first step then for fixing this — as she calls it — “unfortunate problem?” Use your own writing voice. And she also suggests getting rid of corporate speak and jargon, and even trying to be a little funny, if you can pull it off.

And I agree with all of that. People read about your About page because something that you have said, something that you’ve done has intrigued them about who you are.

So give them what they want. Give them you.

So when it comes to determining the tone of your voice for your About page, it really just needs to be what is your voice? What is your tone? Speak with that tone in your About page and you’ll give people what they are looking for, which is just to find out more about you and your business.

Pamela Wilson: Right. That makes a lot of sense. I think part of what people struggle with is it’s so hard to write about yourself. And if that’s your situation where you are basically writing about yourself, you’re running your own business, people just have a difficult time.

So I wonder if part of what they need to do is take themselves out of themselves, and try to see their business as this separate entity that they are writing about so they don’t feel like they are just bragging about themselves?

Jerod Morris: Well, that’s a good point. And I sometimes struggle with that too. I think there are a couple of strategies that you can employ there.

Number one would be, sit down with a blank piece of paper and just tell a family member what you or your business is about.

Because I think if you are explaining it to a family member, you are going to naturally be a little bit more relaxed. But if they are anything like my family, they won’t know really what you do, so you kind of have to have some skill in explaining it to them — in telling them what you and your business are about. I think that will help you get the relaxed tone that you are looking for.

And then the other strategy would be to make sure that someone else reads it. And someone who knows you relatively well, so they can say, “Hey, you know, this is a little bit too corporate-y, a little bit too jargony. You sound too stuffed shirt here, relax here a little bit and open up.” And I think doing those two things can help you get that right tone that you want.

Pamela Wilson: Here’s what we heard today. About pages are as much about the person visiting your site, as they are about your business. Aim to include information about what you can do for your site visitor, and make your tone of voice friendly, approachable, and helpful.

Here are my questions for you this week.

Based on what you heard today, are you 100% happy with your About page? And if you answered no, put a date on your calendar when you’ll get your new About page done. I would love to see it.

Did you know that you can find me on Twitter? I am @pamelaiwilson. Send me a link to your brand new About page. I would love to take a look, or you can leave a link in the comments section at Hit Publish.FM.

This is Pamela Wilson. I want to thank you for being one of the amazing Hit Publish podcast subscribers.

Did you leave a rating for Hit Publish on iTunes yet? If you like what you hear, that is the number one best way that you can thank me. Visit iTunes, leave a rating, leave a view, I would love to hear from you.

Bye for now. And remember to take action, and Hit Publish.