What’s ABOUT all about?

The dreaded about page

A friend recently asked for some input on her about page. She’d read so many conflicting idea’s on the subject that it had turned the whole business into a fraught landscape of over-share, cold professional, line walking madness. She just wanted to tell her clients and potential clients a bit about herself, and have them respond in a particular way.

Therein, as they say, is the problem. We want people to respond to us in a particular way and when it comes to business and the web, that’s going to be completely controlled by how we present ourselves. It stands to reason then that a set of plug-and-play rules for your about page probably isn’t the best way to go. Take a look at this;

How to live a Delicious Life by design – I’ve linked to the about page of Kylie Patchett, holistic health coach. Lovely woman, vivacious, out going, sometimes completely mad. Her business is very much caught up in who she is, her personal history, and how she can use her experience to help you reach your goals. That being the case, her about page is wild. Bold and evocative statements in large print! A very personal exploration of who she is, and how she got here. This works, and it works really well, for her business and in instilling the right feeling in the people who are coming to her for help.

It’s a very personal thing, looking for a health coach – you need to feel that you can trust them. You need to feel that they understand, that they can walk this path with you, that there will be no judgement, just support. For that to happen, in such an emotionally charged area, Kylie needed to give people something of herself. An open invitation to a relationship that will change your life.

You don’t usually have that kind of relationship with your accountant.

For my second example of someone who censored themselves in their about page because it was more appropriate, I was going to use Kloudsac. The reason for this is that I happened to live in a residential college with one of the creators of this product and I thought their about page was the perfect example of pushing those characteristics that are helpful, and maybe leaving out some of the characteristics that come to the fore when you’re living in a building with 96 other people in their early 20’s…

Unfortunately when I went looking again, I found that Kloudsac had decided to do away with their about page completely… bummer. It does however make the point that in some area’s, the about page isn’t the essential ingredient that it’s sometimes made out to be. Kloudsac is doing very well. My old friend (who will hopefully be VERY nice to me now in return for my discretion in not relating some of the more colourful memories I have of our youth) is well on his way to building a small empire in his niche and good on him.

As with everything that you put out there about yourself and your business, it all comes down to how you want to be received. Cool, calm, together and professional? Wild, vibrant, confident and energetic? You can chose any combination of words you like really, but you must present a unified front. The biggest mistake would be to go clean, professional and straight forward for the rest of your image, and then drop it all and wax poetical about your elaborate collection of ships-in-a-bottle that you built in your basement. It makes you look a little bipolar. Likewise, someone whose business is built on personal relationships and life experience will do themselves a disservice if their about page is nothing but a list of qualifications.

My friend, the one who asked about ABOUT pages was a little discomforted at the idea that she had to pour too much of herself into it. That people might move on if she didn’t open up enough. Sometimes the internet gives the impression that you have to hang it all out there in order to get noticed… the big secret is,

there is no big secret.

No magic bullet. Guidelines in various industries will work to varying degree’s for individuals and businesses. Read. Look at everything and take it all in, for sure, but don’t feel the pressure to conform precisely. If it feels like you’re putting too much out there, quite likely you are. If you feel you’re being stifled, held back, then perhaps you need to open up more in other areas as well and allow yourself to be more accessible?

The world, and the marketplace, takes all comers. Some clients will want to work with someone professional. Efficient. Someone in whom they can place absolute confidence because you’ve got it all together. Your early adult battle with obesity will just make them uncomfortable. In the same industry though, will be people who will see that part of your past as an indication of how hard you can work! How well you overcome obstacles, and how much you can accomplish. Be you, and look for the clients who are looking to work with someone just like you. I promise, they’re out there.

So, rules for a thing that has no rules? I can do that! In my opinion, a good about page should be;

  • up to date
  • clear and easy to read
  • reflective of the you they’ll meet when they see you face to face

Having said all of that, I’m going to go and review my own about page in the next few days. I haven’t looked at it in at least three months, probably quite a bit longer and that, my friends, is the real cardinal sin. ABOUT isn’t set-and-forget. It grows and changes as you grow and change, if it didn’t, most about pages on the net would start and end with “when I grow up, I want to be an archaeologist” (or was that just me?)

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