8 “About Us” Page Problems You Need To Avoid
If you browse reddit’s copywriting section, you’ll find one question that predominates above all others:
“Can you check out my copywriting page?”
I don’t really recommend checking out the copywriting section of reddit very often, but hey, occasionally you can’t think of a topic to write about – and god forbid we don’t post for the day – we’ve got standards to keep to.
Anyway, this common question often baffles me.
If you can’t write a website selling your services, then it’s a worry.
Still, a lot of these topics have several major errors, and in this article, I’m going to fix them.
Nobody Cares About Your Cats… Seriously
There’s only one thing crazier than the fact that every professional writer on the planet seems to write about their cats, walks along the beaches and other things they’re doing when they’re not writing.
That thing is that some About Pages start with that rubbish.
If you’re trying to sell a service online and your page has something ludicrous like:
“Tina is a yummy-mummy of three who sometimes writes words”
“When Jim isn’t writing, you’ll find him sipping a martini on a beach with his three cats Nigel, Bruce and Pandora”
Then it needs to end.
Don’t even bother reading the rest of this article… go and delete those sentences.
Unless They’re Relevant, Nobody Cares About Your Hobbies Either
I hate the cat thing. I don’t mind cats or dogs or whatever pets you have. But the idea that someone is hiring you because you have a couple of cats or a pug named Bernie is stupid.
This train of thought extends to your hobbies too. It has a caveat though.
If your hobby is relevant to your work, then you can include it and should include it.
For instance, I know a copywriter who hated his life and so moved to Thailand. Now, it’s irrelevant for the most part, except he specifically targets the Chiang Mai digital nomad/e-product crowd for his sales letters, so it makes sense.
If you love camping and you write in the survival niche, then great.
Otherwise, people don’t really want to hear about what you do when you’re not writing/working. It’s like when you have builders working on your house and you really want them to hurry up and leave and all they’ll bang on about is the football and how they’re going to Benidorm in three weeks’ time.
Don’t Say You’re Lazy And Hate Work
Let’s continue a theme.
A lot of artistic, creative and entrepreneurial types all wear their lack of productivity as a badge of honour. I don’t know whether it’s the 4 Hour Work Week or the lifehack crossover, but unless you’re targeting other people who are of the same mindset, it’s a bad idea.
(It’s more than likely everyone’s just stealing the idea from the Lazy Man’s Way To Riches sales letter though.)
Understand that while you might love sitting on beaches and working ten hours a week and think people who work from cubicles are stupid scum of the earth, the majority of people you work with, for and target are those people.
I’d argue that it’s utterly infantile to think in binary terms like the above, but whatever floats your boat I guess.
In any case, if you say anything that hints at your unprofessionalness or your lack of motivation, don’t be surprised when people think you’re lazy and unprofessional. (Not a good look when you’re trying to get hired.)
(Probably) Don’t Talk About Yourself In The Third Person…
When you write in the third person and it’s clear that it’s you doing it, it looks stupid. Case in point:
“Jamie McSloy creates sales pages for money.”
If you have a virtual assistant or whatever and you’re legitimately a multi-person operation, then maybe you can get away with this. (It’s better to say “My assistant” and “me” though.)
People connect with other people. When you write about yourself as though you’re the Queen, people can’t connect to you and will think you’re up your own backside.
Be Careful With The “Creative Genius” Thing
I’ve read far too many of these pages…
“Your copy will be forged over sleepless nights and hundreds of cups of coffee”
“These ideas don’t come from any logical place… they come when I sleep, when I dream or when I’m on the train”
“There’s no process to my writing or thinking to the madness and this gives a unique article every time”
We get it… you’re a creative genius.
But seriously, if you read someone else’s page and they did that, what would you think?
Would you think, “God damn this guy selling $10 articles is up there with Dickens and Einstein!”?
Or would you think, “This guy thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread and has watched way too many episodes of Sherlock/Other TV show with an autistic genius protagonist”?
…I’m not even joking. I saw one guy’s page that referred to his creative process as “the same place that birthed Dickens characters” or something.
Remember… you’re selling to businesses that will think that stuff is nonsense.
It’s Not About You, Even When It Is
The above brings me on to the next point.
You’d think that an “About Me” page would be about you, wouldn’t you?
Remember, it’s a sales letter. Sales Letter 101 states that no sales letter is about you.
It’s about the person reading your page. If you’re selling copywriting, graphic design or whatever, every single sentence should either build towards or explain why you’re the best option for their business.
If you have climbed Everest, great, but that’s not going to help tom release an ebook on dating, is it?
Remember that time when your Twitter went from 20 followers to 500 followers overnight though? That’s more like it.
What about that time you were working in McDonalds and you fixed the Chicken Nugget machine thus saving your branch $10k a day in lost revenue? That’s what’s relevant.
Opinions Are Worth Little, But Cost A Lot
A lot of the above points can be simplified into this one point: You can’t overshare irrelevant stuff on your About Us page. It’s a turn-off for people who simply don’t care.
When you’re looking for a plumber because your toilet has burst a leak and it’s spraying hopefully-clean water everywhere, do you feel like reading about John Plumber’s interest in fine wines?
No, you want to know if he can fix your toilet and how quickly he can be there.
Even if there’s no emergency, the goal with sales letters is to get the person to buy. Anything that doesn’t achieve that goal is bad because it’s a place where you can lose them.
Absolutely every god-damned creative “About Us” page seems to be littered with opinions that are irrelevant and divisive.
Case in point; I read a profile a while back that said something derogatory about either Trump or Clinton – I can’t remember. Now, I’m not massively offended (hence I can’t remember) and I don’t care about US politics in general, but when there’s an election, you have to understand that around 50% of people do care about it.
That’s half of everyone reading your site that you might just annoy so that they’ll never come back.
Well, more than half, because someone like me who doesn’t care will still think you’re an idiot and not hire you on principle.
Think about that next time you write something like, “My copywriting is superb, not like our ginger idiot of a President.”
If it’s uninvited and irrelevant, cut it out.
The above leads to a wider point: With an About Us page – hopefully – you’re treating it like any other sales page. After all, you’re telling people about yourself so they’ll hire you, right?
If the end goal is engagement, a sale or a consultation of some sort, understand that whatever else your writing accomplishes, it’s got to push the reader towards that one end.
Everything else basically needs to be invisible.
If you’re filling your page with really long words, convoluted descriptions and other things that take your reader out of the general flow of the page, then you need to edit them out.
I’m a native English speaker and sometimes I read stuff where I’d need a dictionary to understand some of the vocabulary used and about three hours to decipher the meaning of a paragraph. That shouldn’t happen and Bob the Builder who just wants a guy to write his homepage isn’t going to enjoy it.
Sadly, I’ve run out of time on this one, but all the other problems I was going to address basically amounted to the above anyway:
- Treat your About Us/Portfolio Page like any other sales letter
- If it’s not moving your reader towards the end goal you’ve purposefully selected, then it has to go
Most of the things people write in their About Us pages are designed to show off how “quirky” and “weird” they are.
Even if this were a good idea – and I don’t think it is – the way to get your personality through your writing is by writing. It’s not by telling people you spent eighty hours watching Dr Who re-runs. People can tell your personality through your writing.
Finally, the aspects of your personality that you should highlight – reliability, tenacity, and ability to do the job are things you demonstrate by stating what you’ve done and the results that’s brought you and your clients. Nothing else is really important.