Rescue your About page from the clutches of predictability.
Our old mate, Predictability. Some of us thrive in its company. (“Phew, my pants from last winter still fit!”) It keeps us feeling safe, secure and in control. Some of us, however, lose our minds when there’s too much of it and begin to crave something unexpected in our lives.
When it comes to business, predictability serves an obviously important purpose. Predictability means being able to place an online order for a size 12 t-shirt and not receive a parcel containing trackie-dacks in size 8. It's the difference between leaving your hair appointment with the cut and colour you asked for, versus walking out with a pixie cut and hot pink highlights. (Unless that's your thing, which isn’t too far off my kind of thing either, girlfriend!) Predictability means we can safely assume that that the products and services we bought, will do what we expected them to do after we hand over our credit card details and get our purchases home.
On the flip side, predictability can be a total mood killer - and not just in the bedroom either! (Now don’t tell me I was the only one thinking it.) Predictability’s nemesis – unpredictability - is why we look forward to seeing the new commercials for the Super Bowl roll out each year. It’s why Heston Blumenthal is a household name. The great, late, David Bowie summed up the buzz and beauty of unpredictability when he said: "I don't know where I'm going to from here, but I promise you, it won't be boring." Unpredictability is the very thing that can make for a powerful About page, too.
Without a peppering of surprises, we very quickly lose out on the chance to grab our audience’s attention, and keep it (in any form of content). If you’re looking for ways to spice up your About page writing, here are a few things that will help you move away from the predictable zone (and repeated yawns) and get your audience feeling excited about what it is you do and how you can help them. (I’ve popped some links below so that you can read original examples.)
1: Start somewhere else.
Sometimes the hardest part of writing an About page is knowing where to start. So, how should you kick things off? With the year your business was founded? Office location? Packages and fees? *Boo! Prospective customer closes browser tab.*
Starting with run-of-the-mill-details would have crushed all the beauty and creative flair behind Hayley’s business, The Vintage Kitchen, for whom I recently created an About page. Instead, the opening paragraph takes us straight to her late grandmother's otherwise unremarkable North London terrace home, if not for the Mad Hatter-esque front garden. The rest of the magical story unfolds from there, and lots of visual details help transport our reader from place to place, or in this case, from high-tea to swanky soiree.
2. Create contrast.
"Marriage. Divorce. Soul destroying corporate jobs." They're anything but the words you’d expect to read in the opening lines of an About page for a family and baby portrait photographer. But they’d catch your attention, wouldn’t they?
Don’t be afraid to be the one who breaks the stereotype of your industry. In fact, in an industry that relies on forming strong, personal connections with their client, letting your guard down to reveal the ‘real’ you can have a significant impact on how much clients will trust you enough to let their guard down in return.
3. Look for hidden themes.
Financial planning isn’t always a service that brings fly-under-the-radar rebels to mind. However, one big ‘WHY’ came to light during the writing process with my client – a financial planner and money mindset coach – which explained just what she loves about her chosen industry.
It turns out that many of us prefer to put our head in the sand when it comes to financial planning because we perceive it as being too boring, too complicated, or too expensive. But my client was on a quiet mission to shake things up. She’s empowering women to take control of their financial destiny - one of the greatest forms of rebellion in a world where we either follow the pack or allow someone else to call the shots. Instead of an About page as bland as filing your tax return on a Friday night, the result is a punchy and exciting piece – perfect for my client’s strong, gutsy, female target audience.
So, time open up the (possibly dusty) pages of your website and take cast your eyes over your existing About page. Is it up to date? Does it reflect the current ‘you’ or your business as it stands? Highlight the parts that feel bland and predictable. Does it open with "Hi, my name is," or "I do this," "I studied here," and "I hope we can meet and do x, y, and z together."? Explore WHY it is you do what you do and look for inspiring themes that you can pull out of your content. Think about significant places or events in your life that you can weave through story. Maybe the call to action (the CTA) at the end of your About page can be tweaked and brought to the start of your About page as a punchy, no-nonsense opening mission statement?
Push back from predictability, tip-top away from the 'safe' zone and get us intrigued. I’d love to see your ‘Before’ and ‘After’. (Yes, that’s an open invitation: firstname.lastname@example.org . I promise I don’t bite.) Happy writing, people!