Building trust between you and your audience is all about building credibility and authority.
Visitors want to know who you are and why they should bother reading what you have to say. One of the most important pages on your website is the “About Me” page (or “About Us” page if there is more than one of you), but most people give it little thought and rarely spend time keeping the information up to date.
This is a mistake.
Here are my top 10 tips to help you get to create an outstanding About Me page right.
Tip #1 – Get the Page Structure Right
The About Me page should have four distinct parts.
- Part 1: The first paragraph should be a summary of you and your experience. Many readers won’t get beyond the first paragraph, so you must make sure it gives them a good idea of who you are and why you are a credible source of information
- Part 2: The next few paragraphs should put flesh on the bone. They should give the reader more details about your experience and expertise. This could be education, previous jobs, books you have written, people you know, projects you have done, places to which you have traveled, your hobbies, awards you have received, etc.
- Part 3: The third part should provide supporting material that verifies what you have told the reader. This often includes testimonials, links to articles you have written on well-known websites, photos or videos that support your claims, links to your books on Amazon.com, interviews you have done, etc.
- Part 4: Finally you should provide a way for your reader to contact you
Tip #2 – Write It for Your Audience
Keep the content relevant and interesting for your target audience. Make sure you let them know that you understand what their problems, opportunities and goals are, and that you have the knowledge and experience to help them get results. Your website should have a clear benefit for your reader like help them make money, save money, save time, improve their expertise, etc. Let them know you can deliver on this promise.
Tip #3 – Make It Interesting
This is not a CV for a job interview. It should be entertaining and engaging like everything else on your website. Provide anecdotes and insights into your life and thinking so your audience feel like they know you.
Tip #4 – Make Sure It Is Accurate and Honest
A survey conducted by a recruitment company in London revealed that there was inaccurate information on a staggering 76% of the CVs they received. Don’t be tempted to lie about your background and achievements on the Internet. There is a good chance you will be found out and your credibility will be blown to pieces. Assume that everything you publish on the Internet is there forever, so make sure it is accurate and honest.
Tip #5 – Include a Photo
You wouldn’t try to sell something on eBay without including a photo of what you’re selling, so don’t try to sell yourself to your audience without letting them see what they’re “buying.” A photo shows you’re not trying to hide behind your website and that you are happy to let your readers know who you are. Make the photo fit the subject e.g. if your site is about sailing get a picture of you on a boat
Tip #6 – Make It Personal
Your readers want to know who you are, not how well your PR agency can write web copy. Write the About Me page as if you were sitting face-to-face with one of your website visitors, explaining to them who you are and how you can help them.
Tip #7 – Use Subheadings
Internet users scan content rather than read it word for word. On your About Me page, turn points you want to highlight into subheadings on the page. For example:
• Best-selling Amazon Author
• Ten Years at IBM
• Designed More Than 100 Websites
• Cycled Across Australia
Tip #8 – Let Your Readers Contact You
In the real world, more than 90% of communication occurs via body language and tone of voice. In the online world, these two forms of communication are not present, so it is much harder to build trust and relationships. It is therefore very important that you allow people to contact you and that you respond to their questions so that a bond is formed. This gets harder as a website grows, but certainly in the early days it is essential to building your online credibility and brand.
Tip #9 – Short vs. Long
One of the most common questions I’m asked about the About Me page is how long it should be.
My answer is that the first paragraph should be a short and punchy overview that provides a snapshot of you, your website and your experience. This will be the only thing many visitors read, so get your points across.
Other readers, particularly those about to spend some money on your website, will want further assurance about who you are. These readers will want some detail, so give it to them. There is no recommended length, so say all you have to—just make sure it stays relevant and interesting to your audience.
Tip #10 – Video Intro
I like the idea of having a video clip on your About Me page so that people can watch you explain who you are. This is now simple to do and is a great way of engaging your visitors on a much more personal level. A few tips:
- If you are going to do a video, make sure it looks professional. This does not necessarily mean it has to be expensive, but it does mean you need to plan and prepare what you are going to say and where you are going to film it
- Write down what you want to say, but don’t read from a script. Your talk should come across as natural, original and personal
- Make the video relevant to your subject. If you have a website about fly-fishing, include some clips of you fly-fishing. Remember: It’s all about building your credibility
- Keep it short. Three minutes is about the most you can expect your audience to sit through
Note: Don’t replace the written version of your About Me with the video. Have both. This is important for the search engines and for those who aren’t able to view online videos.
Tip #11 – PR People and Press Pack
One of the most likely groups of people to visit your About Me page is the press. Therefore, it is a good idea to create a press pack for them to download. I suggest that this include a printable version of your bio, possibly a CV and a choice of downloadable photos. Journalists want an easy life, so if you give them what they want without hassle, they are more likely to use you in their story than someone they have to chase for information.
Tip #12 – Keep It Up to Date
Put a note in your diary to take a look at your About Me page at least once every quarter. Keep it updated and fresh. Add new photos and new information about what you have been doing. It should always be a work in progress.
Plus, one tip for luck…
Tip For Luck (not #13!) – What Not to Do
Your About Me page is like the rest of your website. It should NOT have music or whizzy, twirly, blinking gizmos. The text should be clear and easy to read, which means it should be dark color text on a white background, with plenty of space between paragraphs, headings and photos.
Invest some time and thought in your About Me page. It is important. It is who you are on the Internet and one of the few opportunities you have to build a relationship with your audience in the faceless online world.
Here are examples of some good About Me pages. None of them are perfect, but you will be able to quickly see what they do well.
Sitepoint – http://www.sitepoint.com/about/
Freshbooks – http://www.freshbooks.com/manifesto.php
Jancis Robinson – http://www.jancisrobinson.com/page/team_jancis.html
Tim Ferriss – http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/about/