How to write an "about me" that people want to read...

June 23, 2019

...and what to AVOID AT ALL COSTS!

 

This is from a conversation I had on Twitter earlier this month, with a whole host of other freelance workers who have been given conflicting advice before. 

 

The 'about me/us' page on any website is one of those which people often do as an afterthought - but it's one of the first places potential customers or partners will look to see what they can learn about the company or person, to see whether they're a good fit for working together.

 

If you are given a recommendation, the name of a company or person, or someone gets in touch out of the blue to apply for work, the first place you go is their website (or profiles on places like LinkedIn and Twitter) to see if you feel that spark, and whether they're not-so-secretly Nazis or baby eaters. You want to know a little of their background, their style, their personality - and whether that aligns with your own background, style and personality.

 

Interviewing people for a job, after all, is very little to do with finding out what skills they have; you've seen their CV, you already know what skills they have - you're there to see whether you can get along and picture yourselves working together successfully.

 

So you need to think of your 'about' page as a vital part of that CV - an introduction for potential business partners and customers which will make them think "yes, I want to progress to the next stage with this person".

 

Get your 'about' page wrong and it's a huge turn off - and it could be costing you a lot of business.

 

Here are some of the top "about me cock ups" which will get between you and that next job;

 

Writing in the third person

Writing "we" to make you sound like a bigger organisation

Cocky and smarmy

Apologetic

 

Let's look more closely at those:

 

Writing in the third person

 

This is a weird throwback I remember being taught to do in year 9 form time, that weird not-quite-a-lesson where we were taught about professional skills, STIs and how to avoid taking drugs. It was said, back in the 90s, that to give the right professional impression you ought to write like someone describing you - in the voice of one potential employer to another.

 

Far too many people still do this; "so and so is a...their experience as..." etc. like a bio in a local newspaper, clumsily written. Some do it because they've been told they should, others because it feels less uncomfortable to distance themselves from the writing, finding it hard to list their own skills or achievements because it feels braggy. 

 

The trouble is that - in distancing yourself as the focus of that introduction, you're also distancing your reader. If that reader is a potential customer, and they feel a distance and disconnect from you right from the moment of introduction, chances are slim that they'll continue reading, or working with you. First impressions count; you wouldn't walk into an interview, shake someone's hand and talk about yourself in the third person - you'd sound like a lunatic - so don't do it on your website either! 

 

 

Writing "we" to make you sound like a bigger organisation

 

Another bugbear - and one that A LOT OF PEOPLE (myself included, back in the day...) did to make it appear that this freelancing lark was actually a bigger, more established business or agency; a team of professionals working together. This "we can do" approach gives the impression of there being, well, a 'we' - rather than an 'I' - and that, again, disconnects you from your customers. 

 

It also leads to some awkward conversations where you get face-to-face with a customer and they ask who the rest of the organisation are - and you, clammy and red faced, explain "actually, it's just me..." - and nobody wants to look like a fibber when they're trying to secure some work! 

 

 

Cocky and smarmy

 

Obviously your 'about' needs to showcase your skills and experience - your training and professional history, and your personality - but there are ways of doing that which don't involve proclaiming yourself the greatest designer or writer in the history of time, or implying that all others cower before your brilliance, you're a phenomenon, blowing the world apart - and it's just a matter of time before you win every award. 

 

You need to be approachable, appealing and professional - but be so in a way that clearly states your skills and experience without coming over a bit Donald Trump - who, in his own mind, is the smartest, bestest business brain, greatest most healthy leader, great guy and all around wonder of the world. Don't be that guy. 

 

Apologetic

 

Of course, the opposite end of that scale is the apologetic, unsure character; s/he who writes "I like to think" or "I hope that..." rather than making clear statements - who emails to say "I know you're busy, sorry to take your time" and brushes their own value off. If you don't value yourself and what you do, your customers won't either. If you position yourself as lowly and insignificant, they will assume that dynamic. You need to be the equal of your customers - this is a mutually beneficial arrangement, and they are seeking your skills because they have value. Don't apologise for your experience and knowledge, don't belittle your talents, and don't ever apologise for offering those skills and experience, voicing your opinions, or invoicing for your work. 

 

How to write a great 'about me' page

 

 

I've written a  lot here about what not to do - so how should you be doing it?

 

Think about talking to a good friend. You're not pitching, you're just having a nice conversation with someone you like, who likes and trusts you. Comfortably introduce the professional history and experience you have which you know makes you a great choice for the role of your dreams.

 

Talk about what you enjoy about the work, which things particularly spark your fire, and how you've helped other customers or clients in the past.

 

Let your personality shine through - and don't worry too much about any 'should' or 'rules' of professional etiquette; if you try too hard to adhere to someone else's guidance, you'll absent yourself from your words - and you're what you're selling here. There are no absolutes - just people. 

 

Speak like a person - no jargon, no buzzwords, no nonsense. 

 

Speak like a likeable person. Don't brag or belittle others who don't match up to you - just say why you're good, what you like about the work, and who you're interested in working with.

 

Remember that you are going to have real people looking at this piece of text; this isn't a faceless organisation, even a CEO is just a human being with a job - so don't feel you've got to be intimidated or intimidate anyone; forget any kind of hierarchy. You have a skill, they need that skill - and you might be the right person to offer it. 

 

It's just the first part of a conversation; be yourself, be confident, and be human. 

 

If you truly can't tolerate writing your 'about me' page and need a little help - or are looking for support on any of your other copy - give me a call; I can help you to put the right words in the right order, and boost your own confidence in what you're offering. 

 

To learn a little more about marketing your brand and what the basic terms that boggle your brain right now actually mean, get my book "The A-Z of Marketing" here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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