It’s the page you’re overlooking. The one which, despite your turning a blind eye to it, actually ranks among the most viewed pages on your website.
The page in question? Your about page. Yup. That’s right. That little page you rushed through when setting up your site, the one which you’ve yet to re visit or edit is actually one of the most important.
Nearly all of your new visitors will flock to your about page. They want to know who you are, what you stand for and most of all, what you can offer them.
Unfortunately most of these visitors will ultimately end up disappointed. So disappointed in fact that they’re likely to exit your site, never to return again.
Are About Pages Really That Important?
You bet they are.
Take a look at your own sites analytics data right now and check your most visited pages. I’d put good money on your about page always ranking in the top rn. Mine ranks as number 6.
And that’s hardly a strange occurrence. A while back I dug into some competition research to find the top performing pages on popular writing advice sites. Know what I found? That all popular websites had an about page which ranked in their top five visited pages.
It’s an incredibly important page which can make the difference between attracting a new, fervent reader or losing potential audience members through boredom and disinterest.
It Tells People Who You Are and What you Stand For
How many blogs and websites out there cover the same topic as yours? It’s a lot right, and they’re all your direct competitors.
Why should your audience continue to visit your site instead of one of your competitors? What is it that makes you different or more valuable than the rest?
If you can’t position yourself as the go to source for information/entertainment in that sector, people have no reason to pay attention to what you’ve got to say. The common argument is that content is king. And there’s this awfully deluded opinion that the message in Field of Dreams was somehow aimed specifically at aspiring writers.
Unfortunately building a website of high quality content doesn’t ensure that the readers will come.
It can take weeks or even months to form a bond that ensures your audience will keep on returning. Yet with the average attention span sitting at a paltry 8.5 seconds, you can’t rely on the old cliché of “content is king” to quickly form a lasting connection.
Producing great content will help the continued growth of your site. But it needs to be read by those who are going to benefit from it. You need to figure out how you’re going to show new visitors that you’re the right site for them. Attract the right crowd and all those 2000 word essays you’ve laboured over won’t only get read, but will also see a higher rate of engagement in the form of social shares and comments.
Your about page is the perfect place to tell people who you are and what your site is about. It’s key to attracting the right crowd which is the first step to seeing a huge increase in engagement and growth.
OK, So It’s Important, But How Can I Create a Killer About Page?
The first thing you have to remember is that your about page is not about you.
Kind of an oxymoronic statement, right. What I mean is that your about page isn’t the place for unabashed bragging and blowing your own horn. The words you write will be about you, but they’re for your audience.
If you’ve ever been to the party with Braggy McNo-mates you’ll know what I mean. There’s nothing more off-putting than the person who continually drones on about themselves.
“I’ve done this…”, “I’ve been there…”, “I, I, Me, Me, I”. Shut. The. F**K. Up.
The truth of the matter is, people are selfish. Listing your achievements and what qualifies you as an authority is a necessary element to your about page (as long as it’s done well) but what’s far more important is outlining how that experience helps your audience and how they can participate in your own journey.
It all sounds quite easy. Throw in a few participation questions, highlight the reader benefits and ta-da. You’ll have an about page that’s absolutely amazeballs.
Well, kind of. But as with everything the theory is far easier than the execution.
Managing to produce a compelling and persuasive about page that drives engagement isn’t as simple as throwing in a few questions. Luckily for us, there’s a method which is aimed specifically at producing compelling copy.
For years copywriters have been using long form sales letters to sell products and grow businesses. They’ve developed a framework which builds on key persuasive areas to form relationships and sell readers on the product’s efficacy.
Of course you’re not aiming to sell a product on your about page, but the same approach can be used to great effect and sell your audience on you and your blog.
The strategy I’m referring to is of course the AIDA model.
The model identifies the cognitive steps a buyer goes through on their purchasing cycle. In the case of your about page you’re trying to sell your audience on the idea of your blog and yourself as a writer. They’re not spending money on what you’ve got to offer, but they will be spending their time.
People need to buy into the idea of what you do, what you stand for and the benefits you can offer them. If they don’t then you’re going to attract zero visitors.
The real question is how does the AIDA model apply to a blog’s about page?
Attracting The Right Kind of Readers
Finding a new site can be exciting or disappointing. Obviously we’re aiming for the former. Yet managing to excite your prospects within the first 8.5 seconds of their visit ain’t easy.
Without a headline to hook attention you’re relying on your opening sentence to break through to your audience and force them to sit up and take note of you.
That first sentence should tell your audience everything they need to know about your site and whether it’s the perfect place for them. Demonstrate that you know why they’re here and that you can help them achieve their goals or solve their problems.
You’re not going to come up with a killer hook overnight. In fact, it’s likely going to take you a long time to come up with the perfect opening.
To give you a little head start, I’ve included a couple of notable formats with examples below.
1 – A Statement Outlining Who Your Blog is For
The direct approach can sometimes be the most effective. Simply stating who you’re trying to help makes it an easy task for your audience to figure out if your blog is for them. Chris Guillebeau, Author of The $100 Startup, does a great job on his site, The Art of Non Conformity. A single sentence is enough to let you know if Chris’s writing is for you.
2 – Kicking Things off With a Question
There’s numerous studies out there on the effect of questions in headlines. Most of which point to questions being more effective than declarative statements in capturing attention. If you can zero in on the primary problem of your audience you’ll know the question that they ask themselves on a daily basis. Start your about page with this question and you’ve formed an instant connection with them. Sophie Lizard of BeaFreelanceBlogger.com uses the question I know a lot of freelance writers ask themselves to kick off her about page.
Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers.com also does a cracking job of opening with a question (or six!). If even one of those questions is one you’ve asked yourself, you know his site is for you.
3 – A Bombastic Claim
You’ve got to be careful with bombastic claims. If you go over the top you run the risk of coming across as too sales like and hypey. Hype doesn’t sell, if anything it puts people off. You’ve got to find the balance between making grand claims yet at the same time remain realistic. The Copyblogger team have found a clever workaround for including a big claim. Instead of making the claim themselves, they’ve used a testimonial from a reliable source that positions them as “The bible of content marketing” (don’t worry they’ll be more on strategic bragging later!). They’ve actually said nothing themselves but are still able to make a rather large claim.
The success of your about page an ultimately your website rests on your ability to quickly hook that attention of your audience. You could be producing the most compelling content in the world, but if you can’t hook attention, no one’s going to read it.
Building on Attention with a Little Interest
So you’ve started the fire with a kick ass opening. Congrats. But the battle is far from over. You need to fan the flames of that initial attention.
You need to immediately follow your attention hooking opening with an interest building paragraph. These two elements need to work in concert. Put together they’re the about page equivalent of a boxer’s one-two combo. Elements which individually work to great effect, but whose effectiveness is multiplied exponentially when used together.
Ideally you want your interest paragraph to build directly onto the claims made within your opening. A natural progression of sorts that continues to prod the primary pain point of your audience.
One of the best examples of this I’ve seen is the about page for Boostblogtraffic.com written by Jon Morrow. Jon does an amazing job of working the primary problem many bloggers have – not making an impression.
He hooks attention by zeroing in on the primary issue, but it’s from the bolded line of “And it’s starting to piss me off” where the interest really builds.
Not only does Jon pinpoint the inequities and frustrations many bloggers feel, but he goes on to explain how he’ll to help you overcome that problem.
Everything in the first few paragraphs of this about page works. Attention is hooked by outlining Jon’s understanding of your problem and interest is built through further exploration and the presentation of a potential solution.
But Sometimes, Understanding Just Isn’t Enough
I understand your problems, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be able to help you overcome them. You might be the nicest guy or gal in the world, but people won’t become passionate about what you’re doing if it offers nothing of value to them. you’ve got to outline how you can help your readers, that’s how you build desire.
Yet even if I can solve your problems, I’ve got to be careful in how I communicate that ability. Shouting about my awesomeness doesn’t instil confidence. In fact it can be rather off-putting. No one likes an arrogant bragger.
It throws a real spanner in the works when it comes to successfully promoting your work. How can you tread the line of successfully promoting the usefulness of your site without coming across as a shameless horn-tooter?
With social proof.
Imagine you’re at a party. You meet our old friend Braggy McNo-mates who proceeds to tell you that he is the greatest writer in the history of mankind. Do you believe him? Of course you don’t. If anything, he reminds you of those unfortunately deluded folk who compete on X-Factor. You know the type, those who think they’re great but are in fact just awful. You nod politely only to later scoff at his arrogance.
Later at the same party you meet Jenny the marketing manager. After a little chat she tells you about what an amazing writer Modest McPopular-Guy is. Because this information has come from an impartial third party, you’re far more likely to believe it. It arouses your curiosity, and the desire to learn more about him builds. At the end of the night, and after two or three other mentions of Modest’s great work, you want nothing more than to read what he’s created.
It’s the same with your about page. Tooting your own horn only serves to lower the desire to learn from you. You come across as an unlikeable arrogant git. All that hard work you put into hooking attention and building interest is undone when you come across as a thoroughly unlikeable chap/chapette.
What you need to do is let your audience tell new readers how great you are. Jeff Goins has one of the best examples of using social proof on his about page.
Jeff makes none of these claims himself which makes me like the guy even more. Reading the awesome things so many others are saying about Jeff makes me want to check it out for myself. I need to see if they’re right.
There’s More to Desire Than Social Proof
The final element to building desire is to inject a little personality into your writing.
Understanding primary problems, building on them to establish interest and offering social proof are nothing but the framework. They’re hollow actions which say little about you as a person.
You want your audience to fall in love with you, something which achievements alone cannot achieve.
Imagine you’re presented with two potential dates.
The first is someone who has achieved a lot with their life. They’re well travelled, successful, solvent and intelligent but also incredibly boring. They don’t say anything controversial and constantly hide behind a screen of political correctness and mass appeal. There’s a real lack of personality which makes talking to them quite the chore.
The second is a person who is averagely successful, has maybe been to one or two places, holds a pretty normal job and suffers from the same rent and bill worries as the rest of us. However, despite being average in comparison to date one, this person is packed full of personality. They’re fun to converse with, and despite offering less “value” you enjoy your time with them more.
Ask yourself who you’d rather spend a protracted amount of time with. I know I’d rather go with option number 2.
It’s the same with your about page. What would you rather read, the boring, formulaic and a-little-too-close-to-corporate-speak business page? Or the page which speaks to you as a person and is an absolute riot to read? Which is going to make you want to continue reading more of their material?
Sure injecting your personality may piss a few people off, but are they the people who are going to passionately follow your blog? No.
You can toe the line and write copy that appeals to everyone, or you can let your freak flag fly and show exactly who you are. Some people won’t like it, but there’ll be an equal number of people who absolutely love you for it. You can’t please everyone all of the time. Focus on attracting the people who appreciate you for who you are.
For one of the best examples of letting it all out and not worrying what people say, check out Erika Napoletano’s site.
It All Ends With a Solid Call to Action
You’ve drawn new readers in with your persuasive copy and compelling personality. They’re sold on you, your blog and everything you do… but now what?
After all that hard work and clever persuasion the last thing you need is for them to walk away without doing anything. This is where your call to action (CTA) comes into play.
Want to create some kick ass CTAs yourself? Check out this piece I wrote for Crazy Egg on CTAs that convert!
CTAs are exactly what they sound like, a verbalisation of recommend next steps for your reader. Generally speaking they’re aimed at securing a sale or are the final persuasive step to subscribing to a list. However, a good about page uses CTAs to drive further engagement and action.
Some people ask for social shares, comments or even a request to get in touch (specifically aimed at clients). It’s not a bad way to go, however, I think your about page CTA is the ideal place to offer a little extra value and showcase your best material.
It’s certainly a tactic that I appreciate. If an about page has managed to excite me as a reader I can’t wait to read more of that writers content. To have a selection of the best pieces ready and waiting for me is the ideal method to keep me on the site and increase the likelihood of me leaving a comment, sharing or joining their list.
There are a lot of sites I could mention that utilise this method well, there’s a couple that I’ve outlined earlier in this piece. However, as variety is the spice of life I’ve gone with a site not yet mentioned. Carol Tice’s Makealivingwriting.com. It’s a great site for freelance writers and her about page is one of the best out there. Below is a quick screen cap of how Carol recommends some of her popular content to new readers.
You’ve spent all that time creating a killer about page, don’t fall at the final hurdle. Take advantage of the excitement you’ve caused and get your audience involved with some of your other work.
Your about page will always be one of the most visited pages on your site and is a major stopping point for new visitors. In an era where attention spans have become so short, first impressions have never been more important.
It may seem like an unrelated section of your blog, but an about page can make or break new reader’s opinions of you. By following the AIDA method you’ve got a far better chance of creating a great about page which drives engagement and keeps those new readers coming back for more.
SO which of these stages do you find the most persuasive of an about page? Or is there something I’ve missed which you think is a must have? I don’t know about you, but after writing this I need to go and give my about page some much-needed love and attention!