You’ve found your niche, you’ve got yourself a writing platform and you’ve chosen a hosting partner. You even know what you are going to call yourself.
Now it’s time to start writing.
I know this because that’s just about where I am as I sit down to write my About Us page.
But first, let’s set the scene …
Writing an About Us page
I have spent quite a long time getting to this point, mainly because I have been taking notes on the way … and for good reason. All the stuff that I have had to do to get this far, you will need to be doing too. Blogging Beginnings is about helping you now, at this time when you are just beginning to blog. You too will need an About Us page.
So … before I get down to writing an About Us page, I am going to write the “How do I write an About Us page” post.
If, at this point, maybe you’re wondering about the difference between a page and a post. I know I was. I have now done the research and I can explain – so look no further than looking here. (It’s not here quite yet, just saying)
Follow the following steps and then have a look at the Blogging Beginnings About Us page. It’s my first go, how did I do?
Approaching the Problem
I will, at some point in the not-too-distant future, be writing a whole section on approaches to research and analysis. I am not going into detail here but it’s not rocket science. Whilst it might not be rocket science, I am pretty sure that all the rocket scientists that I know would adopt a similar methodology faced with a similar challenge. I’m sure that if you had more time, you would do the same. This site is about saving you time.
When I started, I knew very little about writing an About Us page, so I began by “doing the research”. I did google, I did YouTube, I watched, I listened, I read and I took notes. Then I added brainpower and experience and brought it all together into a bite-sized chunk. This is the principle behind most beginner.beginner.beginner.beginner.beginner.beginner.beginner.beginner.blooger.me posts.
The whole Blogging Beginners site is about giving a head start to all the blogging beginners whose skills lie primarily within their chosen niche rather than in the technologies of blogging.
This site can be used as a stand-alone resource or as a springboard to further research.
Idea – Research – Analyse – Outline – Improve – Publish
Who is your About Us audience?
Knowing what your audience looks like will help you to define and refine your About Us page.
Most people interact with Google by asking questions, or at least abbreviated versions of questions: “population Hertford” rather than “What is the current population of Hertford?” The form and presentation of the question isn’t particularly important because Google’s magic pixies can translate. In most cases, they can work out what you are trying to ask before they go looking for the answers.
The questions are usually specific, they can be time-sensitive, and the people who ask the questions are often looking for answers they can act upon. These people have landed on one of your pages because Google considers that page to contain information pertinent to their question.
The visitor to your page will be looking for two things:
- the answer to their question, which is after all the purpose for their search,
- a warm feeling about the nature of the answer … can they trust it?
Remember, the format and presentation of the About Us page may be one of the first things that the visitor sees. Have you got it right?
The content you provide will hopefully answer their question, but it should also generate further interest in the rest of your site. The purpose of the About Us page is to help the visitor determine whether the information you are providing across the site is worth the investment in time to read it.
Can it be trusted? Essentially it’s about answering the question: do you have the necessary qualifications and experience?
Ultimately, your visitors are visiting you because they need help. You need to make them feel that they need your help. You need to show them how you can help them.
Your job is to hang on to them.
Who are you?
You have skills, you have knowledge, you have experience.
You have an idea.
You are just starting out.
You are not a corporate.
And … you are probably bored with looking at all those sites that try and generate excitement by blogging about what you can achieve rather than how you achieve it.
If none of the above applies to you, then you are likely to have landed in the wrong place.
You are in the right place if you have watched the excitable YouTubers … but they haven’t told you how to take the first steps.
Who am I?
I am just starting out, learning how to build a blog and learning how to write blog posts that people want to read … at least I hope that I am writing blog posts that people want to read.
At the same time that I was considering my niche, I was also collecting information on how to begin a blog. I soon realised – after digesting what seemed to be the gazillionth 7-point plan – that I couldn’t find that much to help me take the first steps. As I searched further, I soon realised that it wasn’t just me – there were others saying that they understood the principles but didn’t know where or how to begin. To be fair, there is a huge amount of information about blogging to be found, that’s not the issue.
Most sites dedicated to blogging are written by blogging experts. That’s not unreasonable, I don’t think that I would want a site dedicated to blogging to be written by jugglers, or train drivers or fruit pickers … at this point, I should say that I don’t have any particular objection to jugglers or train drivers or fruit pickers – they are just examples. What I would say is that I think the problem with experts is not in the fact that they are experts, it’s in the fact that because they are experts, they have lost sight of the specific problems of the beginner. To get to the meaning, the beginner must now re-add the fairy dust that the experts have, not intentionally, left behind. I am here to re-add the fairy dust on behalf of the beginner and I can do this because I too am a beginner. More importantly, I have been a beginner several times. I have sort of made a career of it. The thing is … because I have a lot of experience of being a beginner, I have got to know what beginners need and what gets overlooked by experts. I am an experienced beginner! Now there’s a skill … !
Let me explain some more.
I have spent many years developing systems from back-of-a-fag-packet ideas and I know a bit about how to make stuff happen. The experience of those years has taught me that people who know stuff think that moving from a basic idea to those important first steps is easy. If you don’t think that’s true, just watch some videos – any subject – uploaded by YouTube experts, and then have a go.
Many people will tell you that things are easy but in just about every case, they are not. I have started many projects where, at the beginning, I just didn’t know how the stuff I was working on making work, was going to work. I understood the principles, but not the low-level applications – a bit like looking at a stereotype picture and not seeing the dots.
This is very much the same: I understand what needs to be done, and why, but I am not yet aware of the detail. I have questions that aren’t being answered, and when I dig around and find the answers, they invariably lead to further questions. I am not alone, maybe I can help.
The same experience has also taught me how to pull stuff together, make a plan and deliver something clever. I think I know what is needed here and I think I know how I can help.
I don’t think you would be surprised to know that a lot of this stuff is going to find its way onto the About Us page.
Why am I doing this?
I am doing the research that you would probably be doing if you weren’t reading this, so I am saving you time. All the essentials are in here, if you need more, the references that I used are down at the bottom … and if you want more than that, remember, Google is your friend.
I am currently (at the time of writing) writing an About Us page, but before writing the page, I am writing an article about writing an About Us page … it’s this article! I can’t help thinking there is a bit of a difficulty with the tenses here. When you read this, all the stuff I say I am doing and all the stuff that I say I am going to do will have been done. Hmmm!
Let me say first that I am exploring other niches. There are other things that I would like to write about, but as I was searching for “first steps” advice I realised that most “first steps” advice was written by experts, expecting me to know more than I did. What I needed was a “first principles” approach to get me going, but I couldn’t find anything. I did find sites that looked like they could help, I’m sure that you have too. They did help, but the experts use terms and jargon that they assumed I understood. I didn’t! That left me floundering, wasting my time wondering, and then googling for the answers. Just like being back at work, but without the Google.
I realised that if I was in this position, there would be others. I was not going to be alone.
I am also told that blogging about blogging is what you do when you can’t think of anything else to blog about. I might be tempted to agree, but wait! I am not blogging about how you should build a blog, I am blogging about how I am building a blog. It’s different. I am doing it without prior knowledge and I am sharing what I am learning so that you can learn from my experience.
I am telling you all this because it’s background stuff and it is useful stuff to know. Some of it I shall be including in the About Us section that I will be writing for this blog.
I need to say again that whilst I have little experience of blogging, I do have years of experience ferreting out gotchas.
A “gotcha” is anything that pops out of the woodwork to slow you down, that you hadn’t considered previously. Identifying gotchas before they pop saves time, energy, money and sanity.
Learn from my mistakes so that you don’t have to repeat
The ferret is your friend.
I have shared a little about my background, my motivation and my thoughts. I think it’s important because I am building Blogging Beginnings and writing about the experience. You will have a different background, maybe a different motivation and certainly different thoughts. Your own About Us page must reflect you just as much as mine reflects me.
What is the About Us page for?
The About Us page is NOT about YOU!
Your visitors will want to know who you are but they will be more interested in how you can help them, and whilst potentially running the risk of making the About Us page too big, here are some of the things you might want it to do:
- Tell your story and how you got to be where you are.
- Explain your offer.
- Put a face to the name.
- Include some attention-grabbing content.
Remember when you are writing it … your About Us page is more about the person clicking the link to look at it.
A lot of the people landing on your About Us page will essentially be meeting you for the first time – don’t be a bore.
Have you noticed? Many of the About Us pages that you might look at, look like they might have been put together as an afterthought. Your About Us page shouldn’t look like an afterthought because – if you are to believe all that you read on the Internet – it is one of the most visited pages on a site.
It makes sense: the About Us page shouldn’t be a copy of your Landing page, assuming you have built a landing page. I have also had a go at building a landing page.
The About Us page is a home for your personality. It’s where your visitors can get to know you and, more importantly, learn about what you can do for them. It will come as no surprise that I shall be writing something along those lines.
The About Us page is an important selling tool, and since it is likely to be one of the most visited pages on your site, you really should be making it worth a visit.
What goes into an About Us page?
Firstly, the About Us page should not be a boast. Your visitors want to know how you can help them, not how many certificates and diplomas you can display in your bedroom. Also, the About Us page should not be a copy of the information on the Home page. I will write an article on writing a home page later, but for now …
TV programs, magazines and other media are designed for specific audiences. That’s why I don’t watch BBC Three, I don’t get it. I am evidently not the target demographic.
When you write your About Us page, you need it to connect with your audience.
For this site, my target demographic is the set of people who have made the decision to have a go at blogging, who are intelligent and able to string a sentence together, have something they feel that they would like to say but can’t be arsed to spend too much time trying to understand the technology. They may also be the people who are considering how they might make some money from their blog implying that a bog-standard, “free” solution might not be the most appropriate option.
People are nosey and are naturally interested in what makes other people tick. Your audience is not going to be any different.
Your visitors are not visiting your site to find out about you, they are visiting your site because they think it might help them. Google thinks it might help them too, so you should be making the most of it.
Think facts and don’t make it up. Don’t try to be something that you are not.
Tell your Story
Everyone loves a good story. If you have an interesting story, and it’s relevant to how you got here, tell it.
Your writing style
All the advice I have looked at is telling me to let my personality show through.
Writing in an objective, third-party style is OK, but it can come across as stiff and inaccessible. It’s going to be reasonably clear to any of your readers that you are not a corporate, so why would you want to try to look like one? Best not to try and look like something that you are not.
It’s also probably a good idea to avoid using industry jargon. Industry jargon is generally inaccessible to outsiders and can act as a barrier to inclusion … and also, don’t use acronyms unless they are accepted as a part of normal language, like ATM. There is nothing more likely to alienate a reader than to have a writer constantly referring to unfamiliar TLAs and NFLAs!
If you must use them, make sure they are “translated” and explained … and relevant.
[su_note note_color=”#e0e7e9″ text_color=”#354649″]
TLA: Three Letter Acronym
NFLA: New Four Letter Acronym
The advice that I have taken from my research is that we should write like we are having a conversation with our visitor, to reveal the human behind the site.
I have also been told, though I think it’s pretty obvious, that an About Us page is not a resume.
Resumes are boring. You are not boring. Don’t write a resume.
Don’t try to be something you’re not
Don’t make it up.
I don’t tend to make things up anyway. I don’t know if it’s because I am unduly honest or if it’s just because I am lazy. I’ll go with honest for now.
Fluff is boring. Candor is compelling. Be who you really are and make that your advantage.Jeff Haden
If you are going to make things up, just remember that you will need to maintain the deception into the future, probably well into the future. Readers will spot inconsistencies a mile away. You are not creating a legend here, you are reflecting on you and how you and your experience can help your readers. That’s not going to happen if you are exposed as a liar.
Photos and Pictures
The jury is out on this one it seems.
Some say that we live in a visual world and that visitors to your site will only be skimming what you have spent hours writing, but they may pause a little at the pictures.
Others say that if you are not able to provide or source your own pictures, you shouldn’t bother, because stock photos look like stock photos!
I have some iPhone pictures that I have taken myself that seem to fit the bill, so far. I have also developed a whiteboard graphic that I can use to break up the text, draw the reader’s eye and highlight some of the points I have been making … and here is that very whiteboard graphic.
Creating an About Us page
My personal preference is to use my own pictures, but sometimes …
The ferret picture isn’t one of mine. It is, however, available free for commercial use, so I have used it and I have credited it at the bottom. You should do the same. Crediting the picture with a link adds an extra link to the page anyway, which isn’t a bad thing. See here for more on how to use pictures.
In the absence of photos and pictures, headings and sub-headings break up the text and provide a precis of the story, but pictures are probably better.
Headings and Sub-headings
If your visitor is skimming your post, they will naturally be drawn to the pictures and to the headings and sub-headings. Therefore, they should be structured and carefully crafted to tell the story by themselves.
The last paragraph is important as this should summarise the post, giving the conscientious blog skimmer a reasonable chance of quickly grasping the preceding text … and if there is something that grabs their attention, they can skim back up the headings to find the detail.
Of course, this advice is better applied to mainstream posts, but the principles still applies to the About Us page.
How long should an About Us page be?
I thought originally that this was a reasonable question. I had a look but I didn’t find any guidance about length, only guidance about content. As I write this, I am thinking that I want the About Us page to be reasonably snappy, so I am going to aim for around 1000 words and some pictures.
I know what I would like to include and I now have a framework in mind. Let’s see if the About Us page matches the expectation of the About Us page.
Let’s see if I can put what I have learned into practice.
Include a Call to Action
You might not necessarily think that you would need a Call To Action on an About us page, but if your new visitor has landed and is liking what they are seeing, now’s the time to grab ’em.
You have an interested party looking at your About Us page. Strike while the iron is hot and present your visitor with a Call To Action. I could use CTA here, but I don’t like TLAs. I do quite like irony.
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There are several possibilities and potential Call To Action lists are abundant across the internet. They generally include invitations along the lines of:
- sign up for the blog
- subscribe to the newsletter
- browse our catalogue
- start a free trial
- call for an estimate
- arrange a consultation
- follow us on social media
- learn more …
On my own About Us page, I have included a standard subscription form that collects email addresses. It’s a standard block that I have deployed across the site. I have also included a series of social media buttons and contact details.
There are some interesting points to consider around the subject of Contact Details, which aren’t well documented by the experts. I shall be covering these in a separate post, but in the meantime, have a look down at the bottom of the About Us page.
There is always room for improvement
You are managing a dynamic resource and you are always learning. If you look at something and it looks wrong, look to tweak it a bit.
Trust your judgement.
Ask your friends and family to have a look, ask them if they can work out what you do from the About Us page. If they can’t give you the answer, maybe you need to have another look.
Trust their judgement.
What have I learned?
I have learned, once again, that nothing is as easy as it looks. What I thought would take half a day has taken considerably longer, but having said that, had I been writing an About Us page rather than an article about writing an About Us page, I think it would have been much quicker. Now I am left wondering how long it’s going to take me to write the About Us page.
Obvious, but it is important to know your audience. My audience is people who can write and have cultivated an interest in writing a blog but who are less interested in the mechanics of setting up the blog. They are looking for the path of least resistance. My audience wants to understand what they need to do, why they are doing it and any consequences that might be following in the shadows – the “gotchas”!
Audiences are attracted to things that are interesting. Things that are interesting are sticky, so give them something interesting .. and it’s ok to sound excited.
Writing tone is important. It should be somewhere in between knowledgeable and approachable, and don’t overwhelm by cramming too much onto one page.
Read it out loud. If it’s not written good, it won’t sound good. ?
The About Us page is one of your key pages and lots of visitors are going to see it.
Don’t make the About Us page a mirror of the Home page.
Don’t make the About Us page an afterthought.
Make sure the links work. I have seen a few examples of About Us pages – and expert pages telling me how to write About Us pages – where the links don’t work. There is nothing more infuriating (at the time) than attempting to follow a link because you are interested in what you might find at the other end only to find that there isn’t anything at the other end because it doesn’t lead anywhere.
Bottom line … have a go. Look at it, read it, have someone else read it. If you are not happy with something, spend a few minutes trying to understand why you’re not happy with it. Learn from those few minutes, have a tweak and then have another look.
In keeping with my recommendations for research, I have listed the top five Google search results for “writing an about us page”. I have used some of their ideas, but you can follow their lines of thinking by following the links below.
I have added the links from “6” onwards because I found them interesting. They’re not in the top five but you don’t need to stop there.
- Susan Green: https://thestoryoftelling.com/10-rules-for-writing-about-me-page/ No Date
- Lindsay Kolowich: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/remarkable-about-us-page-examples 4th February 2020
- Braveen Kumar (Shopify Blog): https://www.shopify.co.uk/blog/how-to-write-an-about-us-page 19th April 2018
- Maura Monaghan: https://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/building-websites/how-to-write-an-about-us-page/ 30th October 2020
- Mary Lister: https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/05/27/guide-to-about-us-pages 5th March 2020
- Jeff Haden: https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/8-ways-to-dramatically-improve-your-about-us-page.html 4th October 2012
The ferret picture: Image by Stephan Joseph from Pixabay