Let’s look at some common About page mistakes. Things that let air out of your tyres and cause your About page to perform less well than it should.
Happily, they’re usually pretty easy to fix.
1. Not having an About page
If you’ve got a website, you need an About Page. They’re among the most visited pages of any site and an industry standard. Customers look to your About page to get a sense of who you are and whether you’re the person to help them.
Retailers also check out an artist’s About page when considering stocking their work.
If you don’t have one, you’re giving all of those potential buyers several irritating moments of fruitless searching.
Related: A “Coming Soon” banner instead of an About page.
This tells me you don’t have the basics in place, and that makes me question how professional you are. If you can’t get to it right now, a couple of simple lines about yourself is better than nothing at all. Then go back and fix it as soon as you can.
2. No picture of you
Humans are social creatures and we like to know who we’re doing business with. That’s why there should be a photo of you on your About page.
Not one where you’re hiding behind a dolphin-shaped piñata.
Not one where all we can see is the back of your head as you gaze moodily into the sunset.
Not one of you when you were six.
A recent picture. Of your face.
Accessorise with a moustache on a stick if you absolutely must, but show us what you look like. It’s a basic courtesy and makes it easier for us to like and trust you.
3. Not giving your full name
This is one of the simplest About page mistakes to fix. It’s natural to be wary about how much you give away online. The fact remains, however, that if you want to sell stuff, you have to let the dog see the rabbit.
People must feel safe enough to give you money in exchange for your work. In order to do that, they need to know something about who you are.
What do you think would happen if you turned up to sell at a craft fair with a paper bag over your head? Do you think it would result in your best ever day of sales?
Of course it wouldn’t. Even if people liked your work, they’d be far too spooked to actually buy anything. The same thing happens on the internet.
4. Writing your About Page in the third person
Artists do this for one main reason: to appear bigger than they really are.
Now, in some industries this is a sound strategy. Some business partners and customers may be more interested if you look like a big cheese.
The opposite is true for craft and design businesses. If you make a lovely thing with your own two hands, your skill, talent and unique view of the world are the main attractions. In fact, to the right customer, one of the most thrilling things about you is that you’re not a big cheese.
Those buyers love that you’re a one-person enterprise. They could easily find a mass-market product that’s similar to what you make. They don’t because they see value and integrity in your artistic process. They love that they’re taking a little piece of your imagination and craftsmanship home.
That’s why writing your About page in the first person is smart. It helps these customers to feel like you’re talking directly to them.
And it shows that you’re a real, live human being.
Your About page is an opportunity to give your buyers a glimpse of your personality. Writing in the first person helps because it’s direct and immediate. Your way of talking, your sense of humour and your view of the world naturally come across.
Huge corporations spend thousands on design and copywriting in order to make themselves seem small-scale, friendly and approachable.
You’re the real thing.
So be confident. Step forward and say “This is who I am and this is how I can help you.”
5. Only having a video on your About page
If your audience likes watching videos and you like making them, by all means have a video introduction on your About page. Just have some words too.
Not everyone has the patience or the broadband for video. People like me, for example.
Unless it involves otters, I don’t always watch videos because I prefer to take information in at my own pace. I don’t want to hang about for eight minutes waiting for your film to buffer or for you to finally talk about the bit I’m interested in.
Also remember that potential buyers may not be in a position to turn the sound on. If they’re at work, they probably don’t want your voice booming across the office.
Having words as well as video makes your About page is accessible to everyone.
6. Prioritising design over words
Your About page has one job and it’s not to look pretty.
That job is to tell potential buyers what you do and how that’s relevant to them. The only way it can do that is through words.
Design elements can help but they’re not a substitute for the words. No potential buyer is going to take one look at your typeface or colour palette and go “It’s suddenly so clear! Now I know precisely how you can help me!”
That doesn’t mean your page has to look horrible, but the text on your About Page needs to be clear and easy to read. Any design touches beyond that should remain in the background.
7. Your About Page is too formal
The next three About page mistakes are all about tone of voice.
When we hear someone speak we take in two kinds of meaning. The first is the literal meaning of the words and the second is the emotional meaning expressed by the speaker’s voice.
Human beings are always looking for the emotional tone behind what’s being said – it’s one of those things we do without thinking. Every time you talk or write about your business, your customers are taking in not just what you say, but how you say it. That’s why it’s important to choose a tone of voice that feels good to you and sounds good to them.
Sometimes makers communicate in a tone of voice which conflicts with what they’ve got to say. If you’re a one-person business making stationery with a relaxed and happy style, for example, potential buyers wouldn’t expect you to say:
The key objectives of Sunshine Stationery are a) to offer paper-based office products at a competitive price, b) to reflect modern trends in stationery design and c) to provide gold-standard customer service according to the current metrics of the Office Supplies Regulator.
Even though the outcomes on offer here are all desirable, the stiff way in which they’re expressed is unlikely to people looking for a cheerful pencil case.
That’s not to say, however, that a formal style is inherently wrong. Depending on the kind of company you run, it might be exactly the right way to talk to your customers. The key is matching your tone of voice to their preferred style of communication.
When these elements are in harmony, potential buyers feel like you’re talking their language.
Related: Using art-speak
Another About page mistake creative people sometimes make is treating it like an artist’s statement. They’ll say things like:
My work explores the tensile relationship between emergent personality and life as performance. With influences as diverse as Kierkegaard and Buckminster Fuller, new insights are corroded in a carnival of lust.
You might know what you mean but spare a thought for your customers (and potential stockists.) Art-speak can be exclusionary. It throws up a wall between you and your potential buyers in much the same way as misplaced formality.
Remember that you’re the leader here. It’s your job to help people what you do is relevant to them. If you want them to buy, you’ve got to make them feel like you’re all on the same page.
8. Your About Page is over-familiar
A similar thing happens if you over-share. Buyers don’t want to know everything about you – just the bits that are relevant to them.
Even if it feels okay to you, being too open about the intimate details of your life can scare customers off. Give the edited highlights instead.
9. Using “Whatever” phrases and superlatives
“I make the world’s sparkliest birthday cards.”
“This is jewellery that makes your dreams come true.”
“My scarves are the most beautiful you’ll ever see.”
“I provide excellent customer service”
Disputable statements like these make customers eyeroll for daaaaays.
It’s been estimated that we now see around 3000 different brands a day. Pretty much all of them promise to make our dreams come true in one way or another. So when you say this kind of thing, it’s just white noise that your buyers have learned to tune out.
The same goes when you use superlatives. Unless your birthday cards have been scientifically proven to be the sparkliest on the planet, find another way to describe them. Throwing huge promises around actually makes you seem less credible, not more.
10. Your About Page is too long or too short
To do its job, your About Page needs to be of sufficient length. But rambling on about yourself for 6000 words won’t get the job done. Huge blocks of text will cause many potential buyers to mentally shout “Next!” and click away.
There are no hard and fast rules about this, but less than three brief paragraphs is probably too short, and a page that takes more than a minute to read is probably too long.
11. Your About page has no social proof
This isn’t a requirement on your About page but it can definitely help.
A few well-chosen words from a buyer, someone who’s actually taken the plunge and spent money on your stuff, helps potential buyers relax. They want to believe you’re as brilliant as you look, and now they don’t just have to take your word for it. There’s some corroborating evidence.
The guard dog in their brain can go back to sleep.
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