I’ve been working with a company this month doing blogger outreach for a project. Part of my job is to vet blogs and determine their audience, their traffic, and whether they’re a good fit for this particular project. Having spent several hours reviewing blogs in several markets, I’ve come to a conclusion: We all need to work on our About pages.
What is an About page?
Your About page is a page that explains who you are, what your blog is about, and how to contact you. If someone is new to your blog, they’ll most likely click on your About page to find out more information. Likewise, if you’re passing out business cards at an event or conference, when people return home and check out your blog, they’ll likely click on your About page first just to get a feel for who you are.
These days a blogger can’t ignore her About page. It’s your online resume of sorts; your virtual “How do you do?” Whether you’re using your blog as a way to attract PR and marketers, a resource for your new book, a way to attract publishers, or just as a hello to new visitors, you need to put some time and effort into this page.
Lani Rosales writes a blog aimed at realtors, AgentGenius.com, and has written an article with an example of a bad About page (generic and impersonal) and then offers a few examples of better About pages (really focusing on the “you” of the blog). Her examples cut across niches and are relevant to all blogs. She explains why About pages are so important:
“A frequent offense we witness with bloggers is an outdated, useless, lame or ugly “about” page. When people visit websites, a shortcut for their getting to know you is to click on your “about” button, so this is your opportunity to capture them. Your about page needs to be catchy and capture the essence of who you or your company is, it should contain some sort of contact information and it should be like a handshake at a party with a quick introduction as to who you are and what you do.”
What should a basic About page include?
Don’t groan and tell me you don’t know what to write about yourself. I’m not buying it. You just wrote an entire blog about yourself; now we just have to pare it down a bit.
- A picture of yourself. Including a picture helps your readers connect with you on a more personal level.
- An overview of what your blog is about. Share your elevator pitch (the short explanation of what your blog is about) and then expand the explanation. This is the perfect opportunity for you to explain why you’re different from the other bloggers who write in your niche. What makes you special?
- Contact information. People are going to want to know how to contact you. Your e-mail address should be prominently displayed on your sidebar and in your About page. If you’re worried about bots harvesting your e-mail and using it for spamming purposes you can make it harder for those bots by using a modified version of it (e.g., melanieDOTnelsonATbloggingbaiscs101DOTcom; most people are web savvy enough by now that they understand the DOTs and AT should be replaced with a period and the @ symbol) or making a graphic with your e-mail address on it (like a button). Including contact information is particularly important if you’re hoping to be contacted by marketers wanting you to review their products. Don’t bury your e-mail address inside the page either, make it as prominent as you can.
- Interesting information. When writing about yourself, it may be hard to determine what to share and what not to share. Since this decision will largely depend on you, your readers, and the goal of your About page, my advice to you is make it interesting. If it’s not interesting or funny, people won’t read it.
- Your goals. This can be your goals for your blog, your short- or long-term goals for your life (if it’s related to what you blog about), or just the goal of the About page (to introduce yourself or encourage people to contact you or whatever).
- Whether you’re interested in being contacted by PR or marketing people. These days many bloggers are very interested in working with PR or marketing people. There are still those who aren’t. Make it easy on yourself (and the marketer) and share what you are or are not interested in. If marketers can readily see that you are a good fit for their product, they’re more likely to contact you. On the flip side, if you’re not interested in working with marketers, let them know it.
What shouldn’t your About page include?
Although you want your readers to gain an understanding of who you are and what you’re writing about from your About page, you don’t want to lay it on too thick. Your About page should be concise. Don’t include
- Your list of 100 things. This is a cop-out and is in no way to be considered a form of the About page. It’s too long and it’s usually not interesting to anyone but your closest friends (who already know those 100 things). If you can pare this down to about 25 things and make them incredibly interesting you may be able to get away with it.
- Your life history from birth to now. As a reader, I’m only interested in what you’re doing now. Unless your childhood is directly relevant to your blog niche (a bird pecked my ear when I was 8, now I can’t hear and I write a blog for the hearing impaired), don’t include it.
- Irrelevant information. Which is just another way to say keep it short and simple.
Ideas for customizing your About page
As I mentioned above, your About page can be used for many purposes. Therefore, you’ll want to consider what additional information you can include pertaining to that purpose. Here are few examples you can consider:
- Purpose: I want to establish myself as an authority in my niche. Include links to online interviews or include video if you have it. Link to articles you’ve written at other sites. Include a few quotes from people who have used your information.
- Purpose: I want to speak at conferences or be a consultant. Include information about your experience and why a company would want to hire you. Tell them again what sets you apart from others in your niche.
- Purpose: I want to find a sponsor to help defray my costs to an event. While you’ll want to reach out to companies individually with customized requests, it can’t hurt to include this information where people can find it. Include exactly what you’re looking for and what you’ll provide for the company in return. The more information you can give, the better.
- Purpose: I want to work with marketers to host giveaways or provide reviews. Include a link to your disclosure policy and explain what types of products you’re interested in receiving and why (you don’t want to be pitched for baby food if you don’t have kids or if your kids are teens). Give an overview of your traffic statistics (e.g., I reach mostly women who are interested in teaching themselves about technology). You don’t have to give everything away (i.e., specific numbers or demographics), generalities are OK as long as they convey enough information to pique the visitor’s interest.
If you’re like me, seeing some examples of the end product can be helpful. I like to see what other people are doing. Mark Nutt wrote Best Practices For Effective Design Of “About me”-Pages and in it he provides screen captures of some truly interesting About pages. They’re sure to give you some excellent ideas.
A version of this article was posted at BlogHer.com.