I did a web design recently for a small business and it was a HUGE hit. One of the co-owners said to me just a month after it went live, “That site has gotten us a lot of meetings, let me tell ya!” What I took from that remark was, “Press want to talk to us. New customers are coming in every day. Vendors and influencers all want a piece of what we’re doing.”
I’m going to toot my own horn a little here and tell you that this was one of the web design projects where I basically had complete creative control. The owners had a clear brand message and visual identity when I came on board, which made the project easier—but as for the site’s structure, the photography, and even the copy, I had a lot of say.
Unfortunately, even though the site was a success, the business owners got a little camera-shy after it was up. They decided—and this is absolutely not the first time a client has made this request of me—to change out a lot of the information on their “About” page to be less about their journey to opening their own business, and more about the business itself.
Because this is such a common change of heart, I thought it deserved a blog post. Today, even though the logic to go more “business” than “personal” on your “About” page seems sound, I am going to systematically debunk it, in the interest that when you launch your own website, you make the wisest decision for your business for what to include in your “About” content.
Here is a list of some of the common arguments I hear, and my responses to them.
Argument #1: I don’t want it to be about me.
My response: Your business is about you. Sorry. It’s your creation, your dream. It’s a tangible manifestation of your genius. It’s your financial commitment, your personal victory when the doors open for the first time. Your business is absolutely about you, no matter how much you tout that it’s for other people.
And you know what? People want to know about you. Many of us have aspirations to open our own businesses, but not nearly as many of us have the courage to go through with it—so something must be special about you! Frankly, your customers want to know what it is that you have that makes you sure you will succeed, and whether they might have a little of that inside them, too.
It’s not arrogant or self-important to share your story. It’s smart marketing. People want to be charmed by why your place is different from every other place just like yours within a stone’s throw. They want the insider scoop. So you should give it to them.
Argument #2: I want it to sound professional.
My response: Professional, or sterile? How many times have you had to re-read the same paragraph three times on a “professional” website because it was too boring to pay attention to the first time, or too cluttered with jargon to be understood by a normal human being?
On the flip side, how many times have you gotten truly excited about a business because you related to the person behind the brand? There’s nothing like seeing a bit of yourself in someone who is doing the things you thought you could never do. What if you could offer that hope and inspiration to someone else? What if that was the reason someone became loyal to your company for life? Share your story!
Argument #3: People come to the “About” page to learn more about the business.
My response: False. Chances are anyone clicking around on your website already knows a lot about your business, either from word of mouth or just landing on your homepage. You don’t want to bore visitors away from spending any more time on your site by telling them things they already know.
Your “About” page is the chance to distinguish yourself from all the other people out there who are trying to do exactly what you’re trying to do. And your potential customers care about that. I know because statistically, the “About” page on any small business website is the most frequently visited page.
Think of it this way: We all already know what coffee tastes like. We already know the function of running shoes. We know that organic tomatoes are better than non-organic ones. But why should we buy yours? Why support you instead of the next guy? What deeper thing are we going to get out of it, or what deeper purpose are we going to serve? Make us feel good about giving you our money.
Argument #4: My story isn’t interesting—I’d rather focus on social/environmental causes.
My response: Are your story and social/environmental causes mutually exclusive? It’s great that you compost at your restaurant, or that you give 10% of your proceeds to help the local food pantry. But that’s the icing on the cake, not the heart of the meal.
Also, your story is probably more interesting than you realize. “I always wanted to open a bakery” might not be as interesting up front as “I always wanted to open a sardine shop,” but there’s something there—the first time you watched a wedding cake being decorated, or the first time you bit into a hot, buttery scone. There’s a reason that you do what you do, and that’s going to be interesting to people.
Argument #5: I feel weird, putting my face and personal story out there on the internet for everyone to see.
My response: Welcome to being a business owner. You can’t avoid attention if you’re going to own your own enterprise. Marketers are going to want to talk to you, vendors are going to want to talk to you, other business owners are going to want to talk to you. If you have to get attention from half the known universe, you might as well add magazine editors to the list.
Why do I say that? Because magazines and local papers are always hungry for the next story. Press is good for business, so both of you can win if you have a story worth retelling in a magazine or newspaper. You know how journalists and editors decide whether your story is worth retelling in print—whether you’ll be worth interviewing in person? They go to your “About” page! And “we compost here” is not enough to land a cover-page placement.
What resonated with you about this post? Leave your thoughts below, or come join the rest of the party over on Instagram, @alexisthegreek. Can’t wait to hear from you!
What do you think? Leave a comment over on Instagram @alexisthegreek! As always, if this information was helpful, share it with a fellow business person and stop by my tip jar to let me know you appreciated it. And if there's a topic you'd like me to cover in a future blog post, let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.