What Makes a Good Website About Page? (Hint: The Same Details That Make a Great Book Preface or Introduction)

man and woman discussing website content outside coffee shop

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

If you’re creating a website for your business like the hipster fellow in the above photo, you may be wondering, “What should I include in my About page?” How personal should it get? How business-y should it sound?

Here’s how I answered this web content question on the social site Quora a few years ago. My answer still holds true. The last paragraph also applies for writing nonfiction book Prefaces and Intros.

Depending on your industry, a clearly written, friendly About page can be where media people will go to find out who you are—what you’re about—and what ideas you represent. What I’ve told my clients in the past is that while Home pages are often dominated by “the latest news” or a splashy interface displaying a new product or campaign, About pages are where new site visitors go after they’ve seen your sales pitch, when they want to get a sense of who’s selling to them.

Seth Godin published some rules for writing About pages on his blog. One of them was “Be human. Write like you talk and put your name on it. Tell a story, a true one, one that resonates.”

I agree. Compelling personal stories are eye-catching. They also function as the most immediate of all possible testimonials: your story about why you started your business, wrote your book, or founded your non-profit.

For many business endeavors, the story goes something like this: “I saw a need. Nobody was filling this need. So I jumped in and created something I’m proud of. I know it will help you, because it helped me. Please get in touch and let me know how you like my product. I welcome your feedback.”

How does this relate to nonfiction books?

Nonfiction books of the self-help or how-to variety are information products–emphasis on the word “products.” As such, their introductory material often covers the same ground as a website About page: you need readers to know quickly who’s selling them this information. What makes you, the author, the right person to teach me something over the course of a few days or weeks?

Here’s a handy analogy:

Website splash page = book back cover copy. The energetic words and occasional overselling (let’s be honest!) catch your eye when you’re browsing online or in the bookstore.

About page = book introduction and/or preface. Inside the book is the place you go to learn more about the author–their personal story, their background, and why they felt compelled to write this book.

Do you need help writing or editing an About page, professional bio, book preface, or statement about your business? I can help. Let’s talk!

Client Kudos & Praise (5/25/16)

Before I dive back into a big pile of copywriting assignments, a few quick notes about recent client work:

  • A website for which I wrote copy (personal stories by consumers) was awarded a “best site” award for 2015. (Client is confidential.)
  • The e-learning module script I wrote last summer is now complete and live on ElectricSmarts.com. The client is proud of the end result and looks forward to working with us again. We’re a two-woman dynamo; contact us if you need e-learning modules complete with Flash animation and voiceover talent.
  • I have a new content editing testimonial for my current project, a nonfiction business book due from a major business publisher in 2017. Per the author’s wishes I’m keeping his praise anonymous for now, until the project is complete:
vintage typewriter in black
Your edit is a gift! You're doing exactly what I hoped you would be doing: copy editing, mixed with excellent content editing. I also love your suggestions and questions — makes me think deeper about the messages I'm trying to convey and how to better communicate them.
J.
Business Book Author and Tech Director at a Fortune 500 Company

If you’re looking for help with copywriting, e-learning module development, or editing, please send me an email to reserve a spot on my calendar. I have time available starting after July 5.

Writing, Editing, and Reading: September 21, 2015 Edition

manuscript critique of books, with beer

Photo © Keisuke Hoashi and Kristen Havens. All rights reserved.

Last week, I worked on a magazine pitch, website updates (my own), short fiction, and poetry. This week. . .

Writing:

I’m finalizing an agreement to write 16 pages of short copy for a health-related website.

I’m also revising a short story and several poems while getting back encouraging rejection letters from literary magazines. Pro Tip: If you get a form letter saying something like, “This story isn’t quite right, but we like your writing, please submit again,” pin it to a cork board over your desk. The growing pile is a daily reminder that you’re on the right track–and also a reminder that you really do need to submit to that publication again.

Editing:

Since finishing my last batch of career content for a client, I’ve had my copywriter’s hat on, creating website content for health companies. That’s one of the joys of freelancing–no two weeks are exactly the same.

If you need a professional bio, a LinkedIn profile, or an application essay critiqued or edited, please contact me. Career content edits are thoroughly enjoyable, and my clients usually feel the same way by the end of the process. (Here are some testimonials.)

Reading:

Perfidia by James Ellroy for a book club. Hard-boiled crime is not something I’d normally pick, which is why I voted for it–one needs to stretch now and again.

I’m also picking my way through a couple issues of The New Yorker and was impressed by this eerie short story, “In the Act of Falling”, by Danielle McLaughlin. Here’s an interview where she talks about what it looked like in earlier drafts.

— Kristen