I hate most About pages. How about you?
We have to read them before doing business with others, yet they're so formulaic.
"So and so is a professional blah-dee-blah. She has been blah-ing and blee-ing for more than a decade. Her focus is on meeting clients' needs by providing the highest quality blah blah blah. She earned her B.S. in b.s. from Some Big University. When she's not blah-ing, she enjoys A-ing and B-ing and C-ing."
I'm not trying to knock other people's About pages. They're not the easiest things to write--even for me. And I call myself a writer.
I've looked at a lot of About pages over the years. I've also written a lot of About pages, some good, some better, a few, sad to say, lame. (Mostly good, or at least I like to think so.)
And despite years of study, I'm still somehow surprised when I land upon what I consider a fabulous About page. A page that draws me in, keeps me reading, and makes me think: "Damn! Why didn't I write that?!?"
Damn! Why didn't I write that?!?
I ran across such a page today while working on an assignment. That page spurred me to write this blog post. I figured: If this About page got me so excited, it might inspire others, too! It's the About page of Jonathan Fields, "...dad, husband, serial entrepreneur, growth strategist and bestselling author" of Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance.
Go on -- click into the image. Or click this link to visit his About page yourself.
Read. Marvel. Swoon.
(Okay, maybe I'm getting carried away.... I am a writer, after all....)
Unraveling an awesome About page.
What's so great about Jonathan's About page? Let me count the ways.
One: He leads with a mystery.
You can read what's below, but truth is, that image above, that's all you really need to know...
Do you see all that's going on within that single sentence? Here's what I got out of it:
- Something else, something obviously important, is "below" -- mental note to scroll down to see it. Eventually. For now, I must keep reading.
- That image above -- Hmmm. That image must be important. I better look more closely at it. What is it, anyway? Looks like some sort of monitor, being covered up by a page of notes, along with an adorable image of colored hearts, obviously drawn by a child. Is it the author's child? I don't know. But I'm intrigued. Who starts an About page like this? I read on.
- That image above, that's all you really need to know. Huh? Well, I'm on your About page to find out who you are. And you're telling me that I can learn everything I need to know about you in that single image. Yet you haven't really told me anything.... But the writing is good, so I better read on.
Two: He reveals just a bit of what the mystery's about.
It was taken while I was on stage, presenting the final keynote at World Domination Summit in 2011. I don't script my talks. I just write down a few key concepts and stories, then share my truth.
What do you get from that? Here's what I got:
- This guy presented a keynote at something called the World Domination Summit. I don't know what that is, but it sounds impressive.
- I'm also guessing that the notes I see in the image are the "few key concepts and stories" he mentioned. But what about that hand-drawn heart image?
Three: He reveals more of the mystery, and exposes his heart.
On that day, I was nervous. Though I've spoken in front of much bigger audiences since then, it was my first time standing before 500 people. Eyes and hearts staring back at me, yearning for something good. Something real.
- This guy was nervous. He's human. He's real. He's like me.
- He's spoken in front of more than 500 people. Much more.
- "Eyes and hearts staring back at me, yearning for something good. Something real." Eyes and hearts? Pitter patter goes this writer's heart. Yearning for something good? Something real? What I'm reading here is something good, something real.
And on my analysis went. I was mesmerized, taken in by Jonathan's story of carrying the inspiration he draws from his 10-year-old daughter in the form a picture she drew for him. The picture of colored hearts.
The bottom line? A powerful story on your About page allows people to relate to you.
Why is Jonathan's tale so powerful? It's powerful because we relate. Because we ALL want someone willing to draw a picture of colored hearts for us, someone willing to give us a picture we can use as an icon to remind us of what's important and why we bust our humps to do what we do every day.
Jonathan goes on to present the "Fancy-pants Version" of his bio, giving us all the blah-dee-blahs and blee-dee-blohs expected in an online bio.
But way before we get there, he's already given us so much more.
He's given us a look at who he is.
A look at his heart.
And how often do you get that from an About page -- even before you get to the actual About?
Want ideas to rock your own About page?
Here are eight of them, in a handy infographic.
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