That Dastardly About Page: How to Talk About Yourself
I don’t know about you, but one of the most difficult things I have to do in life is talking about myself and my business. My business is essentially an extension of me, so in my mind, they’re two interchangeable concepts. That being said, when I update In The Cloud Copy’s site, Waterworth Writes’ site or my LinkedIn Profile, I go from the award-winning writer I am (no need to be humble, Kristi) to an insecure high school kid who has no idea what’s going on.
Writing about yourself is kind of like recording your own voice and then playing it back. It’s an incredibly uncomfortable exercise, but over time you get better at not visibly cringing whilst in the act.
What’s the Dealey-o? (The Root of This Nonsense)
I think — and I’m not a psychologist by a long shot — but I think the big issue we all have with About pages and the like is the same issue we have when given any topic that’s too broad. “About Me.” What does that mean? Is it meant to be a biography? From birth to this moment right now? Should it be a document outlining your professional experience at something? Maybe it’s supposed to be a list of hobbies?
There’s a lot of stuff even within those questions to answer that could take a book for some people to squirrel out of themselves. This, in my mind, is the first problem with self-promotion. You know the subject “me” or “my business” far too well, and your tiny little flashlight gets into those deep, dark cracks. That’s the deep dive. You don’t need to take people hunting in rabbit holes with you. Nothing hidden that far down should be shared publicly.
Now this isn’t the only issue, just the big one. The other issue is that many of us, maybe most of us, were raised to be humble, at least on the surface. Bragging is just plain bad manners, if not even more serious depending on the culture and religion from which you come. When you’re on that About page and you start listing all your achievements, it starts to feel a little like too much. Oh, I got that award a decade ago… I did this education last year.
You know, it really doesn’t matter. These are achievements you worked hard for and should be allowed to acknowledge in a professional way. It’s one thing to write “Graduated Cum Laude from Harvard in 1995” and quite another to write “1995 — Nailed Harvard degree, graduated near top of the class. Should have chosen a harder school. Lolz.”
I am, admittedly, not the best person to take advice on self-promotion from, but I have learned a few things over the years that I can pass along to you. Meaty nuggets of joy, if you will. Next time you need to write an About page or update a profile, keep these items in mind:
- Your audience. Ah. Here’s a limiting factor. “About Me” can mean anything to a general audience of general humans. But if you run a website about hearing disorders and you know the only people visiting will be patients and their caregivers and family, then you know they’re most interested in your professional experience and any sort of medical accomplishments. You might also include a business-personal tidbit, like why you’ve chosen to do business in a particular geographical area or your motivations for going into the hearing disorder field.
- Your goals. What do you want to achieve with the overall project? Is it meant to build authority? Get someone to hire you for a job? Treat this page or profile like you would a resume and pull out the items that are most likely to result in your endgame. A LinkedIn profile, for example, should include your experience in your field, with those things that you think make you a really good candidate for your ideal job bubbled up to the top.
- The impression you want to leave. This may sound like something I already covered, but it’s a little bit different. I mean, you can want people to think you’re “the cool doc” with that website that’s magically amazing, while still doing some pretty uncool things like paying bills and driving a sensible car. Who do you want to be? You can be anybody online, which is both good and bad. The bad, of course, includes Nigerian email scammers, Russian trolls and the like. The good, though, means that if you need a do-over, that opportunity is there.
If you still can’t get the words out (and this is not judgment, I promise), do what we writers do when we can’t make a thing work. Phone a friend. If you can barter out an About page or a LinkedIn profile from a pal who happens to also be a professional writer, do it. If you can’t, at least phone a friend and kick some ideas around. They have a good look at you from the outside, so it’s easier for them to break you down into those basic components that make up a unique youness.
… Wait for It… ANOTHER CTA!
By now you’re probably wondering why in the world I’m labeling these calls to action instead of trying to sneak them in. Well, it’s because I know you’re smarter than to be fooled into contacting In The Cloud Copy from a little bit of clever text. Instead, I want you to know where to find my contact information so you can simply email me directly to take advantage of my offer of a free site content audit, good for the rest of the month.
You know what your business needs. And if that’s help from a team of professional writers and editors, well, not to brag, but the team at In The Cloud Copy is really who you need to call first. Trust me on this — custom content doesn’t have to be expensive. I’m more than happy to give you a free, no-strings-attached, personalized quote on content for your site anytime.