Your Website’s “About” Page – Use the First Person

What Joe's site really says: "I am trying to trick you into thinking I am a big corporation when really I am just some dude in skinny jeans and an ironic t-shirt behind a Mac."

A Facebook friend of mine posted a link to a new website a friend of theirs had recently launched, so I decided to check it out. (Ah, the power of social media) The home page looked pretty good so I decided to look around a bit more (always a good sign).

I should mention that this website was for a single person, let’s call him “Joe,” who is a public speaker. It’s not a company or a big business or anything. Just one dude trying to get you to book him as a speaker.

As I was saying, the home page looks good. It had a design that would be attractive to his potential audience. A good photo of him. Intriguing graphics. And the copy was written in first person point of view making it all very personal with things like…

“Welcome to my new website.”
I’d love to hear from you.”
“Sign up for my newsletter”

But then, when you click on the “About” page, it takes a completely different turn. Some nameless person is talking to me and Joe is being referred to in the third person. To make it worse, there is an absolutely great, compelling story being told there.  But it reads more like a newspaper article, complete with quotes from Joe.

It all comes across as very pretentious and turned me off immediately. Chances are he probably wrote it himself anyway. So, why wouldn’t Joe tell this story himself?

If you were at a conference networking, would you hire some guy to follow you around and make your introductions for you? I envision something like this:

Potential Client: “Hi, Kristina, it’s nice to meet you.”
Me: “It’s nice to meet you too!”
PC: “So, tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do.”
Me: “Hold on one second. Mike, take it away.”
Mike: “Kristina has a thirst for knowledge that lends itself well to her position as a virtual assistant and administrative consultant.”
Me [nodding]: “I have a hunger to learn.”
Mike: “Yes, this passion for learning dates back to her days as a young girl who always wanted to be right and always have the last word. A borderline personality disorder which probably stems from a lifetime of being compared to her much smarter older sister.”
Me: “Wait. What? This isn’t what I told you to say.”
Mike: “Well, it’s true.”
Me: “It is not. And for the record, she isn’t smarter than me. She’s just more….motivated.”
Mike: “See? Always has to have the last word”
Me: “I do not. Now, shut it, Mike.”
PC [slinking away]: “Um, yeah. I have a…thing…to get to…somewhere else.”

See what happens when you give your story away for someone else to tell? The connection to your potential client is lost. It isn’t you talking to me any more. It’s some random person I don’t even know and it’s completely out of place.

I have tried to come up with some reasons to do your “About” page in third person and none of them make sense to me:

1. “I’m not comfortable talking about myself.” Um, yeah, you need to get over that. As ugly as this may sound, you have to be able to sell yourself. You are your business. Your business is you. You can’t get away without talking about yourself if you expect your business to grow. It’s called “marketing.”

2. “It sounds like I’m bragging.” Well, that would be because you are! You deserve to tell your story. You deserve to tell people what makes you great. What else is an “About” page for? Are you saying that making it seem like you had someone else write about you is more humble than just doing it yourself? (Pssst…the answer is no. It makes you seem more arrogant.)

So, be brave. Tell your story and what makes you different from your competitors. Let other people talk about you on your “Testimonials” page.

Of course, contrary to what Mike said, I do not always have to be right, so what is your take on the “About” page. Should it be written in first (I, me, we, us) or third person (He, she, them)?

Thanks for reading,
Kris

[For the record, I have no idea if Joe is a hipster who uses a Mac.]

Image credit: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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3 Responses to “Your Website’s “About” Page – Use the First Person”

  1. Kivi Leroux Miller says on :

    I can see where a speaker would talk in the third person because the org hiring him or her would likely need a third person description both in selling the person to others within the org as a good person to book, and for bio copy for their own marketing after they hire. It also makes it easier to work in third-person testimonials. But I also get your point, which is why I do both on my own “Meet Kivi” page! I think it lets me tell me story but also gives people the cut/paste copy I know they need too.

  2. Betsy Baker says on :

    Very good information – I’ve actually never thought about it before but I agree with your points. It made me go check my own site! Whew – I’m safe. :) You can always work in your testimonials like “See what others have to say about my work.”

  3. Kris says on :

    Good point, Kivi. I still think you should tell your story yourself. On the web page that inspired this post, there was a very personal story about his childhood that would have been more poignant had it been in first person. You would not have used this for marketing purposes. I get using third person for a marketing bio, etc. I think, like you said, there is room for both.

    Betsy, I really like your interview style About page and almost linked to it as a good example of a way for those who don’t like to talk about themselves to talk about themselves.

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