Why Your Blog’s “About” Page Matters

by Joel Friedlander on August 15, 2011 · 24 comments

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It’s amazing how often this happens: I visit an author blog and, finding something interesting, I go looking for the “About” page. And when I get there, it’s a total disappointment.

Typically there will be a couple of paragraphs of copy and a photo, but often there’s not even that. For some reason the Blogger.com platform seems particularly guilty in providing little in the way of an “About” page.

But even when authors have an about page, it falls victim to one of two problems:

  • Boring. Do you want to read about where I went to college? No, I didn’t think so, since there’s no benefit in it to you, one way or another.
  • Written like a press release. Writing about yourself in the third person can be awkward, and it’s easy to slip into “corporate-speak” when we try.

The Goal of the “About” Page

I think if you look at your analytics you’ll find that your “About” page is one of the more popular sites on your blog.

All of us want to connect to the person behind the words, that’s just a natural human desire. It pays to recognize this because it’s an important signal.

When I visit an “About” page I’m open to more engagement with the author. I’m saying with my clicks and my time that I’m interested in you. Since a lot of what we’re trying to do with our blogs is build reader engagement, you can see why your “About” page is actually a crucial and uniquely powerful asset in that effort.

Understanding this makes it more clear how to fashion your own “About” page.

Your aim is to humanize yourself, step out from behind the author’s viewpoint and engage with readers directly.

It makes no sense to waste this precious communication time with information that has no interest to anyone outside your immediate family.

“They want to see the face behind the blog. People use your About page to decide if they’ll subscribe or not. Ideally, you’ll want to let them know that you know what you’re talking about. Readers also like to be assured you’re human. Assure them.”—Martyn Chamberlin, Copyblogger

Statistics Tell the Story

A look at Google Analytics tells the story of why we need to pay attention to the “About” Page. On this blog, over the last 30 days there were 370 visits to my main “About” page. When I was working through a course in blogging I put a fair amount of work into getting this page to work.

I have a secondary “About” page, my “Hire Me” page that performs a similar function. It got 523 visits over the same period.

Multiplied out for the year, it looks like this:

“About Joel” page = 370 x 12 = 4,440 visits
“Hire Me” page = 523 x 12 = 6,276 visits

That’s over 10,000 people who will click over to my “About” pages in the next year. I want to use that opportunity to my advantage, and that’s something you can do, too.

Check your “About” page to see if it:

  • Communicates in a personal way to readers
  • Contains information readers of your site would fine relevant or interesting
  • Shows more sides of you than you usually show in your articles
  • Uses photographs or videos to make the information more personal
  • Links to other assets of yours or to contact information.

Some Examples

Chris Brogan has an excellent “About” page which speaks in a very personal voice but still manages to list lots of impressive achievements.

Colleen Wainwright shows another way to connect with readers while providing lots of background at the same time.

Joanna Penn does a great job of personalizing her “About” page while reinforcing the mission of her blog.

Paul Stamatiou shows how you can make an “About” page both interesting and informative.

I hope this encourages you to take a fresh look at your “About” page as another way to build reader engagement. Your readers will thanks you if you do.

Photo by frotzed2

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    { 16 comments… read them below or add one }

    Mitzi Reinbold w/a Mitzi Flyte October 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Maybe it’s because I’m older – 65 – but I found the “about” page examples too busy with way too much information. I’ve read that less is more as far as trying to get information out to people. If there is too much information and/or it’s presented in several different fonts, I’m turned off and I go elsewhere. Just sayin’….

    Mitzi

    Reply

    Scar*let Nguni October 7, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Hi Joel – jut found your site and wanted to express my gratitude for your erudite and information posts. Recently I leaped off the known cliffs of the corporate world and into the deep, dreamy waters of writing which although I’m utterly passionate about, is relatively unknown. Many of the posts have served to confirm the path I’ve intuitively stumbled down which is an incredible comfort. This post has been especially helpful as I’ve resisted creating an ‘About’ page for my blog but after reading your rationale, I can see it’s inherent value. Looks like I’ve got myself a project for weekend! Thank you. Kind regards, Scarlet

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Scarlet, glad it helped. Good luck with your blog!

    Reply

    Regina Mize w/a Rechelle Owens October 3, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Great tips! I definitely will be re-evaluating my about page in a way that is less biographical and more engaging!

    Reply

    Sophia Chang September 2, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Where someone went to college is actually one of the first things I look for! Yes it could be because I’m an admissions coach by trade (:P) but also because I love if I randomly find someone who went to my college (not often) or a rival (more often, unfortunately :P) and so on. It also says a lot about where somebody lived for 4 years and on and on.

    Reply

    Mikalee Byerman August 31, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Must add “Hire Me” page…MUST ADD “Hire Me” PAGE!!!

    Brilliant. Thanks so much for the great advice and perspective.

    :)

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 9, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Mikalee, love your blog too. Great engagement over there, and dead squirrels too, quite a combination.

    Reply

    William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. August 17, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Hi Joel, and All!

    Excellent advice here. I just discovered that I had left the bio part of About Me blank! I had only been thinking of what I wanted to say on my blog. Good thing I checked in on The Book Designer!

    Reply

    William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. August 17, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    PS
    Opps! Click on my name here for my Blog Spot blog. My name before this one goes to me on You Tube.

    Reply

    Jami Gold August 16, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Hi Joel,

    Great minds and all that! I just did a post today on the same subject. (“What Does Your Author Bio Say about You?”)

    I think you’re completely right that it’s a missed opportunity for people. Writers tend to think that they don’t need to worry about their bio until they’re published and need to put something at the back of the book. But our blog “about” pages and social media profiles perform a similar function: letting readers know more about us.

    Thanks for confirming my thoughts. My blog’s About page isn’t bad now, but I think I’ll be updating it next week to reflect some of my new ideas.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander August 15, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    I think the “About” page is always in the process of revision for a pretty good reason: we keep doing new things. Barbara has the right idea to revisit your “About” page once in a while to see it as visitors might see it. I’d like to clean up the old page structure of my blog, and writing this article made me see it in a new way. It could be a lot simpler and easier to use.

    Reply

    Barbara Techel August 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    This is excellent advice and I will be using it to update my About Me page. Thanks so much!

    Reply

    Shawn Wesley Steam August 15, 2011 at 10:53 am

    =) I clicked on your About page, Joel, about half way through the article.

    I like the fact that your About page is a door that separates the About Joel from Hire Me and so forth. And at the same time, I think I would like to see more Joel there than what is presented currently.

    And on that note, my About page doesn’t even warrant mention here… Let us pretend I don’t have one for the moment. =P

    All in all, the take away for me from this article is this: we are human as much as we are a brand. It is easy to forget that fact in the midst of all the self promotion.

    Reply

    Barbara August 15, 2011 at 8:43 am

    I try to update or re-examine my about page every few months. I’ve had a large increase in readership this summer and I’m gradually re-evaluating all of my pages. I’ve written some heavy material lately and I want people to know that I’m really a fun person, in spite of the upbringing.

    I’m amazed when I go to an about page and there is absolutely no contact info. I found a blog I truly enjoy reading, because he’s a wonderful writer, and couldn’t even find his name anywhere on the blog! So I asked him in a comment and he emailed me.

    Thanks for the reminder!
    b

    Reply

    Peggy Alessandri August 15, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Hello, I too went to look at my “about” page….so embarrassing! My disclaimer: I tried to design my website on a shoestring budget, with absolutely no experience, no help, all the while being totally UN-tech savvy. Big mistake! I spent too much time trying to figure out how to get the site up and running, and not enough time with the content. Thanks for making me aware of the importance of content. I can see now that I need HELP :(

    Reply

    Christopher Wills August 15, 2011 at 4:46 am

    Yes, like everyone that reads this post I went straight to my ‘About Me’ page and was disappointed. I have not looked at it for a few months so I was almost reading it fresh like a blog reader might. However instead of being interested and thinking ‘Wow’ I thought ‘so what?’
    I don’t think my page is bad; it’s just not good. So back to the drawing board. Thanks…. :)

    Reply

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