If there’s one thing I hear a lot when I’m talking to business owners about how they should talk about themselves in their business, it’s this… ‘Oh, but I’m not interesting enough. No one wants to hear about me!’ Well, that’s a whole load of stinky stuff on your shoe, friends. Because as small business owners, you are your business and so people want to know ALL about you. And I know for a fact that you are much more interesting than you think you are. So, let’s get into this. Let’s figure out how you should write about yourself – in a way that’s engaging, fun and not too painful for you OR your readers!
Grab a pen and paper, we’re going in!
It’s not all about you
First things first, the good news is that your website is primarily a space to talk about what it is you do and what clients and customers can expect you to do for them.
That means, actually, you only need to talk about yourself on the one page most small business owners fear the most – your About Me page. There will be elements of your story on places like your home page and blog, depending on what your business is. But your About page is where people typically go when they’re finding out about your business and they want to know more about the person behind the product or service they’re investing in.
So yes, your About page is about you. BUT, here’s where I’m going to throw a spanner in the works and tell you… even on this page, it’s not always ENTIRELY about you.
I’m going to elaborate on this in a post all its own (it needs it!) but, suffice it to say here, bear this in mind going forwards. While you’ll be sharing stuff about yourself, you need to be clever in that you’re not falling into the ‘I, I, I,’ or ‘Me, me, me’ trap.
Use the first person
It seems odd to say this when I’ve told you not to fall into the trap of saying ‘I’ and ‘me’ all the time. But you should be talking about yourself on your website in the first person.
I don’t know where this idea of talking about oneself in the third person came from (only Queen Lizzie can pull that off!) but it flippin’ grates on all my senses when I’m trying to read about a solo business who is talking about themselves as if they weren’t even in the room.
Allow Sarah to elaborate. She finds the whole idea of talking about herself in the third person entirely abhorrent. She would even go so far as to say it is quite pretentious and just a little bit stuffy. She is actually cringing in her seat as she writes this… and now she is struggling to stop…
Bleh! Do you see what I mean? It’s like someone shoved a corporate stick up your backside. Or, better yet, their whole corporate hand and now they’re playing you like a puppet.
Frankly, the moment you start talking about yourself in the third person, you lose that immediate connection with your readers. If you can’t even talk about yourself as if you’re in the room, readers are going to wonder how you’re even going to show any interest in THEM.
So, stop doing that right now. You are you. I am me. We are us. And they are them. Your audience will thank you for it.
Which actually carries on quite nicely into the following point…
Speak to your audience
Notice how I talk about YOU, reader. Not they or them. I speak to you as if you are sitting across from me at my desk. I’ll even offer you one of my sweets. Or apologise for kicking you as I stretch out my legs.
While I don’t know you specifically, I have a good idea of you in my mind. Which means I know how to speak to you. I know you don’t mind a bit of fruity language (bloody good job!). I know I can be a bit sarcastic with you or gently berate you (hey, it’s a culture thing and, I promise, all said with love!). And while I may not know exactly what you look like, there are things I can assume about you. Because you’re my ideal client, the person I aim to work with the most.
What’s actually funny about this is that, while I’m writing, you’re just a figment of my imagination. But, at some point soon, you’re actually going to be reading this and, suddenly, you will be real. Now, how fucking cool is that?
Which is why you should be doing the same when you’re talking about yourself on your website. Write about yourself and your readers as if you were having a conversation with them at that very moment.
You can’t get more personable and friendly than that, I guarantee you.
Be a storyteller
…And in conjunction with this point, minimise the facts and figures.
I’m not suggesting, for one moment, you don’t tell the truth and make a bunch of shit up. But you don’t have to use the ‘dry’ approach. You know:
‘Hi, I’m Sarah. I’m 39 and I live in Canada. I came here from the UK 10 months ago. I’m a copywriter and branding photographer for small creative businesses and I’m so excited to work with you!’
Let’s give this another shot, shall we?
‘Hey folks, Sarah here! If you’d said to me, two years ago, that I’d be living on the side of a mountain somewhere in the depths of Canada and writing creative copy for some awesome small businesses, I’d probably have laughed in your face and checked behind the plant pots for a hidden camera…’
Well, that’s better! It still needs work but it’s a good start. Do you see where I’m going with this?
The point is, it doesn’t have to be a list of your qualifications and interests. You can tell a story. Share information about yourself in a way that’s engaging and fun to read, and gets people thinking, ‘Hey, this girl is pretty cool. I’d like to meet her!’
Because, guys, if they want to MEET YOU, then that means they want to BOOK YOU, right?!
Finally, and MOST IMPORTANTLY…
Write the way you speak
If you wouldn’t use a word like ‘incentivize’ in your everyday speech, then why in God’s name are you writing it down? That goes for other corporate jargon like ‘core competency’, ‘corporate synergy’ and other such yucky terms that mean nothing but make people feel full of their own self-importance.
It’s not just jargon.
Would you use a word like ‘exultant’, ‘elated’ or ‘blithe’ when what you want to say is how flippin’ HAPPY you are?
Truth bomb. SAY THAT YOU ARE HAPPY!
Honestly, just because you use the short and simple word, it doesn’t mean you are short and simple. I have no idea about your height, you’re a figment of my imagination remember? And I sure as hell don’t picture you to be a person of below standard intellect. But we all get what it means to be happy, so why can’t that word be enough?
Am I making my point here?
Ok, let’s try this then…
Take what you’ve written and read it out loud. I mean properly out loud. At a volume loud enough for people within earshot to hear, not at a paltry whisper because you don’t want to look stupid. For the record, you don’t have to be standing in a busy room to do this. You can be at home, on your own, or enunciating to the cats if that makes you feel better.
The point is, words sound different when they’re spoken aloud. And if, when you’re reading it out, it doesn’t sound like something you would say… CHANGE IT. GET RID OF IT. MAKE IT SOUND LIKE SOMETHING YOU WOULD SAY.
Wow, that was shouty. But I felt like I needed to make my point and make it good here.
Ultimately, when it comes to writing about yourself, acknowledge the awkward elephant in the room. Because it always feels a bit yucky and uncomfortable to start with. But, if you follow these pointers, push through the awkwardness and keep at it, it does get easier and the words will start to come more naturally.
I am always happy to talk about words in this way, so if you do have any questions, either drop them in a comment below or pop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you’re just finding words too damn hard, there’s always my copywriting services! 😉