As a quasi-reclusive introvert with paranoiac-critical tendencies, one of my least favorite aspects of blogging involves creating those dreadful “About” pages that reveal unknown things about you. About pages are important to many people, providing a way to learn about and connect with the person or people “behind the blog.” After all, websites are relatively impersonal, as viewers are required to extract meaning and personality from behind a large, square piece of machinery.
Regardless of the type of site or blog you happen to be creating, the About page is your primary key to connecting with your readers. In fact, when readers click to read your About page, they expect to find you there, sharing personal information about yourself, your ideas, your purpose and story. Fortunately, About pages are as diverse as the millions of bloggers who create them. This is one of the reasons that the humble About page has become one of the most important pages in the blogosphere — they represent the essence of the blogger, revealing their personality, originality, and uniqueness.
Given the importance of the About page, many bloggers (such as myself) often struggle to craft a page that accurately and succinctly conveys their message. Although I am far from an expert on public relations, I have assembled a diverse About-page “toolbox,” full of universally applicable, plug-&-play topics suitable for the construction of virtually any About page. To build your own About page, simply scan this collection of strategic About-page elements, read the corresponding tips, and assemble your favorites into an About page that is perfect for you.
The About Page Toolbox
- Tell a story about yourself
- People love to read stories, especially when they are intriguing, revealing, or poignant. If you have an interesting story behind how you came to be a blogger, then by all means share it with your audience. If you have had a remarkable or extraordinary life experience that would help readers understand more about yourself, tell your readers all about it. An engaging, well-written story makes an excellent About page.
- Who, What, Where, When, Why, How..?
- Asking and answering this fundamental series of questions about yourself or blog is a great way to inform and befriend your readers. For example, a series of paragraphs may ask “Who is Unknown Blogger?” “What is the Unknown Blog?” and “Why is the Unknown Blog so Great?” and then provide a few sentences answering or explaining each question.
- Begin with an overview
- An overview works great for in-depth or lengthy About pages. After you have decided on your topics, summarize each one in a sentence and massage them together into a concise overview paragraph. With an overview, you provide readers with the essential information without requiring them to read through ten minutes of elaborate detail.
- Explain your purpose
- Subtitle a section of your About page “Purpose” (or something similar), and explain the purpose of your site or blog. Or, if you happen to be blogging for a specific cause (e.g., breast cancer awareness), you may want to formally announce the fact via a “Site Purpose” segment.
- Explain your philosophy
- Are you approaching your subject matter from a particularly unique perspective? Do you have a particular philosophy regarding life? Sharing your philosophy of key topics is a great way to give readers an inside peak into who you are and what you think about. Try a subheading that reads, “My Philosophy of …” and then fill in the blanks.
- Share technological details
- Including a “Technological Information” section discussing your computer specifications, server setup, software preferences, and other technical details is an excellent way to create an interesting, informative About page. How fast is your server? What applications do you run? What are your favorite extensions, plugins, or blogging platform? Anyone on the internet has reason to find this information useful, so have fun and go off!
- Favorite gadgets
- These days, many gadgets have their own cult-like followings. Simply mentioning mystical gadgets such as the Blackberry, iPhone or iPod, identifies you as a card-carrying member of these inner circles. Seriously, much may be learned about a person based solely on the types of gadgets they happen to use. Listing your favorite devices or even expounding on the miraculous iWhatever is a completely legitimate section of any respectable About page.
- Geographical data
- This one is quite popular, but not always recommended. Many bloggers share their physical location with their audience, often discussing favorite venues, activities, or events. For example, if you happen to live in the jungles of Peru, I am certain that readers would love to hear about it. As for myself, I happen to be living in Moses Lake, Washington, which is most likely the most boring place on the face of the earth ;)
- Online social networks
- List and summarize your social-networking affiliations. For example, if you are a member of Technorati, StumbleUpon, Reddit, or any of the other myriad social clubs, sport your credentials, buttons, and links in an official “Network” section and call it good.
- Introduce fellow authors
- This is great for blogs or sites with multiple writers. Create a “Meet the Authors” section and write a paragraph or two introducing each author. Such introductions also make great individual posts. Write a post about each writer and then link to each via a “Read more” link in the About page introductions.
- Outline your blog’s topics
- Spend a few paragraphs explaining the type of content that people may expect from your blog. Summarize each of your blog’s categories and then link to their respective category pages in your blog. You may also want to discuss the overall scope of your blog, indicating why each category is covered.
- Share your favorite things
- What are your favorite things? Tell your readers a little about yourself by listing or describing your favorite foods, music, movies, people, cars, or whatever. Lists have become slightly cliche, but are still gobbled up by the online masses, so feel free to list your favorite items and have fun doing it. Conversely, if lists aren’st your bag, pick one or two absolute favorite things and summon a few life-changing paragraphs breaking them down.
- Current projects
- Tell people about other projects you may have going while you blog. Perhaps you blog at other sites, maintain multiple blogs, or develop sites for others. Whether they are online activities or offline pursuits, sharing your extracurricular projects is a great way to let people know about yourself. Who knows, you may even attract a few new visitors to your other sites.
- Blogging schedule
- When it comes to retaining readers, consistency is the key. In my experience, the About page is an excellent location for posting your blogging schedule. Briefly explain your work/life schedule, and then let readers know when they may expect fresh content from your blog. Especially if you post infrequently or otherwise irregularly, specifying your schedule (or lack thereof) reassures readers that you aren’t asleep at the wheel.
- Read more about.. Unknown Blogger
- If you have other posts related to yourself, or that would help your readers understand more about you or your blog, add a “More Information” section to your About page. This way, you could provide links to additional resources to help readers get to know you.
- Contact Information
- Of course, in most cases, it is vital to include some sort of contact information. Especially if your blog is business-related, provide multiple ways for readers to get in touch. Possibilities include business address, phone number, fax number, email addresses, instant message info, twitter info, ad nauseam.
- Include pictures!
- Of course, one of the most under-used, under-valued techniques for producing a solid About page is to include a few choice photos. Especially these days, where the common reader’s attention span is around the size of ant, communicating through images is a great way to tell visitors about yourself in a clear and enjoyable way. In addition to a shot or two of yourself, you may want to include a few snaps of your gear, office, or pet iguana. Just about anything that helps readers gain a better idea of you and your online mission should do the trick.
Remember, regardless of which About-page strategy you happen to deploy, the goal is to help readers understand more about you as a real person. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to tell people about yourself, so feel free to introduce yourself in any way that you see fit. You are a wonderfully unique and interesting human being. Your About page is your opportunity to set yourself apart from the herd by sharing your originality and uniqueness with people interested in learning more about you.