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How to write a story-based "About" page for your website
... or for anywhere else you want to use your own story to convince readers, customers, or other interested parties that YOU have something worth sticking around for.
After being prompted by one of this site’s wonderful members, I answered the question “How can I write a story-based ‘About’ page for my website?” in one of my recent Creator Diary videos. After then being asked if I could please make my answer into a blog post instead of a video because learning stuff like that isn’t always easy in video mode, I’m adapting it to text. You’re welcome.
NOTE: My own About page is barely story-based. I didn’t approach mine in the way described below because my circumstances are a little different than a full-on story approach called for. So don’t look to mine as an example. I’m answering a question in this post that I didn’t have in mind when I launched my site.
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Crafting an About page that resonates with your audience isn't about fitting into a predefined mold. It's about weaving your personal narrative into a tapestry that engages, resonates, and leaves a lasting impact. Here’s how you go about doing that.
First: Be authentically you.
In order to stand out these days, the differentiation is often YOU, not just your ideas. Your ideas matter, of course, but information itself has become a commodity, accessible with a quick Google search. Keep this in mind. Even if you have nothing to literally sell, you are still “selling” readers on the idea of sticking around and being a part of what you — not someone else on Google — has to say.
This means that in order to stand out and attract ideal people, you should be YOU. Present yourself well (i.e., don’t be sloppy or crappy with the writing), but otherwise don’t try to “ACT PROFESSIONAL,” if you know what I mean. The one thing that you can offer that nobody else can is yourself. Some people will resonate much better with you than others, so let your freak flag shine (or your very composed, never-freaky flag, if that’s your vibe). Your journey, your perspective, your voice — it's all part of the package that sets you apart.
Second: Know who you’re talking to
Your About Page isn't just about you; it's about your readers too. Stephen King says that fiction writers should write with one “ideal reader” in mind, and that applies here as well. So think about it: Who’s the archetype that represents your target audience as a (generalized, averaged) whole? What is that person like? What are their desires, challenges, and dreams?
Your About Page is the place where you’ll explain how your story connects with that person’s aspirations. You are using your story to connect to their story.
Think about that for a second. Ideal customers/readers/fans came to you because they’re hoping to find something … and on your About page, you get to tell a story that shows them why you might have versions of those often-freely-available-elsewhere answers that resonate with them personally. Often, that “why” is due to you having gone through something similar to what they’re going through … which is where story comes in.
So who are those people, and which parts of “all the stuff that happened at every moment of your life” belong in the specific, for-those-specific-people story you can help (and engage) them by telling?
Don’t tell your entire life’s story. Tell the part of the larger story that those people most need to and want to read.
Third: Find your four acts
Once you’ve decided which part of your “whole life plus the kitchen sink” story is most relevant to your site visitors (hint: the story of your drinking days in college isn’t part of THIS specific sub-story unless you run an inspirational Beer Pong site), a quick hack to telling that story well is to think of it as being composed of three acts just like a novel, play, or movie has three acts … with three important markers within those acts, denoted by bold italics in the bullets below:
Act One: In this setting-the-stage portion of the story, you’re going about your business when some challenge, problem, or other event invites (or seems to nudge) you to make a change or go on a journey, be it a literal or emotional/mental journey. The Act 1 Climax is when you decided to face the challenge and embark on that change/journey.
Act Two: In this part, the hero faces many ups and downs along the journey, learning as they go. For the first half of Act Two, if your life conforms to a typical structure (which most successful life stories do), you likely used your old way of thinking, and that “old way” wasn’t entirely effective. The middle of Act Two, which happens at the middle of the story overall, is called the Midpoint: a time when “everything changes.” On an About Page story, this is likely where you decided your old way wasn’t working and realized that old thinking was holding you back … at which point “everything changed” and you finally faced a difficult truth or had an epiphany, or faced a setback that forced you to grow.
Act Two continues: After the Midpoint comes the second half of Act Two. Act Two then ends (and Act 3 begins) with the Act 2 Climax. The Act Two Climax is the moment in which everything comes together and the protagonist (that’s you) decides to go “all in” on this journey they’ve undertaken — finally succeeding, defeating the figurative monster. Note that between the Midpoint and the Act Two Climax, the protagonist is still on the same journey as they were on the first half of Act Two, but they’re now doing so in a changed and better way: the way revealed to them in that “everything changes” moment at the Midpoint.
There’s also an Act Three in all stories, but Act Three isn’t really relevant for an About Page because your story hasn’t ended yet. So my advice is to write the story up until the Act Two Climax (at which point you figure out how things work and can hence decide to go all-in), and then just end things there.
Keep in mind that your story is a mirror for your readers' aspirations. Through your narrative, the reader should be able to imagine themselves overcoming the same obstacles as you did, achieving growth, and embracing a transformation … all while seeing YOU as their role model. Your story isn't just an autobiography. It's a narrative that reflects their dreams back at them.
In other words, your experiences become a source of inspiration for their own situation … which is why, hopefully, they’ll stick around your site and stay with you.
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