The most visited page on most websites is the about page. That holds particularly true for freelancers — on my site, almost half of my visitors wind up there. That’s because a client looking to hire some help wants to know exactly who he’ll be working with.
When he’s found you online, he’s not going to have a sense of who you are and why you’re worth your rates until he’s found out more. Your about page is the easiest way to do so.
Of course, most clients will do a little more due diligence when deciding between freelancers, but a good about page can put you at the top of the list and even direct how that due diligence will proceed.
Your About Page, Your Personality
As you’re developing your about page, keep in mind that it’s about you — not anyone else. You need to keep your personality visible. A list of accomplishments are all well and good, but the odds are that any other freelancer you’re competing with will have somewhat similar credentials. That means that you need to stand apart on what no other freelancer can replicate — your personality.
You can organize your about page however you’d like, design it to match your colorful personality and throw out as many of the suggestions below as you feel necessary. In fact, you should. As long as you get across the message of who you are and why every client needs to hire you immediately, everything else is optional.
Don’t be afraid to try new things with your about page. You’ll need to update it on a fairly regular basis, so take the opportunity to conduct experiments (provided you actually track data like analytics and you can see how your experiments play out).
Go On and Introduce Yourself
Reading your website may be the first interaction a prospective client ever has with you, so take the opportunity to introduce yourself through your about page.
There’s some debate over the value of a photograph, because it opens up the chance that a client will decide not to hire you on the basis of what you look like, rather than make the decision purely on skills.
You don’t need to get too personal, but you should explain at the trajectory of your career as a freelancer and lay out why you’re good at what you do. If you have credentials that set you apart from the pack, this is where to mention them. You may need to explain certain qualifications: most people have an idea that a college degree in graphic design is good, but certain web development jargon can leave them in the dust. Don’t assume that a reader will always know exactly what you mean.
You may also want to consider including a photograph of yourself. There’s some debate over the value of a photograph, because it opens up the chance that a client will decide not to hire you on the basis of what you look like, rather than make the decision purely on skills.
If there is some characteristic that you think may endanger your chances of being hired, such as looking significantly younger than the clients you’re hoping will hire you. If that’s the case, I can understand your concern. But the other side of the equation is that if a prospective client sees a photo on your about page, he will be reassured that you’re a real person — someone who will take responsibility for the work you take on. You instantly look more trustworthy.
Balance your concerns and make the right choice for you, when it comes to whether you should include a photograph. It’s a decision worth revisiting whenever you have a good, professional photo that might be worth swapping out.
No matter what other choices you make, however, don’t use a stock image or a photo of someone else in place of an image of yourself. If it gets out (and you’d be surprised at how often it does), your clients will be less inclined to trust you. After all, if they think a freelancer is willing to lie about her appearance, they’re going to have to wonder if there’s anything else she’s willing to lie about.
Think Resume, Not Portfolio
Hopefully, your website serves as a portfolio — a place where prospective clients can see your work in action. But all that belongs on a different page of the site, not on your about page. Think about your about page as more of a resume than as a portfolio. You don’t need to explain where you’ve been for the past several years on a line by line basis, but it’s meant to explain who you are.
Of course, if you feel your resume is a big selling point, it may be worth adding into your about page without modifications. But for many freelancers, the traditional resume format doesn’t work: we have more holes or concurrent projects than our formally employed counterparts. For us, a narrative explaining what sort of projects we’ve worked on in the past can be a much better fit.
Add a Sprinkle of Testimonials
The right testimonials on your about page can also lead a new client to start his due diligence with those past clients of yours.
To the extent possible, you want to show the impact of your work, as well. Incorporating what other people say about you, particularly in the form of testimonials, helps show that your bio is confirmed, not just a stretch of the imagination.
The right testimonials on your about page can also lead a new client to start his due diligence with those past clients of yours. That, in turn, gives you an opportunity to point prospects towards references who are very happy to have worked with you and who have your work somewhere very visible.
While you can’t (and shouldn’t try to) control the entire due diligence process, there’s no reason not to point a prospective client in the direction of satisfied customers.
The Writing Process
It can be incredibly hard to write about yourself, especially when the pressure is on to create a page that will interest a reader in hiring you. Assume that you’re going to need to take several passes at the project to get it right; just like anything else, you’ll get more comfortable writing about yourself the more you do it.
Start the process by making notes on what you want to emphasize: What are the key credentials you have? What’s interesting about you? If need be, ask around. You might want to skip your family — mothers in particular have an obligation to think that you’re pretty special — but business connections and friends may have some pointers about why they think you’re the best freelancer for particular types of gigs. Make a list of everything you can think of. You can always remove items later.
From there, write a draft or two of your about page. Give it some time to settle in your mind and come back to it.
Getting Feedback on Your About Page
You need relevant feedback on your about page, although the final decision on what to include and how it needs to sound must be your decision. By relevant, I mean feedback from the type of people that you hope will bring you work. There’s not really a point in getting feedback from anyone else, because prospective clients are your key audience, no matter who else winds up on your website.
Consider asking your existing clients to complete a survey.
Consider asking your existing clients to complete a survey. This may be a good opportunity to ask some questions beyond how good your about page looks. There’s also the option to barter some work in exchange for feedback about your site and what you’re offering.
Getting Help With Your About Page
At the very least, I would suggest getting a proofreader of some sort to go over your about page (and your entire website, while you’re at it). Even if you’re a freelance writer or editor, there’s a chance that a typo can sneak into what you’ve written and, if that’s the case, even a small error can make you look bad. You can go over your about page as many times as you like, but something can still slip through that a fresh pair of eyes will catch. If nothing else, bring in a proofreader.
If you aren’t comfortable writing your about page, it may be worthwhile to hire a freelance writer to handle the work for you. There are plenty of copy writers who can turn out great text for every part of a freelancer’s website. I’ve even seen a few freelancers lately who specialize in about pages and profiles — all of the writing that we have to do about ourselves but that we may not be completely comfortable with. There are plenty of writers out there who can help you polish up the text for your website.
Your marketing materials are one area where it makes sense to invest money back into your freelance business. The better equipped you are to land clients, the more money you can make in the long run. If getting the right about page written for your website requires you to pay someone else, don’t be afraid to do it.