Blogging is important for authors. Lots of people consider it almost mandatory if you take your publishing career seriously.
And so hordes of writers have started blogs, and some have gone on to great success, building robust platforms that allow them to communicate with fans, announce new books or other products or services, and stay in constant communication with readers.
Yes, it’s great when it works. But too often, blogs don’t work. They don’t attract readers, or if they do, readers don’t hang around for long. Even blogs with good content can languish, unread, until the blogger just gives up, probably thinking, “it just didn’t work for me.”
There are lots of reasons that blogs fail. Lack of traffic is the most common, but often the people who come to the blog just never engage. And it’s that engagement that should be our guide when we’re creating basic pages on our blog.
Nowhere is this more urgent than on your About page.
That Old Thing? Really?
You might not think that your About page is a big deal. Many bloggers appear to have put one together when they first launched their blog and then promptly forgotten about it.
That’s a mistake.
Blogs are very personal. That personal quality is most often expressed through the content you post. As writers, it’s shown in our point of view, our personal writing style, by the topics we choose to cover, and those we don’t pay attention to. Sure, visitors come to your blog for information, education, or entertainment. But what makes them stay once they get there?
The best way for most bloggers to make their blogs more “sticky” destinations that readers look forward to visiting, and where they return time and time again, is to never forget that personal element.
This might mean something as simple as having your photo on the blog. Sounds easy, right? You might be surprised how many blogs just don’t have a photo of the blogger.
We’re All Human
When I like your content, I want to know more… about you. That’s a pretty human reaction. Nothing attracts us as much as another human, especially a face. We’re hardwired to respond to people who are looking at us.
So it’s just good sense to have a photo of yourself on your About page.
But here’s the reason I think these About pages get it completely wrong: they are written from the blogger’s point of view. Why? They think the About page is about them.
Why Your Blog Exists
If you’re blogging as a way to connect to readers, build a base of raving fans, or attract qualified leads for a business, your blog needs to focus on your readers.
It’s your readers’ needs that bring them to your site, so it’s your readers’ needs you should be thinking about when you write your About page.
But it seems most bloggers have never thought about this. Instead, we get About pages that tell us where the blogger grew up, how they love to make caramel apples, who their favorite authors are, and that they love waterskiing with their dogs. Then they end with something like, “I hope you’ll come back often!”
But seriously, why would we? Even though I may have loved your article, what do I care about waterskiing or caramel apples? Do they have anything to do with why I came here, or the subject you’re writing about?
Turning It Around
Anyone intrigued by your writing or wanting to know more about you as an author or a blogger is going to go to the About page first. I do that, don’t you?
If all they find is you raving about what movies you like or how cute your nephew is, you might actually drive people away. Instead, think about rewriting your About page so it actually works on your behalf.
Make it into a story or an article. Write your About page as if you are writing a blog post, one that you hope will be a big hit with readers.
I’m going to bet that the blog posts on your site that are the most popular are the ones that have useful information for readers, or such a compelling story you just can’t stop reading. Your About page should be just like that: include either useful information for readers or a cracking good storyline.
Purpose of the About Page Revealed
All this isn’t to say that you don’t talk about yourself on your About page, but the point of view you take makes all the difference. Tell us why your degree in basketry makes you uniquely positioned to help readers with their basket-weaving problems.
The real purpose of your About page is to foster engagement with your readers while letting them know what kind of person you are, your own very human background. This is your chance to create a community of interest with visitors, to speak to their concerns, all while you appear to be talking about yourself.
“This is where I’m coming from, and why that’s helpful to you,” might be one way to look at it.
Ask yourself how well you know your readers. Can you put yourself in their shoes and understand why they might be interested in you, your subject, your solutions, your articles? That’s critical. Remember, we all act from a “what’s in it for me?” mentality, whether we realize it or not. Your About page should address that question directly.
Write from that knowledge, and speak to your readers like you’re sitting across the table at a coffee shop. Like they’ve asked you how you know all the stuff you’re sharing with them, but behind that question you know that their real interest is how they can become more like you in some way.
No matter what subject you write about, find a way to connect all that “about me” information to the reasons that readers visit your blog in the first place.
Joel Friedlander is a self-published author, an award-winning book designer, and an accomplished blogger. He's the founder of the Self-Publishing Roadmap online training course, and a frequent speaker at industry events where he talks to writers about how the new tools of publishing can help them reach and inspire their readers.