As a designer, your portfolio is important because it helps potential clients connect with your visual style. But beyond that, there’s another key part to standing out: telling your story.
About pages have been on my mind A LOT lately…because I desperately need to re-write mine. It’s so easy to procrastinate and push these kinds of things to the bottom of the list because you may be like me and find creating visuals much easier than writing.
For a lot of creatives, images flow easier than words. Sometimes, you just don’t know what to say. That’s compounded even more when you’re asked to write about yourself. Maybe you’re convinced that you’re happier saying less anyway. Maybe you think your work can do all the talking.
Whatever your reasoning, people are more likely to hire you if they feel a personal connection.
Nobody said it was easy but learning how to convey who you are in words can help you stand out in a crowded market. Never underestimate the power or telling your audience who you are and what you stand for. Remind yourself that people might not remember every project you’ve created…but they will remember a great story.
So, how do you get started? When I’m feeling stuck, I love looking at the about pages of people I admire and learning from them. Some are short, some are long, some are funny and some are surprising. The key is that each fits their unique personality.
5 Great About Page Examples
1. PAUL JARVIS
Key to standing out: relatablility and humor
Never underestimate the power of being funny! Writing a bio (let alone reading it!) can get boring really fast so spice it up with some fun, random facts to add dimension and show who you are beyond just your job.
Excerpt: “Never someone to sit on his laurels (what are those “laurels,” anyway?), Paul has also been a touring musician, veterinary assistant, paperboy, and ad agency monkey. He began working for himself full-time in 1998, so he’s pretty much unemployable now – and that’s a really good thing.”
2. SIAN RICHARDSON
Key to standing out: personal design flourishes
One of the reasons I admire Sian’s design style so much is that she’s brilliant at piecing together images and type. When you look at her page, there’s a depth that immediately comes through. It’s simple yet exudes an edgy style.
Excerpt: “Once upon a less-than-awesome time, I worked in an office 9-5 as a graphic designer. My day-to-day projects were a mashup of snooze-worthy deliverables: car decals, banners for banks, casino promos… yawn. Before long, it hit me: I was not cut out for cubicle nation. I spent most of my days staring out the window at the beautiful sunshine of Sydney, Australia (where I’d moved to start my career), and a whole country waiting to be explored. Why the hell was I locked inside for 80% of the week, designing pieces that weren’t exactly fulfilling?”
3. MARIE FORLEO
Key to standing out: making you feel like her success can be yours, too
Marie is massively successful but her about page comes across as welcoming instead of intimidating. Sure, there’s candids alongside Oprah and Richard Branson (no big deal — ha!), but she tells her story in way that makes you feel like somehow, you could do the same. And with all her accomplishments including founding B-School, that’s no easy feat.
Excerpt: “After several failed attempts at corporate jobs and a lot of angst trying to choose just one thing to be in life, I realized that my unusual combination of interests and skills was a strength, not a liability. I gave up the security of the 9-5, began bartending and waiting tables and doing a multitude of odd jobs to keep a roof over my head while slowly building a coaching business from the ground up. I later coined the term “Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur” because I just didn’t (and never will) fit into a conventional box.”
4. ALEXANDRA FRANZEN
I adore Alex’s about page is because it’s very clear and direct, just like her copywriting. There’s a conversational tone that comes across as approachable, like you’re having a good chat over a coffee date with a friend. It’s positive, inspiring and has a few funny moments woven in…like the one below!
Key to standing out: a warm, conversational tone
Excerpt: “I started my “writing career” with a self-published coloring book about flying unicorns, which I photocopied and sold for 25 cents a piece to my 3rd grade classmates. It was a big hit! Sadly, the project got shut down by a teacher who felt that charging money for my book was not appropriate. (In my defense: I was merely responding to market demand…)”
5. DANIELLE LAPORTE
Okay, so Danielle’s about page is really long. But, everything she says flows and makes you feel like you’re on a mini journey through her life. The #1 thing I LOVE about Danielle’s about page is the timeline, hilariously titled Creative Highlights and Lowlights. Take a journey back to the beginning and find out what went right (and what went terribly wrong).
Key to standing out: going big and sharing it all
Excerpt: “I think the best self-help is self-compassion. I hear a variation of this all the time — when I get off stage, from readers, through friends of friends: “It was 11:30pm the other night and I needed something [soul salve, a kick in the ass, wisdom for a friend, a confidence boost for work…] so I went to your site and got what I needed. Really, I just wanted some encouragement.”
5 Quick Tips
1. Great about pages don’t feel sleazy or sales-y. All of the above examples were written by successful entrepreneurs yet they feel genuine and even relatable.
2. Always look at about pages outside of your niche. It’s important to get a broader perspective and the best ideas often come to you from beyond your chosen industry.
3. Not sure how to start off your bio? Use Alexandra Franzen’s free template. SO GOOD.
4. There is no such thing as a finished About page. I’ve rewritten mine at least 10 times since starting this blog. It’s meant to grow and evolve so let it go.
5. If you need more help and want even more about page examples and templates, You In Words is brilliant.
And with that….go forth and write! Share your story.
You never know who will stumble across it…or where it will take you.
Your turn: Any tricks for writing an awesome About page? Let us know in the comments!
Photo: Made U Look.