Whether you’ve just started your business or you’ve been in business for years, there will come a time when you have to write about yourself.
Writing about yourself can often feel like trying to squeeze the last of the toothpaste out: you know you need to do it, but that doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable or fiddly.
It could be that you’re writing (or re-writing!) an about page, you’ve got a story you want to share, or you want to share lessons you’ve learnt in your business. There are a myriad of times when you may have to write about yourself.
However, the great rule of content marketing is to never, ever make it about yourself.
The sooner you mention yourself or your brand, the more likely you are to put people off.
That’s not always possible, though. Sometimes you really do have to write about yourself. So how do you do it without putting people off?
Focus on the benefits for your reader
It’s all very well and good talking about yourself, but why are you talking about yourself? Most people don’t care about your new hire, sorry. It just isn’t newsworthy.
When writing about you, ask yourself why you’re writing about you. What are the benefits to your reader? What will they discover from reading something written by you over someone else?
If you really want to write about your new hire, instead of just introducing them to the team, you could write about why you hired a VA, or how you know when it’s time to expand the team.
This same rule applies if you’re writing some sort of musing or something more personal. People are more likely to engage with it if you’re providing value to them.
You could share a strong opinion on something, or discuss a taboo subject in your industry. Content like this is always more likely to trigger a reaction in people (which gets you more comments and shares, and therefore higher search rankings).
All the best content is about teaching. There’s no exception to this rule.
So, what do you have to teach your readers?
What lessons have you learnt that they could benefit from?
Some examples might be:
- Mistakes you made in the early stages so that they don’t have to
- Products or services you love
- How-to guides (these do particularly well in search engines)
- Talking through decision-making processes (such as why you chose a particular supplier or made a certain hire)
Don’t naval gaze
There’s nothing worse than companies pretending they’re trying to help others but really just wanting an excuse to talk about how amazing they are.
Content marketing isn’t about you talking about how amazing you are. Heck, great copy isn’t even about that—terrible copy is about that.
As we’ve already discussed, your content should be about what your customers can learn from you.
That means even if you’re doing a deep dive into company processes and what you’ve done in the past, it isn’t really about you. It’s about how what you’ve done in the past could benefit your audience.
This still applies to about pages, by the way—an about page is much more powerful (and interesting to your target audience) if you talk about how you can help them and give examples of how you’ve helped businesses in the past rather than just saying how awesome you are and listing all the awards you’ve won.
Most people who land on your content won’t be ready to buy yet. If you go in for the hard sell as soon as they’ve landed on your website, you’re likely to put them off.
When you really want attention, or money, or to get the word out about your brand, it can be really tempting to go in for the hard sell early on. But it really, really doesn’t work.
Sharing value works. You can’t do that if you’re selling at the same time. (Unless you’re sharing the value of what you’re selling, but that’s not the topic of this post. If you’d like a blog post on that topic let me know in the comments!)
Don’t brag…but be confident
I know, it’s a fine line. If you’re British like me it’s even harder because you’ll be worried that even the slightest sign of confidence will be seen as bragging.
But, when we’re uncomfortable, it makes the reader uncomfortable. So even if you feel super weird talking about yourself, do it in an easy-breezy way. Like you talk about your achievements aaaaall the time. But also don’t go on and on and on about them. Mention what’s relevant, then move on.
If your name or your company name crops up more than a couple of times and it’s not adding anything to the conversation (such as sharing how you achieved something, or what your new direction is going to be, or why you made a certain decision), you’ve probably talked about yourself too much.
It’s easier for people to accept you talking about yourself if you give external evidence. This could come in the form of social proof from clients, research or studies, or quotes from industry experts.
This helps to show that you really know what you’re talking about.
Tell a story
A lot of advice out there on blogging and public speaking will tell you to start with a story. This makes you relatable. So long as your story isn’t you bragging about one of your achievements. That’s not relatable and doesn’t set you up to be likeable.
The story you tell should be related to whatever your content (or about page!) is about. It should be a way to lead into it, to grab their attention and explain why you’re talking about the topic in question.
When writing a story, you want to create a sense of empathy between you and the reader. The way to do this is to start with a situation they’ve been in, or one that they can relate to. Go from that into something more specific and related to your life, then segue into the lesson you’re teaching.
You could start with an average day in the office, then curve into how you came face-to-face with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates and it changed your life.
Alternatively, you could start with a common pain point—such as an illness, a family problem, or a boring job—and tell the reader what got you to the better position you’re in now. This helps to show the aspiration that you’re selling and that there really is a way out of the negative path that they’re on.
Consider your word choice, too—if you have the choice to tell your story in five words or ten words, always go for five. It will be memorable and therefore more effective.
You’ll never be able to completely avoid talking about yourself (sorry), but the key is to write about yourself in an unselfish way.
When you start writing, consider what the person on the other end of the screen would want to know, not what you want to talk about. if you do that, you’ll automatically cover all of the tips in this blog post when you write.