Why Your Website Sucks: Your Bio

Why Your Website Sucks: Your Bio

Your website should include biographies of the key people in your organization. It gives website visitors a better grasp of your organization’s values and your management’s qualifications, making the organization more credible and trustworthy. Unless, of course, you screw up the biographies in which case they could backfire.

I’ve been writing website content for about eight years, including many bios, mostly for law firms. I’ve seen some really bad bios and I’ve read and written some pretty good ones. Bios are an opportunity to show website visitors why they should do business with you, donate to your nonprofit or at least sign up for your newsletter (Gripping stuff, I’m sure. If you need help, I write those too.).

Location, location, location

Like all website content, a bio should be considered like real estate. Some parts of that land are more valuable than others. The top of the bio is the most valuable because it may be the only part that’s actually read. That value shouldn’t be wasted on something the reader may not care about.

I’ve read attorney bios that started off with the fact the attorney likes to kayak and where the attorney was born. Unless your clients are kayak manufacturers, sellers or users, skip the kayak loving part (or put it at the end). There are many reasons to hire an attorney. I don’t imagine the person’s birthplace ranks very high for potential clients.

Don’t be a jerk

You may think you’re the world’s best lawyer/dentist/jewelry designer/truck driver but don’t write that. You’ll just look like an egotistical jerk (and there are ethical issues for attorneys making such claims). It’s OK if others claim you’re the best. Don’t do it yourself.

Another way to be a jerk is to claim success for things you didn’t do. Often lawyers like to claim they won this case or they settled that case for this huge amount. They didn’t. The client won the case and the client decided to settle. The lawyer just helped the client reach his or her goals. When it comes to marketing a law firm, I would stay away from saying the firm has amazing lawyers, they’re lawyers who help their clients do amazing things.

Be yourself, within limits

How do you differentiate yourself from your competition? Only you are you and that’s how you’re different from others. What makes you, you? Why are you in this line of business? Why does designing capacitors, fixing air conditioners or representing criminal defendants get you out of bed every morning? Why do you care so much it’s become a career or a business?

Be honest but keep in mind this is marketing material. I asked a criminal defense attorney why she chose her practice. She had a great story about the satisfaction she gets from her work and how volunteering at a public defender’s office during law school changed her life. Made for great copy. I also talked to a personal injury attorney who told me he chose this practice because he thought it would enable him to make the most money in the shortest time. This didn’t make it to the bio.

Get personal but set borders

I write for many marketing companies. One absolutely doesn’t want anything about the lawyer’s personal life in the bio. I disagree. It allows you to soften your image and deepen the reader’s understanding of you. People do business with people. Show you’re a person. You do more than work. You volunteer for this group, you coach this team, you go deep sea fishing every summer. But, like I wrote, don’t put this at the top.

We live in a highly divided society so you need to think about who may or may not think kindly of you based on what you disclose. You may be involved in a LGBT organization, be a member of your local Republican or Democratic committee, picket abortion clinics or you’re a local Antifa organizer. Will disclosing this help or hurt your business?

You can’t have everyone as a client. Do you want to narrow your potential client base to those who share your interests (or at least don’t care what you do outside work)? If you fix air conditioners and include your LGBT involvement in your bio you could alienate those who aren’t tolerant of the LGBT community but you might also stand out to someone in that community who needs an air conditioner fixed.

Increasingly customers are seeking out businesses and service providers who share their values. Including in your bio how you volunteer your time to support your values could result in business from those who care about the same things that you do.

Make it easier for yourself

You want to make the right impression with your website bio and as you can see, it’s not so straightforward. You also may be really busy so don’t have the time to create your bio the right way. That’s why you hire a freelance writer like me to do it for you. Contact me or call me at (267) 393-4145 so we can start the conversation. You’ll be glad you did.