…without feeling super awkward.
We’ve all been there, right? Needing to write about ourselves for our businesses on About Pages, Bios and for Media Kits, only for it to end up either reading like absolute drivel or sounding super braggy – both of which make us cringe and want to hide from the world (not really the effect we were aiming for when we started writing).
And even those outcomes are only possible if we manage to get over the hurdle of actually writing something in the first place – there’s nothing quite like a blank page to make you suddenly completely incapable of writing! But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Like anything else, writing about ourselves and our businesses is something that we can all learn to do well.
I’ll talk you through some of the ways we can make this easier on ourselves in a moment, but first let’s look at why we really do need to be able to do this as freelancers and small business owners. It’s simple – as individuals we are an important part of our businesses. We are often the thing that makes our business unique and our personal stories are the thing that connects us to our potential customers.
Writing clearly, authentically and personably about yourself is how you create emotive reactions in your audiences, how you get them to relate to you, and how you make selling whatever it is that you are selling easier.
Sure, writing about yourself is not the only thing that is important here, but it is critical. It is also something that women tend to be terrible at.
Yep, I said it – women often suck at writing (or saying) awesome things about themselves. Even when doing so is really important, in fact especially when doing so is really important.
Why? I’m sure that there is plenty of detailed research out there on the reasons for this (well I’m not actually because as you are probably aware business and medical issues that specifically affect women are often under-researched, and any potential solutions are usually wildly underfunded).
But I believe women suck at this for two main reasons: firstly we are conditioned to make ourselves smaller, lesser and to stay out of the spotlight and secondly because this is something that is quite tricky and requires a bit of time, support and practice to get good at.
What do I mean by that first point? Basically most of us, usually unconsciously, shy away from even the simplest of compliments. Think about it – how do you react when someone congratulates you, or comments nicely on your clothes or your hair? How do you receive that praise? Most of us minimise it or shrug it off somehow; “oh thanks, I got it on sale” or “this old thing?” It is incredibly rare for us to sit in praise or simply accept it with grace. It just doesn’t feel natural or ‘right’ to most of us. Which makes creating a piece of text about ourselves that has the purpose of making us shine seem like a much bigger deal than it should be.
And the second point? I think that this one is often down to social conditioning too – we as women do not usually prioritise ourselves. Making time to learn and practise how to do something that is solely for our own benefit is bound to be pushed lower and lower down our lists, often without us even noticing. We’ve all got so much to do and those things that others are relying on us for seem to come first much of the time. Plus, who really wants to prioritise something that is tricky and that they don’t necessarily want to do anyway? Not me.
On top of this, we tend to see investing in professional skills and services (such as a copywriter to simply do the “writing awesome things about you” for you) as luxuries and not necessities in our businesses. Meaning we don’t always even consider them at all, or only think about them when someone else points out that “you can pay people to do that for you.” And even then, if we do decide that we want to outsource a certain task we often don’t know where to look for trusted services (something that Stacey is working on fixing as a part of her whole mission behind creating The Tribe).
What does this all mean then? For the vast majority of female entrepreneurs and small business owners that I know personally (I am including myself here), this means that they are perpetually underplaying a key asset (themselves) in their businesses a lot of the time. This can have big knock-on effects including, but by no means limited to, reducing the depth and number of connections they make with potential clients, undermining their own self-confidence in tiny increments and making them more risk-averse which can in turn dampen sales and stifle business growth.
Before I move us on from this brief patch of doom, I want to make it clear that I am only writing about these potential negative effects of not making writing about yourself a priority in your business to highlight how important it really is.
But this doesn’t mean that you need to fix this immediately or invest loads of time, money or energy into it right now, or to panic about it, dwell on it or anything else drastic or expensive. What I would love is that if, after reading this blog post, you gave yourself the gift of time to patiently and gently learn to let yourself shine in your own business writing (and when talking about your business too). You absolutely deserve this and so does your business. This is a fact!
Moving swiftly on (and away from that potentially uncomfortable thinly-veiled praise there) here are some practical steps that you can take to make writing awesome things about yourself for your business easier:
1. Pretend that you are writing about someone else.
It is infinitely easier to write about anyone else, anyone who is not us. Try to separate yourself from your writing (far easier said than done, I know). Ask yourself how you would feel writing and reading this if it was about a friend and a friend’s business? Would it still feel awkward then? Would you highlight a friend’s awesomeness more than you are highlighting your own? Think about your answers to these questions and adjust your writing accordingly.
I’m mostly talking about your inner voice here (although I do indeed chatter away to myself at times). We would never even dream of speaking to a friend the way we often speak to ourselves internally, so just be kinder and less critical to yourself, please. This one will help you get out of your own way, help you to get into a writing flow and eventually help you to find fewer faults in your work/self. All of which will translate into writing more things about your awesome self.
Sure you can ask for proofreading and sense checking help – a second, or third pair of eyes on writing is pretty much always a good idea. But you can also crowdsource nice things to write about yourself which is especially useful if you are doing this for the first time. Ask a few trusted friends, family members, colleagues, ex-colleagues or clients for their top three words to describe your work or what they think your business superpower is.
You are probably already collecting these as a part of your business (if you aren’t then you really should consider starting) so make more use of the nice things other people have said about you and your work. As you read their testimonials try to think of what it is that you have done that made them say those things. For example, if they have talked about your fab customer service, ask yourself how your business values help you to deliver that level of customer service? Is that something you strive to do consistently? Does that make you stand out from your competitors?
Yep, this one sounds a bit dumb given the title of this blog post but seriously, if you find writing hard don’t write. There are endless ways now that you can write without actually writing. You just need to find the way that works best for you – the goal here is to make your own life as easy as possible. Try using dictation software – most phones have a reasonable free version of this now, and there are excellent versions you can buy (Dragon Dictate). You can also record a Zoom call where you are talking to yourself and then pay for a transcription service (either a human or AI). Or talk to someone else and ask them to make notes and then give them to you to work from. And another option, shockingly, is go low-tech and use a pen and paper. Bottom line – do it the easiest way for you!
Look at your competitors and your expanders (the people who inspire you) and see how they write about themselves. What sounds good to you, and what doesn’t? Think about the why of those answers as well – what is it about them that makes you like or dislike the writing?
Start with journaling, something that is only ever for your eyes. A quick internet search will show you lots of different approaches to journaling, developing self-belief, self-confidence and gratitude. Writing awesome things about yourself gets easier as you begin to see it as normal, or less strange, and that only happens if you do it more often.
A big part of successfully writing awesome things about yourself well as a part of your business is doing it in a narrative. Someone listing their business ethics and values is not as interesting or as engaging as them telling the story of why they have those values and what it means for the reader (customer) in terms of the business. Both tell you what the values are, but the list is purely functional – the storytelling draws people in. You can develop your storytelling skills by paying attention to how other people do it, thinking about the questions, explanations and choices around what you are saying and by writing the way you speak.
We are our own worst critics. A customer will not be reading anything from the same perspective as you are. Try to stop thinking about the things you notice when reading (like the choice of words in that third sentence, or some other minute detail), and start thinking about what a customer or potential customer will want to get out of reading this. Are their questions going to be answered? Will they get a sense of you as a person? Will they feel like they can trust you and your business?
10. Create a master version of your story for your business
Once you are getting the hang of writing awesome things about yourself as a part of your business then write a longer bio. Once you have a longer piece of writing that you are happy with, and that really makes you shine, you can draw on it every time you need to showcase yourself for your business. You can take quotes out of it for social media, add it to your media kit, etc. The bottom line is once you’ve done the hard part, make things easier for yourself in the future.
And don’t forget you can keep what you have written private until you are ready to share it with the world. If it suits you to practice this over and over again before sharing it then do that. Just try not to use this as an excuse to keep hiding your awesomeness forever!
Also, these things are not set in stone – you can change your bio later if you want or need to. In fact, it is a good idea to revisit your About Page text every 6 months or so to see if your business still aligns with the values and information you have provided. We all learn and grow, this inevitably means our businesses change over time too.
Good luck and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about writing about yourself and your business.
Claire Collis is a digital education specialist and ghostwriter who works with entrepreneurs and small business owners, supporting them to create books and online courses as strategic pillars of their growing businesses. Through her mentoring and consultancy work she helps clients to share their stories, knowledge and expertise in ways that support their goals, their businesses and, in turn, those of their clients.