Should you write your about page in the third person? It’s a little question with a big impact on your business. And lots of creatives struggle with this one. The answer, predictably, is no and yes. Read on to answer some questions about your business and see what style is right for you..
What is the third person anyway?
Before we get all esoteric on how you should write that pesky about page, let’s get on the same page with what I mean by first and third person.
The first person uses the pronouns “I” and “we” to refer to the writer. A good way to think about the first person is that you’re writing from your own point of view. You’re expressing your own memories, experiences, thoughts and opinions. As an example “I hate sweet potato fries.”*
The third person** uses the pronouns “he,” “she,” “it,” “them” or references your subjects by their names. An easy way to remember the third person is that you (the writer) are writing as if you’re observing events, conversations or actions. So in the third person, our example above would become “She hates sweet potato fries”
Okay now that we have that out of the way, which person should you use?
I’m a big believer that most small creative businesses should write their about page in the first person. The reason most customers want to connect/use/buy from a small business is that they want the personal connection that comes with the work.
First person is more conversational, more informal, more intimate, it invites your customer to get to know you. Which is kinda the point of an about page.
Remember that the first person can use “I” or “we” so if your company is more than just you, “we” is appropriate. Some examples “I make lovely ceramics” “I am a modern calligrapher” “We are a team of photographers who believe…”
Should you use “we” and pretend your business is more than one person if it’s just you? Probably not, there are exceptions to this ‘rule of thumb’ but for the most part, it’s good policy to keep it honest.
So what are some reasons you’d want to use the third person?
The third person perspective is more traditionally “professional.” It’s the language of corporate bios and conference programs. If your customer base is a very conservative crowd, phrasing your about page in the third person can make them feel a sense of familiarity or trust.
Other reasons to write in the the third person? Your about page showcases the info for a number of different contributors. Cup of Jo and Once Wed are great examples of why this works. If the work on your site comes from different points of view provided by unique artists and writers, it makes sense to objectively talk about their differences and abilities- rather than making them speak with one voice.
Some examples “Jenny makes beautiful ceramics…”, “Lars is a modern calligrapher…” The Photo Collective is made up of Megan Finch and Robert Fox…”
* I really do hate sweet potato fries despite loving both sweet potatoes and french fries. Something about their unholy limp texture…I know, I know. I’m in the minority with this one.
** The second person, should you be curious, uses the pronouns “you” and “your” it is often used when we’re talking to someone. This post is written in the second person.