The "About" section of your business website is arguably the most important page to get right. Why's that? Your "About" page section allows people to get to know you. It also lets you show potential clients what it will be like to work with you. After all, people do business with those they like (and sometimes those they are like). So, use your "About" page to shine, and really toot your own horn. There's no need to be salesy, but you will want to be specific and brief, since you have little time to impress those who visit your page and read about you for the first time. You have less than 30 seconds to impress someone in order to keep them interested enough to stay on your site, so it is crucial to get it right.
That's why nailing the "About" page of your website is so vital. People want to know who you are and how you're qualified before they hire you to translate a document or interpret for their next meeting. Sure, it's fine to go and look at the "About" section of others who work in our industry to get an idea of how to construct this page on your website. But here's where I'd tell you to stay in your lane. Before you follow the lead of others, use your research on what others do to really take a hard look at how you can be different. Remember, you want to stand out from the crowd in order for a client to choose you over someone else who provides the same or similar services.
How do you do this? The answer lies in giving potential clients a better idea of who you are and what it's like to work with you. Here is an example (admittedly, one I made up for the purpose of this post) of a truly different and effective "About" description.
Olá! My name is Susan Duncan… I am a small town Portuguese to English translator who serves big town clients all over the world by delivering translations of their marketing and communications content. I've found that companies in Portuguese-speaking countries struggle to find professional translators who really understand the corporate culture when they start to do business in and market their products in the United States. I've helped numerous clients refine their email campaigns, advertisements, internal and external communications, brand identity and social media messaging so that they can conduct business successfully in the American market and gain peace of mind in the process.
It's easy to see that this translator mentions all the key areas that a client would wish to know about the work she does: her profession, language pair and the type of translations she is able to handle. She also touches on a pain point that she knows her clients have and how she can solve this problem for them. The description is effective because Susan tells clients that when they work with her, they will gain peace of mind and will be able to conduct business successfully in the American market. This type of language not only taps into the emotion of the buyer, but it also builds confidence within the reader.
You may have noticed that there is no long list of coursework or trainings, certifications, certificates, awards or achievements. Why's that? While still important to mention, these are items that do not necessarily have to be wrapped into the "About" section of your website. By keeping the "About" section brief and above the fold (i.e. the part of the website that is shown when someone first lands on the page before having to scroll down), Susan is able to capture the attention of the reader. Once the reader decides that he wants to know more, he will click to other pages on the website to get more information.
So, where should you put things like your education, trainings, achievements, memberships, etc.? I would argue that these are fine to put below the fold (i.e. the area of the page that is seen once the reader scrolls down) on the "About" page, or even on another page of the site. In order to avoid long lists or bulky paragraphs, consider using logos to represent education, memberships and other key information.
If you are an interpreter, you could even create a video for your "About" page instead of writing a description. Video is a very effective form of marketing these days. And what better way to allow your clients to hear how you speak and see your professionalism firsthand than through a video where they can get to know you better?
Finally, don't forget to utilize the "About" page of your website in other ways as well. Link your directory listings and profiles from organizations to which you belong back to this page or to the homepage of your website. Utilize every platform where people can find more information about you and drive all the traffic from those platforms back to your website. This is key to getting more work from the clients you want to target.
The "About" page of your website is bound to be one of the pages with the highest number of views, so you should always make sure it's up to date. Over time, this page is bound to change, just as your business does, as you do, and as your ideal client does. You may not always have the same type of ideal client. This is yet another reason to continue to update your "About" page at least once a year. Remember to include the type of work you want to do, not necessarily the work you are doing now. There is sometimes a difference, especially if you are just starting out or if you are looking to shift your specialization(s), so craft the description of yourself and your work to benefit you in the long term.
To read more about how to target your ideal translation or interpreting clients, check out How to Determine and Attract Your Ideal Client, How to Build a T&I Resume That Sells, and How to Create an Ideal T&I Client Profile to Market Your Services.