I want to tell you a quick story about Jordan, a client I worked with shortly after starting my web design business several years ago. I was tasked to build a website that allowed Jordan to shine online and meet her business goals in the process. Sounds simple, right?
But going from good to great always has some twists and turns. In fact, it took me a while to get to the root of the problem with Jordan: she was afraid.
As a wedding and event planner who had run her own business for two years, Jordan enjoyed organizing, designing and coordinating weddings that were “out of the box.” Her website frequently used that phrase.
But rather than showcasing a portfolio of “out of the box” weddings she had worked on (e.g., think Edward Scissorhands sculptures, underwater weddings, and The Addams Family-themed weddings), her website was full of traditional wedding photos held in churches and hotel banquet halls.
Jordan had created her website — and it was DIY gone rogue. There was a huge disconnect between what she was saying and how she was branding. Her brand message and her website did not coincide.
After a real heart to heart, we got down to the truth.
Jordan was afraid of what people would say if they knew the real her and her unconventional wedding and event style. She feared she wouldn’t get clients — and certainly wouldn’t received referrals — if people knew what she truly enjoyed doing.
Jordan was not alone in her fear. Many entrepreneurs find it hard to stay real and authentic. Like Jordan, you may even wonder: How can I be my truest self online and still remain professional?
Here’s a look at a few quick tips.
1. Pick your brand moments wisely.
There are two types of information we need to distinguish between online: private and personal. Private details should “stay behind closed doors”, as my Mom would say. This includes very intimate and relationship-related information (unless you’re an intimacy coach or a therapist) and gossip.
Personal information can be shared in a way that suits your style. It includes things like: you have such a poor sense of direction and even with a navigation system you get lost; your sister is having a baby shower; you’re finally moving cross country to live in the mountains.
See the difference? What you share shouldn’t cause embarrassment or regret later, for you or your audience. It’s the personal (not private) details that will literally bring personality to your website.
2. Bring your best qualities to the small screen.
Write down 5–10 adjectives you would use to describe yourself. Ask a few family members or friends to write down 5–10 words they would use to describe you too. Not sure where to start? Take a quick look at these 638 personality traits and pick the top traits that describe you.
Now take a close look at the traits selected. Incorporate representations of the top 5 into your brand messaging and website. For example, if you’re described as:
fun — use vibrant colors (in line with your branding, of course) and choose script or handwritten fonts.
personable — share pictures of yourself with friends, family, customers, etc.
reliable and trustworthy — use colors that convey trust (e.g., greens and blues) and highlight client testimonials.
helpful — add and extensive FAQ page, use explainer videos, testimonials as well as pictures of you working with clients or speaking to various audiences.
It’s a good idea make sure these characteristics shine through in the copy on your website too. For example, a conversational tone can bring out your fun and personable nature.
3. Make the most of your ‘about’ page.
An “About” page is usually one of the most-viewed pages on a website. The main aim of this page is to let website visitors know how you can help them; while sharing relatable information about yourself to start the trust building process.
Sharing something personal (not private) makes it easier for website visitors to make a connection with you.
As a business owner, when I need to hire someone, if I can’t find some type of connection with that person while I am on their website, I usually move on. It doesn’t have to be anything big; I just need to feel like we can relate to one another.
So what can you add to your “About” page that is personal and still professional? Your copy can include:
a behind the scenes look at how you got started
family photos (that they’d all be happy for you to share!)
hobbies you’re hooked on
favorite: food, coffee houses, places to travel, movies or music
charities you volunteer at or donate to — and why it is important to you
4. Share personal stories on your blog
Blogging keeps your website content fresh and gives your business a human side. This means you can weave a personal experience or story into your otherwise business-related content.
For example, two years ago my Dad was sick and for a while, it was touch and go. He’s fine now, but while visiting him, I discovered a valuable lesson about entrepreneurship. It wasn’t easy to write, but it is still a very popular post on my website.
Allowing your audience to empathize with your personal experiences is a powerful way to build engagement.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Lynn White, MBA is a web designer and WordPress expert at Lynn White Designs. She helps women entrepreneurs build websites that allow them to shine online and meet their business goals in the process. Lynn brings an approach to design and development that helps demystify technology and puts women in the driver’s seat for their personal brand. Lynn is a frequent speaker on WordPress trends and issues. Connect with @lynnwhite on Twitter.
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