It’s funny—even if you’re a good writer, talking about yourself (or your business) can feel like pulling teeth.
I hear it all the time. “My bio is short because I didn’t know what to write.” “What else can I say?” “I hate talking about myself.”
Some folks write a few words and call it a day. Others throw themselves in the other direction, embracing the awkwardness and bloating their About page with every detail of why they started their business, what their message for the world is, and why it’s all so important.
Does this sound familiar?
If it does, it’s okay. 90% of the websites I review fall into one of these two camps.
Unfortunately, neither of these solutions are doing what copy’s supposed to do (sell your offering). They’re leaving your readers confused, uninterested, and ready to move on to a more exciting website.
So today, I want to propose a different framework. What I’m about to share is the key to writing websites that go beyond the hype and actually engage the reader.
The secret to talking about yourself
In the book Building a StoryBrand, author Donald Miller describes how every business needs to tell a story, and the story formula is actually quite simple:
A hero has a problem, so he goes on a journey. On the journey, he meets a guide who gives him a plan that calls him to action, allowing him to find success instead of end in failure.
This story formula is used in virtually every blockbuster hit. Think Luke in Star Wars going off and finding Yoda (his guide), who teaches him to use the Force (the plan) so that he can eventually save the galaxy (success).
So your brand is telling a story. This isn’t terribly revolutionary stuff. But allow me to thicken the plot.
That hero in the story? It’s not you.
The hero should be your reader, the prospective customer.
Every person sees themselves as the protagonist of their own story. Most businesses position themselves as the hero, here to save their customers’ day. But that clashes with their customer’s perception of themself. In your customer’s world, they’re the main character.
So, your customer is out their fighting their own monsters. They don’t need a hero.
But they do need a guide.
How to be Yoda
A guide has insider knowledge or skills that they’re ready to impart for the hero’s benefit. They’re the secret to the hero’s eventual success, even if they’re a bit behind the scenes.
Here’s what this should look like on your website:
1) Talk about your customer just as much as yourself
What are the struggles they’re facing? What’s life like for them?
If you start by describing their problems, your copy becomes instantly more effective. You’ll also find you have a lot more to talk about when you’re staring at that blank page, assuming you know your ideal customer well.
2) Only share your story when it’s relevant
Maybe you started your business because you had a bad experience you want to protect others from, or because it was a long-time dream, or any other millions of reasons.
Your story is important… to you. Treasure it. Let it fuel you.
But your website is, before all else, a sales tool. That means what you put on it must be carefully curated to move your reader to take the intended action.
Before sharing your life story on a page, ask: Will this give my readers the information they need to decide to buy from me?
Sometimes, the answer is yes. For example, if you sell candles and your story is about growing up as a third-generation candle maker, that gives you a lot of credibility. A customer would want to know that because it helps them decide if they want to buy from you.
So then, if your story is a “yes,” you must ask: What are the most impactful parts to share?
Sometimes, you need a few paragraphs to have the impact you’re looking for. Sometimes, it’s best summed up a sentence, or even a bullet point.
Remember, you want to get back to talking about the customer ASAP. Don’t spend longer than you need to talking about yourself. Build your credibility, build a connection, and move on.
3) Describe the outcomes in detail
Paint their story of heroism. What will life look like after they work with you? What would life look like if they didn’t?
If you can paint these two scenarios, if you can make it real to them, your message will already be much stronger than most businesses’ out there.
By the way—case studies can work wonders here.
Never be at a loss for words again
These principles go far beyond your copy. Use this framework when telling others what you do, when sharing your offerings on social media, and when filming promotional videos. You’ll be amazed how easy it gets when you keep the story focused on your customer instead of you!