Gala Darling, a lifestyle, fashion and radical self-love blogger, gave tips to participants at NEPABlogCon, a social media conference in northeastern Pennsylvania, this weekend on how to write an effective, intriguing “about” page.
The New Zealand native, who now lives in New York City with her husband and two dogs, starting blogging full-time in 2006. “My thinking is that women are wonderful, and we are complicated creatures, too, so why not embrace and celebrate all parts of ourselves?.”
When Darling starting blogging, she solely focused on fashion, but her blog evolved into a place for women to learn to love and accept themselves for who they are. She is also the beauty and style editor at xoJane.com, and writes a column which is syndicated in five Australian newspapers.
Darling said there are three things that people don’t want to do in general, but they need to do anyway to succeed: brag about themselves, be seen as too ambitious, and negotiate/know their value.
The “About” Page
She also explained the importance of an “about” page on your blog or website, and provided several tips to spice it up.
“On the Internet, we write our own myths. We are our own legends. As a blogger, you are out there on your own. No one knows who you are, no one knows why you are important or why you matter. They don’t know who you care about or what your causes are, and the only way you discover this is if you tell them directly,” she said.
Darling explained that 10 years ago she wanted to move to the Big Apple, but she was procrastinating getting a visa. So, in the meantime, she was living both in New Zealand in New York City and had no permanent address.
She was debating how she could brand herself.
“I didn’t want to describe myself as some kind of drifter. That didn’t sound very appealing to me. But then I had this idea that I could call myself an ‘international playgirl.’ I mean, it’s something that I was doing. I was going from place to place, and I was having a good time … And, in fact, that phrase is still on my about page,” Darling said, adding that the expression is also on her Twitter page and other marketing materials. She emphasized, though, that people should never lie in their bios, but using spin is OK.
Here are some other about page tips she gave:
• Don’t give too much information away. Readers want to know everything about you, but leave a little mystery, and don’t write “promotional word vomit.”
• Write your bio on paper first. Put down words that describe you, your blog or site and point of view, and use a thesaurus. Make sure they are meaningful to you.
• Pretend to be someone else. When writing your bio, think of it as creating a character, such as a PR rep wearing a huge hat. Visualize.
• Write in third person, and talk yourself up.
• Look at about pages of your favorite bloggers. Don’t copy them, but use them for inspiration.
Darling said “about” pages should always draw the reader in.
“I only want to read a blog written by somebody who I think is interesting, inspiring or aspirational in some way. If your about page says, ‘Hi, my name is Jane, I like cats, thanks for reading,’ I’m going to close the window. Harsh but true,” Darling said, adding that companies will look at your about page and possibly use it to consider whether to hire you.
But “about” pages should never be boring and put the reader to sleep.
“There’s nothing wrong with humor or a silly photo, I think that works well for me. It accurately sums up my personality. I’m silly, sparkly, weird, and my ‘about page’ shows this,” she said. “The goal should be that your about page expresses your best self.”
NEPABlogCon is a blogging/social media conference in Nanticoke, Pa., that took place Saturday, Sept. 29. It was organized by four northeast Pennsylvania women dubbed The Fearsome Foursome. Conference session topics included content management platforms, search engine optimization, content strategy, All Things Google, social media for business, monetizing your blog, and more.
Tim Sohn is a freelance writer and editor. Follow him on Twitter @editortim.