Defaulting to Facebook for Your Brand?

Have you let your website languish, turning to Facebook instead as your de facto website? As an art and craft supporter and practicing artist myself, I often seek out artists and makers of all kinds. Perhaps I stumbled onto an image on Pinterest. I want to learn more about the artist, see what events they’re in and view new work.

More often than not, I find a website that hasn’t been updated in ages. I think the artist is no longer active until I discover a Facebook page with recent updates. Very often, there’s no website, only a Facebook page.

It’s easy to understand why people default to Facebook for their content. It’s easy to use, especially if you couple that with a website that is sorely out of date and/or difficult to update. I still come across people who have to pay someone to make updates, and often wait a long time to do so. That is a thing of the past. No one, least of all a small business, can afford to be hamstrung like that. The world moves too fast. (See this earlier post on developing a new website with today’s tools.)
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The Third-Person Bio Problem

About pages are the most frequently visited page of a website. A good bio or About page can humanize you and your product or service. It’s where you can forge connections by blending your story, values and interests into a compelling narrative.

Why then do so many one-person businesses talk about themselves in the third person?

The mostly likely reason is that people copy what they see other people do.

No matter how well written, a third-person bio comes off as pretentious. Even if a hired gun wrote it, people think it’s coming from you. Most of us don’t refer to ourselves in the third person at a cocktail party, so there’s no reason to do it on a website.

It presents a credibility problem even you hope that the third person will make you appear more credible. And it can often appear cold and detached. More and more, people buy from businesses whose stories and values they can relate to, even if it wouldn’t seem to matter.

Why third person?

  • It makes us appear more important.
  • It’s easier to include content that would feel awkward to write in the first person.
  • It’s hard to write a compelling first-person bio without using the word “I” so many times. which people fear will seem less important.

What to do instead?

  • Replace phrases you fear sound self-congratulatory with testimonials. Include them on the bio page or link to another page. It’s easier to let other people speak to your excellence.
  • To reduce unnecessary text, don’t worry about describing aspects of your work that are visually self evident.
  • Keep your awards and degrees because someone might care, but include them in a sidebar, at the bottom of a bio (Just the Facts, for example), or in a CV.
  • Keep the focus on your inspiration, your process, your materials.
  • Refer to the types of people you help and why, and/or the benefits you provide.
  • Include a press page with clippings or links.

Artist and maker Hilary Pfeifer has a successful line of whimsical creatures and objects, and writes in the first person. She sounds credible, credentialed and shares a story that’s relatable and human. Here are more examples of good first-person bios.

There is a place for your third-person bio in any venue outside your own website or LinkedIn profile.

Have a new bio you’d like to share with me? Good luck!

Should You/Can You Create Your Own Website?

It used to be that the only way to get a decent website was to hire a web design and development team. But times have changed and there are many more options for companies or individuals needing a website.

Occasionally someone asks me to create a simple website for free or low budget, which I can’t afford to do. Website builders such as Weebly and SquareSpace can meet not only their needs but even those of larger companies. Because these sites offer many pre-designed templates, the bulk of the production work is uploading the content, which is best left to the website owner who will most likely be maintaining the website as well.

Example of SquareSpace templates

Not everyone has the budget to hire a professional. These website builders are perfect if you don’t need custom solutions, such as special interactive features, custom databases or unique visual solutions, not to mention marketing strategy, search engine optimization expertise or professional written content. They are subscription based and hosted on the company’s server, not your computer.

A few benefits and features include: Read more

Blogging Your Brand

It’s widely regarded that blogging for your brand, while not a guarantee of success, is essential for reaching your crowd on a different level and in a different space. Think of a blog like a Victorian courtship versus the one-night stand of direct mail. Results might be slow in coming, but when they do, they’ll have substance and be longer lasting.

Blogging requires some discipline. And if you want a blog to be more than a dog-and-pony show, you have to be able to communicate what you’re an expert at, and understand what makes your audience tick. With that squared away, blogging can be a great vehicle for sharing your magic.

Despite how ubiquitous blogs are, many people are still vexed about their use and intimidated at the idea of blogging. Below are some tips on getting ideas, how to think of a blog and some best practices. Read more

The Pure Delight of Opening Moo Cards

The new Moo cards are here! The new Moo cards are here! I’m somebody! (Thanks to those who get the reference.)

I really shouldn’t post this and ruin it for you should you ever order your own Moo cards. But I can’t resist.

I designed and ordered cards for a forthcoming jewelry collection before going out of town for 10 days. The timing was deliberate. The box would be awaiting me when I arrived home, and I could indulge in the singular pleasure of undressing, er, opening the package after a long day’s drive. It’s not unlike the pleasure of opening Apple products. But Moo is more fun, less austere. Read more

A Mile In Your Customer’s Shoes

Have you ever received a followup call from a doctor asking how you were feeling? I haven’t.

But what if that happened?

What if you tweaked some part of your customer’s path that allowed you stand out from similar businesses? What if it delivered unexpected delight?

Who or what could you emulate that has already nailed one of those steps? And could that become part of your brand?

It’s common for large companies, such as an airline or FedEx, to devote resources to mapping customer journeys or creating customer profiles. But what about enterprises that lack the resources or don’t know that considering a customer path is important in the first place? Or that there even is a path? Read more