3 Simple Steps for a Compelling About Us Page

September 24, 2014

About Us,About Me, Editor's DeskYour About Us page could be the most important part of your site. Are you maximizing its potential?

How’s your About Us page? Have you considered how powerful it can be?

The About Us page provides a wonderful opportunity to really connect with your audience. It’s where you can talk about your background and describe what inspired you to start your business. No one likes to read an About Us page that feels like a reshashed sales pitch.

But some organizations do just that: talk about the company instead of focusing on the human element behind the curtain. It’s as if they copied and pasted information from their product pages.

Let your products and services speak for themselves in their own space. This is about you!

So how do we change our minds about About Us pages? Here are three simple rules to get you started.

Rule #1) Tell your story: You felt a passion and started a business. That’s a story worth telling.

Explain what inspired you to take that first step? Did you see a business need worth pursuing? Did you have a mentor who inspired you? Did you start with a lemonade stand and now own a catering business? We need to know!

But remember, the content needs to be relevant to what you’re doing now. If you’re an accountant, the fact that you played in a garage band in your 20s probably wouldn’t apply here. When you get to know your clients a little better, you can share these details.

Finally, now is not the time to be modest. Like I said, your story is worth telling. Tell it. Be honest and be proud.

Rule #2) Show Yourself: We’re human. We like to see other humans. And not the ones in stock photos. We want to to see you!

Arrange for some professional headshots (no selfies!). If you’re creating a page highlighting an executive team, a group shot is a great way to show team unity. If that doesn’t work, try to use the same photographer for individual shots so the images appear consistent.

Also, the pictures should represent your industry. Web developers have more leeway with fun pictures than financial professionals. Your photographer will be able to help you foster the proper image and setting.

Rule #3) Get Someone to Proofread It: I can’t stress this one enough!

A colleague should be able to tell you if it’s too long, uninspiring, or overtly sales oriented. Be sure to select someone who will be able to pay attention to spelling, punctuation, and grammar issues as well.

In case you’re still skeptical about the power of About Us pages, consider Facebook. When you think about it, that monster is simply comprised of personal About Me pages.

Millions of them.

And Facebook really took off, didn’t it?

If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!

Author Richard S. Todd

Richard Todd is a novelist, screenwriter, and President at The Editor’s Desk. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.


Have a To-Do List? Create a Done List!

September 4, 2014

to-do list,done listA done list will motivate you to tackle that to-do list, and give you a better sense of accomplishment.

If you’re a first time entrepreneur developing your startup, you will likely have a to-do list.

And, chances are, it’s pretty daunting.

My startup checklist covered three months worth of tasks, covering simple jobs such as business registration and domain name purchase, to more complex projects like conducting a market research survey. And for every task I checked off the list, I added at least two more.

I could only see how much there was to do, and wasn’t appreciating all I had accomplished. It’s not very motivating to look at an ever-growing list every day, without taking the time to reflect on the journey I’d already travelled.

Until I discovered the done list.

Where the to-do list is all about planning, the done list allows you to evaluate how you executed the plan. It’s the perfect balance for the to-do list, giving you a rear-view mirror on how your startup is growing. It also allows you to compare your expectations and results and examine the entire process, empowering you to make better to-do lists in the future.

The done list is also a powerful motivational tool, as it shows you real results. You can pat yourself on the back because you’ve accomplished things! Not intangible goals or wishes, but actual things. At the end of the day, you can look back and be proud of all you’ve done, reenergizing you for the next day.

Your done list may never be as big as your to-do list, but you’ll get more satisfaction from the process by keeping track of both.

As they say, it’s not always about the destination. It’s also about the journey.

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!

Author Richard S. Todd

Richard Todd is a novelist, screenwriter, and President at The Editor’s Desk. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.


What Your Headshot Says About You, Part 2

August 19, 2014

“If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, you’re a major part of what you’re selling…” Sara Shirley from Sara Elisabeth Photography, on professional headshots.

Last week, we spoke to Sara Shirley from Sara Elisabeth Photography about using professional headshots as personal branding images. She shared with us how entrepreneurs should approach professional headshots for their websites and social media sites.

This week, Sara and The Editor’s Desk President Richard S. Todd compare two images she took of Richard, and how each could be used in corporate or personal branding.

Image #1 – Traditional Headshot

Professional Headshot,Sara Elisabeth,Personal Branding

Sara: “This image is much closer to your traditional “professional headshot” in terms of the crop and the focus on the face. There’s not much in the image to distract from Richard, other than the bricks, which add in a bit of texture and pattern. The absolute positive aspects of this image are how comfortable, inviting, and confident Richard looks. He looks friendly, cool, and calm, and this image makes me trust him. I would still consider this a personal branding image because it exudes personality and the brand that Richard is trying to portray.”

Richard: “Agreed, this is the kind of picture one would normally associate with a professional headshot. Very simple, strong focus on the face with a relaxed expression. The bricks in the back not only add pattern, but also suggest building on a solid foundation. Building relationships, building partnerships, and strength in unity.”

Image #2 – Full Body Shot

Professional Headshot,Sara Elisabeth PhotographySara: “The second image is different in terms of composition and the look and feel of the image. It shows more environment and the reflection in the glass is relevant for a writer who is always thinking about the meaning behind words and ideas. This image is a great compliment to the first one for someone like Richard to add to their website. It would allow potential clients to see more of his personality via his body language.”

Richard: “I like the second because it’s not like the first! As it shows more than the head and shoulders, it will stand out among the crowd of traditional professional headshots while retaining the same relaxed image. The subject is not only someone you could do business with, he’s someone you could hang out with too! Sara also mentioned off-line that the reflection of the building suggests something that writers often do – reflect.”

 Summary

Sara: “In summary, Image 1 could stand on its own as a personal branding image, but image 2 could not. Together, they make a great pair, allowing the viewer to understand more about Richard. Individuals should be moving towards having more than one great image of themselves to show potential clients. If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, you’re a major part of what you’re selling – people want to work with someone they like rather than with someone who is uptight and has no personality. Time to start thinking of how you want your personal branding images to look!”

Richard: “Image 2 certainly compliments the first image, but couldn’t stand on it’s own on a website or on professional social media platforms such as Twitter or LinkedIn. I’ve seen more than a few websites that feature something like Image 1, and then have secondary pictures just like it but with slightly different expressions or hand positioning. Something completely different like Image 2 would have been a better addition to the website.”

Follow The Editor’s Desk on LinkedIn and Twitter.

If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!

Author Richard S. Todd

Richard Todd is a novelist, screenwriter, and President at The Editor’s Desk. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.

 


What Your Headshot Says About You, Part 1

August 12, 2014

author headshot,headshot,professional headshot“Each person should be authentic with who they are in the professional world.” – Sara Shirley, Sara Elisabeth Photography, on the subject of professional headshots.

Professional headshots are a must for online corporate profiles, professional social media sites, and anywhere where your public image has a stake in your business.

But how many headshots have you seen on corporate profiles that don’t convey the proper image?

This applies to authors as well!

This week, Sara Shirley from Sara Elisabeth Photography discusses the importance of personal branding images, and how they can impact your business. She also answers the question about whether or not to use a “selfie”.

1)   You have the ability to view professional headshots with a critical eye. When you see a headshot, what kind of things do they tell you about the subject?

I look at these images as “personal branding images” rather than “professional headshots”. After first noticing the technical aspects of the image, I notice the type of expression the subject has on their face. The person’s smile, the engagement in their eyes and small differences in posture and body language are some of the factors that contribute to making the subject look authentic. If someone looks stiff and uncomfortable in their picture (like often in the standard “professional headshot”), it shows. On the other hand, if the person is warm, engaged and authentic, people will view them in a different way. They’ll be seen as someone that people will want to work with. That is why some photographers prefer to use the term “personal branding images” – the images are supposed to be representative of how a person wants to be viewed by others.

2)   What are the most important things a subject should consider when posing for professional headshots?

Trusting one’s photographer is number one. People should make sure they select a photographer they have a good rapport with and that can show you some samples of their work. Together, they should pick a location that represents the subject and their personal brand (how they want to be seen by others).

Clothing choice is also very important. Subjects should choose clothing that is appropriate to their field, clothing that is clean, ironed, and lint-free, and clothing that is of a solid colour. People want to avoid anything that has a busy design (like floral print), or anything with logos or text on them (unless it’s their uniform).

Lastly, subjects should just allow themselves to let loose and have fun. Most of us don’t like having our pictures taken, but having a great-quality professional headshot that we love is important to our brand image and to our ultimate success. Subjects should let their photographer guide them through the process and don’t forget to smile.

3)   You deal with professionals with many different roles and from many different industries. How does one’s title and industry play into the headshot?

One’s title and industry definitely play a factor in the image, but I give my clients the ultimate decision as to how they want to represent themselves in their final image(s). Some high-level executives enjoy laughing with their employees and having a more equal relationship with them, and subsequently want to be seen as extremely warm in their image. Others prefer to be a little bit more serious and be seen as an authoritarian-type. There’s a full spectrum of choices for people to choose from. Each person should be authentic with who they are in the professional world.

4)   Should a professional ever consider using a “selfie” on their professional profile?

Professionals should never consider using a “selfie” on their professional profile because, whether it’s consciously or sub-consciously, prospective clients, partners or employers will not take them as seriously. Making a small investment in a professional photographer can set you apart from the pack. It demonstrates that the individual puts effort into the way they present themselves, which in turn demonstrates that they’ll put effort into other aspects of their professional life.

5)   I’ve seen more and more companies using the same photographer for their entire staff. It suggests unity through a common image. Do you see this as a growing trend as well?

More and more companies are opting to use the same photographer for their entire staff. Companies, large or small should consider hiring a photographer to capture professional branding images of their staff because it demonstrates unity and consistency in a world where the image is more and more important.

Next week: Sara analyzes two professional images in terms of personal branding.

Follow The Editor’s Desk on LinkedIn and Twitter.

If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!

Author Richard S. Todd

Richard Todd is a novelist, screenwriter, and President at The Editor’s Desk. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.

 


President John

July 28, 2014

Hey folks!

I’ve written a new short story which received some rave reviews from a literary group I belong to. So I thought I’d share it with my loyal followers here, before putting it out for the rest of the world to see.

It’s called President John, and it concerns a young boy being bullied at school. Please give it a read and leave your comments here or at the bottom of the page.

Hope you like it!

Literally Yours,

RST

If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!

Author Richard S. Todd

Richard Todd is a novelist, screenwriter, and President at The Editor’s Desk. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.


Be Diligent when Choosing a Translation Service

July 17, 2014

Translation Services,TranslationOnline translation tools are fun. But they can’t take the place of professional translation services.

We’ve all played with translation tools such as Google Translate and Bing Translator. They’re great for translating simple phrases, such as “how are you?”, that basically mean the same thing across most languages.

But when it comes to communicating important messages to a foreign-language audience, the overall meaning of similarly simple phrases can get lost when using the same technology.

Consider the common English phrase, “I’m going to catch a bus.” Most people in the English-speaking world who use public transit are familiar with what this means.

But you can’t always translate that literally. In French, for example, there are many verbs that might apply. Choose the wrong one, and your French readers might get confused. How can one actually “catch a bus”?

Translating the same phrase to Mandarin can cause the same issue. In Mandarin, the correct phrase translated to English reads, “I am going to follow the bus.”

This might sound strange to Western ears, but it’s completely understandable to those fluent in that language.

Have you ever used the Bing-powered translation tool on Facebook? I find myself still mystified as to the meaning of the foreign-language post after seeing the English “translation”.

Clearly, a lot of work went into these tools, but they can’t be relied upon for overall credible translation.

Using a freelancer might work, but if you’re not fluent in the language, how will you proof the work?

I heard a story where a marketing piece was translated from Japanese to Chinese, using traditional script. The piece almost went to press, but the client caught two lines of Japanese still in the copy just in time.

Can you imagine the fallout had the client not been familiar with the difference in script, and the piece had gone out as is?

Thousands of dollars wasted. Reputation? Gone.

So unless you want to take a Berlitz course to learn your target language,  you should consider hiring a reputable translation company that offers at least three levels of translation and proofing.

It’s an expensive undertaking, but poor translation can result in long-term costs that no business wants.

If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!

Author Richard S. Todd

Richard Todd is a novelist, screenwriter, and President at The Editor’s Desk. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.


The Evolution of Frankenstein

July 9, 2014

Hey everyone!

My latest speech is called “The Evolution of Frankenstein”, in which I discuss the book’s overall themes and how they translated into film.

Have a watch. Hope you like it!

See you out there…

If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!

Author Richard S. Todd

Richard Todd is a novelist, screenwriter, and President at The Editor’s Desk. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.


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