One of my readers, Selina, asked an excellent question last week. She asked:
“I’m wondering why you say to only write in the first person. I have seen other people say that it is better to write in the third person to convey a sense of professionalism. You suggest writing the homepage in the first person. Would this also apply to the about page, and the whole website?”
Firstly, great question, Selina. And I have very strong views on this subject.
I’m going to assume that because you’re reading this blog, you’re the kind of person who cares about the outcomes that you deliver for your clients. You want to help them overcome something (or many things) that’s bothering them and live a better life or have a better business.
You also want clients that you enjoy working with, so you need clients that genuinely like you, your work & your particular style of working. In other words, you need to feel (and have) a connection to the people who enquire about working with you; you need them to already be primed to work with you because they know, like & trust you.
Now that we’ve got that sorted… I most definitely do not recommend that you write your website in the third person.
Here’s why: your dream clients aren’t going to leap at the chance to work with you if you talk in the third person.
The third person distances you from your audience
The third-person uses an objective narrator who tells the story without describing your thoughts, opinions, or feelings. It sounds like the story is happening to a distant, far-away person.
It’s very hard for your readers to feel a connection to you if you put a narrator in between you & them because they can’t get a sense of your thoughts, opinions, or feelings that define you as a business person.
And if your audience can’t get to know the real you through your website, then you’ll have a much harder time attracting the right clients for you.
Third person copywriting is all about you, not about your customers
Generally, third person copywriting is done by big, bland, corporate companies who are not known for caring about their customers.
Let’s take a look at Microsoft. The Microsoft Australia’s About Page starts with:
Established in 1985, Microsoft Australia is the Australian subsidiary of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq “MSFT”), the worldwide leader in software, services, devices and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.
Does that make you feel connected to or interested in Microsoft & their work? No.
Do you feel any loyalty to Microsoft? Probably not.
Are you excited to share their website with others? Definitely not.
Why? Because all they’re doing is talking about themselves, instead of showing you how their products can transform your life. They write about how awesome they are & how great their product is, instead of focusing on you & what they can do for you.
Think about it: when you visit a website, do you think about how your money will help the business increase its revenues & let the owner take more holidays? Of course not. You want to know how the store’s products & services can help you reach your goals & make your life better.
You need to make your audience feel understood
Your audience is on your website because they want you to solve their problems & improve their life. That means they need to feel like you actually understand their problems.
“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood.”
— Ralph Nichols
The fastest way make your audience feel like you understand them is to talk to them like a real person. That means not writing in the third person.
When you talk in the first or second person, instead of the third person, it allows you to focus on your audience & shows sensitivity & understanding of their needs & problems. And that helps you build a strong relationship with your audience that makes them feel understood.
And that feeling of understanding triggers an emotional response – it creates connection.
And connection creates loyalty.
And loyalty brings repeat customers.
Writing your website in the third person puts a barrier between you & your dream customers.
On the other hand, writing in the first or second person lets you build a genuine connection with them, show that you understand them & are able to solve their problems. If you want to be one of the lucky ones with dreamy clients that you love working with, it’s the best way to go.