I wanted to write a short bio for this site. But trying to describe yourself in a paragraph is like eating watermelon on a trampoline. It feels stupid and even if you succeed it makes you take a long, hard look at yourself.
You have very little time to capture a cold visitor's interest. So when someone lands on your site, even if they're your perfect reader/customer/john/whatever they are coming in blind and they need to get oriented quickly.
And really, being efficient at capturing attention is doing your visitors a favour.
Imagine walking down the street yourself and seeing a store that looks interesting but as you look in the window you can’t tell if they sell shoes or groceries or computers or dildos or washcloths or children. They could have exactly what you’ve been looking for but if you don’t know it might be in there, you’re gonna walk on by.
This can be seen in my analytics. Half the people who land on this site go to the About page as their 2nd step. That’s not right. You should gain enough context from any page that you don’t need to go to a special one devoted to a fight between my ego and my modesty.
One way that some sites solve this is with a short biography at the end of an article. You've seen them. A little picture of the person's head and next to it a line like, "Angus is an award-winning plumber who’s really fond of interesting toilet designs and travels the world documenting the form and function of the very best ones."
Another way is the short banner-bio. It's the same kind of thing, but it's at the very beginning of the site. The text is often big and styled nicely and it's the only thing you really see at first glance. I like this a lot because you get context quickly, they have simple designs, and with a single place for your eyes and mind to go, you don't have to think too much.
(Don't make me think, websites, I get enough of that when I'm, um, you know, thing ... doing.)
So I set out to write a quick bio/introduction for two reasons. Two selfish reasons.
Two Selfish Reasons
I’m not motivated by more readers or helping readers read better. Maybe somewhat, but if my motivation behind this site wasn’t selfish -- because I enjoy it or because it helps me -- I probably wouldn’t keep it up. I write selfishly for my own purposes. And if it helps other people, awesome. It’s the whole putting your oxygen mask on first thing. I like oxygen.
In this case, I’d like to get better at audience targeting and subject matter focusing. That's the first reason. I want to do more study around that as a concept. You know, "marketing" and such. It's a thing!
The second reason is to use it as a tool I can use to keep my writing in line. Like the steering-assist on Mario Kart that keeps you from falling off the track but still lets you steer until you go too far. So when I eventually get this amazing idea of comparing different kinds of donuts to the size of your dreams, I pass on that because that doesn't line up with my intent. (Honey glazed?? Dream BIGGER!!)
But What Am I?
For the purpose of this exercise, I’m taking the original purpose of this blog -- self-improvement -- and theming my introduction around that. So let’s write a rough draft starting with what I have now:
I’m Angus. I’m an entrepreneur and software development manager living in Montreal. This blog is a living document about me getting better at life.
Alright, that's clearly rough. My name, my job, my location, and a line that tells you very little about the subject matter. Would you want to read that blog? Probably not unless you know me.
The first problem is that my job is boring and rather common. We need to clean that up first. Entrepreneur? Who isn’t! Manager? That’s fine if I’m going to write about the ins and outs of management here, but I’m not. What’s important to the story? You really only need the general type of work that I do so your mind can shove me in a box. A simple mention of tech or software should be fine there.
The second problem is the boring line about getting better at life. What does that mean? It means this blog could be about anything, really. Everyone (almost) has lives they are trying to improve. So what part of life is tough for me specifically and would be relatable to people who might read this? Well, I have mild depression and a below-average baseline of happiness. And yet I still keep trying to rise above those issues and enjoy life and accomplish great things. I’m like a three-legged dog who thinks he can run a marathon, not even realizing that even if he had four legs that marathons are for humans. But good luck trying to tell the dog that!
I'm a g** d*** Chumbawumba song, m***** f******!
Let’s try again:
I’m Angus, a tech worker from Montreal. I write about my attempts to enjoy life when my natural inclination is to be a miserable shit.
Well that’s a different take. The miserable shit is a harsh ending but could work to gain attention. Also tech worker kinda sounds like sex worker. Maybe that’s a good thing? We don’t want to be boring.
Let's keep trying things anyway:
MONTREAL, QC. I’m Angus. I build tech teams and computer things. I write about my half-successful attempts to be happy even though I shipped with the default setting of general misery.
I think that got weirder. Putting the location first like a newspaper is strange but you gotta experiment to find good things! I also changed some of the phrasing to match things people in software say (shipping, default settings) but I don't think I'm trying to attract other people in tech so that's not a useful change.
I do seem to have the building blocks though.
I’m Angus Woodman. I’m a software creator and business owner based in Montreal. I write about my not-always-fruitful attempts to enjoy life and find success, whatever that means, while living with a mind that doesn’t always wanna let that happen.
Okay, we’re getting somewhere.
I don't like the business owner thing though. While it’s technically true, it’s not what I spend most of my time doing and it’s not the image I want to project. It sounds like I'm a guy wearing a suit who won't get off the phone long enough to give his cab driver proper directions. And this isn’t my CV anyway. I’m not trying to get a job here. I’m trying to engage with humans.
Which brings up a good point. Engaging with humans isn’t about framing yourself in eloquence. It’s about connecting with them using the things you both love about being human. And for me that’s fun and levity and not taking the whole damn thing so seriously.
With that in mind:
I’m Angus Woodman. I’m a
sextech worker based in Montreal. I write about my oft-failing attempts at enjoying life and finding success (whatever that means) while living with an uncooperative brain that would have me do nothing but eat potato chips in the dark.
I feel like that’s more representative of who I am. Downplaying myself, making a joke about my mental health, but adding a bit of a serious mission in there somewhere. And also subtly hinting how working in tech can make you feel like a whore.
It's still a bit wordy and run-on-sentence-y. But it's a good first pass for today at least. I’m sure it’ll change over time or even before I can modify the WordPress theme to support a place to put it. But progress is not about doing it all in one day.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to mix up a little dip and turn off the lights. 🥔