Getting the About page on your website right can make the difference between getting a phone call, text, or email from a potential client or having them move on without reaching out. Unfortunately, too many dog walking websites get the About page all wrong.
The most common mistakes stem from a misunderstanding of the purpose of this page. On the surface this page is about you and your business, but in reality it’s all about your potential clients. Your About page should speak directly to your clients’ needs, worries, and problems—and why you’re the right dog walker or dog walking service to meet those needs, dissolve those worries, and solve those problems. This page, like all others on your dog walking website, is a marketing page.
So your professional bio should be just that—professional. Most dog walking bios tend to focus on personal life stories and the walker’s love of dogs. There’s room for these things (done well), but that room is not at the top of a professional About page.
Your Credentials, Not Your Story
Dog walkers often have an interesting origin story to tell about how they became dog walkers. Perhaps you left a previous career after adopting a challenging dog. Or maybe you just wanted to spend more time with your own dogs. Or create a healthier lifestyle for yourself after toiling in the stress and demanding hours of the corporate world. Or you grew up surrounded by animals, always knowing one day you’d work with them. These stories are great to tell at dinner parties and other social events.
But the people reading your website are not friends or new acquaintances. They’re potential clients deciding whether or not to call you. They haven’t come to your site to read your story. They’ve come because they have one of their own that needs a solution. They didn’t come to read about your Fido—they want to know if you can help them with theirs. Tempting as it may be to write about your own dogs and personal motivations for becoming a dog walker, your bio should be about what makes you the right dog walking professional to make clients’ lives easier.
Think about it this way—would you hire a therapist based solely on the fact that she came from a dysfunctional family? Or a lawyer because he’d been sued and knew what it felt like? Such experiences might add insight, but they’d be secondary considerations. What you really want to know is whether the person is qualified and, most importantly, whether he or she can get the job done for you.
Stories of life experience can play a role by making you seem human, approachable, and warm, but they shouldn’t be the meat of your bio. Instead, tell potential clients what qualifies you as a professional dog walker. This has to be more than growing up with animals—lots of people can say that, possibly even the potential client reading your bio. Your bio is a place to talk about certifications, schools and training, professional associations, a commitment to ongoing professional development and education. It’s not about what got you wanting to walk dogs—it’s about what you’ve done to qualify yourself for that work.
When & How To Tell Your Personal Story. Having said all this, if you feel your story is compelling, go ahead and tell it—but separate it from your professional bio. Your About page should start with your bio, but it’s perfectly fine to also include a section lower on the page about your story or your dogs for people who might want to know more about you personally or who just enjoy a good dog story.
Don’t go overboard, though. Tell the short version of your story, and always wrap with a marketing message. For example, a final sentence like “Having finally realized her dream of spending her days with her dog, Judy loves providing the same peace of mind to her clients by providing their dogs with daily companionship and exercise.”
Your Benefits, Not Your Love
There seems to be a common belief among dog walkers that a love of dogs is their best qualification. But it can’t be. We all love dogs. Your love of dogs, really, should be a given. Further, when your website shouts your adoration for them too often or too loudly you risk appearing as a hobbyist or enthusiast rather than a professional. You wouldn’t hire a tutor for your children because they “loved kids.” Their love of children doesn’t qualify them as a tutor or say anything about the results they can achieve.
Instead of focusing your bio on the way you feel about dogs, make it instead about the benefits you have to offer. Avoid the pitfall of talking only about benefits for the dog—it’s the human client you have to convince. What will you do for them? Alleviate their guilt about the long hours their dog spends alone? Provide them peace of mind? Take an item off their too-long to-do list? Give them an easier, calmer dog to come home to at the end of a busy day? Your bio should be about the needs of your clients.
A Marketing Message, Not a Novel
A short bio is a good bio. Anything over a paragraph is wasted. As an example of potential clients’ attention spans, consider that the average time spent on a website is 3.2 minutes. That’s 3.2 minutes for the whole site. So get right to the point—your marketing message, what sets you apart, what you can do for people, how you make their lives better. Your bio should instill confidence in you as the best professional choice. There really isn’t a lot of time for other material, and we don’t want the message to get lost.
A Pro Dog Walker, Not an App
Consider adding a section on your About page helping to educate potential clients about the difference between hiring an educated, certified professional dog walker versus using an online dog walking app. Anyone willing to hire a dog walker clearly loves their dog and feels an obligation to provide their dog with a high quality of life. But many well-intentioned dog lovers do not understand the lack of regulation in the dog walking industry and the implications of that for choosing a dog walker. It’s imperative for each of us to shout this message from our individual rooftops—your rooftop is your website. So include a section on this on your About page.
If you want to go big, dedicate an entire page to this education effort. (And be sure to slip this messaging into the rest of your website pages, too, especially if you’ve invested in professional dog walking education and certification.)
DOG WALKER BIO SAMPLES
Here’s a typical dog walker’s bio:
“Jan grew up on a farm surrounded by animals, but she loved dogs the most. At five years old she declared her intention to become a veterinarian. As it turned out, she got her degree in Economics from the University of Ohio in 1994 and spent the first decade of her adult work life in corporate America. She adopted Ralph, a goofy mutt of unknown provenance, in 2002. Ralph was a super lovable guy who needed a lot of attention due to a rough start in life. Jan felt guilty leaving him at home every day, and coming home to a stressed out dog. So she hired a dog walker to take Ralph out daily. This definitely helped Ralph and improved his behavior, but Jan found herself jealous of her dog walker, and started dreaming about working with dogs again. Finally, in 2004, Jan took the plunge. She attended the dogbiz Dog Walking Academy to become a certified dog walker, and started her dog walking business. She still loves what she does all these years later, and is grateful to work outdoors every day with the dogs.
It’s not terrible, and Jan comes off as a lovely person. But it’s not a professional bio. So let’s retool it:
“Jan Johnson is a dogbiz Dog Walking Academy certified professional dog walker, and a professional member of the Pet Professional Guild. Committed to providing her clients with full peace of mind, Jan keeps her canine first aid certification up-to-date and regularly seeks ongoing continuing education and professional development opportunities. Jan prides herself on running a business that is committed to taking the best care of both human and canine clients. Her goal is to make clients’ days easier by making sure their dogs enjoy great days that include exercise and loving companionship. Jan is proud to be referred to by Best Dog Training and Town Veterinary Clinic. When not wearing out her clients’ dogs, Jan can be found taking agility classes with her hyper Lab Rondo, reading mystery novels, and practicing Tae Kwon Do.
Notice how the first bio is primarily about Jan and her story, whereas the second is about clients and their needs, and Jan’s qualifications to meet those needs. Her marketing message is in there, too. Jan’s target clientele are busy professionals and families who love their dogs but don’t necessarily have enough time for them, and thus the emphasis on assuaging guilt and reducing to-do lists. She also speaks to her dependability—something busy clients need—with her emphasis on human customer service. Jan then uses the mention of professionals who refer to her to elevate her own professionalism. Her own dog is mentioned only briefly at the end to add a personal touch (along with other hobbies), and also to ‘show off’ that she competes in agility—another indication she has dog skills. This is a bio that communicates competence, professionalism, and a focus on clients.
If your bio resembles Jan’s first effort, it’s time to retool. If you’re not a star writer, don’t have time, or just feel squeamish about singing your own praises, bring in an outside perspective. Ask a friend with strong writing skills or a background in communications or marketing to help. Or hire a professional writer or business coach.
Retool your bio and About page to present yourself as the professional you are and, in so doing, to also help educate your local community about what it means to be—and to hire—a professional dog walker.