I’d just hit “publish” on my new About Page. And before I’d calmly considered all the feedback from my posse (because hey, I’m an impatient woman at times) I’d already shared the page in another forum, along with the image of my favourite line:
A line I had to eventually cut.
It didn’t align with what I’m truly about. Which is love, liberation and higher language consciousness.
Hold up. Rewind. Let me explain why I felt the need to update my own About Page in the first place. Throughout June I ran an About Page Special as part of All About You Month. The limited spots sold like hotcakes at a Shrove Tuesday Breakfast. With each unique About Page I wrote for each (enviably more inspirational than me) client, I started feeling like mine was a little… lacklustre. I felt like it could be better. But damn it… I didn’t have a PhD! Or rock-hard abs. Or my own product line.
I only had my story, ideas and vision and this didn’t feel like enough.
Sidenote: Writing your own About page is never easy. And knowing that, as a copywriter, mine had to be pretty-bloody-good…. the pressure to nail it was creatively stifling. I frequently had to remind myself that I was not writing my autobiography.
Now let’s talk conscious language choices — specifically — how to make them.
You’ve probably heard me reiterate the importance of writing to a specific person. Known as your Ideal Client, or your Right Person, this avatar is the individual you craft all of your copy for. Everything from your website copy to your social media bios to your email communication is written with this specific person in mind.
You may have guessed already. My ideal client avatar is (gasp!) a woman.
But here’s the thing. Something felt *off* for me writing sentences like “I help women business owners” or “I believe women…” and “when a woman” yada yada yada.
I’ve seen other very successful female entrepreneurs with large female audiences intentionally use the word “female” in their copy.
Until recently, I’ve felt that this was the only way to go.
But I wonder…
Is it possible to appeal to women without explicitly using the word “women” or “female” throughout your copy?
I believe it is.
Unless it isn’t.
And herein lies the truth. It depends on what you do and what you stand for.
You can talk to a woman (or a man) without constantly reminding them which sex they belong to.
TIP: If you’re a health coach who only works with women because of a particular interest in women’s health, you should let website visitors know they need a vagina before they contact you.
In that case be explicit with your language. You do not have to use the actual word “vagina” by the way. That might be overkill.
For me, I had to think deeply about whether I wanted to potentially alienate a male reader from working with me.
I couldn’t see how, in any way, I couldn’t deliver the same service to a man. I’m a writer. I know how to think (and write) outside my own perspective. And that includes my gender.
It took my wise, beautiful posse to remind me of this belief.
As one friend so elegantly put it “You don’t come across as a man hater on your About Page, but if I was a guy I’d be like “awwww, she no want to work with me.”
How did I know I was making the right language choice for me?
The biggest clue? With each word changed from “women” to “people,” I felt lighter. I felt good. I didn’t feel like I was talking to “everybody”… I knew I would still resonate with the deeper parts of the person I was hoping to attract (male or female). My feelings, once again, held the truth.
That’s language liberation. And that’s what I’m about.
Just to be clear…
This is not an argument for or against explicitly writing for a particular gender in your copy.
This is not an argument for appealing to everyone (you can’t + you shouldn’t).
This is not an argument for watering down your copy.
It’s about interrogating your language choices.
I believe in making conscious language choices. Not just in business, but in life.
Just recently, Danielle LaPorte got my attention (she has a knack for it) with this Facebook post…
“I’m thinking more people should forgo the term “pimp” in their marketing stuff. Pimp your this, your that… um…I’mma pass on the pimp.”
Gratitude surged through me as I envisioned all the Danielle-devotees rushing off to amend their pimped-up marketing copy. Because how many people are using “pimp” without thinking about a) the energy of that term or b) why they use it?
When you use words simply because other people are using them (successfully or otherwise) or because the word is “on-trend” or whatever, you do yourself (+ the English language) a great disservice.
When you interrogate every single word you use, you can’t help but align your message, mission and values to the language that holds such meaning.
Final answer? Keep asking questions. Stay conscious and choose words that make sense for you and your business.