Should I write about personal stuff on my business blog? How much? Which topics are acceptable and which are taboo? Can I swear? Should I voice political opinions? Can I post pictures of my cat? My kid? My dinner?
I hear these questions from new bloggers of all kinds – B2B business people, start-ups, creative entrepreneurs, artists, coaches, etc. Whether and how to incorporate personal stories and information in a “business” blog is a common quandary. In this era of 24/7 social media and ubiquitous, digital publishing, the lines between business and pleasure – professional and personal – have become quite blurred. It is not unusual to read a personal opinion post on a business blog. Business owners, CEOs, and highly sought after consultants frequently publish content that has little or nothing to do with their core topics or message – posts about family, social commentary, favorite movies, hobbies, etc.
So, should you write about personal stuff on your business blog?
It depends on who you are, what your business is about, how you interact with your readers, your writing skills, your writing style, your bandwidth, and – ultimately – your blogging (and business) goals. If you are considering the options, here are a few questions that can help you start to brainstorm around if, why, and how personal content is a fit for your blog:
Why do you want to share personal stuff? Be honest. Are you bragging a little? Are you more interested in writing about personal experiences than your business topic? Are you trying to connect more deeply with your audience? Do you find it easier than writing on your professional topic? Are you trying to broaden the scope of your readers’ interest in your personal brand? Do you use it for comic relief?
Can you tie your personal stories to your professional ones? Are there metaphors you can apply, or segues? Can you come up with personal stories that are inspired by professional experiences or vice versa? Can you link personal stories to professional sources (i.e., reading about a colleague’s personal philosophy and being inspired to write your own)?
Are you on close enough terms with your audience? What kind of relationship do you currently have with your readers? Are your conversations all brass tacks and bottom lines, or is there already some banter and sharing going on? Have they ever requested more personal content from you? Have they shared their own stories? Are you connected with readers on other platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter)? How do your conversations on these other platforms compare to those on your blog? Is there an opening to start a more personal dialog on your blog?
What purpose do you think personal content will serve? Are you trying to create a stronger connection with your readers – help them identify with you on a more personal level? Do your stories showcase your personality, giving people a taste of what it might be like to work with you? Are you trying to add another dimension to your professional persona? Do you and your audience share some common interests?
These are hard questions worth asking. Your professional blog is, after all, an important part of your business’ online presence – arguably even more important than your website. People visit blogs to get a more “real-time” and “dynamic” sense of who you are and what you do. Including personal content is not a red wire/blue wire decision, but it should be done thoughtfully and with purpose. I believe that including more of your personal voice in your business blog can have many positive benefits, but I also believe that your business blog is not a personal journal or soapbox. As with any other element of your marketing, the personal content on your blog should be strategically designed within the context of your overall purpose and goals.
A few tips if you do decide to work personal elements into your business content:
- Test the water. Don’t strip down and dive off the deep end with a “wahoo!” and a cannonball. Start small. Play with incorporating a personal angle into an otherwise business-focused post. Riff off a personal conversation from Facebook or Twitter, for example.
- Invite your readers to get personal, too. Don’t feel like you need to be the only one getting in touch with your feelings. Invite your readers to share their stories and thoughts. You may be surprised at how eager people are to offer their two cents.
- Contain the personal content. Maybe your personal content only gets published on one day of the week – like “personal Fridays” instead of “casual Fridays.” Maybe you reserve personal stories for the weekend. Maybe you post personal content at random, but label it in a fun way: “WARNING: personal opinions and anecdotes ahead.”
Bringing your personal voice and experience into your business blog can help you make faster, more memorable connections with your readers and set you apart from your competition. It can help you find that “authentic” groove where you can offer more of yourself to your audience in a way that benefits them, you, and your business. It can also create synaptic connections that lead to new ways of approaching your work and your network.
Do you already include personal content in your business marketing? How do you handle the integration? What benefits (or challenges) have you seen? Have you seen examples of others doing this well?