Guest post by Molly Kelash
My little personal blog, called seriously, scares me to death.
Okay, not literally, but every time I post my gut clenches a little, my heart pounds and I bite my nails down to stubs in anticipation of the comments I will get.
That’s because everything I write about is mine — my experiences, my thoughts, my observations – anything I feel like really, and it is bare-all honest and real no matter what. If I’m not a little afraid to post it, then I know it isn’t quite right.
While my blog is personal and honest sometimes to the point of pain (which I try to defray with a dash of humor), my one rule is to never, ever blame others or write negatively about the ones I love.
In that way it has become cathartic and better than cognitive therapy – it forces me to reframe my thinking and air out my dirty laundry publicly at the same time. It’s absolutely frightening and the most freeing, transformational thing I have ever done in my life.
And believe it or not, this uber-personal blog has been great for business.
I am a freelance writer and editor by trade. I started seriously as a birthday present to myself last year. No goals really, other than just having a space where I could write anything any way I wanted for once. A way to spread my creative wings, do a little deeper thinking about my life and, well, just to see what would happen.
So I sent a link to the first post to friends with no idea what they would think – was it simply narcissistic navel-gazing, or did it have value outside my own myopic view of things?
The response was far more positive than I could have imagined. I started to look at it differently as people I respected compared me to Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), told me what a great writer I was, how I’d captured exactly how they felt about things, how I should write a book, etc., etc.
After a few months, I took a leap of faith, girded my loins, gathered up the troops, took a few cleansing breaths and…hit “send” on an email containing the link to a few trusted colleagues and clients.
Did they think I was a flake, shake their heads over my breach of traditional business-etiquette – keeping your personal life and business life separate? No, they did not. They were impressed, and they told me so. They thought of projects for me, people I should talk to about work, asked me what my plans were for the blog – basically it brought me up, not down, in their estimation. Hunh. Who woulda’ thunk it?
I've thought a bit about it since, and here’s what I can gather are the reasons for it being a successful marketing tool – purely unscientific, but might be helpful if you are contemplating whether your own personal blog would help or harm your business.
Reasons My Personal Blog has Helped Grow My Business
1. It proves I’m legit. Anyone can call themselves a writer,but we all know there are plenty of people out there who do so and really shouldn’t. Unless they’d worked with me, all my colleagues knew I called myself a writer, but had no way of knowing whether I actually deserved the title.
2. They get to know the real me better. Even though I am a better writer than business person, I do know that personal connections are what make the business world go round. And my business colleagues and clients definitely get to know me better through my blog.
3. It keeps me top-of-mind. Every time I write a new post, they think of me. Now if I can manage to post more than once a month, I’d be golden!
4. It shows my social media/online publishing “savvy”. We all know where advertising and marketing is heading, and my blog shows that I at least understand the concept of online communications tools.
But here is my warning: using a personal blog for marketing your business is NOT ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA! In some cases, it may actually harm your business and your reputation in the business world.
Reasons why using your personal blog for business might not work for you
1. I don’t send the link to potential clients unless they are looking for essay-type articles, opinion pieces or blog-writing. Because it is such a non-business, first-person form of writing, it can often be irrelevant – and potentially harmful – if I am angling for certain marketing communications work.
2. My themes are universal — the human experience from my perspective, if you will. If your personal blog is more specific or interest-related, say terrarium gardening or the wonders of golden retrievers, I might think twice before using it as a business tool.
3. I decided in the very beginning, before I even knew it would be read by business colleagues, that using swear words in my blog was right out. The English language is so incredibly rich one need not rely on the use of crass words to shock or get a point across. It is lazy and reflects poorly on the writer as a person and is, of course, extremely inappropriate for a business audience.
4. If you are NOT a writer by trade, a personal blog should probably remain just that. Think of a personal blog as a platform for showing the breadth and depth of your skill to your business audience.
5. If your blog is uninspired and uninspiring — not something you have a passion for or think you will be able to keep up regularly — your readers will notice and give up on you. Not a particularly great advertisement for your business.
In closing, let me just say this one thing. Don’t be afraid to be afraid. If you start a personal blog, do it for yourself first and make it ballsy honest. That’s why it’s called personal after all. Test the waters, but don’t be afraid to jump in and send the link to as many friends as possible.
And if you get a favorable response from those you trust to be honest, chances are you’ll get a favorable response from your colleagues and clients.