Take a look at the most popular business blogs on the internet, and you’ll notice a distinct thread. From blogs built on the shoulders of an energetic solopreneur to corporate blogs headed by a vocal industry expert, it’s all about the big P: personality, personality, and did we mention, personality? And yet, many businesses and business people struggle to find that fine line between adding a personal touch and shocking or boring their readers to death with overly personal, trite information. So, just how personal should that business blog be?
Focus and Content: Differences Between Personal and Business Blogs
One of the biggest culprits when it comes to business-personal blog confusion is that many personal blogs inadvertently turn into business blogs, particularly in the lifestyle arena. But don’t be mislead: once personal blogs start generating revenue, they not only become a business blog, but they also are a business, with a much more targeted focus and strategy than they might have had in their personal beginnings. Here are just a few of the shifts that happen along the way:
1. Purpose. As any good business blogging guide with tell you, personal blogging is an end in itself, while business blogging is a means to an end, with the goals of engagement, conversion and revenue generation always looming large. Whereas a personal blog can offer an infinite amount of free advice, a savvy business blog will know to have teasers that motivate readers into buying eBooks, memberships, and services, and participating in other promotions.
2. Voice. On a personal blog, you can say whatever you want to say, however you want to say it (although you may not be rewarded for doing so with follows). On a business blog, you will be rewarded for having a unique and authentic voice, but that doesn’t mean you have free reign to swear or otherwise be rude. The litmus test: if you think what you’re about to say will spark a PR nightmare, don’t say it. Also, your unique voice should fit nicely within the brand’s larger personality.
3. Theme. Yes, the most successful personal blogs have themes, but if a personal blogger wants to write about ponies one day and offer expert advice on marketing the next, they’re not going to ruffle any feathers. While a business blog should have varied and engaging content, readers should be able to categorize every post within the brand’s umbrella.
4. Controversy. Likewise, personal bloggers are free to take loud and opinionated stances on any issue that interests them, no matter how controversial. While business bloggers will be rewarded for taking an unique opposing position on non-blood boiling issues (i.e. why Facebook’s newest overhaul is a good thing), stay out of politics, religion, and anything an etiquette coach would recommend not bringing up in the office or at the Thanksgiving table.
5. Regularity. Business bloggers should maintain a regular posting schedule so loyal readers always know when they can expect new content. Personal bloggers should do this, but they won’t risk losing revenue from doing otherwise.
6. Aura of success. While business bloggers may benefit from discussing past and current struggles as a tool for connecting emotionally with readers, such stories are again best used as a means to an end, with the end being overcoming obstacles and solving their problems. Personal bloggers may actually benefit more from providing regular updates on their struggles, and taking readers along for the ride.
How to Create Content for a Business Blog
Of course, just because a business blog comes with an agenda, doesn’t mean that you should let your business blog become a sales pitch; in fact, you can use your personal experiences and opinions as a tool for showing customers why they should do business with you and establishing trust.
1. Know your audience. Are you writing for suburban stay-at-home dads or twenty-something business graduates on the go? Knowing who you’re writing for, what they want and what they need will help you decide what kind of voice and personal stories will most resonate.
2. Set clear goals. As with any business, it’s important to set both lofty long-term and achievable short term goals. You may, for instance, decide that in the month of December, you want to gain 500 followers -- a goal that may then drive you to run a creative contest on your blog, or release a new humorous video about life in the office every day.
3. Find your keywords. If you’re producing well-written, expert, engaging content it’s important that you’re doing all that you can to get that content found. Research your keywords carefully and use them as an inspiration for creating new content.
4. Vary your content style. Whether you write a staff profile one day and report on a conference the next or commission an innately shareable infographic, make it a point to vary your content style and ideas to keep your readers engaged.
5. Use an editorial calendar. Remember what we said about posting according to a regular schedule? Use an editorial calendar to do just that, and to think strategically about varying your content in conjunction with marketing campaigns ahead of time.
How to Create Content for a Personal Blog
So, if these are the strategies for business blogs, what’s left for a personal blog? Plenty!
1. Explore...then find your angle. It’s perfectly acceptable to blog about whatever you like when you’re first starting a personal blog. Doing so will help you discover just what it is you’re passionate about...at which point you should focus yourself, pick a theme, and use that to guide ideas for your posts.
2. Choose your approach. For the most part, there are only three main approaches to personal blogs: journal, collaborative (multiple authors) and topical. Decide which approach you’d like to take, and use this to guide your content choices, including what kind of personal stories you’d like to tell.
3. See what the popular kids are doing. It’s often said that the best authors are the best readers. Consuming other popular blogs is a great way to see what content approaches are out there and use these examples as a guiding force for your own blog.
The internet is a great force for personalization -- one that has revolutionized how businesses and entrepreneurs. Navigating this new world can be difficult for many business people, as what would have been a faux pas ten years ago is now a golden rule. But don’t let the casual nature of the internet lead you down the wrong path. As you go personal, keep the goals of your business in mind, and tell those stories that consumers can’t help but share.