The differences between personal and business blogging

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Image courtesy of Kromkrathog/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

When I go to a networking event and somebody hears that I’m a blogger, I’m sometimes inundated with questions: “What IS a blog? How does it work? What do you talk about? How can it help my business? How do people find your blog?”

Now that I’ve written almost 300 personal and business blog posts, I’m better able to answer those questions. I tell people that a personal blog is about two things: passion and community. We personal bloggers pick the subjects that we’re most passionate about — books, the trials and joys of parenthood, movies, sports, religion, photography, art, history, culture, to name a few. Along the way, we interact with our blog followers who leave comments and experience the fun of creating an international blog “family”. We stake out our individual territories in the blogosphere, express our innermost selves through words, photos and videos, and invite others to visit. Along the way, we become richer in knowledge and life experience.

In my case, my blog is about books, writers, writing and social media commentary, with side dishes of humor and education. It’s a chatty style of writing.

Business blogging is the same and yet different. Business blogging, when done properly, is equally about attracting attention and building community but with the ultimate goal of converting readers into active customers and advocates. Topics are carefully chosen to demonstrate the expertise and experience of that business and how, by using that company’s products or services, one’s own business or life undergoes improvement. Business bloggers often use current events as inspiration for blog posts, adding their own view of a situation and describing how a newsworthy event affects their industry.

The writing for business blogs is much more formal and must include search engine optimization so that readers find the business blog with search engines. (It’s not a bad idea to know SEO for your personal blogging, too.) Business blogs also have strong visual content — infographics, pictures and videos — to help reinforce the story they’re telling.

I’ve noticed that some of the business blogs that I visit don’t seem to have many comments, and I’ve often wondered why. Some readers don’t want to sign up for comments because they don’t want to give away their e-mail addresses, be considered sales prospects and have the company sell to them with frequent “BUY NOW!” emails. (Speaking for the other side: I know, I know. I get it. But c’mon, people, we’re marketers. It’s what we do.)

Is it because the company buries the blog in their website and it’s hard to find? Does the business not cross-promote the blog in other sites such as Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook? Does the blog’s owner just pick topics that most readers don’t find particularly motivating to discuss?

Or is it the platform? Plenty of businesses host their blogs on WordPress sites, for example. Some get interaction, others don’t.  The ones that do get interaction take the time to talk with their commenters, who are frequently peer-level professionals or people seeking to enter that field.

Blog readers: Got any other thoughts on why some business blogs don’t get more comments?

 

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “The differences between personal and business blogging

  1. I think it’s because a lot of it doesn’t seem genuine. A lot of business and marketing sites look like replicas of each other with a lot of the same content.

    Personally, I do read business blogs and websites but only when the blogger has a voice of their own.

  2. Servetus

    Agree with Felicia. I’m doing my bit for the business by buying their product or whatever. My social media time is for my personal loves. I also have to say that the few times that I’ve seen a blogger start to include paid posts in their personal blog, it’s been a big turnoff.

    • I find the business blogs that I follow to be educational. There’s one marketing blog where they constantly send me info about upcoming webinars, free ebooks that increase my knowledge, etc. An occasional “selling” e-mail from the same company seems reasonable, for me.

      • Servetus

        Hmm — I have the opposite reaction. Too much “knowledge” coming my way is fluff. I’d rather formulate my questions myself and get the information I need without drowning in a flood of stuff I might need. I don’t mind getting a push mail if I forget to circumvent that, but I delete it without reading it.

  3. You’re so organized :-) I tell people it’s like having a newspaper column, but without an editor, deadlines,or anyone telling you what to write about. But then again, I’m not in business anymore.

    • I’ve often thought blogging is like being a columnist, too. When I decided to become a blogger, my copywriting experience helped greatly. Since you’ve been a journalist, did you find the same to be true for you?

  4. On that note: I’ve noticed WordPress has started placing ad boxes on my blog. Nothing is in them yet and upon investigation I would need to go premium to activate the ads, which apparently will earn me money. What is your take? Is this a worthwhile endeavor to pursue or selling out? I haven’t seen many personal blogs with these ads yet.

    • I have mixed feelings; I think it comes down to personal taste. As a marketing professional, I know the ads work for generating some revenue. Otherwise, WP wouldn’t be using them. With the economy being so tough, I understand if the blogger wants to make a little extra money.

      At the same time, I understand that blog readers may find ads irritating and may tune them out. Especially if there are several of them.

      I remember reading one blogger’s description of how she made some money running the ads.

      CM, you might find this link interesting about how WP makes its money:

      http://www.labnol.org/internet/blogging/how-wordpress-makes-money/7576/

      • Since this is a older post this is just for you, hi.
        I regularly read at a celebrity blog with ads and a donate button.
        Most of us “know” our blogger’s personal situation so we support her ads by clicking on them. Many readers hit the donate button regularly and say we did to remind others. We click on her site from the appropriate place (not twitter) so the click counts.

        I think for a blogger to make money without selling stuff your readers need to know the blogger.
        I don’t think it would work for a business blog unless the readers knew the blogger needed the money or if the money was going to a cause. Hope I made sense.

    • It’s important to note a blog owner does not always see the ads WordPress places on their site. If you never look at your site while logged out, you probably won’t know what’s there unless someone else tells you.

      When I first started, I didn’t think much of the ads box, and I didn’t care if WordPress put ads their to help defray the cost of my site. Then a German reader sent me a screencap of an ad on my site in their country. It was for a product I was not too thrilled about, so I paid the small fee to keep them off my site and went on. Eventually, I went completely premium and haven’t regretted it.

      Probably the best part of being premium is WordPress support improves dramatically.

      • I need coffee. LOL! I meant to say “ads there.” Oy

      • Interesting about the ads. They are on my site now, but I don’t monitor them. By going premium do you get residual income from the ads?

      • If you choose NoAds which I was referring to, you pay $30 per year and no ads are placed on your site.

        There is also WordAds where you can get some residual income.This requires a certain amount of traffic, and if you have that traffic, WordPress will usually send an invitation to participate.

        You can find info about both of these here.

  5. I noticed that business blogs are starting to sign up for my blog, mostly a personal blog where I reach out to people and sometimes try to market my first (and soon to be second) book. Once I read what they have to sell (product or service) there isn’t much for me to comment about. They don’t strike me as blogs looking for comments unless they ask “How can we serve you better?” or similar “reaching out” questions. You find the same thing on personal blogs. Those who ask questions at the end of a post often get more comments…

  6. There’s also the “semi-business” blog. Six months ago I decided to bifurcate as some of my posts were about eLearning and the rest were about whatever struck my fancy. On the surface it made sense to create two so that any potential readers would only see the parts that interested them. This did have a noticeable negative drop on the number of views, though. The sum total of views on both blogs is now less than one-half what I used to get on the original alone. An interesting turn of events for sure.

    • Unless a personal blog gets too personal or becomes mundane, it can be most effective to mix it with business. Doing this potentially leverages the real power of social media — that readers feel they know and trust the person with whom they may do business.

      A blog I consider one of the best at mixing business and personal is by Chris Lema. He talks about some really emotional personal subjects and about his personal situation at times as he does it. Here’s a recent post which really moved a lot of people, and you will know why when you read it.

      Frankly, Chris has many of us readers in the palm of his hand, and mostly because we trust him. His writing reveals he is worthy to be trusted, because he’s knowledgeable and he cares. Who wouldn’t want to do business with someone like that? And that is the key — do people trust you or more specifically, your judgment? If they do, chances are greater they will buy if you’re selling.

      Oddly enough I am a web developer who didn’t find Chris through anything related to technical issues. It was a personal piece that drew me.
      But I now read him for advice/info about technical products as well. I don’t always buy, but I am listening.

      Having said all of that, I do not use rafrenzy to market. I do occasionally talk about what I’m doing with my business, because that’s part of who I am. But that rhetoric is never intentionally couched in language that’s good for SEO nor to try to make a conversion. However, in the interest of transparency, I will tell you I have gotten a decent amount of business as a result of that blog.

  7. Pretty much what the rest of your clever readers said, people prefer to interact with humans. Faceless brands are hard to interact with, even if they are Apple or Nike or something. Second worst is when ad agencies “invent” someone to represent a company. I like my humans real, natural and organic.

  8. I keep coming back to this idea about lots of comments equaling success. I suppose if someone wants to have lots of conversation, then certainly that is a benchmark which is important. From the standpoint of being heard as a blogger, it’s not necessarily so.

    I wasn’t of this mind until a couple of years ago when I became the admin for quite a few blogging sites. It’s telling to me that some of the bloggers with a large subscriber list and influence do not necessarily have a lot of comments. Same thing with hits. Hits are important. No question. But they in no way tell the whole story of a blogger’s success. Oftentimes it’s not the quantity of the hits but the quality. Who is actually hitting your site?

    And speaking of hits on a site, a lot of hits can be spambots. Take my blog for instance. I have not been blogging much and was basically dormant for almost a month. I was still getting anywhere from 300 up to 500 hits a day. This usually happens when I’m dormant and sometimes it’s more hits than that. But up to a third of those hits are from spammers/spambots, so really, they don’t count. And while I’m on the subject, it’s important to note that when a blog is dormant, the spambots come out like crazy. It’s a way to see if the site is vulnerable to hacking. Sites left unattended are usually the best place for hackers to work.

    I guess I feel compelled to say all of this to encourage those bloggers who may get sidetracked by using comment count or hit count to determine how well they’re doing. Just write passionately and well, and most of the time it will work out.

    And don’t forget social media. Go where you’re most comfortable. I’m particularly fond of Twitter. It’s stunning the connections I’ve made there, and I’m not talking about anything to do with Richard Armitage. Let me put it in real terms. I’ve gotten a lot of work and some marvelous opportunities from people I have met on Twitter. People I could have never met otherwise. Sometimes I sit back and shake my head and grin at what’s happened. I’m grinning while I type this. But none of it would have happened if I had not taken the time to go there, which oddly enough I did because I knew my kids would eventually go there, and I wanted to see what it was like before they did. If someone running a zany blog like mine and not even spending that much time at it, can have success on Twitter, anyone can do it.

    EE, I’m stepping out of the pulpit now. Sorry for going on and on. I just have a lot of thoughts about this apparently. : D

    • Frenz, I’m glad you’ve said all that you’ve said. Your expertise and information will be a great help to anyone who reads your comments.

      I’m in complete agreement with you. Hits are nice, but ultimately it’s quality over quantity. And isn’t it marvelous that social media has provided us with these amazing opportunities that didn’t exist previously?

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