This is a guest contribution from Sabina Stoiciu.
Do you remember how it was back in the 90s, when most of us didn’t have a clue about blogs and blogging? Today we can hardly imagine a world without them. And if the first blogs from mid-90s had a personal character and resembled an online diary, business blogging has taken quite a different track. Or have they?
What do personal and business blogging have in common?
At first, I would say it’s the need to have a blog to write for (just joking, I’m sure this is something that can’t be skipped).
Personal blogging means having your own little corner of the web, where you express everything from your personal beliefs, ideas, tips for spending free time, preferences, hobbies; to relating personal stories from your everyday life.
Business blogging works following a similar principle – the one of having an own place on the web where to present yourself as a company, to be more human, show what you’re like, and engage with your followers, just like you do on a personal blog.
For both types of blogs you need to have a well-contoured idea of what you want to write about, although the business blog requires even higher levels of structure. You can’t (or at least shouldn’t) start a blog just for the sake of following a trend, if you don’t have any hint on what your blog’s purpose should be.
A second common point is: keeping your audience in mind when you write. For whom do write? Do you write for tech savvy people? Don’t be afraid to use some technical jargon, then. Do you write for your grandma’s generation? Use language that isn’t too tech-heavy. An useful measure for knowing for whom you are writing is to undertake audience research. Personas can help you imagine how your typical reader looks and behaves. It’s then easier to craft content for someone you already have in mind.
The whole purpose of a blog is to have a more personal touch. Hence, the writer’s personality will come to the surface through their style of writing on both types of blogs. The personal one, however, allows its owner to express their thoughts in a more intimate manner than on a business blog, where communication has to respect some basic guidelines.
Another common characteristic of both blog types is the need to engage with followers. Whether it is a personal blog or a business blog, your articles shouldn’t take the shape of a monologue. On the contrary – you should encourage readers to comment and share their ideas and thoughts. Besides developing your discussion and making it more interactive, visitors can provide you with new ideas on what they’d like to read, which then informs your content.
Now tell me what you think of blogs that don’t have a contact method. I personally tend to ignore them, because I can’t explain to myself why you wouldn’t want to get in touch with your readers. It bothers me not to have any way of sending the blog owner a message, especially because it’s very easy to include a contact form on your blog. There are plugins for WordPress that let you build and publish a contact form in no time.
One more thing you can do on both personal and business blogs is have guest posts. This can be a good way to offer some variation in content and writing style, which your readers might appreciate. Though, the topics and the most appropriate guest authors depend on your blog type. Business blogs can benefit of featuring well known industry speakers, fellow business owners, or product/service partners. Personal blogs might have a smaller chance to feature opinion leaders, but they are still useful.
Last but not least, you have to be careful what you write about and what you make public. It’s true that blogs should express honest opinions, but that doesn’t mean you can wake up one day and begin to denigrate everybody in your life.
How are personal and business blogs different?
Apart from sharing a few common points, these two types of blogs can be poles apart. Here are the main traits that distinguish one from the other:
- In many cases, the audience of a business blog is more specialised. It’s more of a niche audience, which at some point might be more picky than the readers of your personal blog. For example, you can choose to write today about kittens on your personal blog. Tomorrow you shift the content direction and cover diet tips. And the day after tomorrow you feel like speaking of planes. Your followers might be indulgent when it comes to your personal blog, but business articles should stay quite focused.
- For a business blog, I would say that it’s more difficult to write compelling content that keeps readers coming back. Your blog has to speak about your business, but be of a more general interest at the same time. As for the personal blog, you have a higher freedom in choosing what to write about.
- The previous point leads to mentioning one more difference: business blogs offer valuable, useful content, engage and advertise at the same time. Perhaps ‘advertise’ is not the most appropriate term, but business blogs do provide information on the product or service behind the business. Common sense asks for this information not to be overly promotional, but to present additional advice on how to make the most out of the product, how to benefit of the product’s partnerships and others.
- Moreover, there are several points to keep in mind when crafting your business blog content – how to write headlines, not having a clear posting strategy, being all too promotional, using images incorrectly. or being too SEO-crazy.
- The content on a business blog should be even more engaging than on a personal blog, meaning that it should be accompanied by strong calls-to-action that make the visitor convert. After all, the final purpose of a business blog is to convince the visitor that your product is the best choice, something that you do through presenting its extended features, advantages, use cases and so on.
- Besides strong calls-to-action, your business blog can benefit from including lead generation methods, such as lead generation forms. This type of form can include various sub-types like the contact form, the request a quote form, the newsletter subscription form, the freebie form and others which can fulfill the lead generation requirement.
- Because we’re talking of the business sector, where every resource allocation has to be justified, your business blog also needs to be analyzed. Engagement, ROI, conversions, requests for more information about your business – they all have to be tracked closely to see how your blog strategy is working out. Unlike your personal blog, the business one has to drive clear results.
- We’ve established before that you are responsible for what you post on the web for both personal and business blogs. Nevertheless, posting on a business blog requires you to be even more careful. How do you perceive a typo on a personal blog and how do you do it when it comes to a business blog? When writing about and for your company, you are associated with the company image. The slightest mistake you make can have a huge impact on the brand you’re representing.
Having said outlined these differences, some could argue that personal blogs, particularly personal blogs that create income and are brands unto themselves, also benefit from such “business-blogging” strategies. Where do you stand on the issue?
Sabina Stoiciu enjoys blogging, photography, traveling and finding ways of gathering and sharing relevant business knowledge. You can follow her on Twitter. She also writes for 123ContactForm, the online form and survey builder – try it for free.