How to Be a Person Online: Putting the Heart Back into Your Business Blog
Do you remember how to be a person on the internet?
Not a persona you've adopted as part of your brand. Not a carefully curated, styled version of yourself that will look good on social media. An actual, living breathing person.
It can seem impossible.
You're not supposed to show the world your bad side. You're supposed to remain professional, hide your flaws and failings, change the way you talk, stuff away your controversial opinions, and only post headshots where your hair is perfectly styled and you're wearing on-brand colors.
We call this "professionalism." I call it BS.
You're a person, an imperfect someone with dreams that don't work out and goals that don't come to fruition and days that you don't wash your hair.
There's nothing wrong with presenting a polished version of yourself to the world (after all, there is such a thing as TMI). But in our current entrepreneur culture, it's too easy to let "polished" blur into something worse.
When did we start losing who we are in the online world?
As a budding solopreneur, you wanted to learn more about growing your business, so you followed the leaders in your industry. You admired them and their success. Soon, you start to emulate them. You take inspiration from them when you design your logo and choose your brand colors. You hang out on the same social media platforms and use the same hashtags. Your blogging voice starts sounding like their blogging voice.
Then one day, you look up after hours on the computer and realize that your online self and your real-life self are no longer the same person.
I know from experience how exhausting it is to be two people at once. The worst part is, it doesn't even work.
Hiding your heart will never lead to a successful business. It might bring a quick influx of followers at the start, but it's not sustainable in the long run.
How to be a real person again
The subject of getting personal on your business blog is always touchy. You don't want to overshare, and you don't want to blog about things your ideal clients don't care about. So how can you still let your true self stand out?
Stop reading everyone else's content and focus on creating your own.
You'll always need to learn from others to grow as a business owner, but you don't always have to be knee-deep in content from other business owners. It stifles your voice and your unique ideas.
Slot a time each week for dedicated learning. Use this space to dig deep into ONE topic you need to learn more about to advance your skills or business. If you're not sure what to research, keep a running list throughout the week of things you wish you knew more about, then evaluate which of those topics will actually get you closer to your goals.
Blog about things you care about.
There are people out there who are honest-to-goodness excited about things like SEO and Facebook ads and WordPress themes. If you're one of them, that's awesome! Go ahead and blog your heart out about those things. Your enthusiasm and expertise will shine right through the screen, and your audience will be attracted by your passion.
But if you don't care about Facebook ads---even though they're trendy---you have no business blogging about them. You'll sound dull and forced when you write your post. Your audience will be able to tell that your heart isn't really in it.
You started a business based on something you care about (I hope), so blog about those things! THIS is what will separate you from all the other businesses in your industry.
This is where I personally lost my way over the last year or two. I focused my posts on the things a content marketer should care about, like types of content and blogging schedules. Now I've realized those are things that matter, but they're not things I'm passionate about. What matters most to me as a content marketer is helping creative entrepreneurs run an intentional blog that brings them joy, not just one that checks all the boxes of a "good" content marketing strategy.
Share stories from your everyday life.
Yes, you can do this on a business blog without being unprofessional. Think about it: if you worked in a traditional office setting, you'd still know details about your coworkers' lives, like how their kids are doing and which TV show is their guilty pleasure. Getting personal doesn't make you unprofessional, it just means you're not a robot.
I like to use the introduction of a post to tie in snippets from my real life with whatever I'm blogging about that day. You can see how I did that in this post when I used the experience of potty training my toddler as a segue into expert blogging advice that might not work for everyone.
Many readers also resonate with entire posts that are more personal, like when Jen Carrington reminds her readers AND herself that she doesn't have to hustle for her self-worth, or when Ashlyn Carter shares both personal and professional goals in her goal-setting blog series.
It takes practice to be yourself online
It's weird, but it's true. You wouldn't think you'd have to work so hard to show up in your business in a way that feels like YOU. But the more experiment with being yourself online and the less you pay attention to what everyone else is doing, the faster you'll find the sweet spot of being a person in your business blog again.
I'd love to hear: How do you keep your real self in front and center of your business blog?