Blogging. Why do people blog? Why does anyone feel compelled to write to an audience of (mostly) people they don’t know? The topic of blogging for personal use versus blogging for personal branding has been floating around the web recently. But is there a difference? And can you incorporate the two into one happy marriage? I say yes to both – and here’s my two cents:
Historically, blogging was a much more personal thing – at least the way I used to see it. Most of us remember the days of Xanga – a lovely blogging tool that was immensely popular several years ago. People would write about their daily lives - ‘today I met a girl, she was awesome, I went to three parties this weekend and had so much fun, my dog died and I’m really sad’- keeping an online journal of sorts. Many people still do this, and these people fall into the category of ‘Personal bloggers’ - which also happens to fall into the category of ‘I’m not interested’ - and maybe that’s perfectly fine for folks who write for themselves. Most likely, they’re not trying to be compelling, they’re not trying to increase their audience or fan base – they’re using modern technology to keep a log of daily events. Perfectly fine, and they have their own place in the grand scheme of things.
Most of us, though – feel compelled to contribute. We strive to be ‘experts’ on topics and ideas we are passionate about. For me, personally – I’m interested in a million different things. The most rewarding aspect of blogging is the discussion it can inspire – it’s continually educating myself on things I’m interested in. It’s getting an entirely new perspective on something I thought I knew everything about. It’s being put in my place when it’s called for – and it’s being able to stand up for the things I believe in.
Which brings us to bloggers who write to ‘brand themselves’. These folks are writing for the community; writing with an audience in mind. Networking is the name of the game, focus is on connecting with people they don’t know and providing new insight on relevant topics and ideas that people are interested in. Initially, most (if not all) of us start out as ‘personal’ bloggers – but one day something clicks and we realize that we can transform our own thoughts and experiences into information that is relevant and interesting to an audience. We start mixing the two – and a beautiful relationship is forged.
It’s not black and white, there are shades of gray here. Is there a defining line between personal blogging and personal branding? Of course, but the two also (should) go hand in hand. The most compelling and interesting bloggers are able to take a topic, add in their own personal perspective, and spin it in a way that connects to the audience and encourages discussion.
Write to engage your audience, write to establish connections and form relationships with your readers, but don’t lose track of who you are. Be yourself. Your personality is what makes your writing and perspective interesting, exciting, and above all, unique. Anyone can write about what they did yesterday – but it takes some thought to inspire discussion. Challenge yourself in your own writing, write about things you aren’t as knowledgeable about, encourage conversation, take in adversity and disagreement. Odds are, you’ll probably learn something – which is necessary in the growth and development of a writer.
When you write for yourself, your mom is the audience. Write for the community, and massive numbers will follow. What do you think? Is there a clear divide? Where do you see yourself?