Earlier this year, I got an email from a blogger who was interested in content coaching but, since her blog isn’t a business, couldn’t invest in one-on-one work with me.
So I told her that I’m creating a class (which I am—stay tuned!), but I also suggested she tell me what she’s struggling with now. When she did, I wrote her back with some thoughts, and I wanted to elaborate a little more here. I hope this will help her and you. So let’s dive in!
In her initial email, the blogger told me that her biggest problem is trying to combine sharing what she loves (running and learning a new language) with sharing her growing expertise (about an industry she wants to break into)—on the same blog.
I know all too well how hard it is to feel like all your ideas are disconnected, bumping up against each other instead of meshing together nicely. I gave her some advice about how her personal interests and career aspirations could share space (and I’ll talk more about that advice next week), but first, I want to address a very common question: should your personal life and professional life share a blog or should you keep them separate?
I think the answer is different for everyone, but I also know it can be hard to decide. One way to start is to figure out what kind of sharer you are. Here are the two main kinds I see:
1 | The Teacher
You learn something from most experiences, and you like reflecting on what you’ve learned and then sharing it with others. You carefully craft your writing so that a clear point (often advice, a how-to, or a lesson learned) shines through, and you want to make sure that each piece you post contributes to a bigger message you have to share.
2 | The Documenter
You love documenting life as it’s happening, whether you're writing down everyday moments you want to remember or taking photos of a project you’re working on. You may tend to be a bit more visual (sharing lots of photos or illustrations), though that’s not always the case. When posting, you don't worry as much about the bigger message; your content is cohesive, but you see yourself and your work (often the selling of physical products, though not always) as the connection. You share what it's like to be in your world, letting people peek behind the curtain.
So what's the difference? Let's look at how each type might share a weekend camping trip.
A documenter might post a photo essay of their camping trip when they return, and then later that month, share in-process shots of a new leather bag that was inspired by what they saw on that trip (or they might share an idea for a new in-person coaching offering that includes an overnight camping trip).
A teacher might also post a photo essay of the weekend camping trip, but would pair it with a written essay about a big realization they had while sitting around the campfire, and then end with a list of ways that realization can help their coaching clients and blog readers.
Now I know that there is overlap between the two. Teachers naturally let their audiences peek behind the curtain (something I mentioned as a documenter trait), and documenters naturally share what they've learned along the way (something I mentioned as a teacher trait). But after reading these two broad categories, think about which best describes your sharing style for personal blogging and then for business blogging.
So if you’re a documenter in both your business and personal blogging or a teacher in both your business and personal blogging, you’re probably fine with one blog. There's probably some overlap between your personal life and your professional one anyway, and since you'll be sharing in the same way, it's more likely that content can coexist. Note: If you don't see the overlap between your personal and professional life, though, keep them separate. If the connection isn't there for you, it won't be for others.
But if you’re a documenter in one area and a teacher in the other, you’ll likely want to keep your blogs separate. You’ll be sharing in such different ways that the disparity between the two will probably be more obvious, and your clients may be confused about why you’re teaching them something valuable one week and sharing a straight-up photo essay of your camping trip the next. Note: One exception to this rule is sharing documenting on a teaching blog in a consistent way—like when a teacher-type sharer posts a personal update each month. Their readers know to expect it (and probably look forward to it), but know they won't get random documenter posts mixed in throughout the rest of the month.
So how does this help our blogger friend? Next week, I'll share the advice I gave her about combining two very different things into one blog. (Hint: you'll want to read this one even if you keep the personal and professional separate.) I'll see you then!
P.S. If you have a question for me, please send it my way! I want to share what will help you, and I always love getting emails from readers.
P.P.S. In content coaching, I work with teachers (or aspiring teachers) because my work is all about helping you find the connection between all your ideas. If you're struggling to find your bigger message, or unsure of how to share it cohesively, I'd love to talk with you! I believe all of us know something valuable that we need to be sharing.