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Blogging For Profit: Using Empathy Rather Than Autobiography

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Posted 28th May 2013 at 06:46 AM by ncairncross

I’ve been business blogging since 1998, of course it wasn’t called blogging then. I was writing a text only ezine for NicolaCairncross.com (wealth coach), which then became The Money Gym, which in the early days went out to about 25 people – friends and family who had email addresses. They passed it on and it grew.

Once written, I would then archive it on a page on my website. You could find it by clicking the ezine link, then the archive link, then the year, then the date and title. More importantly, the search engines could find it and every week, new unique content being added, helped my search engine rankings enormously.

As I was business blogging “on topic” every week, naturally using key words and key phrases in a conversational, natural way, using words and phrases that now have a very fancy name – latent symantec indexing keywords – and as the search engines rewarded me for my “white hat” non-spammy business blogging techniques they started showing pages from my website very high in the search results.

While business blogging, I shared resources, linked to great articles, wrote a weekly diary about how I was learning to build my business, did book reviews of things I was reading, answered comments and tried to answer questions. I showed I was human and I tried to give value and be interesting and authentic.

My traffic grew, my subscribers grew, my customers (ebook) and clients (mentoring) grew and it was all good.

Business blogging is not much more complicated than that, still.
How Much To Share When Business Blogging?

However, when you get used to writing an online business diary, sometimes you have good days and sometimes you have bad days. Sometimes your days are very bad and there is a dilemma about whether to share all, be authentic, “hang yer arse” out in public we used to call it in the coaching circles I moved in, when business blogging, or whether to follow billionaire rapper Jay-Z’s advice and “only publicise success”. That’ll be publicize spelt with a Z, obviously!

I’ve won a lot of followers and made a lot of friends over the years, because I’ve continued business blogging and authentically pretty much week on week. Relentlessly chronicling my business ups, my frequent downs, my uncertainties, my emotions about what is happening to me, my brainwaves, new initiatives and everything in between.

I know I’ve probably lost a lot of customers too by my unorthodox business blogging style too.

I know I used to make my business partners hair stand on end sometimes, with my frankness, that’s for sure. The trouble was, when I was gently gagged for fear of hurting our turnover, I found it hard to write at all!

A trait shared by one sister, Sarah, who blogged on Rawrrr.com all through her very messy divorce, her subsequent depression, her search for a raw lifestyle, a new career and now is blogging from Portugal in her quest for meaning in her life. She even regularly got her body out in videos in …

…..a bikini on her blog in a quest to document her weight loss (and sometimes gain) which she also shared on her YouTube channel.

She too won plenty of friends, upset a few people and has got THOUSANDS of hits in her bikini videos (but weirdly many more on the video where she talks about using Hopi Ear Candles but doesn’t actually show herself using them!).

I digress!

The other singing sister, Heather, who is business blogging about the music industry at HeatherCairncross.com, while finally won over to the blogging mileu, is documenting her journey to record and then release her debut jazz album. She has been much more circumspect and while she carefully writes of events and even about how she feels about some of those events, she does not seem tempted to share “too much” unseemly emotion – my words, not hers.
Which Style Of Writing To Use When Business Blogging

This is the autobiographical style of writing, and it’s one used, at least occasionally, by many top bloggers such as Yaro Starak, of Entrepreneurs Journey, Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz, Dave Navarro of The Launch Coach and Rock Your Day! And more recently Les Floyd of Lesism (a very gripping read!)

I actually LOVE that style of business blogging and I particularly liked Yaro’s blog, once spending a very boring day between Christmas and New Year reading every single one of his blog posts back from the very first one! Loving the raw, real mix between hope, despair, practical “how to” tips, techie stuff and the gradual rise to the pre-eminent blogger he is today.

Would Yaro’s down days have stopped me signing up as a mentoring client if I’d been financially able in those days? Not a bit of it, the fact he’d had and overcome his down days, and picked himself up, dusted himself off and kept going, just made me respect him more. He’d have something worthy to share when I hit a wall, would have been my reasoning.

Do I read corporate blogs? No, not really, far too boring (apart from the recently much reviled head of GoDaddy, Bob Parsons, who wrote a very lively blog indeed).

However, this spilling your guts style of business blogging does not suit everyone,

In fact, if presented to the more reserved or corporate mentoring client, it can downright put them off even getting started!

In fact, while I’m sure it works to build the “know, like and trust” factor with mentoring clients, who are often feeling unsure and vulnerable themselves, I’m thinking that now that I’m moving more into consultancy, brand management and product launches, I might have to consider the “empathy” style of business blogging, as described by my online business mentor Rich Schefren.

If you are one of those who hesitates to “hang yer arse” out in public, as many would, you might find that Empathy business blogging might suit you much better and release the blocks you feel about blogging for business at all.

This is where you tread a fine line and share stories that will connect with your audience, but in the third person, so where you might have told a story that happened to you, now it happened to a mentoring client instead.

You have to be a bit careful here too, because in my experience, when you mention clients and their dilemmas, if they perceive you to be talking about them, even if you were not, they get awfully cross. So you must make sure that you refer to this client as having existed in a timeframe that is different to all of your current clients.

It’s touch and go even so!

Actually, I’ve just reminded myself why I swapped back to telling my own stories, as I’ve remembered a particularly harrowing experience when I mentioned one EX clients story in an ezine, anonymously of course and another client thought I was talking about THEM!

** Shudder ** Quite ruined my holiday that one as I learned about it while in Greece.

At least when I’m moaning on about “me, me, me” nobody can mistake the story for anything BUT autobiographical.

Perhaps best not to mention that the story refers to a client – past or present – at all. One could say that a fellow mentoring friend told you the story in connection with one of THEIR clients! That sounds a bit safer. And a bit duller.

I did play with the idea of having a seperate blog on Cairncross Media and only posting very businesslike blog posts over there but I decided to take my own advice and keep the business blogging at The Business Success Factory (albeit with links to it from the other site) as really, that’s the side of the business I want more traffic to, and more mentoring clients to find.

What do you think?

Shall I carry on business blogging as me, or in a quest to get a bit more corporate and grown up, shall I go third party?

Build empathy with true stories but make them about someone else rather than me?

If you blog for business, what do YOU do? How do you tread that fine line….
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