Personal Posts – How Much Is Too Much?: A Guest Post by Sara Doron of Under the Vintage Veil

Photography Credit: Emma Lucy Photography

Hello, my name is Sara (that’s me on the right) and I’m a share-a-holic. Confused? Let me explain. I’d say the majority of wedding businesses have blogs – and as wonderful an engagement tool as they can be, they can also be a little bit dangerous – and I’ll explain why. Let me preface this by saying that, as a blogger, I am a strong believer in sharing parts of your personality, your quirks, your likes and dislikes and your major life events with your readers. Being a human being is what distinguishes a blogger from a magazine. Unlike with a magazine, where readers buy a copy once a month, but are outsiders looking in on an experience, with a blog, people get to know you, follow your journey and interact with you, even come to care about you. Blogs are generally run by one person, or a very small team of people, and so getting to know them and what makes them tick is one of the things that makes the medium so great!

However, sharing personal things doesn’t come easily to some people and they find it a struggle to find the right words. And to others, it simply comes too easily. I’d say I fall into the latter category – I’ve been known to tweet before I think, blog before I’ve slept on it and generally get the balance wrong. Getting it right has been a massive learning curve, but a valuable one that I really wanted to share with you.

I should imagine that some of you are incensed. After all, how can there be a right or a wrong way to share your feelings? Well, I’ve seen all too many bloggers and wedding businesses lose credibility by letting everyone know when they’re upset about a business loss, or when they’re losing confidence in their brand or abilities or even when they’ve fallen out with someone. Blogs are a relatively new phenomenon in the big scheme of things. While they aren’t magazines and aren’t expected to hold those standards, ask yourself this: would you expect to see a random rant about how bad a writer’s day is on Cosmopolitan or Elle? While there’s more room to share your personal experiences on a blog, it’s still important to keep a veneer of professionalism about it.

So, given how fine the line is between sharing and over-sharing, how do you get the balance right? When I write a personal post, be it about my struggle with depression, my feelings about getting married or my experience of running a business, I ask myself the following questions:

Why am I writing this and who am I writing this for?

It’s a hard question to ask yourself but an important one. I thought long and hard before revealing to the world that I struggle with depression and anxiety – but in the end my motive was to be one of the people who helped to remove the stigma, to address brides struggling with anxiety issues and to help others running a business with the same issue. Sometimes it’s tempting to write something just because it’s cathartic but you have to ask yourself if that’s your only motive or do you have a wider purpose? Turns out I eventually got the tone right as I’ve had many emails from brides and suppliers alike saying that the posts on depression have helped them to work through their own difficulties, but it’s hard to find that balance.

Is it all negative?

My posts about depression generally tend to be about how, as a businesswoman, I manage and work with it. However, I do see a lot of posts that seem to be more cries for help than anything else. As a fellow sufferer I can’t tell you how much I empathise, and it can be so hard when you feel like you’re suffering in silence. But before you post something that’s just an account of how you’re feeling, think about your brand. This is so important especially if you are blogging to promote a separate business (ie you’re stationer, a photographer or a dress designer for example). Is it relevant to your business? Is it an appropriate place to post this? Could you take what you’ve written and show it to your family and friends instead? Or if you’d really like to post it, ask yourself this: “Is there any way I could take lessons from this and make it more positive?”

Asking yourself those questions can actually help you to start to resolve whatever you’re going through. When you write out helpful advice for other people, it seriously does become easier to follow yourself.

Am I implicating anyone else?

It’s fine to talk about your own experiences, but not fine to talk about a conflict you’re having on a professional level. Have you fallen out with a bride or another supplier? Your readers don’t need to hear about it. Ever. It can be so easy, when you’re angry with someone, to see the red mist and to want the world to know how justified you are in your anger, but your business page isn’t the place to share it. Not only does it look bizarre and unprofessional, but people will be wary of working with or booking you in the future.

How often am I posting personal content?

If personal posts are overtaking your general wedding-related or business posts, ask yourself if you’re happy with the balance? Or are your readers happy? Are you attracting the right kind of readers with it? (i.e. if I started blogging about my struggles with depression too much, I’d end up attracting readers who wanted to read about depression over readers who want to read about weddings!) While I am a strong believer that bloggers should have complete autonomy over what they write, I also think that to be successful you have to consider your audience, and if you’re sharing things that don’t directly relate to the core of your business on too regular a basis, even if it’s completely heartfelt it could translate as gimmicky or unprofessional. People value the personal information much more if it’s not spoon fed to them over and over. If you want to catalogue your personal journey as well, try a sub-section of the blog away from the home page for personal posts (like Kat’s Green Room!)

Is there any way I can use my personal posts in a way that still promotes and is relevant to my business?

Lucy Ledger, one of the industry’s loveliest stationers, is someone I admire greatly for doing this. As a stationery designer, she uses gorgeous illustrations on her blog to document her journey into self-employment and motherhood. Not only does this show off her skills (and therefore promote her expert design work and creativity) but it’s a charming and reader-friendly way to share her personal life.

Is my writing sounding contrived?

Sometimes when I read personal posts, they jar a bit because they don’t come across as genuine. The person writing it has used convoluted and dramatic language and, instead of conveying what they’re feeling, it can look a little bit false. My general advice is, when talking about yourself, to write first and think later – or to write how you talk. Get it all out and don’t censor yourself…but then edit ruthlessly! Before you write something down, say it out loud. If it sounds weird to say, it will definitely sound weird to read.

Sharing is a wonderful way to get to know your readers and for your readers to get to know you – but there’s a way to do it with a level of professionalism and relevance to your readers. You don’t want to share so much and in such a way that you alienate people or make your audience uncomfortable – at the end of the day, you’re a business first, so before you post, think about how it will impact your brand. Happy writing!

About the Author

Sara is the author of Under the Vintage Veil wedding blog. She writes personal posts alongside her regular vintage styling inspiration, DIY tutorials, debate posts and real weddings.

14 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing Sara & Kat! Great advice on over-sharing, i think its so important to get a good balance. Enough to let the reader get to know you but not too much to drive them away!

    In real life I am a big over-sharer. Experiences in my past of liars & people who bottle things up have resulted in me telling the world everything about myself.. I am honest & blunt (some find it refreshing and some find it crude) and in Real-Life, I am okay with that… but I will be taking your advice on how to hold that back a little with my blog and how it could effect my business x

  2. Really interesting post thank you for sharing your thoughts. Having recently come to Kat’s blogging workshop I have been tentatively setting up our blog! I am trying to strike a balance between being a person and not just a company selling! So I find posts like this really useful from the experts! Thank you!

  3. Great post Sara! (and Kat!).

    I think we all have off-days, but I think the biggest thing I’ve learned, is to not see it as a one-woman job, but to split each element off as an individual role. In a way, it’s like you’ve hired someone to be your social media manager. Imagine someone else were writing on Twitter/Facebook/ the company blog about their personal lives, complaining, or arguing with others, almost as much as writing about the company. Would you let that person keep their job? I’m all for bringing personality into a job – but the benefit of social media, is you can “edit” that personality. It’s about making a good impression, showcasing your strengths; you don’t need to showcase your weaknesses alongside. Humility is fine; pessimism and negativity (and fishing for compliments!) aren’t as endearing. I also don’t really buy into this “what you see is what you get” and using it as an excuse for bad behaviour.

    Ultimately though, it’s easy to see those who rise to the top. The people who I admire most tend to be those with the right outlook and positivity, they inspire me, and they’re the ones who, I think, will do well and will deserve success in the long term.

    Really loved this post. Thanks. 🙂 x

  4. Thanks for the lovely comments! @Kristin – that’s a great point – to think about it as hiring another person. Great way to check yourself! xx

  5. Jess

    As a bride-to-be trying to navigate this big wedding industry, company blogs have been extremely helpful for me. I was able to choose our photographers by looking through not just their portfolio, but also the more recent photos posted on their blog.

    On the other hand, I’ve also been able to nix the idea of using a vendor because of the controversial opinion she one day randomly plastered on twitter in a most insulting way. I had been considering her fairly alternative product, but was so taken aback by this, I unfollowed her on twitter and unsubscribed from her blog (which honestly featured more pictures of her toddler than anything else, and she does not have a separate “professional” blog) on my RSS reader. This was a couple months ago, and it still sticks out in my mind.

    Over-sharing is a big turn-off to those who might be your future customers. We like to see that you are human, but we want to be able to get along with you. If you want to broadcast your feelings on an incredibly controversial topic (and also do it in a mind-blowingly rude fashion), please don’t do it in the same space you conduct any business whatsoever.

  6. Post author

    Jess – really interesting to hear a brides POV. i always thought that some suppliers get it TOTALLY wrong with how they conduct themselves on social media and its interesting to see its having a negative effect on their businesses. i think a lot of them forget who they are there for… the brides and grooms! they shouldnt use their social media or websites to rant!

  7. thank you, this is perfect for what I’ve been dealing with in life! I’m not a wedding blogger, bride to be, or wife or even in a relationship! But I have a personal style blog and had had a VERY bad May and was told by a friend who reviewed my Blog before a job interview said that MAYBE it was a bit too personal (I had one long post explaining my extended absences, hospitalizations, and improvements due to car accidents and such) I now realize that there’s a line that may have been crossed.

    Thanks for writing and sharing this!

    XO Sahra
    EffortlessCool

  8. Am interesting post. Well done Sarah snd Kat. I totally agree with Jess about your business space being just that. What bride wants to hear that the supplier they are going to spend their hard earned dosh with is feeling stressed, angry or ranty over an issue that they should be able to deal with privately

    I worked in a high profile customer service role for years and have taken my share of abuse from a consumer. Some deserved most were
    not. Take it on the chin and move on and don’t blog about it.

    Social media is a brilliant invention but some use it as a personal diary. A well known online emag had a drunken double intendre rant late one night and susequenty lost many followers. Me included

    So to sum up. share enough to create a trusted relationship with your followers

    Brilliant subject for debate. Thanks again

  9. A really really interesting piece, well done Sara and Kat, I have not started to blog yet as I know that mostly how I write is how I talk, so not sure where to start really. Totally understand the twitter thing as sometimes its very easy to just tweet something silly and not consider the business side of things. thanks agains

  10. Great post ladies! I’ve definitely been guilty of over sharing on my blog. I was going through a bad time and used my blog to cry out for help. I reread these posts a few months later and couldn’t believe what I had divulged and how it must have come across to readers!!! It’s so tempting to overshare and especially on twitter. Thanks for this valuable advice, I’m so happy I’ve learnt to reign it in :)) XxX

  11. I have to use my husband as a filter on occasions as to whether I can write something or not as I find being fairly new to twitter and so on it is really hard to know what is sometimes too much to share. Great to hear another perspective on it Sara!
    I would agree with Jess though. I did happen to click on someone’s twitter just out of interest when I was considering buying a Christmas present from their company and while reading their tweets about getting high and drunk and (explicit) exploits with boys is, I’m sure, completely irrelevant to the quality of product they produce, it did sort of put me off! I couldn’t really understand why they’d put a twitter link on their business website in the first place….

  12. Wow thank you all for the responses – it’s so interesting to hear from brides and from suppliers alike! It’s so clear from these messages that brides can be really put off by anything they consider bizarre, irrelevant or extreme – and I don’t blame them!

    I think that’s a really good point about politics too – unless it’s an issue like gay marriage (putting myself out there – TOTALLY for!) or the any campaign (to be able to have your wedding anywhere at any time – also for) I don’t see the need for political discussion on a wedding or wedding product blog… if it’s relevant, by all means talk about it, but if it is just a random rant about the Eurozone crisis or the price of petrol, it might be better placed elsewhere!!

    I think the danger is we see so many other people oversharing and because we’re in our wedding world bubble we sort of start to think that’s OK when maybe we should check our standards by what a bride would think!

    @Sonia, I think I’ve also been guilty of it! These days I’d rather check myself than spend weeks hiding under my duvet wishing I hadn’t written something – great point about it being a total learning curve!

    Loving this discussion!

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