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

June 15, 2012

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.