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Weigh In: Are Personal Blogs and Business Blogs Really That Different?

Image via Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

Image via Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

This is a guest contribution from Sabina Stoiciu.

Do you remember how it was back in the 90s, when most of us didn’t have a clue about blogs and blogging? Today we can hardly imagine a world without them. And if the first blogs from mid-90s had a personal character and resembled an online diary, business blogging has taken quite a different track. Or have they?

What do personal and business blogging have in common?

At first, I would say it’s the need to have a blog to write for (just joking, I’m sure this is something that can’t be skipped).

Personal blogging means having your own little corner of the web, where you express everything from your personal beliefs, ideas, tips for spending free time, preferences, hobbies; to relating personal stories from your everyday life.

Business blogging works following a similar principle – the one of having an own place on the web where to present yourself as a company, to be more human, show what you’re like, and  engage with your followers, just like you do on a personal blog.

For both types of blogs you need to have a well-contoured idea of what you want to write about, although the business blog requires even higher levels of structure. You can’t (or at least shouldn’t) start a blog just for the sake of following a trend, if you don’t have any hint on what your blog’s purpose should be.

A second common point is: keeping your audience in mind when you write. For whom do write? Do you write for tech savvy people? Don’t be afraid to use some technical jargon, then. Do you write for your grandma’s generation? Use language that isn’t too tech-heavy. An useful measure for knowing for whom you are writing is to undertake audience research. Personas can help you imagine how your typical reader looks and behaves. It’s then easier to craft content for someone you already have in mind.

The whole purpose of a blog is to have a more personal touch. Hence, the writer’s personality will come to the surface through their style of writing on both types of blogs. The personal one, however, allows its owner to express their thoughts in a more intimate manner than on a business blog, where communication has to respect some basic guidelines.

Another common characteristic of both blog types is the need to engage with followers. Whether it is a personal blog or a business blog, your articles shouldn’t take the shape of a monologue. On the contrary – you should encourage readers to comment and share their ideas and thoughts. Besides developing your discussion and making it more interactive, visitors can provide you with new ideas on what they’d like to read, which then informs your content.

Now tell me what you think of blogs that don’t have a contact method. I personally tend to ignore them, because I can’t explain to myself why you wouldn’t want to get in touch with your readers. It bothers me not to have any way of sending the blog owner a message, especially because it’s very easy to include a contact form on your blog. There are plugins for WordPress that let you build and publish a contact form in no time.

One more thing you can do on both personal and business blogs is have guest posts. This can be a good way to offer some variation in content and writing style, which your readers might appreciate. Though, the topics and the most appropriate guest authors depend on your blog type. Business blogs can benefit of featuring well known industry speakers, fellow business owners, or product/service partners. Personal blogs might have a smaller chance to feature opinion leaders, but they are still useful.

Last but not least, you have to be careful what you write about and what you make public. It’s true that blogs should express honest opinions, but that doesn’t mean you can wake up one day and begin to denigrate everybody in your life.

How are personal and business blogs different?

Apart from sharing a few common points, these two types of blogs can be poles apart. Here are the main traits that distinguish one from the other:

  1. In many cases, the audience of a business blog is more specialised. It’s more of a niche audience, which at some point might be more picky than the readers of your personal blog. For example, you can choose to write today about kittens on your personal blog. Tomorrow you shift the content direction and cover diet tips. And the day after tomorrow you feel like speaking of planes. Your followers might be indulgent when it comes to your personal blog, but business articles should stay quite focused.
  2. For a business blog, I would say that it’s more difficult to write compelling content that keeps readers coming back. Your blog has to speak about your business, but be of a more general interest at the same time. As for the personal blog, you have a higher freedom in choosing what to write about.
  3. The previous point leads to mentioning one more difference: business blogs offer valuable, useful content, engage and advertise at the same time. Perhaps ‘advertise’ is not the most appropriate term, but business blogs do provide information on the product or service behind the business. Common sense asks for this information not to be overly promotional, but to present additional advice on how to make the most out of the product, how to benefit of the product’s partnerships and others.
  4. Moreover, there are several points to keep in mind when crafting your business blog content – how to write headlines, not having a clear posting strategy, being all too promotional, using images incorrectly. or being too SEO-crazy.
  5. The content on a business blog should be even more engaging than on a personal blog, meaning that it should be accompanied by strong calls-to-action that make the visitor convert. After all, the final purpose of a business blog is to convince the visitor that your product is the best choice, something that you do through presenting its extended features, advantages, use cases and so on.
  6. Besides strong calls-to-action, your business blog can benefit from including lead generation methods, such as lead generation forms. This type of form can include various sub-types like the contact form, the request a quote form, the newsletter subscription form, the freebie form and others which can fulfill the lead generation requirement.
  7. Because we’re talking of the business sector, where every resource allocation has to be justified, your business blog also needs to be analyzed. Engagement, ROI, conversions, requests for more information about your business – they all have to be tracked closely to see how your blog strategy is working out. Unlike your personal blog, the business one has to drive clear results.
  8. We’ve established before that you are responsible for what you post on the web for both personal and business blogs. Nevertheless, posting on a business blog requires you to be even more careful. How do you perceive a typo on a personal blog and how do you do it when it comes to a business blog? When writing about and for your company, you are associated with the company image. The slightest mistake you make can have a huge impact on the brand you’re representing.

Having said outlined these differences, some could argue that personal blogs, particularly personal blogs that create income and are brands unto themselves, also benefit from such “business-blogging” strategies. Where do you stand on the issue?

Sabina Stoiciu enjoys blogging, photography, traveling and finding ways of gathering and sharing relevant business knowledge. You can follow her on Twitter. She also writes for 123ContactForm, the online form and survey builder – try it for free.

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Comments

  1. Wendy Mason says:

    Great question Darren and a great post. I do find that posts on my business blog that include a personal approach and relate to mine or some else’s personal experience seem to be the mot popular. These days people are likely to track down your personal blog and associate with your business anyway!

  2. Thomas Owen says:

    Hey Sabina,
    Very interesting post with some great points! I suppose it depends on what you class as a business blog and what separates the 2 apart. There are many blogs which initially appear to be a personal blog, however are actually huge income sources and would probably be classed more as a business blog. I have this exact intention with my blog!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Thomas

    • Sabina says:

      Hey Thomas,
      Thanks for your appreciation. When I said ‘business blog’ I was thinking more about a blog that is tied to a business, to a company, where this company writes posts for its audience.
      I agree, many personal blogs have actually turned into a business, considering the income they make. Good luck with turning your blog into an income source! :)

  3. Simon Chow says:

    Great post! Personal Blogs are written for pleasure whereas Business blogs are highly focused on how to make money because Business Blogs… LOL

  4. G S Meredith says:

    While I agree that business blogs tend to be more focused/niche, it seems to be the case that many won’t go beyond the narrow confines of what I would call promotional articles – they’re fine in moderation but you may as well just write landing pages. Many businesses are scared of having outbound links, diversifying their content or even expressing an opinion. I don’t really see the point of a blog that doesn’t do anything or have any use beyond trying to prop up the site SEO or sell what is already being sold on the site.

    • Sabina says:

      That is a very good point, thanks! And yes, business blogs should try and post content that engages and that is not just about a business’ products and services. However, some businesses see their blogs as a place where they can give more detailed information on their products, as well as more instructions and tips for how to use them.

  5. Amal Tlaige says:

    I’ve been wondering about the differences between business blogs and personalized blogs, thanks for answering all of my questions!

    I definitely think that it’d be way easier to have a personalized blog because you could discuss anything that peaks your interest, it does not have to be focused on a specific topic. A business blog however is more focused. It’s probably difficult sometimes to keep audience attention on a business blog because there are only so many things you can talk about, but the audience for your business is more interested in what your post. On a personalized blog, you don’t necessarily know if your audience cares about the airplanes and flowers,but its your personal page you can talk about whatever you want,

    When used to its best ability, a blog really can make a company be more humane. And I agree with your point about the contact method. I never understand why a blog or any web page doesn’t have a contact us option. Being able to communicate with your audience is crucial and shows that you care about them, their opinions, you want their feedback.

    But the strategies used while writing any blog are the same. For a personalized or business blog you want that attention grabbing headline, you want to have pictures or videos and most importantly you want to have valuable content. “The content on a business blog should be even more engaging than on a personal blog.” A company’s blog is meant to be more engaging because the audience has a niche interest in your company, so you have to always post content that is continually keeping your audience’s attention.

    • Sabina says:

      Glad I could answer some of your questions, Amal! And thanks for this broad comment. Agree with you – on a personal blog, you have a higher freedom for the topics you choose to write about. As you said, if you want to write about flowers and airplanes, you can do so, unlike the case of a business blog where stakes are a bit higher in terms of losing your audience.
      Good thought about the blog making a business more human. And yes, not having a contact method for your followers really sucks.
      Many of the strategies used for writing content are indeed the same for both types of blogs, like you said. The headline has to grab attention, the content has to be engaging and you need rich media. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Shalu Sharma says:

    You are right on many aspects of their differences but at the moment what is happening is that most people are treating personal blogs as business blogs. Most bloggers don’t really differentiate between the two types of blogs.

    • Sabina says:

      Agree with you, Shalu, many personal blogs turn into businesses. They start generating income, so bloggers will exploit them to the most, risking to become too promotional. Though, if they manage to stay objective and maintain their original content style, then I think they’re doing it right.

  7. I think that the line between personal and business is going to become thinner and thinner until it disappears. More and more, the individual is the brand and the business. People want to read blogs, connect with, and buy from other people and know very clearly who’s behind a business.
    I strongly believe this tendency is going to continue in the future to the point where there will be just “blogs” without the attribute personal vs business

    • Sabina says:

      Very interesting insight, Delia, thanks for sharing. I think you’re right, as we all tend to value more and more content with a personal touch.

  8. Jesse says:

    What you said here about blogs not having a contact method is brilliant. It is my biggest annoyance when I find an interesting blog, read it and get really into the topic and then spend the next 5 mins looking for someway to contact the writer. Sometimes I have so much to say to them, but alas there is no way to get in touch – aarrgh!

    • Sabina says:

      Word, Jesse, it’s so annoying to not find a contact method on a website or a blog. More than that, it’s really frustrating, because if you’re looking for the contact option, it means you have something to say. In exchange, you end up not being able to say anything…
      Something I stunbled upon on some blogs is having the possibility to leave a comment as a contact method. Though, I find this option to be very bad, since you might not want everybody too see what you have to say to the blog owner.

  9. Hey,
    Once again a great compelling content. Iiked the point that Call to Action is important. Powerful Call to Action plugins are essential for a business blog to convert visitors. It is one of the major difference.
    Cheers,
    Akshay Hallur.

  10. Debarpan says:

    A really great topic to discuss,I believe when it’s only for hobby it’s call a personal blog and when money enter there it’s became professional blog.Thanks for such an interesting post sir.

    • Sabina says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Definitely a way to look at the distinction between the two blog types.

  11. Jayashree says:

    Interesting post and very well written. Business blogs focuses on the products or services and their posts will be revolving around that to target potential customers.Personals blogs in today’s context tries to build a brand for themselves in the niche they are writing there by gaining authority and loyal readerbase.

  12. Bruno Villar says:

    Today the crisis many personal blogs have become mainstream professional lives of many people. Also browse the audience wants the creator of the blog to awaken empathy and if the author of the blog does not share their tastes, passions and what you think … is doomed.

    Pardon my English, I’m Spanish.

  13. texhaxle says:

    very nice post, some interesting points you showed. personal are written for pleasure whereas business blog for making more money,that is the different.

  14. texhaxle says:

    a really great topic to discuss.

  15. Kevin Ocasio says:

    Hello Sabina,

    First thing, great article. Really enjoyed reading it :)

    Secondly, I kind of have to agree with what Shalu Sharma said above, but I’m going to flip it around. I think a lot of people *think* they have a business blog, but in reality, they’re treating it more of like a hobby. For example, with a personal blog, the blogger can really post what they want, when they want. There’s no real set schedule or ulterior motive behind the content.

    However, with a business blog, it’s a good idea to have some kind of publishing schedule and to keep the blog content coming out on a consistent basis.

    Also, strategically monetizing a business blog is important. Some people decide to simply throw up any and all affiliate links in the hope of making money. Again, treating the blog like if it’s a hobby rather than putting some real thought behind it.

    Overall, I think there are many similarities and many differences as you mention in your post. But at the end of the day, personal blogs and business blogs are completely different animals.

    • Sabina says:

      Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for your appreciation. Glad you enjoyed the article :)

      Interesting point about the people thinking they have a business blog, but treating it quite randomly, without having a clear scope or strategy behind it. I would say those are not really ‘personal’ business blogs, nor are they business blogs.

      Liked your thoughts on the needs of a business blog, compared to a personal one. And I agree, in the end the two blog types still are different, mainly because each has their own specific and their own purpose of existence.

  16. For me, a personal blog doesn’t accept money. A personal blog becomes a public website, hence a business blog, when they start taking money for advertising and blog posts.

    I got so sick of seeing those types of posts I stopped following people for it. I don’t care to keep reading blog posts purely because they’re getting paid to advertise a product. That doesn’t interest me.

    You start taking money you’re no longer a personal blogger but a business.

    • Sabina says:

      Thanks for sharing your opinion. When a blogger you follow because you like his writing starts publishing overly promotional posts, they tend to scare readers away.

  17. They’re not terribly different Sabina, save the theme. Biz blogs focus on biz ends, while personal blogs can range in topic, depending on what the blogger wishes to write about. I for one find business blogs boring, unless they can tell amazing stories along the way. I blog about how to make money online but inject a neat travel story or 2 along the way, to make things spicy. Nice post here.

    • Sabina says:

      Thanks, Ryan, for sharing this with us. You are right in what you’re saying, they’re not all too different. The main thing differentiating them is their purpose, as you said in your own words. Including some key content with a personal note (like the example with the travel stories) sounds like a good strategy.

  18. Jennifer says:

    I think the real difference is the pressure to make money. With a personal blog, you aren’t (or shouldn’t be) pressed to make money from your writing. It would be nice to make money and recognized widely. However, you have more imminent pressure to produce with a business blog.

    Furthermore, you need to be professional on a business blog. If you are writing about a financial services website, you cannot crack a joke easily or talk about things that makes you happy or bother. Hopefully, more fun to write for a personal blog. But you fell like it is a job to write for a business blog.

  19. DannyVR says:

    It’s really hard to put the demarcation between the personal blog and the business blog nowadays. Sometimes, people build the personal blog with the intention of doing business with the readers. Well it’s good because this is one of the way to create trust and business is build on trust.

  20. A lot of big companies are viewed as money hungry, and just out for your wallet. When a company actually takes time to set up a blog to reach out to customers, it does make the business seem more human. Also when we as customers need answers or updates to products and services, one of the first places we look for is a blog or some type of forum on a company’s website

    • Sabina says:

      Great thoughts Matthew, liked the idea of companies who produce quality content through a blog for their readers. That’s what the business blog should be – a more personal space, where the company communicates with its followers, and where these can look up information, ask questions and leave comments with feedback.

  21. Francesco says:

    They are not very different. They both require a lot of focus and dedication.

  22. Daniel says:

    I always like it when a company has a blog with posts about personal subjects like what the employees are working on or when they have a party with some pictures of the office fun! This way you get a personal connection with the company.

    • Sabina says:

      Daniel, I agree, posts with a personal touch on a company blog make the company look more human and engage the followers better. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Aaron says:

    Hi Sabina,

    I agree a lot with Delia and Danny. It seems like business, smart ones, are using their blogs to reach out to customers and prospects on a more personal level, sharing stories, experiences and ideas instead of just pushing the features and advantages of their brand or products.

    I use the blog section of my site to allow my readers and prospective clients to get an idea of the kind of person I am. While I mostly blog about a handful of related topics dealing with my line of work I keep the mood personal. For the technical get-down-to-business topics I add articles in other sections of my site. I use the blog to engage and interact with the readers via the comment form and social media posts. I utilize the entire site to let the readers know not just my experience and skill but also about my personality, since my line of work is a very personal one.

    • Sabina says:

      Aaron, thanks for sharing this nice insight. I’m on the same page with you – blogs should be the place to get more personal with your audience, no matter if you are a business or an individual.

      Your strategy of letting people see a bit of who you are sounds really good. After all, we’re all drawn towards brands and people we feel a connection with. I think it’s a good approach you are using, the one of adding technical articles in one section, and more personal ones on the blog, while keeping in touch with readers via comment forms and social media.

  24. I think people generally tend to think that business blogs are more professional and therefore a better quality blog than personal blogs. Not necesarilly true! I have seen some extremely impressive personal blogs, and some very poorly done business blogs.

    • Sabina says:

      Maria, I agree with you – personal blogs can be of excellent quality too, just like business blogs can be just a way to present a random content which isn’t of great interest for the readers.

  25. ravin paul says:

    Well defined. Now a days people think business blogs are generate more revenue , But i seen lots of personal blogs are earning high with doing great stuffs.