I used to write business advice for the now-defunct Handmade Success. The editor wanted me to write a post on why I choose to be so brutally honest with my business and on my blog. (I've dished about going broke, getting cheated on, abusive relationships with ex-bosses, and business secrets.) This post has been floating around in my head ever since, marinating. Business is often just that, the name alone dredges up the cold and impersonal- like office buildings. IRS tax forms. Evil! Hell, I just had a nightmare I was trapped in an office again, writing copy. Nightmare! With business and life I do have a healthy mix, I've learned who not to collaborate with, I've leaned what things to keep to myself. But I still prefer to be as hyper-honest on my blog as possible. Here's why:
1) It's Easy: Why curate another reality or spin a story when you can share it exactly as it happened? Relief! Much easier. It's cathartic, really.
2) It Helps People: Too many "lifestyle" blogs don't share "real life". They omit the inevitable problems and share only the "pretty". Which is fine, I get that they're curating something, but when people don't admit that they're actively curating, it can give readers feelings of inadequacy. Especially in "lifestyle" blogging, which purports to be "real life." In more naive times when I was first launching a vintage shop, I once though some of these Stepford-Bloggers actually lived perfect lives. They don't. No one does. And it helps others feel better when you show that you "mess up" just like they do. When I've shared messes and insecurities people have sent e-mails saying things like, "Wow, thank you, I thought your house was always clean and you were always happy and confident." HAHA, no. Impossible.
3) It Makes You "Real": Blogging is a flat transaction, it's hard to get a feel for the writer. It helps to share photos and details and yep, flaws, about yourself. It helps readers paint the full picture of yourself. Bonus: people want to buy from real people more than just random brands. Particularly in the handmade/art niche I find myself in, it's about solidarity and story. People are more likely to support you when you're "real".
4) I Was Raised Catholic: One of my favorite artists, Robert Crumb, writes about crazy sexual fantasies and lurid confessions in his famous comic books. A critic once said his former Catholicism might contribute to his need for "confession" via his comics. I'm no longer Catholic. AT ALL (ha!) But it's ancient, potent brainwashing and I'm still influenced by it whether I like it or not. I CANNOT watch Catholic-imagery horror movies alone or have ANY religious imagery in my house, It scares the hell out of me! It's still food for thought, my upbringing could contribute to my need to be honest and "confess" my sins.
5) I Appreciate it When Others Do it: I'm entranced when other bloggers share brutally honest stories. Penelope Trunk is a famous business blogger that's written about some crazy personal shit, and I love her for it. Being so honest has set her apart from all other business bloggers and it's made her successful. (Polarizing, but successful. If you don't have some haters, you're doing it wrong.)
6) People Will Help You: People can't help you if you don't share your problems. They won't know your dreams unless you make them known. I wrote this dream shop post and soon after received a $15,000 check in the mail to start my shop! The investor ended up running into tax trouble and eventually I realized I didn't want to own a vintage shop, but it got me started on my path to leaving work and becoming self-employed. All because I opened up, and shared.
Try It: Be crazy honest in a blog post. To a friend. Share something you were scared to share before. It's cathartic. Or share something in the comments here. Are you scared to be honest about failures or private thoughts on your blog? Do you think some blogs over-share? Let's Discuss.