BlogHer: the personal/business question

Cathy Kirkman, Nina Smith, and Deni Bonet are talking about transforming their lives through blogging. These three have come at this from very different backgrounds: Cathy from law, Nina from the personal finance world, and Deni from music.

One topic this group touched on is an issue I've been noodling for awhile: How much personal information/stories should I share on this blog? When I started blogging, I had just joined CIS as a fellow and Lauren Gelman told me I'd have a blog and could use it however I'd like. Sure enough, a few weeks later, Jake Wachman, our marvelous IT guy at the time, set me up and showed me how to log in. That was pretty much it. I remember in writing my first post (nearly 2 years ago now) that I really didn't know what I would end up writing about. And, more curiously, I wondered who would even be reading it?I then just started commenting on things that interested me in my work. Now, this was no small feat for me because I had just left a big law firm where I was hunkered down practicing patent litigation on gigantic cases involving lots of insane discovery for four years. I knew I was dissatisfied with that sort of practice and had even toyed with the idea of leaving the practice of law all together (I fantasized about starting a wine shop or travel business...). So, in some senses I wasn’t really sure what actually interested me any more about my chosen profession. Having this space to write in some ways forced me to think (finally!) about what interested me about “the law”.

So, I forged ahead by writing about cases at CIS, new legal opinions that interested me, articles that interest me, conferences I attended, feedback on my work, legal issues in copyright, remix culture, and new media, and things I just think are good or in some cases funny. During these many months, I made an unconscious decision that most of what I would blog about would have to connect to my work at CIS. I only rarely wrote about my personal life (like my thoughts on Catholic nuns, my nephew's slip n slide, trips I had taken) because I was (and more or less still am) totally uncomfortable doing so on-line.

So, back to my story: over the past several months -- since about the time I decided to hang my own shingle -- this blog has taken on a different role. It now plays an important part in giving me a sense of continuity in my practice, links me into the CIS community where I continue as a non-resident fellow, and has connected me to a community of lawyers and policy-makers that has made the "own shingle" part of my practice a misnomer. It also is a place where my clients (current and prospective) can learn about who I am and what I know on the professional side of things. Over time, as my practice has grown, the "marketing-business-personal question" about what this blog is about has emerged as one I should probably answer sooner or later. (Indeed, most PR advisors would say I should have thought about this before I started my firm.)

As I write this today, I haven't yet come up with the answer, but I have a few ideas. One is to start a second blog where I can put my personal stories and links to my not-strictly-business things (like my flickr photos) and play around with new technologies (like dabble, StyleFeeder, and other gadgets. I'd especially like to have a way to avoid the comment spam problem this blog seems to have.). But that option raises a few concerns, like: Where exactly does that line between business and personal fall? Maybe the lack of planning is what makes this fun and interesting? And when would I have time to do two blogs, run my business, and have time for a personal life? So another option I'm considering is to just keep doing what I'm doing. At least for now it's worked well, I enjoy it and I wonder why I should change a good thing? A third option is to migrate this blog over to another blog where I can experiment more with design and look/feel, and then cross-post the work/business-related postings here. This last option is the one I'm leaning towards at the moment... But we'll see what develops.

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