Does your blog have a potty mouth?

Potty mouth bloggerRecently, a woman emailed me saying that she was “disappointed in the language” I used in my post, “Your B2B site doesn’t need more freakin’ words.”

I have to admit that my first thought was, “Really?  I wrote a great post – and THIS is what you focus on?”

(And, ironically, it’s one of my post popular posts ever…which is interesting.)

Even if my first reaction was, “really?” I thought long and hard about her feedback.

Prior to that post, cussing in print was not my natural style.  Then, I received some interesting feedback. Someone who knew me personally mentioned that there was a disconnect between my “real life” personality and how I blog.

If you talk to me in person (and I’ve gotten to know you,) I tend to pepper my conversation with swear words. I don’t do it gratuitously, I don’t swear on stage, and I don’t swear in front of children. Otherwise, yes, I swear.

So that got me thinking.  What would happen if my blog voice was more like in real voice? Would people unsubscribe? Would my business tank? Or, would I feel like I was writing more authentically?

I checked out other blogs I admired to see how and if they contained swear words. Two great examples come to mind:

Redhead Writing by Erika Napoletano is full of curse words. Hell, she even talks about her “latest bitch slap.” She’s used darn near every word that you’re not “supposed” to use in “proper company.” And I love her writing even more for it. Is her blog or business suffering because she has an opinion and isn’t afraid to show it? Nope. She’s the author of the new book The Power of Unpopular, a columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine and a TEDx Boulder speaker. She’s obviously doing well.

Johnny B. Truant has a fantastic manifesto called “How To Be Legendary” that is full of curse words. His email privacy policy states, “I’m not an asshole. I will never share, sell or otherwise disclose your private information. Sure, he could spell out his privacy policy in the “normal” way. Yet, the curse words have impact.  When I read his manifesto, I didn’t think, “Oh goodness. Johnny dropped the F-bomb. Now that he’s cursed, his opinion means nothing to me.” In fact, I applauded every time he did it.  His writing (and cursing) shocks people out of their comfort zone and gets them to think. 

Personally, I think that’s pretty cool.

I can point to many other people in the SEO industry who are much more in-your-face than I am. And you know what? They are all making really good money. They’re happy. They’re not stressing about saying a bad word here or there. They’re telling it like it is.

If I am true to myself – and the way that I speak in real life  – that means my blog may have a swear word (or two.) Because, like Erika and Johnny, I’m also trying to get folks to wake the hell up and change what they’re doing. I’m tired of seeing piss-poor SEO content out there. I’m tired of companies believing that content is an “unnecessary” expense, and they should only pay $50 per 500 word page. And I’m tired of writers believe that they aren’t good enough, smart enough or talented enough to succeed.

Folks could say, “Well, to swear or not to swear totally depends on your target audience.” And that’s true. Yet, I know that my target audience appreciates directness over drivel. Focus over fluff. Sure, I can sanitize my blog and set up the editorial directive or “Thou shalt not swear.” But do I really have to?

What do you think? Would you rather read a sanitized version of Heather? Or do you want the full-on, you asked for it and you got it Heather? Because I can almost guarantee that the “real” Heather is much more interesting than the sanitized version.

As a side note, this topic sparked some great Twitter discussions. Thanks to @graywolf, @airdisa, @ljcrest, @MirandaM_EComm, @willemrt, @PdJen, @pcproffitt , @TiaDobi and @cshel. And thanks to @matthewnewnham for the “write like I talk” inspiration.

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