Can you combine personal life and work life?

If you’ve already launched on one or more platforms, you might be wondering how much personal and work life should blend on social media. I have struggled with this in the past, but have realised that 1. people like to see the person behind the brand and 2. You just need to create your own barriers.

For instance, I write a lot about parenting so it makes sense that I offer my followers some information about my own family. At first, it was all out there: photos of the kids with their names and ages. But I decided to cut back on this and protect their privacy a bit more so now I don’t use their names or front-on photos. I photograph them from behind, or hide their face. I share their ages to give an idea about where I’m at on my motherhood journey.

I also decided that I’d make the focus shift more towards my motherhood experience than their childhood experience. This way, I’m sharing the personal stuff that people have come used to expect – and that they like – but not at the expense of my children’s privacy.

But what I’ve also done is turn my personal Facebook page into an unofficial business one. I removed all private photos of my family and although my account is still on private, I’m fairly casual about ‘friend requests’. This is because the only stuff I post about and share is work stuff. I share the articles I’ve written, information about this course, links to my book. I communicate with ‘real’ friends in person or on the phone and use all social media for work purposes now.

If you’re unsure about getting personal on social, you can start by doing a ‘meet the maker’ style post. I always love seeing these on Instagram – where the maker of beautiful pots, or a clothes designer or baker of delicious cakes introduces/reintroduces themselves. Doing this every so often reminds people that you’re the woman behind the work and helps them to connect with you.

You can also turn your captions into mini stories – or ‘micro blogs’ – so without having to necessarily divulge the state of your mental health or pelvic floor, you can bring people into your life. You can share childhood memories, your response to news in your industry or a meaningful conversation you recently had, with regards to your line of work. It breaks up the ‘selling’. It’s about adding value, not just telling people about the product or service you want them to buy.

Candice Brathwaite (@candicebrathwaite on Instagram) does a great job of combining work and personal. She’s a presenter, writer and founder of Make Motherhood Diverse. She’s also an award-winning content creator and hosts the brilliant Pillow Talk podcast with her husband, Papa B. (This, by the way, is all in her bio – see below for more on bios). Her feed and Stories are made up of her responses to serious issues, adverts for brands and details about talks and events she’s involved in. She’s building a personal brand, so it makes sense to have a lot of her in there. But I never think: too much of the work. Or: too much of the family/personal. She strikes a good balance.

Nicola Eyre, founder of Cissy Wears (@cissywears) – ‘beautiful things for child and home’ – has curated a lovely feed, with consistency in her colours and style. Her captions are often short but when something really matters to her, she writes more. Photos of the products she sells are interspersed with the odd shot of her kids. As a family brand, she wants to include her own – but not make them the centre of it; just part of it.

Anna Jones (@we_are_food) sticks almost solely to food photos, and pictures of her cookbooks and columns. But when I interviewed her for my book, she said that she likes to use her Instagram profile to also talk about things that matter to her, particularly political issues. She said it’s not necessarily what her followers want, but it’s part of her life – so she posts about it. She doesn’t share any photos of her son – a decision she and her partner made as soon as he was born.