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Have You Ever Tried Character Blogging for Business?

Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Submitted by Luana Spinetti April 14, 2016

selinahydron_fullfigure

The idea dates back to 2007, when I began to welcome sponsored posts on the character blogs I ran for a hobby (many of which are still around).

If you don’t know what a character blog is, here is Wikipedia’s definition:

Character blogs are a type of blog written as though a fictional character, rather than an actual person, is making the blog post.

Could I make money from a character blog?

Of course — the number of sponsored posts I ran on my character blogs and the amusement both readers and advertisers got from them were enough to encourage me to go on with the activity and to develop a series of measures to ensure that the character wouldn’t get mistaken for a real person under pseudonym. Transparency with readers is key!

But could I use character blogging for business, too?

That had me wonder for some time, until in 2014 I got a chance to talk about my small side income from character blogging with Lauren Tharp and I realized there could be many more opportunities out there to turn character blogging into a powerful business asset.

Depending on the business, of course. Here are 6 examples of businesses and blogs that may benefit from character blogging.

What do you think? Could character blogging play a role in your efforts to create a relationship with your audience?

I would love to hear about your opinion and experience, if any. Thank you!

P.S. The robot girl in the image here is Selina Hydron, my character blogger at SelinaBizGirl.com. Yep, I drew her myself (I’m also an artist). Selina is a copywriter who works for clients across multiple planets, hence the laptop, notebook and pen :)


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42 Responses to “ Have You Ever Tried Character Blogging for Business?” Leave a reply ›

  • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

    Hey Luana,
    That is very creative of you! I guess Selina was as real as a true blogger?

    Now, to be frank, this is my first time of learning about character blogging. It should be an admirable blogging system.

    Although I have no experience with it but I am sure it could be applied to business.

    The blogger can make money from character blogging as long as the the details of the blogger addresses the pain points of readers and that there is a clear-cut call-to-action for readers.

    Perhaps, I should start thinking of having a fictional character do my writing 😉
    Sunday William recently posted…What Steps Do You Take To Keep Freelance Writers Honest?My Profile

    • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

      Hi Sunday,

      Thanks for the kind words! :)

      Yes, Selina was well received as a credible character (in her own Sci-Fi settings) by other writers and marketers. They liked the idea and bloggers replied to Selina’s comments, too.

      Character blogging is not an entirely new idea, but it is little used in business and it has been criticized for being a “waste of time” and for lacking credibility. I do not believe it to be a waste of time if planned well into the blogging schedule, as for credibility… that’s a matter of business-based world building, audience assessment and a smart editorial planning.

      As you rightully say, when a character is used to address the reader’s/audience’s problems, it works. A good CTA is vital, too, for the reader to pass from entertainment to action.

      A blogging character reinforces the idea behind a blog or a business, making it more accessible and entertaining to readers/users.

      If you create your own character, Sunday, I’d love to see/read it! 😉

      ~ Luana

  • Profile photo of Chery Profile

    Hello Luana, Interesting post my friend! I guess I would never had given much thought to character blogging, So of course that is the answer to your question LOL.

    Does it work? Well I guess this depends how you use this character, meaning how you brand it! Am I correct?

    You are quite the little artist girl.

    Keep up the great work
    Chery :))
    Chery recently posted…The Shocking Truth About Facebook MarketingMy Profile

    • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

      Oh Chery, you’re so kind! 😀 Thank you!

      Yes, character blogging can work if you can connect it well to your brand, or create a brand just for the character and link it to yours. Much depends on the nature of your audience, too — I definitely wouldn’t recommend character blogging for B2B, where features and logic count much more than the entertainment factor! But pretty much any B2C situation can benefit from the use of a character blogger, especially if the audience is young or needs a stress reliever.

      Glad you appreciate my artistic skills! I used to dream to become a comic artist, but the job asks for far more intensive work hours and stricter deadlines than my health allows me, so now I draw for my projects, for my clients (if they want illustrations with the writing package) and, when I can, I take paid art commissions from the DeviantART community.

      Thank you! :)

      ~ Luana

  • Profile photo of Celine Profile

    Character blogging for business? This is new to me! However, from the highlights above, I am of the opinion that it should be ideal for engagement and conversion.

    Character blogging for business demands a lot of creativity and this is what will make the whole lot of difference!

    • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

      Glad to introduce you to something new, Celine! :)

      Character blogging is fun and it connects to the audience on a level that is hard to achieve without, unless you have lots of witty personal anecdotes to share that work in the context of your niche. With character blogging, you can create those anecdotes and have the character become a storyteller who knows the niche in and out.

      Creativity is a must, but editorial planning and a business-focused CTA are, too. You want the character to have personality to entertain the reader and at the same time work like a channel to direct readers to your services/products/content.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

      ~ Luana

  • Profile photo of Sarah John Profile

    I will like to toe the line of @sunday and @celineonline(Celine) that character blogging can indeed make money for the blogger.

    The important thing is that the blogger must endeavor to offer value that would eventually help the readers to convert.

    Personally, I have never tried character blogging but would love to add it to my make money online arsenal!

  • Profile photo of Janis Searcey-Griffin Profile

    Luana,

    This is so interesting to know about character blogging. I have never heard of it so thanks for sharing this with us. I think of the emojis, or whatever they are called, that are in most WordPress sites for commenting. I can relate to those characters, but they are not near as cool as the character that you are using.

    Character blogging has a feel for taking it to a whole other level and marketing it to businesses that would find it valuable.

    • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

      Hi Janis,

      Glad you like the idea of character blogging for business!

      Emojis add sentiment to writing in comments and chats, but well-designed characters for blogging do a lot more: they have a voice and talk to readers via their blog posts, social posts and comments/replies. They create a connection to readers, like the connection you feel when you follow a character’s adventures in a novel (especially if the novel is narrated in 1st person) and you are interested in everything the character decides to tell you.

      Characters can be used in business to present a product or a service, answer readers/customers’ blogs and be the “brand’s voice” on a blog or a social channel.

      It all depends on the type of business and the audience, of course.

      Thanks for commenting!

      ~ Luana

  • Profile photo of Judith Chang Profile

    Hi Luana,

    This is the first time I am hearing of character blogging and I think it’s cool.

    I’m surprised the idea dates back to 2007 but why isn’t it more popular by now?

    But in terms of using it for blogging, do you think people will take a business blog seriously done with character blogging?

    • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

      Hi Judith,

      Thank you! :) Glad you appreciate the idea.

      There was a lot debate around character blogging between 2004 and 2007, especially for the specific case of business. The most frequent argument was about whether character blogging would make sense in business and some voiced a strong ‘no’, explaining as this type of blogging would be hated by readers and diminish trust in the brand. Most of the debate involved the now retired Captain Morgan’s blog, which was not well-developed and, as far as I have found thanks to Archive.org, did present unjustified character inconsistencies and didn’t work well to favor the brand.

      I will say that character blogging for business can work BUT can’t be done in a carefree way when it has to support a brand: every piece of content, everything the character does, says and how they say it has to be planned before hand to work toward the overall brand image in the eyes of readers. A character may be present in the brand’s main blog to present events in the sidebar, be the voice for a column of the main blog (for example, contents for children, Q&A with readers, the interview persona/mascot for the company, etc.) or be used to test concepts and ideas to show readers how they would work.

      These are only examples, but you can get the picture. Simply having the character rambling won’t cut it for business purposes.

      The blog can be taken seriously if the brand doesn’t overdo it nor puts the character before the readers/consumers and the brand image itself.

      Things get a lot easier if you want to make money from your blog through advertising, sponsorships and info product selling (ebooks, courses, etc.). Your character can be your ‘partner’ or even the main voice of the blog without taking away from your goals, because money won’t depend on your brand, but on other metrics. Niche definitely counts, though, as not every niche may be suitable for character blogging (example: legal).

      Hope that helps! :) At this stage, I don’t have any case studies available, but that’s one of my goals for the next year.

      ~ Luana

      • Profile photo of Judith Chang Profile

        Hello Luana,

        Thanks very much for this long and helpful reply. I’m sorry for not responding before now, I just saw this now while checking comments I had done before.

        Yes, I get the picture from the examples you provided and the explanations you made here.

        Please inform me when you have case studies.

        Thanks for taking the time to reply so well. It helps a lot.

  • Profile photo of Maketta Profile

    Hello Luana,

    I have never heard of character blogging but it reminds me of how sometimes people might write a post or ask a question even though it is them they write it as if it isn’t them. That’s what character blogging reminds me of.

    Yes, I think character blogging can be used for business. It also reminds me of a ghost writer too. You are creating this whole new persona that people can look forward to reading about.
    Maketta recently posted…How To Save Money In Your Internet Marketing BusinessMy Profile

    • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

      Hi Maketta,

      You are right on both counts! :)

      Character blogging is really ghostwriting, only for a fictional character rather than a real person. It can also be used as a good ghostwriting exercise.

      Developing a buyer/reader persona and using it for character blogging can be a great idea for a business that wants to show users how the relationship or the product/service would work.

      As long as the nature of the character is disclosed, people who read won’t perceive dishonesty and they might actually engage meaningfully with the character and the brand.

      Thanks for your comment!

      ~ Luana

  • Profile photo of Dave Profile

    Thanks for throwing more light on character blogging.

    I like the Selina Hydron character you used here and on your SelinaBizGirl.com blog.

    I have to say it’s very creative that you are also an artist and that you drew her yourself.

    Did you brainstorm and come up with the character from scratch yourself? That’s really talented.

    • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

      Hi Dave,

      You’re welcome! This topic is very dear to my heart.

      It was always about drawing and writing with equal passion, so it made sense for me. The fun part about character blogging is character development and world building; most of it intersects with creating a buyer/reader persona for business/marketing, but if you have artistic skills, there’s plenty you can add to it.

      I created Selina from scratch and I use her as testing ground to apply copywriting concepts as I develop/study them. A few years ago I wrote a guest post for a fellow freelancer’s blog where I suggested that writers use characters to produce fictional samples and learn how to do something — for example, I’m learning how to write white papers and sales letters from having a character write one for their town business.

      Thank you for the compliments! :)

      ~ Luana

  • Profile photo of Freedom Blogger Profile

    Hi Luana!

    I have not tried this before – nor have I even heard about it!

    This is news to me! LOL 😀

    But, it is obvious that there would be such way of blogging. I kinda expected this to be exactly what I thought it would be (when I read the title).

    I think this is a great way to let your imagination and creativity run wild!

    I can see how many people would really be into this and really be entertained and follow such interesting blogs!

    You can definitely make money with these type of blogs. You can make money with any type of blog and in any niche – really.

    The key is in learning how to monetize your traffic in the best way possible.

    One of the main things that I would recommend, if you really want to make good money with such Character Blogging – is to focus a lot on building up the daily traffic flow.

    As with any type of blog, the daily traffic flow AND the quality of that consistent traffic will be the key to its success. No matter how great your content is and how nice your blog looks, if there is not enough quality traffic (revenue) then you are most likely to get nothing from it.

    Learn internet marketing strategies to promote the heck out of your blogs (and any blog) – and run all the way with what you need to be doing daily/weekly!

    Very nice drawing, by the way! … very cool, indeed! 😀

    Keep up the great work, Luana!

    Thanks for sharing this very interesting topic!

    Have a wonderful week! :)
    Freedom Blogger recently posted…The One Weird Thing You Need to Know About Storytelling and Blogging!My Profile

    • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

      Hi Freddy! 😀

      First thing, I’m sorry about taking so long to reply to your comment. It was a rough week for me, including my connection being unusable for most of the day.

      Secondly, glad you NOW know about character blogging! 😀 This type of blogging has been subject of controversy between 2004 and 2008 and there was plenty of disagreement on the practice, but like everything, it can used the good way or the bad way.

      Fiction writers will greatly benefit from character blogging, but not only them — business bloggers and niche bloggers can also turn character blogging into a useful (and fun) asset. What it takes is a careful analysis of one’s business to see whether character blogging can be a good idea or not, and then detailed planning to make it happen the way one wants to make it happen.

      “You can definitely make money with these type of blogs. You can make money with any type of blog and in any niche – really.” — You are so right about it! If you can show your audience your worth, money will come; no doubt about that.

      Traffic is essential, even more so if you’re going to monetize through advertising. If the character is there to help sell a products, instead, building a list is key.

      Thank you for liking my drawing and for posting such a wonderful comment! That made my day. 😀

      Have a great weekend!

      ~ Luana

  • Profile photo of Yan Yan Chan Profile

    Hi,

    Thanks for this post.

    I am a fashion blogger based in Australia. Can character blogging be used successfully for fashion blogging?

    Yan Yan Chan recently posted…All eyes with Shu UemuraMy Profile

    • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

      Hi Yan Yan Chan,

      First thing, I’m sorry about taking so long to reply to your comment. It was a rough week for me, including my connection being unusable for most of the day.

      Secondly, fashion blogging is probably one of the easiest niches to use character blogging with.

      Here are a few ideas:

      – You can create a blogging character (example: a fashion loving teenage girl) to talk about fashion events in your area, or to write your blog column on trendy teenager clothes
      – You can have a character blogger respond to readers’ questions or to interview experts in Q&A or interview posts on your blog
      – You can have your character run special issues of your newsletter

      The more you use your character to involve your audience, the better it will work.

      Hope that helps. :) Feel free to ask more questions if you have doubts.

      ~ Luana

      • Profile photo of Barbara George Profile

        This is a very good response, Luana. It makes sense to use a fashion loving teenage girl as a character to talk about fashion events in your area, or to write your blog column on trendy teenager clothes.

        I learned a lot from this.

        Thanks.
        Barbara George recently posted…Lately On InstagramMy Profile

        • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

          Thank you, Barbara! I’m happy that you feel my advice was spot on. It really comes down to knowing your audience and what kind of voice they’d love to hear on your blog; that’s a great starting point to create a character that works in blogging.

          ~ Luana

  • Profile photo of Barbara George Profile

    Hello Luana,

    This is the first time I am learning about character blogging for business.

    I certainly learned a lot from this post.

    I also learned a lot from the responses you gave to others like Freddy and Yan Yan Chan.

    You certainly know about this topic.

    Thanks.
    Barbara George recently posted…7 Things I Can’t Live Without being a MumMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Paul Profile

    Hi Luana,

    Thanks for this post about character blogging.

    But apart from the use of cartoon character, what’s the different between this and just using a pen name for your blog?

    • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your question. :)

      Generally you’ll want to use a pen name to either hide your identity or to build an alias identity that’s more appropriate for a specific kind of writing endeavor.

      In both cases, the person is still you.

      With character blogging, you are creating a new person that is not you, but either an ideal person you know your audience will relate well to, or the personification of your brand (in the form of a brand mascot).

      Character blogging doesn’t have to be necessarily about creating a new blog either. It can be your blog on which you write a monthly column on your blog or newsletter that is written from the perspective of your character/brand mascot. Or you can use the character for Q&A sessions and to tell your audience about your brand vision, as the character will represent your brand.

      I offered a few examples in the comment replies I left for other Kinggers above. :)

      Let me know if you have more questions, and thanks for commenting!

      ~ Luana

  • Profile photo of David Profile

    I think this could work well for some businesses. Indeed, it could probably work for any business in a crowded niche, just to distinguish the blog from those of all the others.

    It’s not that hard to do. This is really ghostwriting. The key is to develop a personality and style for the character that is unique and engaging, possibly even funny or flippant, without compromising the solid information and credibility of that information.

    Not everybody can write like a character. The pic above is anime, but it could be a more true-to-life character. Or it could be an animal or inanimate object. A lot depends on the niche, the goals of the blog and the comfort level of the business owner.
    David recently posted…How To Dazzle With DialogueMy Profile

    • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

      Hi David,

      Sorry about the delay in replying to your comment! Last year was really tough, still got to catch up on a few things here and elsewhere. :)

      Quoting everything you said – character blogging can help distinguish a blog from others in the same niche, and yes, at the end of the day, it’s ghostblogging.

      Oh, I have a soft spot for robots, but it doesn’t have to be robots or anime, of course. 😉 Ideally, the character must be something that readers can relate to, so the blogger’s preference is only one of the factors to consider.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Best,

      Luana
      Luana Spinetti recently posted…3 Essential Steps To Free Your Blog Of Google’s InfluenceMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Amit Sharan Profile

    Hello Luana,

    This is the first I am reading about character blogging for business.

    Do you think people will take a business blog seriously when it’s using character instead of a real person they can see and trust?

    Isn’t using characters more for fun or casual topics?

    Your thoughts on this will be appreciated.

  • Profile photo of Gavin McDonald Profile

    Hi Luana,

    Thanks for writing about this interesting topic.

    I have seen some blogs with superhero type characters but didn’t think anything of it, but after reading this it now makes sense they are doing character blogging.

    I have similar question as Amit.

    Do you think business blogs will be credible or trusted by readers if they use cartoon characters?

    Won’t it be better to use such for hobby or other type of blogs?

    • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

      Hi Gavin,

      Thanks for your comment and sorry about the late reply!

      The question of credibility and trust is important, that’s why choosing character blogging as a marketing/branding asset must be a matter of careful thought and brand analysis.

      As an example, let’s say that MOZ.com decided to use their mascot robot for their blog: they wouldn’t run the entire MOZ blog as the robot, of course, but the robot might be the character blogger who cheerfully talks to readers about MOZ’s super offers, new features, webinars and events. Seeing the character would become the sign (like a column’s title) that MOZ has something new and interesting for readers.

      Character blogging is also definitely a fun type of blogging to do on the side! (And it can still be monetized with advertising – I’ve done that for years!)

      Hope that answers your questions. 😉 Let me know if you need more information.

      Best,

      Luana
      Luana Spinetti recently posted…3 Essential Steps To Free Your Blog Of Google’s InfluenceMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Norma Profile

    Hi Luana,

    Character blogging for business sounds like fun. But can those who are not good at drawing or creating ingenuous characters get success with character blogging for business?

    • Profile photo of Luana Spinetti Profile

      Hi Norma,

      Thanks for your comment, and apologies for the late reply!

      You don’t have to be good at drawing to run a character blog. You can hire an illustrator to design and draw 2-3 pictures of your character to use on your homepage and the About page, but you don’t necessarily need an illustration for each blog post.

      You can also hire a creative writer to develop the character, so you can work with it as you would with a ghostwriting client.

      Hope that answers your question! :) I’m going to write more about this on BizCharacterBlogging.com as soon as I’m done with a few other posts.

      Best,

      Luana
      Luana Spinetti recently posted…How To Rank Your Website Without SEOMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha Profile

    How delightful.

    I’ve actually heard of character blogging and come across a couple of them, though I’ve never thought of it when applied to doing it myself.

    I think it’s a creative and refreshing approach.
    Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha recently posted…Write on The Toilet – Essential Writers TipsMy Profile

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