How much is too much to share?

Can there be "too much information" in the information age?

While oversharing is at the heart of this newsletter, there’s still a lot I don’t talk about here. I share my experiences with depression, how IBS and anxiety controlled my life for ten years, that time HR told me I was “being paranoid” before I got made redundant… and many other deeply personal anecdotes that many others would keep to themselves.

But there remains a few sides of my life that I don’t write about. Firstly, I am aware everything I post online is a reflection of both me as a person and me as a business. I walk a thin line when writing about how depression can be perceived as laziness, or how procrastination is my superpower, as I have clients and peers in my subscriber list.

Another reason why I might not always share what’s on my mind is that there are other people involved who don’t consent to appear in your inbox every week. Writing this newsletter is cathartic for me because it helps me to get stuff off my chest, while also aiming to show you that it’s normal to struggle.

Where to draw the line

When you work for yourself, and you are your brand, how much is too much to share? Where is the limit and how does the bleeding of personal into the professional impact your brand?

Back in the day, entrepreneurs were told to keep their business and personal lives completely separate. Don’t bring baggage to the office. No matter what’s going on at home, smile at your colleagues and get on with it.

But the pandemic saw industry figureheads give interviews from their homes (often ambushed by their children). We witnessed dogs, cats and other furry (and even feathery) friends making cameos on Zoom, and we all began to relax a little on the facade that everything is totally fine.

This is particularly true of parents, who shared and, ultimately, bonded over their struggles with homeschooling while working through a global pandemic. We’ve come a long way since hiding in the office bathroom for a quick cry or texting a friend to meet you in the car park were the only accepted ways of dealing with a hard day.

It doesn’t take a psychologist to see that keeping things inside isn’t good for our mental health. But is it good for business to talk about our mental health?

I can only speak from my own experience. And I am sure that I have lost business by sharing way too much, but I’ve also gained some wonderful clients who’ve come to me either through this newsletter or returned to me months/years later when the newsletter reminded them of my existence (and they just so happen to need a copywriter or web designer right now).

I am also in a fortunate position where I am selective about who I work with. If a client wasn’t supportive of mental health awareness or didn’t respect my working boundaries, then I’d show them the door.

Too often I speak to other freelancers who are struggling with clients who disrespect them, ask for more than they're paying for and just generally take advantage of the small business owner’s goodwill (and their fear of a bad review).

So, I ask you… how much is too much to share? And are you more comfortable with talking about your personal life with colleagues and clients in a post-lockdown world? Let’s chat on Twitter @ContentByTheSea or reply to this email to say hello.

📺 Shadow & Bone (Netflix) - It only took reading five books, but I am finally watching S&B. Enjoying so far, but have to save for the evenings as it’s so bloody dark on the screen!

📺 This Way Up (All4) - The wonderful Aisling Bea and Sharon Horgan return for S2 of this bittersweet comedy, I really adore the depiction of complex mental health and trauma.

Kind words about Conversations By The Sea

A huge thank you to everyone who reads this newsletter - whether this is your first issue or you’re an avid reader, I love you all.

That’s all from me this week, see you next week.

Ellen x

Enjoyed this? You might like these past issues:

14 July: We’ve got to talk about Twitter

7 July: Meet my poison parrot

30 June: Memes are the best medicine

23 June: Backup plan

17 June: The sun always shines on TV

10 June: Practical tips for panicky people

3 June: Sciatica strikes back

26 May: Looking after yourself is hard

19 May: He just can’t decide

12 May: Getting titillated by the tangible