Writing a client profile should be pretty straightforward. You answer a few common questions like who they are, where they live, and what they do.
Yet, in some ironic way, the longer I work as Program Director in Honduras, the harder it is to write a blog about someone. You’d think it’d be the opposite; the more I get to know the client base the more details I can provide. I’ve found, though, that there’s an odd sense of discomfort when writing about someone I know.
Let me explain.
When arriving in Honduras, things are different. You drive down the street and there’s speakers blaring out promotions for a chicken restaurant. The traffic is horrible. Mobs of kids run around your knees and tortilla ladies flag you down on the corner. I could write a novel about the sensor-overload that is downtown Progreso.
This first impression extends to the people as well.
You meet so many people at once. You get to know a few and work with others. You laugh together, ride buses together, shake hands and get on the same page. And when it’s time to write home to your friends and family, the content is all there. You’re so excited about who you’ve met, there’s nothing stopping you from writing a great piece.
Writing profiles is easy in that case, but stay longer and watch what happens.
After a while, you stop hearing the loud promotions from the chicken restaurant.
You don’t just laugh with people, you cry with them too. You shake hands and you give hugs. You cradle their new born babies. Sometimes you’re not on the same page. Sometimes you don’t like who you work with. Sometimes they’re the most inspiring part of your life.
Suddenly, what used to be content for you blog becomes normal everyday happenings.
The people you’re meant to profile, become friends and rivals.
It would be like writing a blog about a coworker who sits next to you at the office. Or the woman at the register when you pay for lunch. How would you feel about detailing your their life in a blog? Someone you see every day. What would you feel when you made it public, posting it as part of your job description?
It isn’t exactly the same, but the analogy is there.
The more I know clients, the harder it is to make their lives the content for my blogs, because everyday life doesn’t always seem like good content (nor appropriate content, mind you).
When I read blogs about clients, or students, or people in general, I wonder about your relationship between the author and the subject. How do they act around one another? Where do they live in respect to each other, and what do they do when there isn’t a pen and pad between them?
Everyday life is what the writer looks deeply into to find those interesting, universal patterns and insights. You, being a writer, have found one.