Too Much Information! How Personal Can Your Blog Posts Get Before They’re Too Personal?

Personal blogs are popular with a lot of folks who write on blog websites. In fact, a lot of people have come to think that all social blogging sites should, by definition, accept personal blog posts. But what is a personal blog? Is there just one type, or are there many different ways to blog about topics drawn from a writer’s personal experiences? Some of the most experienced and successful bloggers will say that most of their blog posts are inspired by things that happen in their everyday life – and that even extends to their professional writing!



So how do we define personal blogging? And what are the benefits of writing a personal blog? Are there any limitations or drawbacks the blogger should keep in mind before setting out to create a blog based on personal experience? Let’s take a look!

Blogging About Your Passion

One of the best reasons to write a personal blog post is to share your passion. When you write about the subjects that are near and dear to your heart, your writing is bound to be passionate. And your readers will pick up on that enthusiasm.

Emotion plays a big role on the internet today. A post will succeed in large part because of its intensity. If you’re an avid knitter, you won’t necessarily be able to muster up much enthusiasm for blogging about labour laws. But I’ll bet you love to blog about your latest knitting projects – and that you could easily turn a trip to the local yarn shop into an epic adventure! Personal blogging allows a writer to share her own particular interests. And it often helps like-minded people to find one another online too. Blogging about your interests and hobbies can provide a surprising boost to your readership.

Personal Blogging Gives You a Voice

Another really big reason to write personal blog posts is the chance to speak out about a cause or a controversial subject. You might want to raise awareness for a charity you think is worthy. Or you might want to draw attention to an injustice you don’t think gets enough exposure. Maybe you want to help other people who find themselves struggling with a difficult situation – advocating for a special needs student, coping with chronic pain, or living on a tight budget. Or sometimes you might want to just vent about a common situation you encountered on a particularly bad day. Writing a personal blog post can give you an outlet for your emotions and a voice in the debate.

When Does a Personal Blog Get Too Personal?

We’ve seen that there are benefits to writing a personal blog. But what about the drawbacks? And are there some times when a personal blog gets too personal, either for ethical or privacy reasons or because readers just aren’t interested?

If emotion is a strong selling point for your blog posts, so is engaging the reader. It can be trickier to figure this part out when it comes to writing a personal blog post. Unlike a business post, there is no specific product or service to blog about. It can be a real challenge to come up with a topic that will interest the public at large – and even tougher to find a topic that people will search for on Google! But it’s crucial that personal bloggers never skip over this step.

You might be tempted to write about something scandalous – because gossip, intrigue, conspiracy theories and the like are huge sellers both online and in print. But if you’re writing from personal experience, be careful not to violate anyone’s privacy or to write hurtful things or lies that might come back to bite you!

Never make unfounded allegations, and never publish anyone’s identifying information in a post without first getting permission. If you blog about your family, take extra steps to protect your children or other minors. Using nicknames and being very selective about posting photographs is an important part of internet safety. Remember that this applies twice as much when you’re writing a personal blog as it does in any other online situation.

Personal Blogging Takes Hard Work

Personal blogging should never be about finding an easy way out when you want to get paid to blog. Choosing a personal topic isn’t a substitute for doing the work needed to create a blog that people want to read. As marketing and blogging expert Heidi Cohen puts it, “blogging takes hard work to craft posts” – even if it’s a personal blog. “Personal blogs, like professional and business blogs, require some thought before you jump in and start throwing words on the screen if you don’t want your blog to be a flash-in-the-pan.”

So be sure that you aren’t using personal blogging as a cop-out or an excuse to just do the bare minimum of work and meet the minimum word count set by your blog websites. Anything that’s worth doing is worth doing right. That applies just as much to posting on a personal blog site or publishing on a blog website that pays a small revenue share, as it does for top-notch professional writing.

When you put your name on a personal blog post, you should care whether that post is well-written. It’s your reputation as a blogger that’s at stake – even if you don’t consider yourself a writer. You should want that personal post to be as well written as a business letter or a short story you’d submit to your local writer’s circle for critique. After all, what gets posted to the internet becomes almost immortal. Today you may only want to get paid for blogging about your day to day life. But some day down the road, you may want to get hired for professional writing and you’ll care that prospective clients can still find archived copies of old posts that were thrown together in haste, riddled with typos and spelling mistakes, and standing as the perfect example of how not to write for the web.

Personal Blogging Goes Beyond Diary Writing

Be sure when you create a personal blog that it’s “more than a brain dump” or an exercise in stream of consciousness writing. You want to have some kind of plan when you site down to write, and a central theme that will help you to narrow your focus. Once you’ve written your blog post, take the time to reread it. Run the spellchecker and proofread your post for typos, at the very least. It helps if you have someone else proof your writing, so if you have a blogging buddy this is the time to ask for help. If not, read the post to yourself aloud. You’ll be surprised at how many small errors you will find this way!

If you really want your personal blog to shine, then put the effort into it. Plan it and outline it, just the same way you would if you had a professional writing assignment. And try to create a blog that’s unique – if not a completely new topic, at least your own unique and very personal spin on a current topic.

When you write about your own life experience, you may just want to sit down and tell a story. It can help sometimes to create a personal blog that allows us to pour out all the unresolved emotion. The catharsis can be quite therapeutic! But remember to blog for your reader, and not just for yourself. Telling your story is just the first step. The next step is to do what the team at The Write Life calls “find[ing] a point even when writing from the messy middle.”

Your job as a blogger is not just to tell the story, but to help the reader take it all in. Point to the deeper meaning when you write a personal blog. Take the time to highlight a central theme, or to find a moral to your story. Whatever you do, you should be packaging your personal blog as if it were that product I spoke of at the beginning of our discussion. Your unique story becomes your product. And your personal journey becomes your brand.

 

What is a personal blog? How to create a personal blog post, and even to get paid for blogging!


“Blogging takes hard work to craft posts” ~ Heidi Cohen
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Original content © 2016 Kyla Matton Osborne
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  • Comments

    1. Profile photo of Pat Z Anthony
      Pat Z Anthony

      Far too many seem to include things that should never be shared with strangers. While it might help the person writing to vent, some of us (myself included) will walk away from things that are too personal. Hopefully your tips here will help everyone.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        @patzanthony I actually find that the truly “TMI” kind of information is rarely shared in posts – though I do see a lot of this sort of thing on social media. And a lot of “vague-booking” too! I do see people saying too much about their family relationships and sometimes posting things that make me worry for their kids’ safety. I try to alert those folks, for the kids’ sake.

        But really, what’s much more common is the “what I ate for breakfast” kind of posts that talk about everything and nothing. And most common of all are the personal posts that have some substance but were published in raw form. They are a stream of consciousness first draft that wanders a bit too much, is riddled with typos, and has a weak ending, Often too, such posts don’t match their titles. And the images the blogger chooses have zero relevance to the content. They may perform well initially, but then they fade into oblivion instead of providing passive income.

    2. Profile photo of Tania K Cowling
      Tania K Cowling

      Excellent tips. I agree whether your niche is business-like or personal, it should be written professionally and with “taste.” Blogging on the Internet is not just a “dear diary.”

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        I couldn’t agree more, @taniakcowling! “Dear diary” posts should be reserved for a one-person blog that has some sort of unified theme – like travel or couponing or coping with cancer. They are difficult to write professionally and generally languish when posted on a blog website.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        “Well written” is absolutely the key! It’s crucial to take the time to craft a personal post, the same way one would any other type of writing. Using personal blogging as an excuse not to write well is just a cop-out.

    3. Olivia Morris

      Kyla, you’ve written a great article. It should be shouted from the rooftops. Blogging if you do it right, can mean a lot of blood, sweat and tears. There’s more to the words on the page than you can ever really imagine (if it’s a blog worth reading!).

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        Thanks so much, Olivia! Yes, there are some very personal blogs – like accounts of a person coping with a terminal illness – that are truly the product of blood, sweat, and tears. There’s such a huge difference between the proverbial “potato post” and personal blog entries that show insight and reflection – even if it is on a mundane topic like grocery shopping!

    4. Profile photo of Vickie Ewell
      Vickie Ewell

      My favorite part of this piece was: would someone actually search for that on Google? That really hit home for me because the greater majority of traffic to my blogs comes from search, not social media.

      When reading the personal experiences of others, I often find myself halfway through a story wondering, what’s the POINT? That’s a fairly deadly spot for me because I’m pretty certain I’m going to walk away without ever making it all the way to the end if I start asking that.

      My training wasn’t in “online” writing. It was in print, so I have difficulties relating to today’s quick and get ’em posted mindset. Social blogging has been a shock to me. Even when everyone was posting diaries to their blog, I always published articles. It didn’t feel right to me to do anything less.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        @vickieewell I’m the same way, Vickie! My training was in academic writing – research papers for my university courses, helping friends with technical writing for their engineering projects, and that sort of thing. It’s really counterintuitive for me to write about what I ate for breakfast – unless there’s a point to it, of course 😉

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        A lot of what went into this article was written with you in mind, John. I know how many of these points are near and dear to your heart – and I’m glad you’re so delighted with the end product 😀

      2. Profile photo of John
        John

        As always, Kyla… Your article comes with great influence, command, and of course mastery of what you are writing about.

    5. Profile photo of Sandy KS
      Sandy KS

      I use spell check and other apps to help with my writing. i still doesn’t catch them all. That is why I do not try to be a freelance writer. I know my skills are not good enough. I also believe all blogs need a personal touch.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        One thing I think few bloggers do is to simply PROOFREAD their posts before they publish. It takes just a few minutes to read 400 words aloud. That alone should pick up most errors that the spellchecker and other apps won’t.

      2. Profile photo of Sandy KS
        Sandy KS

        No, proof reading does not always do it. As I proofread several times before submitting. I have siblings and friends who can not spell the greatest. It looks like someone is texting in code. I am so use to reading how they write. That I skip over mistakes not noticing them. I also have an issue I struggle with where I switch letters around. To me they look normal, to others they are misspelled. That is why I use a spell check. Not everyone is a great speller and must reply on the spellcheckers to work correctly.

    6. Profile photo of N Sri Naga Jyothi
      N Sri Naga Jyothi

      personal blogging may be disclosing all your facts around and personal things, it is like a personal diary. Sharing personal things to the public through blogging may not suitable for all the people.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        Exactly! Some things are unsuited for publication because the details are too intimate and could hurt those concerned. Other times, the minutiae of our lives are just uninteresting to the general public. If nobody would Google it, then it’s probably not of interest to a large enough audience.

    7. Profile photo of
      Jacky Hughes

      I would love to blog about some of the things that affect me personally. The reason I don’t is because it would be obvious to anyone who knows me who I was talking about/ I sometimes release things in story form for that reason. (I have not done that here yet.) I would love to talk about dealing with the mental health issues in my family, the domestic violence that affected me and many other experiences. I am careful, though. What seems innocuous to me is not to some of my family and friends. Personal blogging needs to be done with care. You cover most of the bases in this article. I prefer to blog about the cat (she is currently on a site called Rabadaba, but may turn up here soon.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        Didn’t your cat make an appearance on a previous social blogging site? That sort of creative writing is a perfect example of how to create personal content (in this case, somewhat creative writing) that has a potential to garner quite a following. We’ve had some similar content published here by @wolfgirl569, as well 🙂

        Writing from an animal’s point of view or with an animal as a main character/focus is not new. Aesop and George Orwell both wrote stories that placed the focus on animals. And one of my favourite mystery series, The Cat Who… series by Lilian Jackson Braun, is about a cat.

    8. Kathryn Grace

      Thank you for this Kyla. As one who runs a personal blog, I tread that line between revealing enough to keep it lively and revealing too much. I’ve noticed a trend, particularly among food bloggers–which, since I’m one too, make up about 50 percent of my online reading–to put up a title about a recipe, then force their readers to scroll through numerous paragraphs about their dog irking on the carpet while they ran errands and picked up the kids from soccer and jazz dance class, each stop captured in detail and photos. I exaggerate only slightly.

      I suspect there is a food blogger how-to e-book that tells people to “make it personal and anecdotal.” : ) No matter how well a writer tells a story, as you so well point out, if it doesn’t help deliver what the title promised, it doesn’t work for me. So I try to read my drafts from that perspective, and I do have a reader who gives them a once-over for typos and first impressions, but she’s not as objective as a magazine editor of old would have been. I sometimes wish we all had someone like that who would read our stuff with a virtual blue pencil and mark it up like crazy!

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment, Kathryn! I always love to read your feedback. It’s interesting that you mention having someone to run through our posts with the proverbial blue pencil, as we have some BlogBourne members who are hoping to set up a program for blogging buddies who can do just that!

        I suspect that the advice to “make it personal and anecdotal” has been given out more than a few times by those who tell others how to blog effectively. I think perhaps it’s best if the anecdotes relate in some logical way to the main topic if the post, however 😀

      2. Profile photo of Sandy KS
        Sandy KS

        Making it personal is fine as long as it keeps with the title or subject being written about. Writing about a dog puking on carpet when someone is wanting a recipe and talk about food does not go together and never should be written in the same article. Unless it says the food was so bad the dog puked it up.

      3. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        @rusty2rusty Well put! When writing personal anecdotes, it is definitely important to take care matching the anecdote to the content and the title. Some subjects just really shouldn’t go together!

    9. sgolis

      I have seen bloggers that publish too much personal information, from where they live, colleges that the attend and information about their children. It is of course too much information. G+

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        I have seen that – though far less often than the “potato post” stuff. Most personal bloggers seem to have a pretty good grasp of internet safety. But those that don’t, will sometimes list off the full legal names and birth dates of family members just to fill up the word count. It’s pretty scary!

    10. Profile photo of Barbara Radisavljevic
      Barbara Radisavljevic

      I enjoy personal anecdotes if they tell a story or make a point. What I don’t enjoy is a post that’s more like a to-do list or a what I’ve done list. I think most of us read for entertainment or useful information. Some people may be looking for gift suggestions or product information. Very few people are looking for “I did this” or “I’m going to do that. ” People want to see how what you write relates to them or is important to them. Usually only close friends and family care about one’s routine daily or work activities.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        I have so often heard the refrains, “I just blog for fun,” and “I write from personal experience.” Usually from some blogger who has just puffed up to twice her size because somebody mentioned the “s-word”: SEO! This reaction is frequently followed by the blogger poking fun at others who write informative posts and often by putting down the site with some sort of claim that if the blogger were a “professional writer,” she’d be somewhere else because a “penny site” doesn’t pay enough to be worthy of better writing.

        That’s an attitude all writing and blogging sites can do without. And yet it’s a pervasive one. I think those who want a social blogging website or a content writing site to pay them better need to at least be willing to understand where the money comes from and what kind of content will ensure the money keeps flowing. Bloggers and content writers are no different from professional writers in this regard: we all have to provide the sort of content that will bring traffic and advertising revenues to the site.

        Sites that accept “to do list writing” and “potato posts” may be attractive, especially if they offer astronomically high pay rates when they first open. But they are not going to see much external traffic if most of their content was written to serve the author’s needs rather than the reader’s. And they are never going to last much beyond 3-4 months without some sort of angel investor.

    11. Susan

      I like your quote, “Your unique story becomes your product. And your personal journey becomes your brand.” That’s a very good way to look at personal blogging. Taking an extra minute before we publish to ask ourselves if the post reflects our brand the way we want people to see us is so important. Excellent blogging advice as always, Kyla. Thank you!

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        I’m glad that part resonated strongly with you, Susan. I was hoping it would catch people’s attention! Blogging from personal experience is a great idea. But I think it helps if bloggers approach the exercise as a question of branding. Does a poorly focused post that rambles and is riddled with typos really convey the right message about their brand?

    12. Profile photo of Nona
      Nona

      When I first started blogging, the Dear Diary blogs were what blogging was all about.

      Those are still the kind of blogs that I personally like to read, and I’m sad they are an endangered species.

      However, I try to keep my own personal blog posts on my own personal blog. Which is why My posts here are few and far between.

      There is absolutely nothing I have to say that someone would search google for. And even if they did there would b a few million other pages they would come across before seeing mine.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        Nona, you raise an interesting question about whether our posts would be found in a search. And that is a whole other side of blogging and web writing that is covered under rubrics like SEO and social media promotion. But just to show you that your own personal messages can be important, take a look at @donnathacker‘s post about being a widow. This is an intensely personal subject, and yet Donna’s post skyrocketed to #1 on BlogBourne in a matter of hours. At this point, she has received almost as many views as the next three posts in the top 20, altogether.

        Getting views for a personal blog is a matter of finding a target audience, finding a topic that has value to your audience, and then just writing a great post. I think most bloggers believe their writing isn’t valuable because they skip the first two steps entirely. That’s exactly what Donna didn’t do.

      2. Profile photo of Donna Thacker
        Donna Thacker

        Nona, you would be surprised what personal experiences people will search for. When I first started writing about being a widow, I did it for my own peace of mind on a blog. Other widows found the blog and commented that it was so nice to read about the same things they were going through. It gave them a feeling of “normal” so to speak. I was saying things that they felt every day, yet couldn’t get those feelings out. I did it in words, the only way I knew how. People trust personal experience writing because the writer has been through it, not just researched it.

      3. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        It’s good to distinguish between writing *from* our personal experience and writing *about* our daily activities. A lot of the “dear diary” entries are just an itemized list of what the author did that day. It’s pretty boring to read that kind of post, especially when it’s the same sort of list day after day.

        But when we use our experiences as a jumping off point and we write more about our insights than the actual events of our lives, the post becomes not only interesting but also useful to other people. This is what sets the really good writers aside from bloggers who are doing no more than documenting their menu choices and errands.

    13. Profile photo of Rex Trulove
      Rex Trulove

      I find that a huge part of it is in knowing who the audience is and writing to that audience. A person with a large following that loves to read about their diary-style blogs might do great and get a LOT of views off that sort of writing.. That wouldn’t work for me, though. I write informative pieces and while I might do so partly in first person, I try to limit the first person. My purpose is to inform people of something, so it isn’t about “me”.

      For the same reason, I do sometimes write op-ed pieces, but not very often. Something that is op-ed is usually not informative (though it can be).

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        Audience is the first thing any blogger should be looking at, Rex. Even for those bloggers who create diary-style content for a huge following, the audience determines the kind of posts they’ll write. We are always catering to our audience. And if we refuse to do that, we can’t expect to get the views or to earn the revenue we’d like our blogging to bring in.

      2. Profile photo of Rex Trulove
        Rex Trulove

        “Should” and “do” are often not connected though, unfortunately. I’ve never felt that I was important in the scheme of things, so I’ve never written to that kind of audience. Well, I shouldn’t say ‘never’, because I sometimes will, just to have some relaxed fun. When I do, though, I never expect to get many views from it. On the other hand, I’m on a life-long quest for knowledge, so I share what I know and enthusiastically read things that I can learn from.

      3. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        When you write informative content, you are writing for an audience of people who want to learn something that you can share. That’s no different from writing a personal diary entry for an audience that wants to read about your daily activities. It’s a simple matter of you having found an audience that fits with the kind of writing you want to do.

        Of course, the question of views and revenue is significantly different in the case of an informative writer who occasionally writes a personal blog post vs. a blogger whose only content is a diary of daily minutiae. In the first case, the blogger provides a body of content that can bring in both views and revenues. And so it’s not unreasonable that he would expect to earn a little something for his contributions, even if he sometimes throws in a personal post. In the second case, we’re looking at a person whose entire corpus consists of daily itineraries that offer little or no value to the reader. And generally, these same posts tend to be poorly written and not even proofread or spellchecked before publication. It’s fine if somebody wants to publish that kind of content on their own blogs, but unreasonable to expect writing sites to universally accept or pay for such content. Each site has its own editorial guidelines, which users should respect if they want to take part in the site.

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