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.
Original content © 2016 Kyla Matton Osborne
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