It goes without saying that I read a lot of blogs (also articles and books… reading addict over here). I have noticed that I have infinite more interest in people who share aspects of their personal life on their blog. This isn’t because I am a particularly nosy person with voyeuristic tendencies. Rather, I enjoy reading about the personal experiences of others who may be going through things in their life that I have/ have not experienced (yet).
But the question of how personal should a personal blogger be has been on the forefront of many bloggers’ minds- myself included. I have written many personal posts which I will hyperlink to here- from my struggles with passport privilege to my miserable divorce to my how I felt when I unexpectedly lost my job abroad to what it was like growing up in between a traditional culture & modern society.
For most bloggers, this wouldn’t be an issue. I personally know quite a few who NEVER divulge any information about their personal life. The readers are left wondering what nationality the blogger actually is! Then there are others whose entire theme is sharing the intimate details of their lives from their daily meals to their disastrous dates. If you’re running your blog simply to focus on your business then this wouldn’t be an issue for you either. But then there are bloggers like me who want to fall somewhere in between providing useful information and sharing personal details of my life. In fact, I hope that all the things I do share can be used as useful information by you whether they’re about my personal life or not!
There is obviously a way to be personal on your blog without being irrelevant. I thought I would write this post to share the thought process that shapes my decisions about how personal is too personal…
Keep your audience in mind
When you are brainstorming your post, think about who is going to read this post. Do you think your audience will be interested in reading your post on this topic? Would they be offended if they do? One of my main questions is always:
How would my mother feel reading about this?
If the topic is appropriate enough for mummy panda then its fine to share with the world. But if close friends and family members are going to be upset then you may want to reconsider why you are posting about topic. While I acknowledge that here are some topics that should be discussed openly- regardless of other peoples’ opinion- I do believe you should choose your battles wisely. Also think about if your post went viral- would you be ok if this was the 1stimpression that people had of you?
Does this align with my blog message?
Most blogs have a message or theme whether it be female empowerment, wildlife awareness, financial planning or solo traveling. When you’re writing a personal post, consider whether what you want to write about aligns with that message. For example, if you have a blog where you share your solo adventures, letting readers know that you now in a wonderful relationship with someone you met while traveling solo is more in line with your blog about your independent travel as opposed to writing about all the things you dislike about your sister.
What do I hope to achieve by sharing this?
This questions always shapes ANY post I am writing, not just a potentially personal one. I think about the context and angle of any issue I want to discuss before it becomes a post. For example, if your friend wants to come out to his family about his decision to date men, there is no need to write a blog post based on his life and family struggles. You can however, write a post about how to be a supportive friend during to someone who may be going through this phase in their life. Addressing how people can provide effective support is definitely worth writing about and may help others. However, if your goal is to name names and humiliate your friend’s family, it isn’t something you should be writing.
Your blog posts should aim to educate, inform or assist someone even if they are personal in nature. Writing about illnesses, child rearing and other delicate topics should serve to help others going through similar experiences and engage with your readers- not alienate them.
How would I feel if I read this on someone else’s’ blog?
Sometimes I read posts by people who have just undergone a traumatic event in their life and their post is so bitter that it leaves me feeling awkward or embarrassed for them. Before you publish a post, think about how you would feel if you read this post on someone else’s’ blog. There is a fine line between wanting to share your feelings with the world and causing slander. If your wife left you for another man then feel free to write about your experience dealing with that trauma. But refrain from naming and shaming them or insulting them publicly. It reflects poorly on you not them.
If you still feel bitter about any experience that you’ve had, consider not posting. It seems much more productive to write about experiences you have learned lessons from than just writing to have a rant about something/someone.
In my case,
I enjoy sharing aspects of my personal life, but certainly not all of it… well the details of my life aren’t very interesting!! My main aim for sharing personal information is so that readers have a pretty good picture of who I am, where I live, and what I do. I hope my travels, experiences and advice inspires them to talk about taboo issues or make a positive change in their life.
I also enjoy the feeling of being “understood” by the people who visit my blog. I discovered that after I started posting my personal experiences online, people were able to connect with me and I engaged with more people. There are many benefits for sharing aspects of your personal life online but just remember to always keep it classy and remain true to yourself and your blog!
This is part 4 of my series: Panda’s Blogging Bites. Also read:
Part 1: 4 Things I Wish I Had Known about Blogging Before I Started
Part 2: Free Tips & Tricks that Help me Blog
Part 3: The Truth Behind Being a Social Media Couple
If you enjoyed this post, leave your address below so that you can get an email every time I publish a new one!
If you’re a blogger, do you share details of your personal life on your blog? If not, what holds you back? If you do, where do you draw the line? And readers, what topics are considered ‘too personal’? Let me know in the comments below!
Beautifully said. I think this is a topic all writers struggle with. There is a very thin line between sharing the painful parts of your story and indulging in “emotionalism.”
I started my blog as a way to cope with an extremely traumatic period in my life. I had no idea what I was doing, nor did I even realize I was a writer (the unexpected silver lining, I suppose.) But I still knew words had power. I was very angry and very sad, and I knew some of the people who hurt me were reading what I wrote. And despite the fact that I’m not a vindictive person, and I did my best to write with grace, I definitely took direct aim at my target more than a few times.
That said, I never published anything that would damage someone’s character or reveal who they were to anyone other than “us.” And sometimes writing our truth means holding those who hurt us accountable for what they did…but that shouldn’t be why we are writing it. Again, it’s a fine line. I also reference one of my favorite Anne Lamott quotes when I grapple with this. “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
But I think your advice is sage. We should always ask ourselves, “Why am I writing this?” If it’s to hurt or demoralize someone, then we have malintent and are choosing to be unethical. But if we are telling our story to share experiences that will inspire, offer hope, or provide an outlet for others going through similar situations, then we are “using our words wisely.”
Thank you so much for such a meaningful and genuine comment. I do agree with everything you have said especially the part of reviewing what our intention behind writing something about someone is. Its so important not to allow our feelings to overwhelm us which will then spill into our wirings. Its why I always take time to deal with personal situations privately and if I do choose to write about them, I give myself a while before I publish.
I have commented on your blog several times but wonder if you get them at all !
I agree with you about sharing bits of your personal experiences as it makes the blog more relatable. I enjoy reading your blog for just that very reason. Especially your travel blogs . You should only reveal what you are comfortable about revealing . I definitely wouldn’t expose the lives of my entire family online – you never know who is reading your blog !
Hi Unishta! I got this comment but I will investigate to find the others! Although I have been traveling for the last month and have been slow with my blog work. I agree that only revealing what the person is comfortable with is key and that you never know the possible malicious intentions of your audience!
I love reading about Pandas life, even more so now that this lion doesn’t get to see you as often as I’d like 🙂 Well put, good food for thought!
Its ok because for extremely personal info, I can always leave you dramatic voice notes 😀
I love this, especially: “Your blog posts should aim to educate, inform or assist someone even if they are personal in nature. Writing about illnesses, child rearing and other delicate topics should serve to help others going through similar experiences and engage with your readers- not alienate them.”
Also checking your emotions, if you feel strong emotion, bitterness. & The part about reading it as if you were the audience. Luckily I am someone who is an advocate of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes (maybe too much sometimes lol), but good reminder none the less.
I found your page looking up other’s experiences blogging personal stories, mine is about dating during this past year. I ask myself why I am writing it. I think it will be fun for me to write, but I do worry that there is some hidden validation that I am seeking. Maybe to feel more normal. My blog is so small, has one post, and maybe 30 people have visited on average, but I’m still worried. Either for the backlash or judgement. I just like being vulnerable and it’s always been frustrating for me when I’m seeking out advice/comfort in my daily life struggles and NO ONE has posted anything about it online. lol
Anyway, I think I’m leaning more towards posting it, I don’t feel bitter, already intended on giving nicknames to my suitors, and want to reflect on what I learned from each situation. It may make them look a little bad, but I think I will note that it is only from my perspective and there’s always two sides to a story.
This feels like a journal entry now, I think I’ve got this, shouldn’t be so hard on myself. At least I am self-aware.
Thanks for leaving the comments open. Good luck with your blog!
I’m really glad to hear you had a positive experience sharing more personal things on your blog. I’ve been going back and forth between sharing a memoir on my blog and not sharing it for fear of negative feedback, but I think it could be really helpful to others if I share what it’s been like to travel and live in my dream city. Since it’s me looking back at the last 10 years it’ll be more reflective in nature.