A while back, I got an email from an unhappy subscriber. Among other things, he complained that the last email he'd gotten -- a "blog broadcast" message announcing my latest post -- was all about me, and thus not interesting to him.
I've been at this long enough to have developed a reasonably thick skin, so it didn't bug me too much. I recognized that if he'd read the post, he likely would have seen that its purpose was to share something I'd learned from personal experience.
But it raised a valid question that I was reminded of by something Geoff Livingston wrote over at Copyblogger:
Let’s face facts. Most online content is lousy.
It’s too focused on the content creator...
...which raises the question, should your motto be "there's no 'U' in 'Blog'"? Or should you go with "'Your blog' is not complete without 'U'"?
I think the answer can be found in the original name for a blog, "WEblog".
Your blog has to deliver value to the reader, first and foremost. But you are part of what makes it valuable. Without your stories, your personality, your uniqueness, it's just another information source in a world of too much information.
To quote a band most of you have probably never heard of (Legs Diamond)...
"It's not the words, it's how you say it."
Injecting personal details into your blogging is essential for buildinging a personal connection with your readers. But how you do it makes all the difference.
Clarity and Focus
What I may have been guilty of in the post that drew the complaint was making the lesson too hard to find in the personal details. Perhaps I should have dropped some hints about where I was going early on in the post.
Frequency and Volume
If you focus on yourself in 80% of your posts, or if your posts are 80% personal and 20% useful information, they may be perfect for your mom, but a bit much for your internet friends.
New Readers vs. Old
Another issue that you might want to consider is how your more personal posts are going to come across to new readers, who haven't yet developed as much interest in you, vs. old readers who feel like next door neighbors.
On the individual post level, this probably doesn't matter, because a 100% personal post is less likely to draw in a lot of fresh eyes than one about a topic that lots of people are searching for.
But what about the person who subscribed yesterday after reading a content-heavy post, and gets one today that's 100% personal? You may be moving a little too fast for them.
In general, what I'd recommend is that you mix appropriate personal details in wherever they won't detract from, and especially where they'll enhance, the message. Just be sure to tell your readers that there's a practical point coming up early enough that you won't lose those who aren't (yet) personally interested in you.
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