How Personal Should You Get on a Blog?

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This year’s been a weird one, as far as blogging goes.

Birdgehls has been live in some kind of form, for almost two years now. I’ve got a million and one ideas for articles. My head is full of stories and my hard drive, full of photos.

I’ve tentatively started a YouTube channel and I went on my first blogging-related press trip, just this month. I had an article published online and I hope to have more in the future, when I actually find the time to sit down and start pitching properly.

All in all, it’s been a pretty successful year in the online world for me.

Yet, I’ve had many moments this year where I’ve really struggled with the direction in which I want Birdgehls to go. It started out as an expat blog and a place where I could ramble on about how much I loved Iceland, without bothering anyone.

This year, I decided I wanted to try to do something proactive with my writing, so I started blogging about my quest to use less plastic in my day-to-day life.

I even decided that I no longer wanted to think of Birdgehls as a travel blog. Since announcing this, I have almost consistently written only about travelling and life in London. Please allow me to quote Albus Dumbledore here, in saying:

The best of us sometimes eat our words.

Not long ago, I read a blog post by a very well-known travel blogger, who declared that posts should be above all else, useful. I agree. And in agreeing, I’ve tried to write useful posts, full of information. Some of them have done really well. Some, not so much, which has been irritating when thinking about how much time I’ve spent on them.

For the last few months, I’ve felt that my articles are lacking a little something. I look back at what I was writing a year ago and remember what fun I had working on them. Particularly the more spontaneous ones – such as the night of the Blood Moon in London, which remains one of my all-time favourite posts.

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Since I started actually telling people I know that I have a blog, I’ve struggled with writing about the more personal aspects of my life. As a consequence, I feel like a lot of my posts have been all facts, with no personality.

This is a direct contradiction with what I actually like to read in other’s blog posts. Eight years of working in the media has made me a nosey person (I feel I can safely blame my career on this fact, although I was most likely born this way). I love reading monthly round ups, stories about travel romances, personal quests and achievements. It’s always nice to get to know the person behind the blog, which makes sense, as blogging is quite a personal thing.

It’s taken me two years to get to a place where I feel comfortable with this. And there will still be a line drawn in the sand – such as where finances and personal relationships are concerned (plus you’ll never find a post entitled: “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Me!”)

However, I realise now that I actually pay for the privilege of having this little corner of the Internet all to myself. So, I may as well make use of it.

Why the Silence?

Things have been incredibly busy behind the scenes, which accounts for the lack of posts of late (along with the occasional bout of writer’s block).

A few months ago, I booked a return ticket to Australia, with a plan to head home for three or four months. I had advance notice of a good friend’s wedding and I didn’t think I could deal with another English winter. That and I was pretty sure my mother would personally fly out to London and drag me home by the ear if I tried to miss another family Christmas.

Then, a series of things happened. My boyfriend applied for an Australian working visa on a whim and got it. That and we received notice that our London Barbie Dream Flat was on the market. Within two weeks, our home was sold and the new buyers were not Buy to Let.

I’m not a religious sort (13 years of Catholic schooling in the Australian system will do that to you), but when things start falling into place, I watch and listen. By all indications, the universe was screaming at us that now might be a very good time to pack up shop and head to Australia.

So, that’s what we’re doing.

This wasn’t a decision that was made without reservations. I like living in the centre of the modern world. There’s a lot of things about London that I’ll miss (like the long summer nights, mulled wine at Christmas and black pudding).

Yet, the desire to go back to Australia has been strong. As a fellow expat friend of mine once described it – it’s like a beacon of light, pulling me home.

Six weeks to go

faroeislands

I’m sitting right now in my dismantled living room, surrounded by piles of books and the numerous knick knacks I’ve managed to accumulate over the last two years. We’ve two weeks left in our flat, then a month before we board the plane back to Oz.

It wouldn’t be right to leave Europe without a last hurrah. So, I’m heading to Dublin to spend a weekend with an old friend from Doha. We’ve got a few days in Berlin and a weekend escape to the French countryside to look forward to.

I’m going back to Spain for the first time in seven years to stuff my face full of tapas in Seville. We’ll be returning to Dorset for a few days and heading back to the Cotswolds to see my Great Aunt before we go.

And best of all… I’m heading to the Arctic circle, in my continued quest to visit all the Nordic countries and territories.

Yep, I haven’t mentioned that either, but it’s a thing that has been happening over the last two years!

And as for the blog…

This year has been an excellent year of travel, which I’ve barely touched upon in this blog. There’s still the summer adventures and more recently the Faroe Islands and Kyrgyzstan, not to mention the tales of that which is yet to come.

I have a feeling I’ll be writing about the events of these last few months well into the next year.

I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a monthly or even quarterly roundup, as I don’t write in chronological order. Sometimes there are fun things happening that I want to write about now!

At the very least, I’m fairly certain that leaving London will bring some pretty strong feels with it and I’m not planning on holding back.

What are your thoughts about blogging? Are you a nosey-parker like me, or just here to get the bare facts?

Posted by LC
September 19, 2016
LC

LC can often be found nursing a cup of green tea, with her head in a book. She is a writer, video editor and professional cheese eater. Her life's aspiration is to one day live on a farm in Tasmania with 11 dogs, a Shetland pony and several pygmy goats.

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Simon - September 23, 2016

I don’t know who the “useful” blogger is but she/he is in my humble opinion a bellend. You should write to entertain with the added bonus of informing. This post taught me nothing (except that I may have agreed to visit the Cotswolds without realising) but it was a jolly good read. I assume this is why anonymous and frightful American blogs get so many readers, because they are not afraid to “reveal themselves’ or “share”? It’s nice to put a name and a face to the articles and as long as you’re doing what you think is good and true you shouldn’t be frightened to write honestly about it 🙂 Also, My eyes are broken but that moon looks very grey and not red? 0_o

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    LC - September 26, 2016

    I think you’re right. Yes, you agreed to go to the Cotswolds and it was before it went red! Your eyes are spot on.

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Alison - October 5, 2016

Congrats on your blogging achievements! Really refreshing to read an article that actually addresses whether to include personal aspects or not. I’m with you; I like to feel as if I know the writer. I suppose it is a hard balance, navigating between diary entries “I did this. And that. And I thought…” and then writing in too sterile of a tone, or one that is more suitable to guidebooks than blogging… I’m still working on it, too. Thanks for sharing and best of luck with your move!

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    LC - October 5, 2016

    Hey Alison! I hope you’re well and thanks for your comment! I published even this post with some trepidation, but the reception has me convinced that it’s the right way to go about blogging. And I agree – if people just wanted straight up facts, they’d opt for a guidebook. I’m sure we’ll both find our balance eventually. 🙂

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Marge - December 7, 2016

Hi Laura. I think I know how you mean. This is also my struggle with my own blog. As much as I want to post more personal posts because not only are they fun to write, it also gives my blog a personality, I couldn’t do it all the time because the blog, as you mentioned, should be useful. I don’t think it would be of much use if I just yap about what I feel, although I’d argue that maybe one or two readers would be able to relate.

I’m still trying to find some balance on how to do it. To be a blogger and still be a live breathing person behind the blog.

But it seems like you know in your heart what to do. Goodluck on your upcoming trip to Australia.

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    LC - December 8, 2016

    Hi Marge, thanks for the empathy! If it’s any help, since writing that post I’ve figured out a bit of a formula. It involves focusing on quality rather than quantity (which has me posting around one blog post I’m super proud of every week than pumping out three that are rushed and icky). I’m also trying to do a mix of “practical” posts and posts about stuff I love – even if it’s not directly related to travel (like books!). Hopefully we’ll all get there in the end.

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Gypsycouple - December 9, 2016

Its always a tough question to answer which we are still struggling with. Blogs as they were supposed to be, were made to be personal. They were like online diaries which you throw open to the public to read and relate with. However blogs have now evolved into a tight space between those online diaries and online magazine laying bare facts for the time constrained reader. At the end its upto you which end of the spectrum you choose to bend towards, however a touch of personality does help separate oneself from the hordes of fact carrying websites out there. Just my humble opinion

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    LC - December 9, 2016

    Totally true, I think it’s important to inject some personality into it. It’s what keeps people coming back, after all. I know it’s what’s been the driving force behind my favourite blogs. Thanks for commenting!

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Danni Lawson - December 11, 2016

You make a great point, it is so volunerable putting your life online and I worry where it could lead- will potential employers see our blogs? I like your honest approach, and certainly it’s a process. Out of interest, what was the press trip you went on?

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    LC - December 12, 2016

    Hey Danni, thanks for commenting. Yes I know what you mean, it’s hard to draw a line sometimes! It was to Kyrgyzstan – such a good trip.

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Katherine - December 13, 2016

I can relate so much on this one. I struggled on where I want our blog to go. Informative articles get more traffic but I also want to keep a personal touch, more narratives.. and then there’s the question of how much personal info to write? 2016 I think is the year we get in touch of ourselves and what we want in the here-now and the future.

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    LC - December 13, 2016

    Exactly. I think it’s key to be personable in each post – you don’t want to sound like a guidebook after all. Yet it’s also important to draw a line in the sand and ensure you don’t ever cross it. Mine is with work and personal relationships, but granted it may not be the same for every blogger!

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Rhiannon - March 6, 2017

In the same way that you were putting off the vacuuming, I’m currently using you as an excuse to put off going out into the rain!
I’m with you on this one – I like feeling like I know the person who’s writing. There are a few blogs I read regularly (as in, I check for new posts every day because I’m a top creep!) and the one thing they all have in common is that there’s personality behind the words. And, more often than not nice people. And they’re mostly not “big” blogs with 16 billion followers, a 6 figure monthly salary and personal photographer following them around either, because I typically find that the bigger the blog gets, the worse the writing is. It becomes all about SEO and ranking and attracting more visitors instead of just looking after the ones you’re already getting.
If I wanted to read all about the ins and outs of a geyser I’d read an encyclopaedia – I read blogs to gain information but also for people’s personal stories.

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    LC - March 7, 2017

    Yes! I feel the same way. And it’s so hard to track down the blogs that do actually exhibit the writer’s personality, rather than having you snooze off within the first sentence. That’s pretty much my overall aim now… even in my posts that are written with SEO in mind – DON’T BE A BLOODY BORE.

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Diane - August 1, 2017

Hi there, I know this post is from last year, but I still wanted to comment. 😉 I think all bloggers struggle with the same thing you’re talking about here — a blog’s direction and how personal is too personal. When I first moved to France, everything was new and exciting and my site started out as an “expat blog” with a focus on French culture and the language because that was my life 24/7. But now I call myself a “living abroad lifestyle blog” because I’ve evolved as a person in 5 years and also because I’m more than just “Diane, an American in France,” if that makes sense. There’s more that I can share with people and more to me than just expat topics. So my blog still has a heavy focus on France/French language/Culture but also a bit on healthy living and shopping and a little touch of everything else. I hope my readers dig it but if not, that’s OK too. We have to do what’s best for us because otherwise the blog suffers and people stop writing altogether.

Anyway, like you, the blogs I like the best showcase the person behind the blog. I actually just wrote about why certain blogs keep me coming back. I’ve only been on your site 10 minutes, but I already like your style! Great work!

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    LC - August 2, 2017

    I think it’s really interesting, seeing how people’s blogs evolve over the years. It’s funny reflecting on this post as I did write it almost 12 months ago and feel I have a much better balance now. And I agree that it’s good to write about different things – we all have varied interests and I know I personally get bored when bloggers I like pen the same stuff all the time. I want to hear about travel experiences sure, but the personal stuff is what reels me in, being super nosey and all. And thank you. 😊

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