How Personal should a Personal blog be?

“Mom, my friends read your blog”

I was surprised. “they do? how did they find out? I always refer to you as M in my entries”

“Mom, duh, you place photos of me and besides word spreads around in the local blogosphere. Your sex education entry made them laugh that I just had to read it myself.”

*oops*

(Hi M’s friends *waves* to M’s friends)

My daughter M is a very private person. Though she owns a blog, she keeps it in a private url for 5 close friends. Soon, she might start a public blog showcasing random photos or anything under the sun.

“Just make sure you don’t write anything negative about me” she continued on. Then added “and make sure I look good in any photo you post. My _____ happens to read your blog. ”

I assured her, “Ah I don’t and besides I am not about to wash my dirty linen for the whole internet to see”

It got me thinking , this blog belongs in the personal blog category. It revolves around my life, the travails of my grief journey and the road to recovery. My family is also my life and naturally I will mention them from time to time. When I started this blog, I felt squeamish about revealing the sordid details of my life . But how else will readers empathize ? I needed to write on a personal level.

If there are lessons to be learned in my 14 months of blogging and getting more exposure is that sooner or later , intrigues arise. Take for instance, a certain blogger might read entries about your spirituality and starts judging your character. Or someone criticizes your writing style. Do you think blogs are read because they convey journalistic or linguistic appeal to readers ? Blogs are not newspapers. If they don’t like how bloggers write, grab a newspaper or magazine, for crying out loud. Better yet, close the browser and blog about how crappy we are in their own blog.

Anyway, I digress.

A [tag]personal blog[/tag] is personal. I go out of my way to relate relevant experiences and include the advice, lessons or gifts learned from it. If my readers didn’t care about my opinion , would they be reading my blog? If they didn’t care, they’d hop on to the next blog. Reading the human emotions associated with the blogger and the interactive discussions is what separates blogging from traditional media.

Aside from common-sense , avoidance of personal attacks and posting non-bloggable items, how personal should a personal blog be?

1. A blog with emotions has a soul. Bear your heart a little. Show your personality. We all have good and bad days. Whenever I paint a picture of a bad day, I try to look for the silver lining. Remember feelings are very universal. At one point in our life, we all faced some sort of loss. Writing about my painful feelings connects me to my readers.

2. Impart valuable lessons. I put off writing a blog because I lacked the writing abilities. I know I had a lot of lessons to share but I was insecure of my writing. I was so concerned that I won’t be able to tell my story the right way. I feared the grammar whores or nazis would start throwing potatoes at me, but I started one anyway. My first few entries contained less than 100 words yet I wanted to improve somehow. I read a few tips from “Make your Words Work- by Gary Provost”, a book I picked up from Lauren’s book shelf. I continue to hone my writing skills every day.

3. The act of writing is basically an act of conversation. You will see that I often use conversation or story telling in my blog posts. I want to talk to you as if you were with me in a coffee shop. Tell your story. Talk to me. Each one of us has something valuable to say and the blogosphere benefits with all our contribution.

Just you know, I obtained Lauren’s permission on the A Daughter’s Crush and Fears entry because she knows a few parents who are still control freaks. Though the original intention of the entry is for lessons learned, the “crush” engaged the imagination of the readers. It intrigued readers to the extent that I received 40 comments , emails and IM’s on queries over the identity of her crush. Stories in an entry are the most powerful ways of engaging and impacting readers. Use first person blogging more often than third person in a sentence .

(follow up post to the “crush entry” might just happen. Keep tuned)

4. Balance success and failure stories with a bit of humor. There is nothing as inspiring as reading how one survived shortcomings or failures. Show the lessons learned or the gifts derived from each of these failures, mistakes or shortcomings. It’s not that readers like to gloss over our failures. To err is human and it’s natural that people love vulnerability. Showing readers that I makes mistakes helps to show I am real. They just need a little inspirational boost.

5. Involve your readers. Using “you” creates discussion and ignites interest in your entry. It also makes readers connected with you and give them the feeling of importance.

Some fine examples of personal blogs are found at the Pinoy Moms Network that Connie and I started. Remember these moms are raising the children of the future. We have close to 70 amazing mothers ranging from 21 to 65 years old whose blogs provide a lot of insights on breastfeeding, wellness, single parenting, raising special children and kids of all ages.

Even reading tech blogs, photo or lifestyle blog with that personal touch makes it a more interesting read.

The question really is How personal should a blog be? How do you convey a personal touch to your readers? I am sure I will get more ideas from you.

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (1346 Posts)

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ gmail.com) for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.


About Noemi Lardizabal-Dado

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ gmail.com) for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

The comments posted on my blog are moderated. I reserve the right to remove comments, words or phrases that are defamatory, abusive, incite hatred and advertise an email address or commercial services or just plain spammy. I also reserve the right to remove posts that to my opinion are off-topic, irrelevant, ad-hominem, personal attacks and or just plain rude.
  • Sam

    As personal as you can get without divulging facts that could damage relationships that mean a lot to you….that’s my take on it.

  • http://aboutmyrecovery.com Noemi

    @Sam- true a blog entry shouldn’t damage meaningful relationships. Facts should be kept to a minimum. Conveying emotions / Feelings though are never wrong.

  • http://twitter.com/npf007 nightfox

    yeah, it depends on how a person’s definition of “personal” is.. Ever tried posting blind items? Usually, it’s always a matter of implicit blogging and that’s where the “unbloggables” came into place. At times, i don’t mention names if it’s not necessary. Likewise, it also applies in the world of Twitter. In my case (my blind items post), it was a stress-reliever to me, at the same time most of friends get to understand me more (and vice-versa because there were some persons that were not meant to be “hit”).

  • http://fengguillermobrum.wordpress.com feng

    hi noemi. as soon as i read this particular post, i knew i have to comment because your entry came it at a time when i was having second thoughts on writing a particularly entry in my blog which for me was too personal as it tackles very private family matters.

    but i realized i am not being truthful to myself if i would let that chapter in my life passed me by just like that, without journaling it. so in short, i wrote about it in a way to express my feelings and be unburdened. but i password protected the post, believing that it’s the best i could do. now, allowing blogfriends to view it, or comment on it, would be at my discretion. salamat sa WordPress, it has this feature. it was the third time, i did protect a post. the first was about work (me being afraid someone in the workplace might read it) and the second was about my holy week reflection, particularly about my life’s purpose.

    true is the saying, “never wash your dirty laundry in front of the house”. but there are times though we see the need to write about it in a way to have others be inspired, especially if we are writing about how we succeeded in a certain life’s struggle. in a way, we become “wisdom bloggers” which definitely is fulfilling more than anything else. there was one post (about imperfections in married life- 11 Oct 2006 entry) that i somehow regret posting, but two surprising emails from friendster friends ceased my regret saying they were so inspired with the post.

    truth is, i’ve always love reading personal blogs and those who courageously share their life (more than those that only post mababaw na stuffs) coz it’s out of these posts i get to learn lessons in life, without having to experience them first hand.

  • http://aboutmyrecovery.com Noemi

    @nightfox- I post blind items. Sometimes I even combine the facts into a “theoretical” person or a composite

    @feng- that’s what I said in a talk on personal blogs. we can’t just write about problems with in-laws, spouse or kids..it’s just hard. If I ever talk about it, I don’t gloss over the facts but on my FEELINGS. One is never wrong on feelings. I own those feelings. What is wrong is if it gets stuck there.

  • Sam

    Noemi – may I add – you’re great at sharing your emotions and generous in allowing us to be inspired by what you share. 🙂

  • http://noel.feria.name/blog nightfox

    @feng: there was this Firefox plugin i had used before called Sage, a RSS reader. In the case of password protected posts, there were times when I was able to read the contents of those entries which made me to review all of my password protected posts to make sure that they still remain “somewhat implicit”. I’m not really sure if that “flaw” still works but I don’t use sage anymore because netvibes is better (and i contribute to its Tagalog translation) and i’m not interested or desperate anymore in trying to open password protected ones. Also, when I tried migrating my wordpress.com account to my own domain, the password protected ones were left open in the wild! Good thing I was cautious enough because who knows, Google might cache those posts even when left only for some minutes exposed.

  • http://dine.racoma.com.ph sexy mom

    once, a reader from Pakistan asked me how i could write spontaneously about my children and how i sometimes post awkward pictures, reader asked me if my children did not mind. some of them, reader said, would even cover themselves under a pseudonym in their personal blogs.

    i told reader that i do not post articles that would place my children in an uncompromising or awkward situation. in fact, sometimes, what i post are the ideas of the kids.

    i do not find anything wrong in getting as personal as can be, as long as the subject written about does not disagree, as long as the post would do good (not harm) or share lessons with the readers.

  • http://kwentongwalangkwenta.blogspot.com auee

    My blog is my journal. Walang theme, iniisip ko dati kelangan ba ng exact & defined purpose? I treat it as my haven where I can let go of my angst, release some tension, share my happiness & sometimes struggles.

    Like feng, I’ve asked myself whether I should be posting some personal “issues” & I’m still deliberating. If I do post such information, it’s because I want to know I’m not alone and get other people’s opinions. It really helps to relieve me of boredom & anxiety from being away from my close friends & my family.

    Kung magkaroon man ng disagreement, it’s normal di ba? My site is not popular, I don’t get a lot of traffic, but I don’t care. It’s served its purpose for me.

  • http://docuventaries.livejournal.com/ Christianne

    I guess I follow only 2 rules in my blog (but then again it isn’t a pro blog, just a personal journal)

    1 – don’t write anything that can get you fired (learn from dooce.com’s mistakes!)
    2 – don’t write stuff about other people that you wouldn’t want them to write about you.

    I really like reading blogs with a conversational tone like you mentioned in #3. I’ve thought about dabbling in pro-blogging but thinking about grammar and style, and not being able to blog in Filipino will take all the fun out of blogging for me.

    Thankfully, writing about really personal topics is safe in LJ because of the friends feature, and you can even create custom groups of friends if you only want a couple of people to have access to your entry. I’ve tried WordPress and Multiply’s protected entries but found holes in them like nightfox mentioned.

  • http://noel.feria.name/blog nightfox

    @christianne: i think the wordpress flaw was already fixed, but i have not yet re-tested those things because i rarely use sage. I guess, LJ is not effective for a tech blog (and that’s why i just use my LJ account for the sake of replying to LJ contacts) because of the “invisible barriers”.

  • http://feistymomma.com dexie

    Like everyone pretty much said, “personal” is how a blogger defines or preceives it. Other people might consider the SEX topic as personal but not us :). Well it is but I think we know how to balance it, yah know what I mean. We know our limits and how far we’d go with the subject.

    In my case, I’m not comfortable discussing my charitable side(inclined with my spiritual side) which is why I thought long and hard before posting this: http://feistymomma.com/WP/?p=73 the other day. Your entry on that award show aftermath/backlash was definitely one of the factors but in the end I decided to go for it.

  • http://aboutmyrecovery.com Noemi

    @sam – oh thank you. I just hope I am not too sappy

    @sexymom- hehe my kids also give me suggestions on blog topics. Sometimes Lauren will say “are you going to blog about that?” and if I don’t she blogs it .

    @auee- there is still a theme which is your haven. I lik e how we can interact with readers in our blog. That’s the best part

    @christianne- those are 2 good rules to bear in mind. I got the idea of a conversational tone from my daughter’s blog

    @dexie- Sex as a topic doesn’t have to be graphic. It is implied. hehe I am still not done with that award aftermath entry. I still have to expound on something.

  • http://feistymomma.com dexie

    cool. am looking forward to reading it 🙂

  • http://www.TheMomCenter.com Bob

    Different people have different standards. I believe that culture has something to do with it. But I think personal blogs should avoid sensitive issues that can be destructive results.

  • http://www.guitarchic.net Riz

    A blog is personal, definitely. I’ve been blogging 5 years already, and 90% of the time, I blog to let out what I’m thinking and what I feel. My blog has always been a channel for me to release whatever’s in my mind. (And then, of course, later on, Internet Marketing came about, and Blog Monetization, but that’s a whole different story.)

    It must be fun for M and L to have a Problogger Mom. I’d love it if my Mom would start to blog, pero she always says she’s not as articulate as me and my dad, and she’s not really a writer. (Between them, my Dad was the one who loved to write. He wrote poetry and he used to be the schoolpaper’s editor too.) Hence, she always leaves the writing to errr, me. She loves reading my blog, though. Hehe. I can imagine myself someday, blogging about my kids too. That would be SOOO. COOOL. 🙂

    Thanks for this post. I couldn’t agree more. 🙂

  • http://manila-mom.blogspot.com Manila Mom

    Choice of words and tone make a big difference in writing for personal blogs. It’s okay to express and analyze one’s emotions and reactions to others. Some bloggers out there get outright nasty, though. Well, it’s their blog and their right, I guess. It’s also our right to refuse to read them any further. I like your take on potentially sensitive topics, though.

  • http://herestolife.wordpress.com Jane

    I always write the way I feel. As it’s my blog, I want it to reflect my emotions, personal experiences and thoughts. However, unlike my other family blog, I review my public blog and try to steer clear of what would be considered “unbloggables”.

    There are times when I express myself in Filipino and I prefer to leave it that way. In earlier posts, I would try to put the English translation in parentheses for the international community but reading them later, they look “plastic”. So I figured, what the heck. I will just write as I would express myself and let those curious about their meanings look them up themselves.

    My kids’ friends think I am pretty cool, having opened 4 blogs to-date (haha!). But bottom line is….I just love to write and I want my kids to have something of myself when the time comes for me to leave them. The idea of expanding my friends through cyberspace is also very exciting.

  • http://aboutmyrecovery.com Noemi

    @Riz- I can see my 2 girls are proud of me. hehe . In fact, M with another son of a problogger mom is starting out a blog organization in UP.

    @manilamom- yes it’s our choice not to read certain blogging styles. So if we don’t like nasty entries, just move on to the next blog

    @jane- the expansion of friendship is one of the wonderful gifts of blogging. I treasure these friendships.

  • http://www.ycrazymind.blogspot.com Zsolt72

    to me blogging is a modern version of writing a book/novel/article. I even dont like this expressions (blog, bloggers, blogging) because it makes us to think its something new which never existed before. People wrote down their thoughts 200 years ago, too… Some of them wrote very personal by their choice. Their friends probably read their writings. Maybe some of them said to to Hemingway or to Bohumil Hrabal…”you shouldnt be so personal”..or…”pls. write only good thinks about me”:) But I guess we wouldnt love them so much if they keep themselves back from being personal. And yes..to write something is a risk. Even just typing one single character and publishing it is like stepping out onto the stage..eyes are on you…its a performance. And its up to you how personal this performance will be:)

  • http://teacherjulie.com julie

    Noemi, to me blogging is a way of letting people know about the different issues about special education, not just as a special ed teacher but as a mother as well. I do not claim to be an expert that’s why I put links to different sites so the readers can read more about these topics and not just my points of view. When I was starting my blog (when I got my account from you) I was torn between writing about my family and my thoughts VS writing just about my so-called specialization. But then I thought, my life is not all about being a teacher. And these things are also the stuff that help me make a better person and a better teacher so I decided to share these aspects of my life too. It is just important to know the boundaries to how much one is willing to share to the world. To us bloggers, may we inspire others with our posts and thoughts. 🙂

  • http://www.thebestparentingtips.com Danni

    I think anything will do as long as it’s meant for the readers of the post under its topic it and not for things that might cause misunderstanding.

  • http://sunshineforlife.wordpress.com arlene

    this post hits a home in me because one time a comment came my way that my blog sounds too personal compared to hers which is not. well, at least with this post, I am asssured that what i’ve done is not really wrong. 🙂

    you write so well, Neomi. I admire your writing. Marami kayo sa Pinoy Moms magaling magsulat kaya di na ako bumalik dun kasi parang far out ako magsulat. hehehe. bt even then, i still love to blog.

    More power to you!

  • http://www.kaylapearson.com kayla

    Thank you so much for sharing all of your information it is greatly appreciated. I enjoy reading all blogs I think it is very interesting to see whats on peoples minds and how they feel.

    kaylas last blog post..Mom’s Stress in Pregnancy May Up Baby’s Asthma and Allergy Risk

  • http://www.condohunterphils.com/blog/ Zandro

    Right now, im contemplating on having my own personal blog, but probably, i have to clear some tasks first. Im quite busy lately with my business blog and websites that i tend to delay this one for the moment. But sooner or later, who knows? A Zandro Gonzales blog may be launched anytime soon… I hope..
    .-= Zandro´s last blog ..A Condo in Makati designed by Versace =-.