Are You Over-Sharing?
Blogs are a personal, intimate medium in many ways. After all blogging grew in the main out of personal websites, diaries and journals.
That was then, this is now. Today how much of “you” ought you share?
It’s a tough call how much personal information you should divulge. When you look around there are bloggers who seem to share every minute detail of their lives, while there are just as many at the other extreme who list the barest of vague hints at their non-blog lives.
One fact though I need to get straight right up front is it is possible to over-share.
Read about what Darren Rowse had to experience for a cautionary lesson.
So we know there are enough scary people out there that you shouldn’t be too specific. How does that fit with the usual advice of writing with personality?
Readers do like personality and to know you are a three dimensional human-being, but that doesn’t mean they have to know what you had for breakfast :)
It is possible to share without over-sharing. Think of the blogosphere like a cocktail party. If you are talking to someone new what would you decide to share and which nuggets would you hold back?
In most cases you would share information that allows the other person to respond in some way, that creates a common ground or bridge between you and the other person. Some information is irrelevant, yucky or inappropriate, while other facts help you bond more successfully. Stay away from the obvious danger topics until you are really sure of the environment you are communicating in. You might share that you follow a particular sport, liked a recent movie, had the latest CD from an act in your car, have been to an enjoyable concert, read a great book, etc.
Even strictly business blogs can have personal sharing moments!
Your blog doesn’t need to be all-facts-all-the-time, even if you consider such sharing as off-topic. In most cases a 80-20% ratio of on to off topic is wise, but you can often drop anecdotes in to on-topic posts that have the same affect while staying exactly within the main subject matter.
Over the last week I have had a situation caused by moving house. This factoid has appeared in several of my posts over a variety of blogs, my own blog, a blog on technology and productivity, another on marketing, and now here (not that I am one to milk a story or anything!).
You might doubt the effectiveness of this but people do respond, in many of the comments and feedback I have received since people have wished me luck in the new home, even in coversation with bloggers I didn’t realize ready my posts at all :)
Unfortunately over the 14 or years I have been publishing online I have become a bit of an open book. Between Google cache and Archive.org there is little that can be clawed back. Remember the Internet has a looong memory.
So my advice is share, include your readers just a bit so they feel welcome, but draw the line somewhere.
How much personal information to you divulge on your blog? Share in the comments ….
Chris is a professional blogger and internet marketing consultant. You can get more of his blogging tips, internet marketing advice and copywriting articles and a FREE ebook just by subscribing at chrisg.com
“How much personal information to you divulge on your blog?”
Enough to know where I come from, and I am not referring to any “place” in particular, but not enough to know where I am at the moment :)
Excellent advice Chris!
Unfortunately, I learned this lesson too late and had personal information I shared online used against me in a malicious way. While I have nobody to blame but myself, it still didn’t take the sting away.
Now, I try to walk a much tighter line where I let my personality show through, but I don’t divulge anything that I don’t want to be common knowledge… well, usually. :-)
@Pelf – That’s good, and I think you have the right balance – we shouldn’t hide who we are but too much can be used as ammunition in the wrong hands
@JMorris – Sad to hear that. It is a struggle sometimes for me to not say as much as I would like but even the most innocent things have been used to attack me. Once I said I had got the new Prince CD on the front of a UK newspaper. That papers politics was taken as MY politics. All I wanted was the music but those people made the assumption (with emphasis on “ass”) that I agreed with everything the paper said :(
As a new blogger, a personal blogger, and sometimes an opinionated blogger, I find this a difficult question with no right or wrong answer.
I am fortunate enough to not have to worry about the records of my life on line causing problems for me in the real world. People with certain types of jobs would have to restrict themselves quite carefully. And if it ever did become an issue, I think my bolshie side would come out quite strongly.
The real concern for me is trying to be sensitive to my readers, an impossible task as it takes time to get to know a few of them and most of them you never get to know.
For me, in the end, it has come down to being honest. If I have something I need to say, I say it. In the long run, I think I would lose more readers by not engaging fully than by being too confronting. And this policy was rewarded recently with a Perfect Post Award for one of the most difficult things I had written.
Darren Rowse’s article is definitely a cautionary tale and his advice is definitely very good, but as a woman, and as someone who has been victimised in real life, my advice is to be alert and be sensible but don’t ever let anyone or anything shut you up.
If people don’t write the things they passionately want to because of fear, that potential stalker has already victimised them.
Yes I guess the key is to be educated about possible repercussions then do what you feel is right
I don’t think there is a problem with over blogging. Obviously you do not want to reveal too much personal information, as there are unscrupulous people on the Internet that will use it to your advantage. But Blogging for many is a way to release stress and sometimes writing out one’s personal life is almost therapeutic.