If you’re going to be a blogger you need to know what you’re up against. That’s why I’m repurposing this article and keeping some of the original comments because they’re really good and shows their personalities well.
There are over 440 million blogs in the world and it’s growing exponentially every year. The best thing about it is that there are a lot of people who decide they’re tired of blogging and bail out of the game. The worst thing about it is that you still end up with a lot of people you have to compete with for attention.
I’ve always said that blogs and videos must do one of 3 things: entertain, educate or inform. This is what leads people to determine what kind of blog they want to write and gives visitors an idea of what they might want to consume.
It doesn’t lead people towards figuring out how to write though. I’m of the opinion that how you write is probably more important long term than what you write unless you happen to be part of a blogging conglomerate. In those cases someone else is always available to pick up what you can’t deliver.
To be a compelling blogger, you must add some personality to what you write. At least 50% of the time you’d better be throwing in some personality, and I mean something good. Hopefully you’ll be personable more often than that but if it’s not your normal style then you need to figure out how to develop it.
At the same time, you can’t go overboard. By that, I mean you can’t be so transparent that people know everything about your personal life, especially if you’re looking to show yourself as an authority. Truth be told, there are some people who use blogging as a diary, which is actually how it started out a couple of decades ago, and that’s fine if all you want is someone psychoanalyzing you every day. But if every post you write is you complaining about your boyfriend/girlfriend, your job, drinking too much, etc, people will get bored and leave; then you’ll have more to complain about.
How do you strike a personality balance? I was hoping you’d ask. I’m going to give you 9 ways you can be personable in your writing; I thought about doing 10 but 3 is my favorite number and that’s too few, and 9 is three 3’s, which I like a lot, thus you’re getting 9.
You don’t have to do all of these every time by the way; I thought I’d mention that so you don’t look schizophrenic later on when you’re writing and want to blame me for it. With that said, here we go:
Llima Orosa via Compfight
People love to laugh and if you can even make them smile they’ll like you. No one is going to make you laugh with every single article written, including me, but when you can throw in a line or allude to something funny while telling your tale it helps to break the ice and helps people identify with you.
Humor doesn’t mean telling a parrot joke in everything you write (parrot jokes are the only jokes except one that I remember). It means adding something to what you’re writing that at least gets a whimsical smile from your visitors. Some people are naturally funny, while others have to figure it out. If you’ve got the knack, it’s a great addition to your content.
Just because I said you shouldn’t tell everyone everything doesn’t mean you should lie to people either. We all know that probably 98% of the people who write “make money blogging” blogs are lying about or misrepresenting their success. It’s not easy making sustainable money just by blogging; I think I’ve known 2 people 3 or 4 people personally who make money only by blogging. Some of those making money aren’t really blogging, they’re marketing; I don’t count them. Everyone else does something else to help supplement their income.
This doesn’t mean you can’t write about it, or can’t recommend products that have helped you make some money online or off. It does mean that if you’ve purchased an online travel business and you’re now trying to recruit me by showing me a $27,000 earnings check, yet you won’t pick up the check for lunch, that I’m calling you a fraud and probably never talking to you again (this happened to me and I really did never talk to him again). How many of you have had someone do something similar? Did you like it? That’s why honesty is better than faking it.
The fact is there are times when what you write about can be pretty dull. I knew someone who tried to only write about Twitter some years ago. After a month every article looked the same; ugh. The problem was this person only had one style of writing and only so many things to talk about; at least that’s how it seemed. On this blog I’ve written about or mentioned Twitter in nearly 450 articles; how many times do you think I’ve said the same exact thing about it?
One can easily alter language by coming at articles in different directions. Sometimes you can tell a story, whether about yourself or someone else. You can give some technical details if you’re adept at that type of thing. You can write commentary posts, giving your opinion about something. You can try to find new words instead of “cool” or “fascinating”, and trust me you can only use the word “very” so many times before you start looking like a 5th grader. Change things up every once in a while; look like a rock star.
An allusion means you’ve come up with a fancy phrase to try to compare or talk about something in a more amusing way. You can write “reading that post was horrid” or you can write “reading that post was like eating garbage out of the trash can of a fly.” I almost wrote “gag a maggot” but that’s an old phrase that someone else came up with; what I wrote first was original (it had better be).
Sometimes it pays to be less straightforward with your language and give it a bit of flair, and allusions are the easiest way to go. Truthfully, they’re the one thing you can steal from someone else without retribution; that is unless I wrote it.
Don’t steal from me!
5. Mention something about you.
You know how I said don’t tell everything about yourself? That part is true, but there are things you can tell about yourself sometimes while trying to make a point about something.
For instance, I happen to be diabetic. I’ve talked here and there about the issue, my ups and downs and different things I’ve tried or gone through. I don’t wear it as a badge of honor, but it’s something I can talk about because it’s real. By talking about it, I feel I help others come out of the shame of being diagnosed at some point (everyone feels shame initially, as if they did something wrong, which isn’t always the case) and offer hope, as well as a bit of humor and honesty, on the topic.
This part leads into my next point.
I’m thinking someone is going to say something like “but I write about artificial grass; how do I fit something about myself into a topic like that?” Hey, if I could fit in something personal while talking about the topic of forensic loan analysis (one of these years I’m going to find that article), you can do it about almost anything.
Why are you writing about whatever it is you write about? Do you hope to write for a long time? The easiest way to be creative is to add some things you’ve done or things that have happened to you or someone you know into your writing, no matter what it is.
I write about many things, yet I’ve added in my own tales about chess, poker, learning how to play the piano, Cling Wrap, living in Japan, on and on, into all sorts of topics. When you write and add in some of your own experiences, your writing takes on a personal feel, your words are different, and people can feel the emotions, funny or sad. When people identify with you… well, you know.
7. Name drop.
By that, I don’t only mean mentioning the names of famous people like Vanessa Williams, Derrick Coleman, Wilt Chamberlain, Pearl Washington or Rick Fox (yes, in some way I’ve met or talked to all of those people and more). I don’t mean Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki or Carrie Wilkerson (I’ve had online conversations of some type with all of them).
If you’re a true blogger it means you’ve visited other blogs and read other posts. If you’re a true blogger you’ve had people stop by your blog and leave comments, and you’ve responded to them & checked their stuff out as well. Sometimes when you’re writing, you might recall something from one of the many blogs you’ve read or something someone you’ve read has said.
One of the smart things you can do is name drop someone whose blog you visited. Then, when you’re promoting that article (I hope you’re remembering to promote your articles), on places like Twitter you can mention them by their Twitter handle so they’ll see it. People love seeing their name on someone else’s post, and sometimes they’ll even help you promote it; you just got a marketing tip. 🙂
Mention them, link back to their blogs, and tell your tale. I name drop often; it helps them get some attention and it helps me as well because it gives me more to write about whenever I need something new. We all like a bit of acknowledgment. When you give selflessly, you get back way more; trust me on this one.
8. The “Mom” Factor.
Although things seem much different than back in the day when I was younger, one of the best filters in the world is whether or not you’d be comfortable in sharing what you’re writing with your mother. I don’t only mean bad language; I mean other things about your life.
I know a lot of people who have had to defend something they wrote on a blog post because someone they know read it and mentioned it to their mother in passing. Mom’s hate being shamed, and even if it was about you, they always take on your shame, whether you have any or not.
I have multiple blogs, and there’s not a single thing on any of them that I wouldn’t have minded my mother seeing, and I’ve tackled some intriguing topics. I’d say the same about my dad, who’s also no longer with us. For some people, maybe you’re more worried about what your dad might say. The same advice people give you when it comes to sharing too much, too many salacious pictures and too much detail that someone could find out about you later on applies to your blog; some things are better kept to yourself.
Right now I’m betting you’re either saying “wow, I didn’t think he could get 9 of these” or you’re saying “finally, he’s at #9”. This is the most important one; you ready?
That looks strange doesn’t it? In the book The Power by Rhonda Byrnes of The Secret fame, she talks a lot about the topic of “love”. In her opinion, everything you do that’s positive is based on love; not romantic love necessarily but love in general.
If you think about it she’s absolutely right. Why do you do the things you enjoy? Why do you crave certain foods, like certain types of movies, hang out in certain places more than others, talk to specific people more than other people? All those things make you feel good right? Why do you feel good? Because you love doing them.
If you love what you do, your personality will always show. If you’re doing something only because it might help you get something that you haven’t fully defined as success, you probably don’t love it or even like it a little bit.
Nothing says you have to by the way. Mike Rowe tells the story of a guy who does this nasty little job with hogs that no one else likes to do, which has made him a rich man. It wasn’t ever his wish, he hates it a lot, but he likes the money, which allows him to do other things such as travel all around the world.
You’re thinking “where’s the love there”? The love is in being rich, being able to travel, being able to buy things he likes. He’s willing to sacrifice some things for his business to help fund the other parts of his life.
That works for him because what he’s doing is pretty much a solitary thing; blogging is and isn’t a solitary thing. If you don’t love blogging it will show, and people will stay away. Then what will you do, other than probably quit? If you write about what you know and love, who you know and love, where you know and love, your personality will flow and people will love it. Either that or think you’re weird; trust me, many people love weird also.
Don’t be a robot; be yourself, be relaxed, and love what you write about. If you follow the things I’ve mentioned above, you’ll be great; heck, if I’d only follow them I might be great as well. 🙂
26 thoughts on “Personality – Gauging Between Too Much And Too Little”
Mitch, awesome post. I had thought whether to write about my Lyme disease or not several weeks ago and decided to go forward so people knew why I wasn’t as active online as I had been. I needed more rest and could not stay up late and was sleeping later. Many did not know about the disease and I hope I spread some info out there to help others. It can be hard to open up about ourselves. I also did a post on writing an eulogy for my mom back in May and how blogging helped me to do it. I was amazed how many emails and messages I got from fellow bloggers about her passing. I believe readers want to know something about the writer that is personal. Otherwise we appear as robots. It helps us to form more relationships with other bloggers too Mitch.
Lisa, you shared something of yourself that taught a lot of people some lessons about something they didn’t know; that’s great stuff. When I share certain things I know there’s a population out there that doesn’t know it, or hadn’t given it much thought. I think that’s one of the best ways we give of ourselves & help people at the same time. Of course, I don’t share everything because it doesn’t need to be shared; I think it’s always important to hide some stuff until it becomes important to reveal; luckily, not everything becomes important enough to reveal. 🙂
Excellent point Mitch – we don’t need to reveal everything and keep some of our personal lives private. I love your 3 points though – entertain, educate or inform.
Is there a difference between educating and informing? You just got me thinking again 🙂
Hi Lisa. Here’s how I define the two. Informing someone is like if you’ve just learned about a new product and you go around telling people about it. Education is testing that product, learning how to do it, finding out what works and doesn’t work, then teaching others about the product with a bit more detail involved than just mentioning it and saying it’s “pretty” or not. lol What Ileane Smith does is a good example of that. She has short videos where she mentions new things coming down the road. Then she has longer videos showing people a tutorial on how to use those tools if she likes them.
So, which of the three categories will my blog fit in? Since I have not given serious thought as to why I write, that will help me decide.
Actually Rummuser, you condescend to yourself but inside I think you know why you write. You write to get things off your chest; you write to share your life and thoughts with others; and you write for the kinship you get from folks like your Friday tagalong group (okay, I never remember off the cuff what y’all call yourselves lol). You have a unique storytelling style that seems to get people talking; you get way more comments per post than I do. And of course early on you told people this: “Tension nahin lenekka!” You did this during a tense part of your life, which you shared as well. As I say, I think you knew all this; I think it’s a cultural thing that you’re fairly self deprecating when you have no need to be. 🙂
Wow! Mitch, that is a mouthful to get off your chest! Thanks. You have just made this wet rainy day over here feel like a million Rupees.
Hey Mitch, having a personality when writing is so important. Like you said in your post it’s a lot easier if you pick a blog that gives you a lot of scope when it comes to writing posts. That’s one of the reasons I like Wassupblog so much. It’s so much easier to write stuff for that blog.
Most of my other blogs, and you know I’ve got a few, are not getting the updates they deserve. Some of that is because of time but the biggest issue is I’m finding it harder and harder to write interesting posts for them.
Sp far my sports betting blog is been good to me. But then that’s partly because i’ve found some interesting categories that also give me a lot of scope.
Peter, I hope you can keep your betting blog going because my mind thinks it’s kind of a hard topic to keep up with, other than the images of lovely ladies you have there. lol You’re right though, we started our blogs around the same time and we’ve been able to pretty much free form all these years.
Oh, I’m pretty sure I can keep it up as the amount of sports topics I can cover is pretty well unlimited. If I’m stuck for a post all I need do is check the news to see what’s hot in the sport news for the day.
Apart from the Hot Sports Babes, I also have Bet of the week and Sports jokes. Not to mention the amount of different sports that you can bet on.
Yeah man, that’s why you’re always correcting my posts. And I love you for it too. 😉 It seems to be getting worse, the spelling errors, as I get older too. Must learn to take the time to stop and proof read the post before publishing it.
Pete, it’s not the spelling errors I pick on as much as when I know you’ve done what I do sometimes, that being to see a word in a sentence that we forgot to put in, thus changing the entire meaning of the sentence. Typing “hat” instead of “has” or things like it is more funny than problematic because at least people know what we’re talking about and we really didn’t misspell anything, just typed the wrong word. I think we try to make each other better and hopefully make each other not look bad; that’s what friends are for. 😉
Yep, and that’s why I’m proud to call you my friend Mitch. In regards to one of your more recent posts it’s probably another reason why I like blogging.
I strive to do everything on your listicle. Some posts are better than others.
Name drop: I’ve met Angelina Jolie’s father twice. Both times at funerals.
You know I knew that already; you told that story at the party last night. lol
Not every post is going to be a winner but a majority are if it contains some personality. Of course, some folks just write facts and stick to it and I guess that works if one’s writing a technical blog. However, if people like you then they’ll come back more often. You do well with your blog.
I can do a better job of name dropping. I’ve dropped yours several times.
I’m not sure what Mom would think about my writing. Dad would approve because he was interested in words. (Like me) Either way I think they’d approve.
Steve, I’m trying to figure out which of the 9 points I threw out there name dropping fits into. lol
And then I figured it’s #7; oy! I think with all the stuff you share that, at least on Twitter, you may not share as much about yourself as you could. You’re an interesting guy; that’s the only time I’m ever going to say that. lol
That pretty much says it all. Truthfully, I’m surprised you get this through with just a link; usually the spam filter blocks all comments with links in them. Must be because it’s you! 😉
This is a great example of evergreen content. I’m firmly in the entertainment camp with my blog. My five readers are my reason for continuing. 🙂
Of course that includes me! 😀
Wow, I don’t know how I do with most of these things. For instance, I don’t kmow if I write with personality; but, I know that I am committed to just being myself and I must assume that there’s a personality somewhere there. The main thing I do is try to be honest. My daughter has critiqued some of my past posts and commented privately, “,, Kind of glossing it over, right, Mom?”
I want to get close to the bone. but it’s hard for me. But then, we can but try…
First, you’re adding your personality to everything you write, but that doesn’t ever mean you have to tell everything. After all, it’s your narrative and your blog, right? Heck, I tell truths all the time, but I withhold information I feel isn’t pertinent or necessary to give away. That’s my only child right! 🙂
Well, I may have bitten off a bit more than I was willing to chew when I chose to make my “letters to my children” a public affair. In the first place, I never thought about anyone else reading them. Oh, dopey me!
LOL! You ran into the “wait; someone’s actually reading this” reality. Truthfully, I probably wouldn’t have told my daughter if I had one, but then the title wouldn’t have made a lot of sense.
BTW, I’m getting a message saying your server’s down.