A Question Of Intimacy: How Much Should You Share With Your Readers?
This is a guest post by Brent McCoy. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
There is an ongoing discussion among blogging circles concerning just how close you should get to your readers — it was actually suggested by a reader as the subject of the contest at my own blog this month. There are several advantages to getting more personal with your readers, as well as a few disadvantages. A lot of the time it is a fairly tight line – you need to get close enough to your readers to build trust, but you also want to be careful of just how much you share with them.
Connecting With Readers
Getting more personal with your readers can be achieved with the sort of content you write in your blog posts, as well as how you connect with them individually:
- Quite commonly, sharing stories from your daily life can bring a touch of humanity to your blog — even if it’s not a personal blog or diary. If you run a niche blog, try to use stories that have some relevance to the main topic of your blog.
- People can make their religious or political views known, and some even run popular blogs specifically on these topics. Many popular debates also give bloggers a chance to share their opinion, or bloggers may casually share their thoughts on issues they feel passionate about.
- Posting more videos and photos on your blog can give it a more personal presence, and readers will learn to associate your blog with you as a person.
- It is recommended that you answer as many comments on your blog as you can to help maintain that human presence. You might also connect with people on social networks such as Facebook or Twitter in order to strike up conversations and provide further social proof.
The Good News
The principal advantage to being more personal with your readers is that they learn to trust you more easily, as it shows that there is a strong human presence behind the blog — if that didn’t exist, many readers might almost think that a computer was writing your blog. You will also find that you always have some inspiration to draw from, and snippets of your personal life can become an interesting aspect for readers to experience.
Readers are probably much more inclined to connect with someone who is open and readily shares a lot about themselves. Responding to comments on a regular basis and giving readers individual help when it’s needed can also make them feel much more important. All of this can accelerate the growth of your blog’s community, and transform it into the sort of place everyone likes to be.
The Bad News
Unfortunately not all readers are the same — some will like that you share nearly every little detail about your life with them, while others be turned off very much by it. Moreover, not everyone is likely to agree with your own personal views. If you explicitly share your passion for a particular issue that some readers don’t agree with then they may find it offensive.
Focusing too much on bringing personality to your blog can also lead you to stray from your central topic. Readers are generally there to find information that helps or entertains them — if that describes your daily musings then that’s all well and good, but if it doesn’t then people are likely to lose interest fairly quickly. There is also a small issue of safety when you share too much information. Call it paranoia, but you never really know who’s reading and what they might do with any personal information you share openly.
Ultimately, it is up to each individual blog owner to determine just how intimate they get with their readers. Like I mentioned earlier, you don’t want to sound like your blog’s writer is a computer – so even a little bit of personality can go a long way to help establish a human presence, which is important to building both trust and your blog’s community.
I hope you’ve found these ideas useful. Have you got any more to add? Please mention them, or any other questions you have, in the comments section below…
About the Author: Brent McCoy is an experienced content marketer who recently established the MillionaireStudio.com to help aspiring online entrepreneurs and bloggers. The site features regular inspiration, advice and contests that allow readers to share their thoughts in popular discussions.
15 Responses to “A Question Of Intimacy: How Much Should You Share With Your Readers?”
I think nobody shares new secrets unless they are tested. We only share and get the information proved over the years.
Your point about building trust is a very important one. As part of my work over the last few years I’ve done many ‘high performance’ management courses and qualifications. One of the techniques that is used by high performing individuals to build trust, build a relationship and to get the other person to talk more and discuss issues with you is known as Disclosure.
Disclosure is simply the act of telling the other party something harmless but persoanl enough to let them know that yyou are willing to build trust with them. This subconsciously triggers (in most people) a tendency to then also reveal something about themselves.
In a blogging context, I suppose what your doing is trying to elicit some interaction in your audience which in trun increases loyalty and return rates.
I blog about my life in a cult, and I’m VERY personal. I think that’s what keeps people coming back to read; however, I have experienced some readers leaving because they really don’t like the ‘tell all’ kind of voice I use. Ultimately, it’s been more successful than not for me.
My blog is about resume, job search, LinkedIn and grammar tips. For a long time I kept it completely focused on the subject matter at had. At some point I loosened up and now write about current and/or personal issues from time to time. I always get a positive response when I write a more personal blog post. I always keep the personal touch to something related to my topic, and it works better, I think, than simply putting useful information out there. People like stories, and I try to oblige!
Justin | Mazzastick
You have to be smart as to how much personal information that you share. And I wouldn’t share personal information about anyone else unless I had their permission.
People often talk about “giving them what they need”, well, I believe thats such a crappy statement.
If they knew what they need, they wouldn’t have come to your website anyway. They have a broad category in mind about what they want to learn and google is helping them to find out exact things what they are looking for.
I believe in sharing everything that I know, just making sure that it doesn’t get god damn boring.
How about income from your blog/online? That’s something I was expecting to be addressed in this post. Is there advantage/disadvantage of a make money online/make money blogging type niche sharing their income levels? Many blogs within this niche do so.
Brent @ Millionaire Studio
It can be good to an extent, though many readers are aware that such things can easily be faked so they can be naturally skeptical. I think the key is to build trust in other ways as well, such as video blogging or podcasting (as Pat Flynn does) to establish a somewhat likable personality and make those numbers seem more credible.
- Brent @ Millionaire Studio
Stay focused and deliver good content, if you can realize this with personal contact with your readers you’re the best!
Interesting to see this addressed. I’ve only been blogging for a couple of months. After beginning with a fairly objective writing style, I can already feel it leaning toward a “I think this” and “I feel this way” approach. Even tho’ it’s pretty much a foodie blog and not a journal or diary, I think it’s hard to post every other day and not begin to personalize the content. There’s definitely a sense of power to carrying on a one-sided conversation, and after all, we’re not journalists.
Jennifer Brown Banks
Excellent coverage on a common topic. I think that the type of niche and one’s purpose should govern the amount of personal disclosure. Just like a personal relationship–there should always be boundaries and appropriateness.
But, as with all things—moderation is key.
I believe you need to share it all, sooner or later someone else will tell them the secrets you think you hide from your users. Furthermore, by saying it all it gives you greater motivation to think further and open your brain with new ideas.
Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier, Kimberly Gauthier Photography
I try to keep my blog posts about photography – I used to jump all over the place and my readership wasn’t consistent. Once I started staying focused, my readership has been loyal and growing steadily.
I may write something about my dogs, but include pictures of my dogs and tips on how to best take pictures of your pets. I may write a post about my boyfriend, but (again) I include pictures of him and tell my readers that it’s a great idea to practice portrait photography on friends and family.
It’s a nice blend of intimacy and photography blogging 🙂
I have several blogs and what I share depends on the niche. Sometimes it is important to share and sometimes not. Personal blogs will always be more intimate.
I think the intimacy depends as you said. If is a self development blog or related, a reader can get more value if the blogger shared his life experiences. Likewise, if it were a tech blog, it would be relevant if the blogger shared his tech life. In a way, the blogger can talk about his life as long it provides value to his target readers.
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