This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series How to Start a Blog

When considering starting a blog, an important question to consider is how much personal information should you share on your blog? If you lean too heavily to sharing only information, people won’t connect with you in a personal way. On the other hand, if you over-share, then information about you or your family is out there on the internet forever. Let’s delve further into how to find that delicate balance of sharing about yourself without over sharing.

How Much Personal Information Should You Share on Your Blog?

There is no one right formula for how much personal information you share, and much depends on the type of blog you write and your personal comfort level.

When the Blog is About You

Lifestyle bloggers often share quite a bit of personal information as readers follow the writer’s personal life story. I think about lifestyle bloggers who are very popular on Instagram, for example, and their brand is taking the reader on a behind-the-scenes tour of the person’s life.

Keep in mind, though, that what we see on Instagram is a created version of the person’s life and not necessarily true. I discovered just how much this happens when I read an article about a ghost writer who created an autobiography for a famous Instagrammer – without ever meeting the person! Her agent said The Instagrammer was too busy to meet with the ghost writer so just make up the book based on what she saw on Instagram.

When the Blog is Informational

If you are writing a purely information blog, you might not need to share much personal information.

Keep in mind, though, that people come to blogs for relationships and even if you are relatively removed from the topic, people will only come to your blog if they know and trust you as a valuable source of helpful information.

How to Share Without Oversharing

There are tons of ways to connect with your readers without delving too deeply into your personal life. What your readers really want is a way to connect their life to yours and feel like they know and trust you.

When I first started blogging, I told quite a few stories about my kids and shared their pictures. As my blog audience grew quickly, I realized it would be better to pull back from sharing so much personal information about my family. (Think about what might pop up when a job interviewer Google’s your child’s name, for example.)

My kids are old enough that I ask their persmission before I share stories about them. Typically they are fine with stories but are more likely to veto certain pictures.

I share more personal information with my email list readers than I do on my website in general. My email readers are my peeps, my tried and true supporters. I am more willing to trust them with personal information about my life. Plus, while it’s true they could forward an email, it’s not forever living on my website.

There are ways to draw a reader in to your story without sharing too many personal details. One well-shot photo of your Thanksgiving dinner table, or the huge mess of wrapping paper on the living room floor post-Christmas morning, tells a story without showing photos of your family members. You can do the same thing with your words, too – share just enough detail to make us part of the story, but it’s not necessary to tell everything.

Because I write about adoption and kids with behavior needs, I delve into some tough topics. There is controversy about how much private detail some adoption bloggers share. There are some people in the adoption world (especially those who are adult adoptees or those who are invested in birth families) who feel that bloggers have over-shared about their children’s adoption stories and behaviors. This is a valid concern. I share our family’s stories in order to help other families who walk this often challenging road, but my children must come first. Although I have shared many personal details, I’ve also left out many details that will never be shared on my website. It’s important to remember our children’s adoption stories belong to them, not to me.

What about other people in your life, like family members and friends? Some bloggers choose to  ask family and friends for permission before writing about them on their blog. If I share a story, I tend to share stories without naming the specific person or only using a first name. I don’t generally share photos of other people. I don’t want to be that person that everyone runs and hides from at a gathering for fear the photos or conversation “will end up on the blog.”

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Rules for Sharing on Your Website

There is no one right way to decide how much you will share online, but here are some helpful guidelines to follow.

  • Never share personal information online such as your address or phone number.
  • Consider using a pen name or just your first name if you don’t want your last name to be used online. I know a number of bloggers who use their first and middle name only.
  • Never share anything that makes you uncomfortable. Don’t feel force into sharing something before you are ready, or at all.
  • Remember, what’s shared can’t be unshared. If you are unsure, wait on sharing or write it in a more vauge way.
  • Give it space. If you want to share about a topic on your blog but you aren’t sure if it’s sharing too much information, give it some time. Sometimes I write a blog post and allow it to “simmer” for weeks or even months before I decide if I’m ready to share it. I pray for God’s direction. My goal is to share ways God has guided me through a struggle, but I hesitate to share about a struggle when I am right in the middle of it. Stories of God’s grace and healing are helpful, but oversharing in the middle of a struggle might be more cathartic for the writer than it is helpful to the reader.
  • Consider carefully what you share about children. If you want to share stories of your kids but you aren’t sure if it’s too personal, try using a pet name, showing pictures that don’t show their faces, or refer to them in a more general way.

By following these guidelines, you can find ways to connect with your audience without sharing too much personal information.

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