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How personal is too personal?

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Dave Taylor put up a great post last Friday asking When is a blog too personal?Great question and often discussed. Just like any topic in the blogosphere there are thousands of differing opinions. The obvious answer to the question is whenever the author feels it is. If you are comfortable telling the whole world including current and potential future employers, voters, in-laws, spouses, enemies, or anyone who wants to know personal things about your life then by all means go ahead.

It doesn’t take Dave long to answer the real question:

First off, I think it’s useful to differentiate between a personal blog, which is probably serving as a diary or journal, and a professional blog: in the former case, there really isn’t much question because you can’t really have a personal journal if you’re not being personal and writing about your life, your experiences and your thoughts.

If you’re blogging for business, however, it’s a different story…

Business blogging is a different story because your goal is to convey a certain level of expertise, credibility and, yes, professionalism, and that can be counter to the idea of being too personal.

If you are blogging for any sort of professional purpose you should seriously consider any personal information you post on your blog. Will it cost you customers or vendors perhaps? Does it help or hurt your business?

It is a pretty good rule to not post about politics or controversial social issues on your business related blog.

Now if you blog about politics, or social issues then you real life experience means something, it helps your readers understand how you came to that point of view.  If you write a parenting blog (as Dave does), then again personal experience comes into play and you are going to better connect with your readers if you give them a peak into your personal life.  I believe this is one of the advantages new media has over traditional media by the way.

Dave closes his post with another question and a very personal and sober reminder of why you shouldn’t expose too much about yourself on a blog:

Let me end with a question: how do you balance your personal and professional life in the online world? In chat rooms, on blogs, and even perhaps on your own weblog, do you talk about fights you’ve had with your partner, your religious beliefs, your political views, etc., or do you keep all that offline as best you can?

Me? Well, let’s just say I write a parenting blog but don’t even use the names of my kids. No kidding.

That is what a responsible parent should do imo.

If you want to post personal stuff about yourself on your blog that is your business. In fact you will most likely connect with some of your readers on a greater level than you would if you left your personal life completely out of your blogging. However when doing so always remember the intraweb is a very public place. You may have made lots of friends through your blog (as I have) but there are lots of bad people surfing the net and most likely your blog every day. Far beyond the business aspect of balancing personal vs. business content on your site, always put your family’s personal security first.


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  • Trading Goddess

    This is a very good question, Rick…

    I am of the mind that a blog is a diary, so you are more personal there, than say a newpaper column.

    Thanks for mentioning the security issue. I don’t think a lot of people think about that, but it is very important! Unfortunately, there are a lot ‘o nuts out there!

    Keep up the good work here!

    🙂

  • Webomatica

    I was just asking myself this question, as I read a blog that seemed to be getting a little too intimate as it was talking about a divorce. I think one rule that might give some of us bloggers pause is that once information is on the net, it’s out there in public for all to see and lasts a really long time. I know this is obvious but its worth remembering before hitting publish! Thanks for this post.

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