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Weaving Your Personal Life into Your Podcasting


The power of podcasting is enormous. Just think about it, when somebody puts on their earphones and heads out the door for their daily run or their long commute, you are the one accompanying them. Your voice is in their ears and for a little while you have their undivided attention. It goes without saying then that you have the power to personally and massively impact the life of someone you may not even know exists.

But with this awareness also comes a great question: How much of my personal life should I share on a podcast? Or even further than that: How much of my struggles, my victories or even my insecurities am I allowed to share with my listeners?

The truth is that in order to build a successful podcast, you have to create a bond with your readers. It doesn’t matter what your podcast is about, if you only stick to the facts, you’ll hardly be likely to build a strong audience.

The boom of “reality TV” quite powerfully shows that people love to take a look behind the scenes and they hardly ever get enough of it. The same is true for podcasting.

People love to get to know the person behind the microphone. Why? Because it’s in our DNA. We are wired for human connection. We want to hear stories. We want–no need–to belong and relate.

We also have a high level of curiosity and simply want to know whom the person really is that we are listening to.

As a podcaster, you can use that natural tendency for relation to your advantage. By sharing bits and pieces of your life, you’ll create loyal listeners who have a meaningful connection with you.

However, that doesn’t mean that you have to or should talk about all details of your private life.

Keeping your privacy, but still building an effective relationship with your audience is like a dance and you are the one who leads.

You give your audience the nuggets of information that are relevant to your podcast, your topic or just this one episode. You create a bond with targeted, specific and relevant information.

The secret is to share with a certain purpose behind it. The secret is to know which outcome you want to achieve. The secret is to be smart about it.

When I decided to not only blog but also podcast about my recovery from anorexia, I opened myself up and became very transparent. However, I didn’t do it in order to assuage my (non-existent) desire for fame and attention. I did it because I knew that I would be able to help others. I knew that by talking about walking the rocky road to health, I would inspire and encourage others to do the same. I knew that by giving away details of my private life, I would speak straight to the heart of others who are experiencing similar issues.

At the same time, there are still many areas of my life, many stories, many circumstances that people don’t know about and won’t ever hear or read.

Yes, there has to be a level of transparency about your life, but you get to choose how high that is.

There are a few questions you should ask yourself when preparing your podcast episode:

1. Is there a personal story that would illustrate what I am talking about in this episode?

Would my listeners benefit from it? In the end, it all comes down to helping your listeners get the most value when listening to your podcast. By sharing a story, you’ll not only strengthen the bond with your listeners, but you’ll also be able to clarify the points that you are trying to make. We learn best when following examples. So, if you have one, then share it.

Do you want your listeners to let go of their delusional dream that having a certain body size will magically make them feel worthy and whole? If so, then talking about your own story of dieting and never experiencing this transformation makes sense. Do you want to inspire your listeners to get out of an unfulfilling job and find the career of their dreams? If so, then sharing details of how you finally walked out of a soul-sucking job and changed your life for the better is perfect. Do you want to encourage your listeners to find their way back to a healthy exercise regime? If so, then sharing how you fell off the bandwagon for a few months and successfully reintegrated exercise into your life is just the right dose of inspiration your listeners need.

There is a myriad of ways you can use your personal experiences in order to make a point. Just be sure that it really serves your audience in the best way possible.

2. Do I respect the privacy of others?

It is crucial that when you share a personal anecdote and other people are involved, you either ask their permission or change their names and adapt other information. It is easy to forget that not everybody feels comfortable having their name put out there or having thousands of people hear a story about them. I share a lot about my family’s past because it is so tightly interwoven with my history of anorexia. However, every time I share details that may be uncomfortable for my family or I decide to use a story that they’re involved in, I ask for their permission before I publish it online. It’s just the right thing to do. So, be respectful of other people’s wishes and accommodate them.

3. In a few years from now, will I still feel comfortable having shared this information?

I find this to be one of the most important questions to ask ourselves. It’s so easy to talk about something on a podcast when you’re mad, hurt or otherwise emotional and later on regret it. Or maybe it’s not even that. Maybe you feel led to share a very personal part of your life because you feel passionate about it at the moment, but you end up feeling uncomfortable knowing that thousands of people have heard you talk about it. When you get ready to share something deeply personal, then take a step back, breathe and really try to determine how this may impact your life and how you might feel about it in the future. I know this is not an easy exercise, but it is important to do if you want to save yourself some agony and if you want to respect yourself.

Like I said, sharing personal information on your podcast is extremely important to build a strong relationship with your listeners and to bring important points across. But you don’t have to disrespect your own sense of privacy in order to be successful.

Listeners want to get to know you, but they wouldn’t want you to feel uncomfortable doing so.

Know your motivation, respect others and always be true to yourself. If you follow these steps, then you’re on the right path to creating a perfect balance between sharing too little and sharing too much.

How about you? What is your experience with sharing personal information on podcasts? Do you have guidelines or do you feel uncomfortable sharing anything at all? I want to hear your thoughts!

Overheard on #Blogchat: Your Story (@shanleyknox)


Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night (or Monday morning), I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: creating a strategy for your blog

As bloggers, we spend a lot of time looking at ourselves. We want to connect with a community through telling our story. We want to learn new things to make our blogs successful. We want to share. It isn’t a malicious thing, but many bloggers, myself included, can be pretty egotistical, at least some of the time.

@shanleyknox: remembering that ur telling a story, but just right amount of personal so it stays focused on the story, not YOU.

This week, while talking about blog strategy, @shanleyknox made a really great point. Connecting with readers through telling your story is awesome…but don’t lose the lesson in talking about yourself.

Point in case: earlier this week, I gave you all a snippet of my childhood when writing a post called The Blog Sneetches. I rewrote that post four or five times before getting to the point where I felt comfortable posting it. Each one was missing something, but I couldn’t place my finger on that crucial missing element.

Finally, I figured it out. I was spending 75% of the post reminiscing about something from my childhood and only 25% of the post actually relating to the reader.

Now, sometimes, a long story can be a good thing, but if you spend most of your post talking about a personal story, you better have a really strong point at the end. When you do tell a story in your post, I recommend scrutinizing every single sentence. Is it necessary in making your overall point or are you just having fun talking about yourself? If it’s the former, edit it out. As @shanleyknox points out, you want to focus on the story, not on yourself.

If you can do that, your readers will get to know you as a blogger, but you also won’t drive off people by being too self-serving. It’s a fine line to walk and I certainly don’t always get it right!

I’d like to invite you all to share a post as a link in the comments before where you told a story about yourself to make a point to your readers, but in an edited way that was all about the reader’s needs, not about just liking to talk about yourself. If you don’t have a post like that on your blog, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to write one, and then come back here to share it with us all!

Posts that Take Your Blog to the Next Level


Read any blogging 101 guide or blog about blogging and the authors will tell you to write list posts, reply to interesting comments as new blog posts, and report relevant news in an interesting way. Yeah, yeah, we know already. If I hear one more time how important it is to write lists posts, I’m going to throw up into my coffee. And I don’t like to waste coffee.

So what can you write to take your blog to the next level? These types of posts are great for engaging readers and draing traffic to your blog:

Event Coverage

Booths at an industry event for my video game blog

You need to be going to the major events in your niche. Not only is this a great way to network, but readers who can’t go to these event love to hear about the booths, keynotes, and after-parties. Make your readers feel like they were there too, and take advantage of the opportunity to be first to report on stories when industry news is announced at the events. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to be first. Remember, others in your industry are also posting about the event, so entice readers to check out your blog by putting a unique spin on every post you write.


Many new bloggers and even some established bloggers don’t do reviews simply because they aren’t offered products. While it is nice to get freebies, the lack thereof shouldn’t stop you from posting reviews on items and services you were going to buy anyway. Doing reviews is a great way to establish relationships with companies in your niche, and if you write a good piece, even if it isn’t positive, the company is more likely to contact you with free products in the future to review.

Don’t forget that you can ask for products to review, too. The worst a company can say is no, and many companies will gladly send you product samples in exchange for your promotion. All you have to do is ask. Going back to my previous point, events are a great place to ask for samples to review. Company employees are usually authorized to give away x-number of their products at industry events, so you can score some major swag in exchange for reviews if you just ask. It’s also a lot harder for people to say no to your face!

Personal Stories

Believe it or not, people really do want to hear about your life. Stick to topics related to your niche, but don’t be afraid to tell your readers about your day or share a story from your childhood. It makes us all feel more connected. Even if you have an “about” page that shares your blogging journey, dish a little from time to time to keep us interested. Remember, people don’t just visit your blog to get information; people visit your blog to get information from you. If we feel like we’re emotionally invested in your life, we’ll come back, the same way people watch soap operas every single day.

Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. She thinks it is hilariously ironic that this is, essentially, a list post.

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