Risks of Adding Personal Information to your Blog

Blogs, at least when they first became popular, existed for the sole reason of acting as open, public diaries. If we think back to the days when sites like Live Journal were at their zenith, we’ll surely remember the confessional nature of so many blogs.

dear diary

But now, the blogosphere is a bit different. It’s not so much personal journaling as it is a platform for those who have particular interests or areas of expertise. Still the self-confessional mode in blogging persists. Is it wise to put too much personal information in your blog? Maybe it can be relevant, but there are some risks. To wit:

1. You’ll come off as hopelessly solipsistic.

If there’s one thing that many bloggers forget to keep in mind is that they’re writing for an audience that desires content. If there’s one thing that almost all blog readers have in common, it’s that they have little patience for solipsism, just as most people in general have little patience for it. Of course, if you talk about your personal life every once in a while, that’s one thing. But if you talk about yourself all the time in your blog, you run the risk of coming across as conceited and self-centered. This has the potential to be a big turn-off for many readers.

2. You’ll risk being the victim of identity theft.

For those intent on stealing identities or other personal information, the Internet is a big, unregulated playground. Even if you don’t become the victim of very malicious identity theft, when you display too much personal information on the Internet, you can easily become the target of corporate interests who collect private information in order to market to them in not-so-savory ways.

3. You may regret sharing such information in the future.

What you feel comfortable about sharing now, you may not be comfortable about sharing in the future. Many bloggers, especially those who are young or still in school, are very open about their personal lives. When it’s time to get a job, however, they often regret having been so open in the past. Just remember that whatever you put out in your blog or the Internet at large, there’s really no way to completely erase it. Once it’s out there, it stays in the blogging ether forever. When thinking about what personal information to share, think about your future self. Would that self be proud of what you’re posting now? If not, reconsider what you’re about to write.

If you are a professional blogger, or you aspire to be one, know that you can have a very successful and enjoyable career without ever having to divulge personal information about yourself. After all, while it may seem interesting to you (and maybe your friends and family), it won’t necessarily be as exciting for your readers. Be personable, but don’t be overly confessional. Good luck!

An education blogger by trade, Maria Rainer loves to explore the connections between the web and a college education. Online student advice columns and substantive posts on the latest trends in online education are her specialty. Please share your comments with Maria.

… and, a counter argument

Although I agree with Maria that excessive information is …

  • annoying, for example, “I’ve just been sky-diving, wind-surfing, jet-skiing and cooked my wife a fantastic meal, what have you done to energize yourself today?”
  • dangerous, for example, “We’re all going on holiday for two weeks leaving our big house in LA empty.”
  • regretful, for example, posting images of yourself whilst inebriated.

… however, I do think a bit of personal information is helpful, necessary and, even, essential for most blogs.

Most blogs should have at least a name, a photo and a short bio on an About page. This really helps the readers identify with who you are, where you come from and what you are trying to do. If you don’t have this, I think the blog is kind of soulless.

Also, people like people. People buy from people. They don’t engage with dry information. I’ve seen this in the stats.

People will engage more with a site that has a video of someone speaking on it.

A tweet like “how I made $1000 in one week with Adsense” will always do better than “how to make $1000 in one week with Adsense”.

So, although I agree with most of what Maria is saying, a little bit of personality – rather than too much personal information – goes a long way!

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Readers Comments

  1. Very Helpful Post. So you think about this lol. It’s a sign of a Good blogger.

  2. Great post, Rob. Things like birthdays, addresses, and phone numbers should probably be avoided. Having a good contact form on your blog or website is a good way to communicate without having an open door to spammers.

  3. Hi Rob,
    Find a balance. Be transparent and build trust. If you share nothing you are DOOMED in the online world, because people only trust who they see. On the flip side, be sure to hold back a bit. I post vacation pics on every post – because who DOESN’T want to see palm trees and paradise, when I have been living in Bali, Phuket, etc for the past 16 months?;) – but I don’t talk about it endlessly. I note my dream-living here and there, and get down to the meat and potatoes of prospering online most of the time. Good advice here.
    Be transparent. Share. Open up, so people can see, and trust you, but don’t go overboard. Come from a place of faith, not fear, and you will be A-OK in this department.
    Thanks Rob!

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