The arrival of the humble blog changed the face of good old-fashioned reserve, forever.
People seemingly changed from being private, wary and slightly paranoid to suddenly spilling there guts to a potential audience of millions, overnight.
One of the most famous of these confessional bloggers is Heather B. Armstrong, author of www.dooce.com.
Heather started out blogging about her professional world, working for a company in Utah.
Her blog became popular.
She got sacked.
Now, Heather is the archetypal successful stay-at-home blogger, known globally for her funny, irreverent and constantly tongue-in-cheek writing.
Dooce deals with subjects close to home, such as relationships, parenting, and the joys of dog ownership. We know about Heather’s love life, her daughters, and the struggle she has had turning away from a Mormon background.
The professional blogger has graced television screens time and again as the epitome of the blogging dream.
As she herself puts it; “Much of my day is spent taking photos, processing photos, writing notes, writing posts, editing posts, reading and answering email, opening mail, processing mail, and pretty much everything else one does when working in an office. Except I have the privilege of working from home, and that means I interact with my kids and dogs quite a bit in between everything else. We love what we do and know how lucky we are to be able to do it.”
Heather Armstrong is an exception.
For every positive comment she gets, she fields two negative ones, as people offer feedback criticising her lifestyle choices and the fact that she divulges so much.
So, how much should one divulge on their blog, when it comes to revealing your personality?
The first question to consider is the purpose of your blog.
If you are going to blog in the ‘confessional’ vein, like Heather, then more is more. People will respond much better to an honest, real account of your life than some fabricated dialogue designed to promote yourself in a positive light.
Readers see through fakeness – trust in yourself, and your own story, to get your point across.
Business blogs are an entirely different matter.
If you’re writing to discuss a niche in industry, bringing people to your words to provide advice or support, then you need to focus on the matter in hand. Your emotional response to a situation, or personal evaluation, is probably much less useful than objective analysis.
From there, you can work in a number of ways. Invite guest bloggers to change the tone of your writing, and elicit feedback which will lend variance to your information. The business blog should be smart, critical and most of all, objective.
Ultimately, choosing how much information to divulge on the net comes down to the purpose of your blog, how comfortable you feel about sharing yourself to a potentially massive audience, and the potential pitfalls of clouding judgement by enabling the personal in to your writing. Be selective, wise and careful, and you’ll be fine.
Heather Armstrong has some superb advice for those people considering allowing the personal in to their blog without due consideration: “I launched dooce.com as a place to write about pop culture, music, and my life as a single woman. I never expected more than a couple of dozen people to read it.
A year later I was fired from my job for this website because I had written stories that included people in my workplace. My advice to you is BE YE NOT SO STUPID. Never write about work on the internet unless your boss knows and sanctions the fact that YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT WORK ON THE INTERNET.”
I’ll leave her to argue my case for me.
What’s your view on “revealing your personality”? Please share your views in the comments below.