The not-so-secret Diary of the Confessional Blogger

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Heather B. Armstrong

Heather B. Armstrong

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 onrevealing your personality”? Please share your views in the comments below.

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24 Responses to The not-so-secret Diary of the Confessional Blogger

  1. Sire May 31, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    I’m not one to divulge too much of my personal life online, because it’s just that personal. However I reckon I’m pretty honest the way I blog and I hope that my readers can get a view of my character from what I write.

    I admit that even in real life I don’t divulge too much of myself unless your part of my inner circle that is 😉
    .-= Sire´s last blog ..How Would You Like To Win An Apple iPad? =-.

  2. Erica Mueller May 31, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Heather, helping to film an interview with her, and hearing her speak. She’s down to earth, friendly, and terribly smart. We hit it off talking about our geeky husbands. 🙂
    .-= Erica Mueller´s last blog ..The Best Accounting Software for Bloggers – Freshbooks =-.

  3. Ricky May 31, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

    Well. I also feel that my personal life is different from my blogging life. I usually do not speak out my mind through my blog. I do share some funny,sad moments of my life on FB or other social networking sites but they r not that personal.
    .-= Ricky@twitter apps´s last blog ..How To Backup Twitter Account- TwitterBackUp Desktop Application =-.

  4. Michelle June 1, 2010 at 10:35 am #

    I always have this conundrum when I start a new blog. I usually set out to create a professional blog that’s very narrowly focused. However, it’s never long before I find myself wanting to post more and more personaly posts, many of which would be “confessional” in nature (others just being out-and-out rants). It’s taken a while, but I think that I’ve now managed to control these urges and keep my posts on-topic. I agree that the aim of a professional blog is to cut personal “noise” and boost the “signal” that readers are looking for.

    • Andrew
      Twitter:
      June 4, 2010 at 9:47 am #

      Michelle

      Insightful comment.

      When you posted ‘out-and-out rants’ – did you get more or less comments? Or any major disagreements?

      Andrew
      .-= Andrew @ Blogging Guide´s last blog ..Need Some Blogging Help? =-.

      • Michelle July 7, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

        Hi Andrew,

        To be honest I find that any rants generally don’t stimulate conversation, but merely act to let me get things out of my system. the only comments I get for rants are usually “awesome post!” and “totally agree” – obviously spam!

  5. Marcus Baker June 1, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    Andrew,

    Considering how far reaching the Internet is, it seems a tad daft to share too much of one’s personal life online.

    I think we would do well to remind ourselves(well most of us anyway) about how we conduct ourselves offline. Surely it makes sense for the two to be aligned?

    ~Marcus

  6. John Soares June 1, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    I share a fair amount of my personal life on my several blogs. For example, I’m quite open about the area where I live — Mount Shasta in northern California — and about my hobbies and activities.

    I want readers to know more about me, to feel that I’m a real person.
    .-= John Soares ´s last blog ..New Design for Intelligent Productivity — Your Thoughts? =-.

  7. Colleen June 1, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    Dooce’s blog is incredible. I suspect she (and her husband) are not letting on to too many details. Sometimes I wonder if our business blog should become a bit more personable.
    .-= Colleen@Kennewick Real Estate´s last blog ..Memorial Day Events Around the Mid Columbia =-.

  8. Julius June 1, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    We mainly do informational posts. We try to make it as easy to understand and non-technical as possible, although we often need to mention certain technologies. Sharing stories about our own personal experiences with these technologies (especially in the introduction of our posts) has worked well for us. But I can say that we do this sharing quite seldom
    .-= Julius´s last blog ..A Workbook to Help You Make Your Site More Accessible =-.

  9. Dennis Edell June 2, 2010 at 9:30 pm #

    Business is business, personal is personal, blog wise. HOW personal is mere common sense…although quite subjective nowadays.
    .-= Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing´s last blog ..The Future of DEDC – Part 2 – This is Part 1 Simplified =-.

    • Andrew
      Twitter:
      June 4, 2010 at 9:54 am #

      I think you bring a lot of what you are thinking to your blog, Dennis. And that’s great – you have quickly bonded with lots of people with your new adventure.

      Andrew
      .-= Andrew @ Blogging Guide´s last blog ..Need Some Blogging Help? =-.

      • Dennis Edell June 4, 2010 at 6:05 pm #

        I do seem to think out loud a lot, don’t I. I’m beginning to wonder if that really is such a good idea.
        .-= Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing´s last blog ..The Future of DEDC – Part 3 – A Slight Modification You Might Like Better =-.

  10. ThatsBlog.com June 19, 2010 at 8:24 am #

    Thanks for your submission to the Eighty First edition of the Blog Carnival: Blogging. Your post has been accepted and its live:

    http://thatsblog.com/blog-carnival-blogging/blog-carnival-blogging-eighty-first-edition

    -ThatsBlog.com

  11. Udegbunam Chukwudi June 23, 2010 at 10:48 pm #

    It doesn’t really bother me @ all. Every friday is the day I reveal a lil bit of what my life’s like but I ain’t got no intention of going TOO PERSONAL less it backfires as you’ve rightly mentioned above 😉
    .-= Udegbunam Chukwudi | Make Money Online´s last blog ..Quick Update: Making Blogs Faster With W3 Total Cache =-.

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