How to write a personal blog that’s actually worth reading
It’s your personal blog, so it should be all about you – right?
Well, yes and no.
It’s an opportunity to express yourself; to share your unique life experiences, your amazing thoughts and opinions with the world.
But unfortunately, the world doesn’t care about you, what you do or what you think.
Why should they?
So if you write blog posts that only you will find interesting, you will be the only reader.
Your personal blog needs to have something special about it that other people can relate to – something which will make readers feel that you are their kind of person.
What’s special about you?
If you want your blog to be special, you need to be special, too.
You may not be a former spy who’s living in a windmill with two pet tigers, but you can still find something interesting to say about yourself.
We’re all individuals, but you have some qualities in common with other people. To attract readers, your personal blog needs to focus on a couple of your important qualities which will resonate with your audience.
- Your age – child, teenager, young adult, 30s, 40s, 50s, middle-aged, getting older
- Your job status – a student, a farmer, a nurse, a home-maker, a retired person
- What you want – an aspiring writer/artist/actor, a jobseeker, looking for love, trying to lose weight or get fit, trying to improve your life in some specific way
- A challenge you live with – parenting, caring for an elderly relative, working your way through college, coping with a disability or illness, struggling financially, suffering discrimination or bullying, fighting an addiction
- Where you live – a well-known city, your region or country, a quiet village, an unusual home
- Why your experience of life is different – living in a foreign country, being gay, having an unusual appearance, social phobia, having a famous relative or ancestor
- Past experiences– ex-prisoner, ex-police officer, ex-teacher, former addict, midlife crisis survivor, former child star
- Lifestyle choices – vegetarian/vegan, religious, home-educating your kids, working from home, unusual pets
- Your interests – photography, sport, music, cookery, fashion, animals, making crafts, history, science, mythology, travel, movies, antiques/collectibles
Choose your personal blog theme
Focus on one, two or three of your interesting qualities – just because you’re a disabled gay Christian teenage jobseeker with an interest in horror movies, who’s fighting cancer while caring for an elderly relative in Chicago, doesn’t mean that would be the perfect theme for your personal blog!
Think about what aspects of your life matter to you most, and which subjects you’d particularly enjoy writing about. For several years.
Consider what you hope to achieve with your blog (an income, increased awareness of a problem, personal fame, a supportive network of fellow-sufferers).
Try to express your blog topic in a simple phrase:
- New York teenage fashion and lifestyle
- Animal-themed home crafts
- A Japanese girl in Paris
- Caring for my autistic son
- All things pink and girly
- British history and landscape photography
- A Christian father’s fight against cancer
- Indian home cookery
- An aspiring actor in London
- Getting fit by 40
- Home-educating in the Mid-West
Choose your blogging style
- A personal journey – you’ll share your problem, challenging situation or personal targets with your readers and give them weekly or monthly updates on your progress, along with your thoughts along the way, influences which inspired you and memories of your past experiences, discussing how these relate to your current life.
- A lifestyle blog – you’ll blog about what you’ve been doing lately, including various ideas, opinions and aspects of your life, referring back to your blog topic. So if you’re blogging about ‘New York teenage fashion and lifestyle’, for example, you’d show photos of yourself or friends in your latest outfits and explain where you got them/how you chose them. Your pics would often show interesting places in New York, mainly in the background – out shopping, at the park, sightseeing, etc. You might include your dog, decor inside your apartment etc., but you wouldn’t go into long discussions about matters which don’t affect teenagers or things which take place outside New York, because the readers you’re trying to attract will be mostly teenagers and New Yorkers.
- A niche (themed special interest) blog – you’ll share your latest finds, designs, creations or experiences in one particular topic area such as photography, collectibles, books, making crafts, history, gardening, movies etc.
Choose your platform
If you won’t be trying to make money with your blog, you could use a free platform such as Blogger or Wix. If you’re unsure, read Your foundation for success: how to plan a powerful blog before you decide.
Choose your domain name and blog title
You may have already chosen your domain name and written several posts before you read this. But you don’t have to stick with it – domain names aren’t expensive, and it’s worth paying again to get the right one. You can always copy and paste onto your new blog – just remember to delete the posts off your old blog so you don’t upset Google.
Your blog title should reflect your topic. If you want your own name to be the blog title, or you’ve chosen a title where the subject is not obvious, add a sub-title. For example:
STEVIE H SIMPSON
A Chocoholic Fights the Flab
PUSHING UP DAISIES
An Ageing Gardener’s View of Life
For a personal blog, your domain could be your own name with .com after it. If you’re blogging to promote yourself as a writer, actor, photographer etc., you should definitely choose it.
But it may not be ideal if you’re blogging with a partner, or you’ve chosen a different name for your online identity because you want to keep your privacy, or if your name is hard to spell.
For a niche blog, choosing your blog title as a domain name is often a better idea than using your own name. For instance, if you’ve decided to write a blog called Movie Maniac, posting reviews of your favourite movies, then moviemaniac.com would be a smarter choice than katiesmith.com.
You may find your preferred domain name is already taken. Don’t be tempted to go for something like moviemaniac99.com – domain names aren’t like email addresses. This is your unique online identity, and if someone else is already writing about movies under that name, you’ll need to choose something else.
Choose how your blog looks
In almost every case, a plain, simple appearance with the main text on a light-coloured background will keep your readers on the page longer. White text on black and garish bright red or yellow can have a strong immediate impact, but it’s painful on the eyes.
Snazzy, hard-to-read fonts, heavily-patterned backgrounds and takes-half-an-hour-to-load flashing images look so 1990s!
In particular, ensure your blog has a large, clear title. If readers don’t know where they are, how will they find your next blog post?
Set the categories for your blog
If you do this before you start, instead of constantly adding more categories when something doesn’t fit, you’re more likely to stay focused on your topic. Ensure your blog has a Menu so readers can find the categories which interest them.
Avoid having a category called ‘Other’, ‘Thoughts’ or ‘Random Bits’. If your posts don’t fit under one of your categories, they don’t belong on your blog.
Create your Home page
You can set up your blog so your Home page shows your most recent blog posts, or have a static Home page which shows the same information all the time, perhaps explaining the background to your blog and why you started blogging. Don’t confuse this with your About page, though – until your readers have read some of your fascinating writing, they won’t care about you as a person and want to know all about you.
Write your About page
Include a photo of yourself and two or three short paragraphs about your life – not your entire autobiography, but some relevant background history that relates to your blog topic. If your blog is to promote yourself as a person, such as an aspiring actor, jobseeker or freelance writer, include information about the experience and skills you can offer.
Plan your blog content
Woo-hoo! You’re now ready to write your first blog post!