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How to Write in a More Personal and Engaging Tone

Posted By Darren Rowse 28th of March 2011 Writing Content 0 Comments

Have you ever felt a personal connection with a blogger who you’ve never met and have no real reason to feel connection with?

You read their blog day after day and in time come to feel like you know them—as if their blog posts are almost written as private messages to you?

This has happened to me numerous times over the years. I almost end up feeling that the blogger is my friend, even though I’ve never actually had personal contact with them.

I’ve also been on the other side of that relationship quite a few times. I regularly meet people at conferences who come up and say that they feel like they know me despite my never having communicated with them directly. I still remember the day that a complete stranger ran up to me in tears at a conference and hugged me to within an inch of my life, because she felt she knew me so well.

It’s a slightly strange feeling having someone you don’t know share how connected they feel with you, but I’ve also noticed that it is those same people who become your biggest evangelists, buy your products, contribute to discussions in comments, and more.

That personal connection can bring a blog to life!

How can you foster this personal connection with readers?

I have a theory that some people are just more naturally able to blog in this way. However there are a number of tips that I think can help you to foster that personal connection—even if you’re not naturally wired that way.

1. Tell personal stories

I suspect that one of the most powerful tools at your disposal when it comes to personal connections is the use of personal story. Sharing your own stories on the topics you write about shows that you not only have a knowledge of your topic, but that you’ve experienced it also.

Stories makes you more relatable to people, too—instead of being some lofty, untouchable expert a story makes you someone who’s also still learning, and experiencing what your readers experience.

2. Write as you speak

This won’t suit everyone’s style of writing, but it’s what I always aim for in my writing. I’m pretty casual when talking to friends or even doing a public presentation, so I aim to bring that same tone and style into the writing of my posts. As a result, it’s rare that I get too formal.

3. Use personal language

A little technique that packs a lot of punch in terms of fostering connection is to incorporate language that makes the reader feel you’re talking to them.

An example of this is to use the word “you” as you write. Instead of writing, “here are ten tips for improving a blog,” write “here are ten tips you can use to improve your blog.”

Doing this moves what you say from the realm of theory, making it something that’s very applicable to the reader and their own experience.

4. Picture a person while you’re writing

A simple way to change the tone of your writing is to actually write your post with a person in mind. Chris Garrett talks about this a lot and encourages bloggers to visualize a person as they write. Similarly, I like to develop reader profiles, which I find helps me avoid writing for a nameless crowd of readers. It enables me to pitch my posts in a more personal way, based upon people’s actual needs and situations.

5. Base posts upon reader needs

Perhaps this is a little obvious, but the more you write about the real, felt needs and problems of readers, the more likely you are to connect with them on a personal level.

The fact is that you’ll be more likely to have people feeling connected if they feel that you understand what they’re trying to overcome. For this reason, I find that getting reader feedback through surveys, polls and by inviting questions can be a great help.

6. Using social media

I try to keep the vast majority (if not all) of my blog posts inline with the actual topics of my blogs. ProBlogger is about blogging, Digital Photography School is about photography … it’s rare that I get off topic.

However I do use my @ProBlogger Twitter account to talk about my life in the mix of talking about other topics. This seems to help with showing myself as a real person—a dad, a husband, a football fan, a geek … things people seem to relate to. Whether it’s Twitter or some other form of social media,  or perhaps something else, if you have an outlet where you can share on a more personal level, it does seem to “humanize” you a little.

7. Multi-media

Similarly, using different forms of media has the potential to humanize you.

Using a picture of yourself on a blog puts a face to your name, and your writing.

Podcasts give your name a voice.

Video can not only put a face and voice to your online persona, but can also communicate a lot via your body language.

While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, multi-media can certainly add something when it comes to building personal connections.

8. Attend events

One of the most powerful things I’ve done when it comes to building relationships with readers is attending events. These include conferences that relate to my industry (as well as blogging conferences) but also online events—whether they’re my own  or other people’s.

For example, I semi-regularly try to do a Ustream chat session where I sit in front of a web cam and answer reader questions. I also participate on Twitter in the #blogchat hashtag weekly chat. All of these things build personal connections, and give people a chance to “meet” me in some way.

9. Get a reaction

I spoke with one ProBlogger recently at a meetup and she told me that she’d been reading this blog for a while, but never really felt part of things until the day she left her first comment. She reflected that there was something quite powerful about actually taking that step in terms of feeling a deeper connection.

That’s a story I’ve heard quite a few times over the years. It’s not always leaving a comment that does the trick—but any kind of action that a reader takes brings them a step closer to feeling some kind of sense of belonging. It could be subscribing to your blog, joining a forum, signing up for a notification, leaving a comment, voting in a poll, entering a competition, emailing the author, sharing a post on Twitter … any of these actions deepens the engagement at least a little.

What else deepens personal connection for you?

That’s enough of me talking. What has your experience been? Whether it’s your experience as a blogger reaching out to readers or as a blog reader feeling connected to other bloggers, what deepens that feeling of personal connection for you?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Great point Darren. Expect a hug from me if we ever meet. I’ve gained a lot from you and I like what you did in Tanzania. Thanks for sharing the 9 tips, i’ll keep does in mind when writing too. Thanks Darren

  2. A nice post. I particularly have trouble with point number 2 about writing as you speak. At school I was always taught that writing was a different medium to speach and so I can’s help but write formally. It’s something that is definitely needed in blogging though because being close to your readers is very important.

    • S Johnston says: 03/28/2011 at 2:56 am

      Things changed a bit with the advent of internet, social networking, and mobile phone SMSing. Which was ages ago now. The message you should have been taught at school was to write to the appropriate audience in the appropiate style for the genre you are using. IMHO. :-)

  3. I personally use a personal tone with my audience and also engage into further conversation on twitter and other social networks and it really helps me connect with the people and not just traffic

    • I am interested in starting a blog can u help me?

      • Key – that’s what this blog is all about :-) I’d head for the front page of Problogger to the ‘best of’ section – there are some good beginner posts listed there.

  4. Thanks Darren, yes it’s very true that stories give apersonal feel/touch to whatever it’s is you are trying to pass across.

  5. Nice post. I try to write my blogs as if I’m speaking to someone or talking to the reader directly as I think it helps engage the reader a lot more then writing formally especially when my blog is based around the goings ons and my daily thoughts. I do need to try to use more media in my posting though and probably capture more pictures to input into my blog.

  6. Assistance to those who need it, these people become your friends and readers.

  7. When I’ve read other blogs, I feel like I know them with a mix of personal stories and writing as they speak. Sometimes they don’t give personal stories so their writing tells me some about them.

    On my blog I’m trying to write as I speak, use personal stories, personal language and social media to try and really connect with readers. It may not be for everyone but I’m looking for my kind of crowd.

  8. Nancy Davis says: 03/28/2011 at 1:32 am

    I like writing as I speak. I am trying to write the company blog in a more “conversational” tone but the boss won’t let me. I have to keep it professional and I cannot use the first person at all (even when writing something about a favorite past boss and what made him great)

    Speaking to someone rather than at them is often what makes me subscribe to a blog. When I read things that can touch me, or bring tears to my eyes, then I will be a reader for life.

    I can read other blogs that are educational, but they often feel like they are “telling” me something rather than “sharing” something with me. Those are blogs I only read sporadically.

    I don’t want to be “talked at” I want to be “talked to”

    This post does exactly that. Talks to you and not at you. That is why it is one of my personal favorites.

    Thank you.

  9. When I meet my regular readers the most common reaction is ‘wow, you are JUST like your blog!’ I think to myself ‘derrr’ but now having met other bloggers that don’t really have the personal warmth they tend to convey in their posts I now understand that reaction.

    I think it all comes down to being ‘real’ or genuine, if you are – your writing should represent you well.

    Great piece Darren!

  10. “Picture a person while you are writing.”

    This is the simplest and best advice for writing. If you know who your “ideal reader” is, picture them reading your post. Where would they be sitting? What type of computer are they using? Are they heavy readers or light browsers?

    You will always have much better luck connecting with your readers if you write to them as if you were sitting next to them.

    Great post, Darren.

    • One more advice …

      Write and leave it for one day.

      Read it again next day and than edit it.

      Believe me this will make your writing skill more attractive and beautiful.

  11. I enjoy writing articles with a personal tone to them. I feel it makes the reader feel more important and inclined to trust me more. Plus it sounds more real and not coming from a robot. I enjoy making my readers feel important and special. I want them to feel as if I’m right there talking eye to eye with them.

  12. Hey Great post Darren.I have learned lot from you.You just rock.Building relations in blogosphere is very important for a sucsees blogger.Thanks mate for sharing.
    My last post–Dohack First Giveaway: 5 Hello Bar Invites

  13. I usually read my blog post out loud to hear what it might sound like to someone reading it. Personal stories is a great way to get your audience to relate to you. I put in personal stories when it is appropriate to do so. I am going to do a short video presentation for my audience, because a picture is not enough.

    I want to know what the blogger sounds like and see their body language as well. Podcasts are also good for getting to know a blogger. Sometimes the voice doesn’t sound like you think it would.

  14. I totally agree. Personalization is key to creating deeper online relationships. I’ve seen it on my blog. Just recently, I created a post where I documented my excursion taking public transportation in the city. In car-oriented cities, this is a topic since many city people do NOT take public transportation. I sent out live tweets and then did a full post with photos and audio. http://kenmorico.com/blog/2011/03/the-new-digital-storytelling-on-the-road-with-twitter/ As a journalist in a previous life, I tell people hesitant to put personal stories on the Web to chill out. Everything is public nowadays and if someone wants to find information on you they will. Better to have the information you want to be seen higher in the SERPs.


  15. Darren, as usual great advice! I know the point of blogging is to share information. if I am to be engaged by the writer, I need to have a sense of who he or she is. Why should I listen and take advice from you if I can’t hear your personal voice?

    The blogs I enjoy the most are the ones where the writer shares experiences or emotions.


  16. These tips are immediately helpful to me to writing a post that sounds right. I just started a blog and have been trying to write my real first post. First two aren’t really what I had in mind yet. I spent some more time and thought of a little experience from years ago that relates to what I’m trying to say, and now my draft is starting to really flow.

  17. Darren, awesome tips. We have 2 more people at our company who have just started writing for our blog and this will be a huge help. Thanks so much!

  18. This is something I constantly struggle with even after 6 years of blogging. Thanks for the quality pointers, I aim to start applying them today.

  19. Great post! I love connecting with readers and I also feel like I know some of the bloggers I’ve been reading for a while now. Like you, Darren! Seriously, you feel like my big brother :). I hope you don’t mind lol!

  20. I used Alexa to view the profile for my average reader and then usually speak to “her” when I am writing. I find that I have an easy time “talking to her” in my mind when I am thinking about a post, but once I sit down at the computer I draw a blank. I have found that if I just jot down an outline I lose my voice when I type – I have to include my phrases and lingo in my outline to transfer the conversation in my mind to my post. I still have a long way to go before this becomes natural for me.

    I realize after reading the last paragraph that I sound like I need therapy, so I will totally understand if you run in the opposite direction if we ever meet at a conference. ;)

  21. Multimedia really hits home with me. I have been more confident in video than writing (even though I have a passion for both). So I felt that focusing on that strength would better my writing by offering it to an audience who already knows and trusts me. Now I use both to compliment each other and that has played a big part of any successes I have had.

  22. From a non-english speaking country, I always find it hard to make my writings to be less formal and more personal. I think it is because to write something personal, you have to be comfortable enough with the language.

    So, what’s your opinion Darren? What is your suggestion/advise to bloggers like me?

    • You could be write – I guess practice is a pretty major part of it – the more you write and the more your English improves hopefully the easier it will get.

      Any others have advice for Helmi?

    • Theresa says: 03/30/2011 at 3:27 am

      Helmi – your post here is very personal. I think you’ve already got what it takes in terms of language skills – now you’re in the same boat as the rest of us – time to practice!

  23. Great post Darren (as always). I always find that I get a much better response to posts if I relate my main to a personal experience. It’s usually not that hard, as my personal experience is normally what gave me the post idea in the first place.



  24. Great piece of info. I think personalizing is one of the best things you can do. Very similar to when I was a radio air talent; you’re trying to entertain, inform, and make each reader (or listener) feel as if you are communicating just to them.

  25. Yes Darren you have this awesome quality … which many top bloggers do not have (but they make up with their other quality)

  26. Great post! The point about writing as you would speak is particularly important. Writing doesn’t need a special voice – just your own voice.

  27. Darren, your posts do seem like personal messages. Thanks for your hints.

    BTW: When/What is #Blogchat?

  28. This is probably the most important part of blogging–making it personal. I feel that if a blog isn’t somewhat personal, it’s not really a blog, it’s an article site or a promotion site, etc.

  29. I agree with Fibro and Michael. They both make a great point as do you. Sometimes reading blogs you feel like you are just reading a magazine artical instead of reading someones voice on paper.

  30. Great post! (as always!) I’ve been try to work with some new bloggers on creating a personality and will sharing this post with them. Gracias!


  31. Good article. I too have a problem writing the way I speak. Typically, my writing takes on a more formal quality, similar to the way in which I would write an essay. My college focus is pre-law, so writing in a formal style comes naturally. Perhaps I should tone it down a bit, for risk of alienating certain users with unwelcoming language. Then again, I like to think that one of my blog’s more positive qualities is precisely its formal tone. So many blogs I come across are dripping with grammatical errors.

    Anyway, I suppose the answer will lie in a sort of balance. Thanks for posting.

  32. Wow there’s certainly some great stuff here Darren. It seems that it’s almost impossible to become too personal and engaging, and it’s something I can get better at.

    Thanks for the tips!

  33. I try to write as I speak but am not sure that I accomplish this…I also tell stories.
    Great suggestions…blogging continues to be a work in progress.

  34. Thanks Darren, I do think this is the key to making your blog stand out from the crowd. I’d add that it takes practice to find your voice and have the courage to really share yourself and your personal story.

    My first blog Get In the Hot Spot has been focused mainly on travel from the beginning although it’s been through several other incarnations including personal development and online marketing! It finally dawned on me that actually it’s a personal blog.

    It’s scary but it is the personal stories that have attracted readers, got them coming back for more and got them engaged. I’m focusing more on that now – helping other people share their personal stories through blogging and also being braver and sharing more of mine.

    There’s always a fear of being judged or misjudging your readers interests when you really share your personal story. You have it when you start blogging and have no readers at all. It gets worse when you have tens of thousands of monthly readers!

    But we have to manage that fear and share our personal story because that’s what makes a blog worth reading and sharing no matter what the official niche is.

  35. I was running a personal blog for more than 3 years… It was kinda anonymous place for me to share my thoughts with world, without being judged. Funny thing is that I was writing again on that place there. It’s the starting point of my blogging career, I met a lot of awesome people on that spot.

    It was free blogging platform. I didn’t knew anything about blogging and making money back than. I just had huge motivation, to put my thoughts out there…

    And I connected with people, like energy itself brought us together. It was all very personal, because most of us were personal blogging and connecting with others.

    That’s where I got into “habit of writing from heart”

  36. This is exactly what I have decided to do from last week on my blog. Previously, I was writing as if I was just teaching in a generic way. The result was that I felt I was just repeating what other people were repeating in my niche. Now, I have decided to write more from my own unique points of view of sharing what works for me. This will get us away from that horrible feeling that we have nothing new to offer and that everything has already been said.

  37. I absolutely believe stories are a powerful tool for connecting…especially for fitness/health topics. People don’t want you to just lecture them about what to do, it benefits them a lot to know nobody is perfect and you have struggles of your own.

  38. Throw away your five dollar words. I find that I reach a lot more people being myself and not trying to sound overly witty or trying to prove I can write. I want them to have fun and I can’t do that if they need a dictionary to get my point.

  39. Being personal in your marketing can be a great asset. It’s something that many big companies can’t do (or don’t want to do). This can be a great advantage for those who are just starting in online marketing.

  40. Hi Darren! Let me tell you that I also feel that I know you very well. I have a dream to meet you and want to see you as I feel you are the real blogging master.

    Actually I have a habit to read your blog daily, so as a result now whenever I read this blog I feel you are in front of me and teaching me.

  41. Very nice list. I am learning trick and Tips here. That what i try to do in my new blog. Writing in personal and engaging Tone. Readers like that.

  42. I totally agree and have learned to write as if I am talking to the person directly. It took a long time but you do get the hang of it with practice. I like to read peoples blogs who can write like this and can get into there story’s. I come here from time to time just to read interesting blogs by good writers. Thank you for that

  43. This is what I need. To improve in writing is my goal this year.

  44. Lesley McClure says: 03/30/2011 at 12:54 pm

    Great information. I feel that I try to do the majority of what you suggest in my blog. The only point I have trouble with is #3 – using the word “you.” I prefer to use the word “we” because in my field – nutritional consulting – I have to be careful not to be seen as diagnosing and/or prescribing something to someone. For example, instead of saying, “you should take 1,000 mg of Vitamin C for your allergies.” I would say, “we can be helped with allergic reactions by taking vitamin C, which acts as an antihistamine. Personally, I take about 1,000 mg and find that it helps.” So, I guess the question is, do I have to be worried about saying “you” on my blog or not?

  45. Kelsey says: 03/30/2011 at 2:39 pm

    Great post! As a new blogger this is great information to keep in the back of my mind when writing new posts. It seems as though personalization is the key, readers don’t necessarily want to be spoken to but instead want to be part of a conversation.

  46. Great post Darren! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, but I rarely comment. Usually there are already so many comments that I figure you can’t possibly read them all, especially the later ones. Commenting definitely makes you feel more involved though! …So are you actually reading this?? :)

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