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The Benefits of Having a Personal Blog

Today’s question comes from Dorothy K from and she asks: “I’d love you to talk about the “usefulness” or “value” of personal blogging. There has been a bit of a discussion about this lately on a few blogs.”

I think this question is relevant to a lot of people. I frequently get this question when I am doing Q & A sessions at conferences.

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People want to know if they should have a personal blog as well as a niche focused blog. I actually think having a personal blog is a good thing.

Just about everyone at one point or another should have a personal blog, and I’m going to give you 15 reasons why.

In Today’s Episode 15 Reasons Why You Should Consider Having a Personal Blog

  • to express yourself
  • to record your life
  • to see if you like blogging
  • to get used to the idea of putting yourself ‘out there’
  • to learn the technology of blogging
  • to experiment with different topics and test different ideas/niches
  • to try different writing styles/voices
  • to improve your writing
  • to improve your thinking
  • to help you connect with others
  • to help you develop habits/structure
  • to see life differently – when you’re writing regularly about your life you become more intentional and are more on the look out for the things that happen to you that you could write about. Small precious moments don’t pass you by as much.
  • to find what is meaningful to you… and to do something meaningful to others
  • to serve, inspire, give hope, teach, give hope, encourage others – a blog need not stick to a topic to do this. Your personal blogging can be useful without it necessary solving a problem, teaching something, staying on topic.
  • to let off steam, talk about passions, record what you’re learning on topics that don’t relate to your ‘professional blog’

So why do people say personal blogs are not recommended? Why is the common advice to go for a niche.

The main reason many people recommend niche blogs over personal blogs is because personal blogs are more difficult to monetise. Still, it is possible to blog about a range of topics relevant to a group of people and monetise around that.

Most bloggers, I know, who make a living from a personal blog do a couple of things:

  • they either write for a demographic – a range of topics appealing to a certain group
  • they tend to end up specialising in or becoming known for a certain topic – and morph into a niche blog

Lastly – there are no rules of blogging. Your blog might evolve. You might start out for self expression and end up doing something else (or vice versa).

Blog On!

Further Resources on 15 Reasons Why You Should Consider Having a Personal Blog

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Hi there, it’s Darren from ProBlogger and I’d like to welcome you to episode 109, where today I’m going to talk to you about personal blogging. You can find today’s show notes at

This week I had a great question come in from Dorothy K from who wrote, “I love you to talk about the usefulness or value of personal blogging. There has been a bit of a discussion about this lately on a few blogs and I’d love your thoughts.”

It is a great question. If you were in Australia, you may have seen some of the discussion. I think most of the discussion that Dorothy is talking about relates to some of the Australian bloggers who are writing about this particular topic.  I think it may even be started by Stacey Roberts who is the editor of ProBlogger. I’ll include some of the links to some of these discussions in today’s show notes.

I do want to tackle this question because I think it’s one that is relevant to a lot of people. In fact, I regularly get it when I’m at a conference doing Q&As. People are like, “Should you have a personal blog as well as a niche-focused blog?”

I actually think (and this may surprise some people who argue strongly for just having a niche-focused blog) a personal blog is a good thing. I almost argue—I’m not sure if I would go quite to this extent—that everyone should (at one point or another) have a personal blog. I want to give you 15 reasons for having one, 15 things that I think you can benefit from having a personal blog. 

Let’s just define what a personal blog is here. This is a blog where you just write about anything and everything. Maybe something that you do in a WordPress blog, or you want might want to use a Medium blog, a Tumblr blog, or a Blogspot blog. It doesn’t really matter what platform it is. A personal blog is where you mix things up a bit. You write from the heart (maybe a little bit more) or just things that are interesting to you.

It turns out that most bloggers I talked to started this way. They start with a personal blog. I think that’s some of the reason’s I’m going to give are tapping into that. That’s what a personal blog is as opposed to a more niche-focused blog. Increasingly, we are seeing people start with a niche or a particular audience in mind. They’re starting with the intent (perhaps) of monetizing or building a business around that niche-focused blog, while most personal blogs (at least) start out with no real intent of monetizing.

If I think back to 2002 when I first started blogging, I think it was November 2002. I don’t remember the exact date, but it was a personal blog. I was writing about spirituality, the work I was doing as a minister in a church and a youth worker. I was writing about the movies I was seeing. I was writing about politics from time to time. What else? Watching on the television, the movies I was seeing, what was it like to live in Australia, all kinds of bits and pieces. Some of it was humorous, some of it were serious, some of it were long, some of it were short. It was whatever’s going on in my mind. It was almost like what we use Twitter for today. Sometimes I’ll publish five times a day. It was just a short little, “This is what I was thinking right now,” type stuff. Anyway, that’s where I started. 

Let’s get into the 15 reasons. I’m going to whip through this. This is not a long podcast, at least I’m not intending it to be. First one, I think personal blogging is great because it gives you an avenue just to express yourself. That’s why I started my first blog. I saw other people pretty much verbalizing what was going on inside their minds without getting the words out and expressing themselves. I think that’s a healthy thing for all of us, particularly us guys. Many of us guys hold those things in, although I don’t think that’s just a male thing. A lot of my male friends struggle with that one. I think verbalizing is a good thing, expressing yourself. Number one, express yourself. Just like a Madonna song.

Number two, it’s a great way to record your life. This is another thing that I started doing. I was involved in starting a new church back in 2002. I wanted to record that journey and record my experience of being in that. Unfortunately, that blog was no longer live because I know some of you are going to go, “I want to read that blog.” It’s no longer there. A personal blog is just a great way to record your life. 

There’s a whole heap of ways that we do these days. Facebook’s one way that I think a lot of people are doing this. But a blog might be one way to do that as well. Record the life of your family, you move to a different country, or whatever it is that you’re going through at the moment. That’s number two.

Number three, I think a personal blog is just a perfect way to see if you like blogging. A lot of people have this dream of becoming a full-time blogger or building a business around the blog but they don’t really know what they’re going to talk about. They don’t know if they’re going to enjoy it. Why not just jump on one of those free blogging tools? You don’t even have to have your own domain. I know some people are going to think that’s the worst thing I could ever say. Just see if you like blogging and start writing. You’re going to learn a whole heap. I think you’re going to work out pretty quick, whether you’re certain to blogging, whether you can do it, whether you can enjoy it, and whether it gives you life. That’s number three, see if you like it.

Number four. If you are thinking down the track one day, you want to be a full-time blogger, then number four is about getting used to the idea of putting yourself out there. I think this is really important. If you do see yourself one day as being a full-time blogger, you need to get used to that idea. You are publishing content everyday. You’re putting your ideas out there. And that takes some getting used to because people are going to respond to those ideas. Sometimes it’s fear associated with that. Sometimes it’s insecurities. A personal blog can be a really great way of getting used to that idea of putting yourself out there on a regular basis. 

Number five is to learn about the technology of blogging. I kind of hinted this one a couple ago. I think by starting a blog, you’re going to learn how to blog. You’re going to become (for me) with the idea of hitting publish on a post, of formatting a post, getting a title together, inserting an image, that type of thing. These are all good skills that are really good to learn if you want to start another blog. They’re also good skills to learn if you want to get a job somewhere one day. To be able to say you’re that familiar with WordPress or you’re familiar with blogging is going to be another thing that you can add to your resume.

Number six is to experiment with different topics, to test different ideas, niches, categories, and that type of thing. I think this is really useful, again if you’re thinking of starting a niche-focused blog but you’re not quite sure which topic to go with. This is really what I learned when I have my first blog.

My first blog has 30 different categories at one stage. I was writing about blogging. I was writing about photography. I was writing about politics. I was writing about spirituality. I was writing about all these different things. I realized over time that by writing a whole slew of different things, that some of those topics really energized me and I wanted to write more of them. I also realized that some of those topics were really connecting with my readers and they wanted more content on that. That unlocked the idea for ProBlogger, Digital Photography School, and some of the other blogs I started over the years. 

If you are one of those people who has a multi-passionate view and you like fashion but you also like travel, food, and you’re not quite sure which one to blog on or whether do all three, you can test those things with a blog.

Number seven is to try different writing styles and voices. Again, this is something that’s so easy to do on a personal blog because there’s no expectation there from your readers that you’re going to get anything because you write about anything and everything. You can also write in different styles. You can try different voices. You can try writing in a character, in a third person, or whatever it is. You can write long verse, short verse. Again, this will help you to reveal what your style is but also what people respond well to. 

Connected to this is number eight. By having a personal blog, you’re going to improve your writing. This is a great school to have whether you end up being a blogger or not. To be able to communicate with the written world is really important. It’s also going to help you to think about how you communicate. More broadly, it will help you to order your thoughts, and to learn to express yourself. I found that even just starting blogging helped me in my public speaking and has a whole heap of flow-on effects as well. Number eight is to improve your writing.

Number nine reason why you might want to have a personal blog is that I found that it will help you to improve your thinking. This is related to what I was just talking about. By being forced everyday to put words to your thoughts, you become more thoughtful. You begin to learn to order your thoughts and to take your ideas to a conclusion rather than just go, “That’s interesting.” You are forcing yourself by writing about topics to look from different perspectives, to order your thoughts, come up with conclusions, and come up with your own ideas as well. We’ll help you to improve your thinking. I think it’s great for brain development as well.

Number 10 is it’s going to open up (potentially) opportunities to connect with other people. It might help you to find friends, a relationship, a partner. Who knows what it could open up. There’s been so many stories.

Everytime we run the ProBlogger event here in Australia, I just love the squeals of delight when one attendee meets another attendee for the first time in real life. They’re connected through their blogs and they’ve journeyed with each other. They’ve become friends online. They actually meet and become friends in real life as well. It does open up the potential for you to connect with really interesting people and a global connection as well. 

That’s what I loved when I first started blogging. I was suddenly interacting with people in Europe, in America, through Asia, and different parts of Africa who were all on a similar journey to me, who had a similar mix of interest to me. I find that just wonderful, very refreshing. Number 10 is to help you connect to other people.

Number 11 is to help you to develop discipline, habits, and structure in your life. This one I found really useful. I talked about my personality type before on the Myers-Briggs measure. I am an INFP. I’ll talk about my introversion, which is the “I” in the past. One of my other characteristics in my personality is the P. The P part of that is that I’m pretty much all over the place. I don’t have a whole heap of structure naturally in my life. I may not be the most disciplined person. I’m pretty spontaneous, like to go with the flow. While I like being that type of person, I know that sometimes I need some structure. 

When I started blogging for the first time back in 2002, it gave me a rhythm to my day. That rhythm has changed over the years. I published it at different times. I do different things at different times now. Back in 2002 when I first started, I identified the time every morning that I would write. By creating that time every morning that I would write, I actually developed a rhythm. I developed a habit. I developed discipline. I learned to stick things. I learned to meet deadlines. I learned the joy of having some structure in your life as well. If you’re someone who needs structure in your life, it may be a blog that’ll help you to do that.

Number 12 is to help you to see life differently. This is a bit of a hard one to explain. One of the things I noticed when I started blogging in my first personal blog is that because I was writing about the things of my life, I was writing about the things that were going on in my brain that I was experiencing, I suddenly started to look at my life a little bit more intentionally. I started to look at it a little bit differently. I knew that it was an opportunity to write something.

This is one of those things that is tricky to explain. I guess I just began to notice more things as well. I would always look for things I could write about. I started to notice those little things that happen to us everyday that we float by. By observing them, by living in the moment of them, and capturing them in some way, I began to notice those little things. I guess I became a bit more mindful. Mindfulness is a big buzzword in the last few years. I think by blogging it, it helped me to pause, to celebrate those little moments, to notice those little things, and to see those patterns. That was just a good thing for me, probably good for my mental health, and good for the way I saw life. 

Number 13, maybe it’s tied to that one a little bit is I think by having a personal blog you discover what’s meaningful to you as well. I don’t know. There’s something about writing and expressing your thoughts, analyzing those thoughts, putting stuff out there, where it helps you to filter it. I remember many times starting to write a blog post and just going, “I can’t publish this. This is just fluff. It’s just not really meaningful to me. I don’t really believe in this.” 

Other times, I start to write on a particular topic that I was interested in. By the end of the blogpost, I was just really passionate about it. I think those little signals to yourself about things that are meaningful and you discover your “why” path a little by expressing ideas, expressing your beliefs, and putting ideas out there. It’s your opportunity to test things (I guess) and find out really what drives you. That’s important.

On the flipside of that, I think it also helps you to do something that’s meaningful to other people. A lot of people say that a niche blog serves people. A niche blog is useful. You’ve got a blog about photography, helping people to learn how to do photography that’s useful. Sometimes I think a personal blog can be really useful to people, too. Even if you’re just chatting, even if you’re just observing life, that can be useful to people because it helps them to see life a little bit differently, too. They hear a different perspective, too. Understand a different person’s journey and story. That (I think) is good for everyone. It’s good for our world. The more people who are sharing their life, what they think, and what they do, I reckon that’s just a good thing for humanity. 

Number 14 for me is to serve, inspire, give hope, teach, and encourage others. A blog need not stick to a single topic to do that. Your personal blogging can be incredibly useful without necessarily solving a particular problem or teaching a particular thing or breaking news in some way. You don’t have to stay on a particular topic to be useful to share your journey. That might just inspire someone. That might just give someone hope. That might just teach someone a lesson that they need to know.

It’s not just a niche blog that can be useful. If anyone tells you that it is, then I don’t believe in that. I saw many times in me rambling through my own thoughts on my first personal blog telling a story that didn’t have a point or telling a story that I haven’t realized the point yet. Sometimes those posts actually have the biggest impact upon people because they were real. They encourage other people to take those journeys as well.

Last thing I’ll say about having a personal blog is it’s a great place to let off steam, to talk about passions, to record what you’re learning on topics that don’t relate to your professional blogs. There’s been times where I have started a personal blog because there was stuff going on in my life that I just needed to get out. They didn’t relate to my niche blogs, so I just had to get them out. Some of those personal blogs I have lived for a little while, some of them I just did personally and just told a few friends about them as well. 

The other reason I reckon that a personal blog is a good thing, I’m sure you’ll come up with a whole heap more. I would love to hear about them in the comments of the show notes. I also thought about talking about them from the flip side, why do people say that their personal blogs are sometimes not recommended.

I heard blogging experts say, “Don’t have a personal blog. Have a niche blog” I kind of wanted to tackle that a little bit, too. I think the reason that many of us talk a lot about niche blogging (I’ve talked a lot about it over the years, too), I think it is useful to try to find what your blog is about. Most times, I talked about that. I guess I’m talking about it from a monetization perspective. It’s not impossible to monetize a personal blog, but I think it’s a bit tougher to monetize a purely personal blog. It’s not impossible. There are examples out there and I can think of a few. Most blogs that are monetized will have some kind of focus on them.

If you want to monetize with advertising, most advertisers are looking to advertise on a blog that either explores a certain topic, industry, or niche. Or, that has a certain demographic. That’s where there is an opportunity (I think) with the personal blog. If you have a personal blog that’s going to appeal to a certain type of person, I think that type of personal blog may monetize.

One obvious example of this is Heather Armstrong who blogs at Dooce or did blog at Dooce (it’s going through a bit of a transition at the moment). For many years, she had that personal blog and it was largely about her life. She wrote on a whole range of topics, whatever it took her fancy (I guess) from day to day. Many of her posts were quite personal and she managed to build an audience through doing that. Most of her audience were women and probably at a similar life stage to her, so it became an appealing blog to advertisers to advertise on.

If you want to monetize through advertising, you may want to think about, “Okay, yes, I’m going to write on a personal nature but I’m going to write stuff that appeals to a certain type of person.” Some personal bloggers do that intentionally. They say, “I’m going to write for women,” or, “I’m going to write for men,” or some bloggers just naturally do that because they’re a woman or they’re a man, they’re at a certain age, and they might attract certain audiences similar to them.

I think there are other income streams that could work on a personal blog. Sponsored posts and advertising are certainly one. Some affiliate products, some affiliate promotions. Maybe your own products if you start to write a lot about a certain topic. Maybe advertising might be the best way to go. It’s not an easy journey. I think a niche-focus is going to maybe accelerate that. Although, there are plenty of examples as well.

Most people that I know who make a living from personal blogs tend to either write for that demographic or they tend to end up specializing. This is (I guess) the other thing. I’ve seen a number of personal bloggers start out writing about anything and everything. Then they realize that certain categories in their blog are the thing they’re most passionate about and the things that people are responding to. They end up morphing into a semi-niche blog. I can think of a few personal bloggers who started writing about everything in their life and struggled with health, depression, parenting, travel, food, and style. Then they realize that’s the food and style stuff that seem to appeal. They tend to gravitate more towards that. I’ve seen bloggers move in that way as well.

Two last two things I’ll say. Firstly, there’s no rules in blogging. I don’t think anyone should ever say, “The only way to blog is like this,” “The only way to blog is a niche-blog,” or, “The only way to blog is personal.” You need to do what you need to do. If someone tells you you have to have a niche, then there may be some good reason they’re saying that. There may be some elements of truth in that and some benefits of following their advice. There’s so many more reasons to start a blog than just to monetize and just to become an expert in the field, to get a book deal and all those types of things. There’s many ways to start a blog and there’s many ways to use it.

The last thing I’ll say is that blogs evolve. You might start your blogging on a personal blog but it might morph into something else. You may start even as a professional blogger, a niche blogger, and then morphe that into something more personal, into something broader as well. There’s no real rules to it. Don’t let anyone force you into any particular type of blog. Blog on. Just blog on. Follow your heart a little bit. Yes, take notice of the advice that people give you, but ultimately, it’s up to you. You need to make that decision. You need to set the direction for your own blog. I encourage you to keep grappling with all this stuff if it’s something a bit of a grapple for you. 

If you have any questions, any examples of blogs that you think can do this stuff really well, any extra reasons that you would add for having a personal blog, I’d love to hear about that. I’d love to see your personal blogs if you’re willing to share them at the comments over where you’ll find today’s show notes. You’ll also find some links to some great Aussie bloggers who were grappling with this stuff in their own writing as well. Thanks to those bloggers who have been sharing their journey.

If you’re the one that I missed, feel free to add a link in today’s show notes as well. Thanks for listening. I’ll chat with you in a couple of days time in episode 110.

You’ve been listening to ProBlogger. If you like to comment on any of today’s topics or subscribe to the series, find us at, tweet us @ProBlogger, find us at, or search ProBlogger on iTunes.

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