Personal Blogs: What Do You Think About Them?

Steven16 responsesBlogging

You know what? I follow quite a few blogs and two of the top performing blogs I follow started out as personal blogs, believe it or not. And by “top performing” I mean I’d pit either of these two blogs against some of the top earners in the Internet Marketing arena and I bet they’d win. Or come pretty darn close. But let’s talk about personal blogs because I’m sure you have questions.

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What is a personal blog?

In the strictest sense, personal blogs are exactly what they sound like. The blogger just blogs about whatever comes to mind with no intention of ever monetizing the blog, no worries about SEO or keywords, it’s like an online journal. The blogger typically just chooses an interesting domain name and doesn’t worry about traffic.

With no focus on keywords or SEO or any of the other tactics we use to generate traffic you have to wonder why anyone would even start a personal blog. But some people just like the idea of blogging.

If a personal bloggers keeps blogging long enough they’re eventually going to attract organic traffic. Additionally, many belong to social networks and they send traffic to their blogs, but not because they’re trying to make money – they just want people to read their blogs.

After a time, that traffic develops into a group of followers and the blog gradually evolves to reflect the ideas of the group. Instead of blogging about whatever is on their mind, the personal blogger starts engaging in a conversation with their followers and they talk about things that interest the group, which means the content becomes a little more focused.

For example, a few years ago, 14-year-old Tavi Gevinson started a personal blog on Blogger.com called Style Rookie. She blogged about fashion, art, school, museums, friends, and whatever was on her mind. Gradually she started to build a following and they started zeroing in on the topic of fashion and at this point there was no monetization on this blog.

Soon, though, as Tavi’s traffic exploded, she started attracting the attention of people in the fashion industry. Designers started sending her clothes to talk about on her blog. Department stores started contacting her with promotional deals. Now Tavi gets front row seats at Fashion Week in New York and Paris, she’s addressed some of the top designers in the world, she’s been featured on magazines and she publishes her own magazine – and she’s still in high school.

Can You Monetize A Personal Blog?

Tavi’s is a perfect example. Yes, you can monetize a personal blog, but only after you’ve built up the traffic and you engaging with your readers. Start a personal blog and put baneers up and down the sidebar and you just look like another spammy blogger. You’ll actually drive traffic away, especially if you’re not focusing on any particular topic.

In Tavi’s case the advertisers pursued her. I follow another blog that started out as a humourous personal blog and he also developed a huge following. He has AdSense in the sidbar, along with some sponsored ads and affiliate products, and he was approached by a publisher. He’s getting ready to publish his second book now.

The benefit of a personal blog is that you can blog about anything you want and you don’t need to pay attention to stuff like keywords and SEO and link building. On the downside it takes longer to build up a following. But the following you develop is extremely loyal because they grew, with you, with your blog.

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16 Comments

  1. I write a personal blog. I started it almost 5 years ago to keep a record of programming problems I had solved. I found that often I would be working on something that I KNEW I had done 2 or 3 years ago but could not remember the exact detail. Since I was just writing it for me, I was not obligated to impress anyone. In explaining multinomial logistic regression I gave my friend’s 3 categories for men she saw in bars, “Yes”, “Maybe if I was drunk” and “There aint enough alcohol in Texas”.

    Often, when I am searching for how to code optional parameters in a SAS macro or proportional hazards models, the first thing that pops up on Google is a post by me, and I’ll say, “Oh, yeah…”

    So, it has fulfilled it’s purpose and since a lot of other people like a non-pompous explanation of statistical programming, it’s also gotten me a lot of invitations to speak at conferences and some business as well.

    1. Hello Annmaria! Thanks for sharing your own experience with your blog :)

      I tend to do the same thing by posting pieces of code when I implement custom changes in WordPress… I use my blog as an archive of what I learned.

  2. I write the blog NYC Style and a little Cannoli and it has been an amazing experience. I currently have a few ads on my site but they do not make huge amounts of money yet. I do attend many events as press in NYC which is wonderful and am approved as press for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I feel blogging, if you want to do it correctly, takes alot of time and passion for the subject. I love New York City and photography so I combined the two with my site. I think if you are patient and work at it, it can be a success. Tavi is quite an inspiration and I actually saw her in a talk at the Met. Quite a young lady.

    1. Thanks for your comment Rosemary. What do you think about your results with ads on your blog? I had some on Dukeo before, but I decided to remove them altogether and focus my efforts on building my list…

  3. I recently started a personal blog. My reasons for doing so are unclear, even to me. I’d been active on Facebook for several years, and found myself increasingly posting lengthy (for FB) notes linked to status updates. It just seemed like a logical next step.

    I’ve been a corporate wage slave for 30 years. Always stuck with it, to put bread on the table for a family of four; but in many ways it’s been like an ill-fitting shoe. For as long as I can recall, friends have told me “you should be a writer.” When I write, the shoes are comfortable.

    On some semi-conscious level, I’d love to be able to capitalize on my writing abilities. I haven’t settled on a topic or theme, nor given concrete thought to monetizing my humble little blog, but I’ll probably be thinking about it a lot more going forward.

    1. I’m glad to hear that you got started with your blog Jerry. I found that it was one of the most difficult steps to me… Once your blog starts rolling, things are still complicated but they are more exciting at the same time. Keep me posted on your progress!

  4. I started my personal blog as a way to deal with my anger issues. The world is a pretty effed up place, & there are so many topics that people just don’t talk about & accept as “normal”. So that’s the kind of stuff I talk about. I don’t give a fig if it makes money or not, but interestingly enough, I have found that others appreciate my crass perspective, & several niche bloggers have voiced appreciation for my straight-up, albeit potty-mouthed, approach to writing, in which they of course cannot afford to engage, being worried about professionalism & whatnot. Personal blogging lends a great amount of freedom to voice & language, & there is seldom a chance that you’ll paint yourself into a corner — meaning, I’ve never run out of topics on which to rant.

    1. Starting a blog to vent out your anger is a good idea Andi-Roo.

      At least, you’re sure that you will not lack one thing that people are looking for in a blogger: opinion!

  5. Willi Morris

    I have a thirty-something blog I started because I wanted a place to vent other than Facebook LOL. I don’t update it as frequently as I should, so I’ve never thought about monetizing it. It just documents my personal experiences in hopes of finding kindred spirits. Plus I have a business blog now associated with my business site that takes priority. I should update it….

    1. Don’t get too worried about how often you “should” update your blog, Willi. As long as it fulfills it’s purpose as a place to vent, you’re good to go ;)

      Let me know how things go for you in the future!

  6. Michael

    I have my personal blog as well. I use it to vent, and not that often as I actually like/needs to.

    A personal blog is a great tool instead of just talking to yourself. A modern form of a dairy.

    Regards,
    :)

    1. Thanks for sharing your personal experience Michael!

  7. I Love Him, I Hate Him

    I recently started a personal blog. I used to do an online magazine and found that it became less of a hobby and more of a job so I stopped after just a year and some. But when I started my personal blog about absolutely nothing and something at the same time just to vent it felt great. No obligations just random thought whenever I feel stressed and somehow, people relate to it. It is very fulfilling when you find relatable people to discuss stuff with and no pressure involved. The best part is…you never have to worry about visitors. They either read or they don’t, no worries.

    Cool article btw…

    1. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience! Expressing your opinion makes you look more human. This is the reason why people can relate to what you are writing. We all go through the same experiences at some point.

  8. Mark Montoya

    In the digitally-oriented world we live in today, having a well maintained and informational blog is essential for claiming one’s name stake on search engines for job/career or business success.

    1. Thanks for your comment Mark

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