How to be Transparent without Being too Personal

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A guest post by Alex Blackwell of The BridgeMaker

An effective way to gain more readers for your blog, and keep the ones you have coming back, is to give them the opportunity to see the real you. Generally, people will have more affinity with the bloggers they like and trust.

Sharing my experiences and beliefs on an honestly-written lifestyle blog can be a tricky business. There is a persistent voice in my head that warns me not to reveal too much about my personal life but do allow my readers to see the real me; the real Alex, through what I write. So, the goal becomes how to be transparent while not being excessively personal.

My hope is the articles resonate with each reader and they find value in the words. To do that, I need to be vulnerable and transparent. Even though my writing is far from perfect, I’m finding a sweet spot that gives people a chance to look in without overwhelming them with personal details.

The Emily Test

I have one, simple rule: I will never publish a post that I would not want my 11-year-old-daughter, Emily, to read. An important component of The Emily Test is to make certain no one in my immediate family would be embarrassed by what I write. After all, blogging is my passion, not theirs.

Choose your words carefully and take a breath before pressing the Publish button. Your blog is you and the person you want the world to see. Consider how the people in your life will react to the words.

Focus on the behavior, not the person

When I write about someone close to me, I attempt to focus on what is happening to them or comment on their behaviors rather than offering judgments. My goal is to explain how their actions, words, or choices are affecting my life; and then by association, the lives of my readers.

It’s no coincidence I read blogs where the blogger writes about the people in their life, too. One of my favorite writers, Ali Hale of AliVentures.com, does a wonderful job of blending elements of her personal life into her blog. In a recent post, Do You Need to “Better Yourself”? She illustrates this point brilliantly. Her post begins with:

I had a conversation with my sister while I was at my parents’ for Christmas, and I wanted to pick up on something which she said to me and explore it here, because I suspect it’s an issue for a lot of people.

Ali’s tone here is far from critical. Her sister touched her with a thought Ali wanted to explore a little deeper. Do You Need to “Better Yourself”? is a moving post that addresses the topics of self-doubt and personal fulfillment in a compelling way. I took away several things to think about – thanks to Ali’s sister and the conversation they shared.

Ali ends the piece as eloquently as she starts it and provides the essence of the article’s message while honoring her sister’s choices:

If you’re a student, like my sister is, it’s fine just to work towards your degree. You don’t need to feel pressured to join up to every extra-curricular event going, or to keep up with your music, or to start a business or write a novel or run a marathon. Cut yourself some slack….

The Soul of a Relationship

Tina Su of ThinkSimpleNow understands the soul of a relationship. Through her warm and open style, Tina frequently writes about how her relationships enable her to grow as a person.

In Tina’s post, The Ups and Downs of Life, she freely makes known what is working and not working in her marriage at that time. She shares a moment of divine self-realization when she grasped the power of surrendering:

As for the future, I surrender to the higher intelligence of Life and trust with absolute clarity that only the best things are provided for me, that I am always cared for regardless of how things may appear now. I accept the now, by accepting the outer world for what it is, and taking responsibilities of my inner world.

I connected with Tina at that moment even though we have never met. Her transparency was a gift at a time when I needed to be reminded of the grace that flows when we surrender the condition of our relationships to a higher authority.

Learn to feel comfortable in your own skin

Glen Allsopp, of PluginID, demonstrates the effectiveness of self-discovery through his writing. Glen’s post, My Six Week Challenge: Learning about Myself, gives the impression we are eavesdropping on a moment of seemingly painful, but healthy, self-reflection:

I’ve had enough of feeling unfulfilled at the end of each day, so it’s time for a change. If you like the sound of a challenge like this, only start it if you are completely sure it is what you want to do. I know I will struggle with this, but hopefully come out of it in a far better position than before.

By sharing this moment, Glen reminds us to consider our own personal challenges and provides the inspiration to take the journey with him.

Let them see more of you

Here’s the key. Write about what you love if you want your readers to see the real you.

When you do, the world will see what makes you special. They will see what makes you authentic. They will read your words that come from a place of love – and passion. They will be moved by your confidence and they will want to see more of you in what you write next.

Alex Blackwell writes for The BridgeMaker, an honestly-written blog about faith, inspiration and personal change. To receive twice-weekly articles subscribe here.

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