The other day I signed up for some newsletter claiming it would give pointers on how to get more readers and responses to blog posts. I stupidly assumed this meant that there would be insights into craft, how to structure paragraphs for optimal mobile reading, or tips on posting personal info that doesn’t dox yourself.
Nope, it was just more of the same old SEO stuff designed for marketing products. That’s great if I’m trying to sell books or gain traction for an SaaS startup. So then I got to thinking about the old blogs I used to read back in the day and why I always looked forward to reading them. They were personal.
One of the first LiveJournal’s I followed, that weren’t one of my actual friends, was by Elyse Sewell. Now, if you’re wondering who on Earth this is we have to go back to 2003 to the first season of Americas Next Top Model. Elyse was one of the contestants who made it to the end and managed to get modeling work after the show. Her work took her to various other countries where she logged her adventures in local food and tiny apartment living via a good ole fashioned LiveJournal.
Amazingly this thing is still up even though it hasn’t been updated in over a decade. I’m sure she has changed careers by now, but you can see from the posts it’s not all about the selfies and fancy clothes one would certainly expect from a model’s Instagram these days. She talks about the day to day things that are going on, and most of her pictures aren’t of herself whatsoever. The posts are short but tell enough of a story to keep you interested. It’s how a personal blog should be.
I do want to point out that my first digital camera was purchased because it was the same Canon Elf model she was using for her early photos. At the time they looked amazing, phones had trash cameras and the big digital ones were way beyond my price range or ability to lug around. I still have this little thing and I let the kids play with it from time to time. It’s not too bad of a pocket camera even now as long as you take pics outside. 🙂
That was in 2007, back when I was keeping up with a regular WordPress blog meant to keep my family members in the loop with the upcoming kiddo and school stuff. I posted all kinds of junk, thoughts on video games, computers, and all that. It was fun and the little Canon had a proper SD card that made it easy to upload my images at the end of the day.
Another blog I would read regularly was The Food Pornographer. Back in 2006 when I started reading it she was still wrapping up her PHD so most of the food was work lunches and Macca’s. But it was fun to see what foods people ate in other countries, but again as with Elyse’s blog TFP kept her posts personal. She would write about her day or her trip out to town for dinner. (She is going to wonder why her site is getting hits on a blog post from 2010 but its a great example of her early blog. XD)
Over time she had to switch things up to keep it interesting, not for the readers but herself. Nobody can maintain daily entries and a day job. There was a point where she was posting images of bento lunches but as anyone who has ever attempted such a thing knows how time consuming that is and she had to discontinue them.
For a while she posted travel photos, which of course included the food, but she was always able to keep things personal without everything sounding like an ad for a resort or restaurant the way other food bloggers purposefully turned their blogs towards before social media took over.
I think that injection of personality is what makes a blog a blog and not just another marketing platform. Now, today we have bigger security issues with posting this way than we did a few decades ago. Photos now have location metadata, folks can figure out where you live based on the reflections of the windows in your room, and you can never post about where you’re planning to go at any point in the future.
Maybe my next post will be blog safety tips…