I’ve noticed that on BlogJob and other pay-per-post websites, many people choose a diary entry-syle niche. Similar to a diary entry, these bloggers write about their day, their goals for the future, people they met, and whatever else comes to their mind that they can opine on. These aren’t the award-winning, hard-hitting current event blogs that could one day influence change in the world, but they offer us readers the chance to live someone else’s life as long as we’re following their story. Because diary entry-style blogs are popular, one commonly-asked question among bloggers is “If I do this, how personal do I get?” The easy answer is “As personal as you want” but once you start writing your own diary entry-style blog post you’ll likely realize it’s not as easy as that. When does “personal” become too much information?
I was talking to my dad about this subject today. He framed it in the context of “Someone from my generation…”, such as “Someone from my generation would say you need to be careful what you post online because it stays there forever.” He’s not wrong; the internet has a long memory and screenshots make it even longer. On the other hand, is long-lasting content always a negative? Someone from my dad’s generation may have written or created something that would add to future generations’ understanding of human creativity and current events of the time, but if it wasn’t published by a mainstream publishing company, displayed in a museum, or filmed/photographed extensively, we future generations may never know about it. With today’s social media and blogging platforms (both paid and otherwise), we see snapshots of daily life all the time. Sometimes breaking news comes first from Twitter and other social media. Photo-sharing websites allow us to see immediate trending news, both good and bad. Bloggers are increasingly gaining credibility as journalists when they cover hot topics in a shorter time span than the press. My dad is concerned that all personal posts are negative and/or incriminating, but in fact you can learn so much about the world even if it’s told by a “present” non-journalist person.
This doesn’t fully answer the question “How personal should I get?” Sometimes we write about topics that aren’t based on the news of the day and that are more a stream of consciousness than anything. Our goal may not be to change the world; we just need to get something off our chests. Even so, the long memory of the internet means that whatever we post is there even when we’ve moved on. Think about it this way: If you are going to be immortal on the internet, can you stand by everything you’ve written? Even if you are no longer in that place you were when you wrote that blog, could you say “Yes, that was my state of mind then” if you were asked about it? Your answer will help you decide how personal you should get.
As skilled writers, we have the power to influence the world around us. I know that in my search for new blogs and blog posts to read, I’ll see people state that they are mediocre bloggers who just want an outlet to vent. I believe that all of us who love words and creating articles are capable of turning a simple vent into a call for change. Consider using your talents to write a statement of complaint to a company or organization if something related to them bothers you and you have solutions for how they can rectify it. Check out a statement of complaint I made to my bus deport about an incident that occurred today between 2:30 and 3:00.
A middle-aged woman, maybe around 40 or 50, indirectly announced she was a resident of *a city in West Virginia* by a series of complaints she voiced to the driver while he was headed from the Bus Depot to *a community of residents*. She was complaining about the flow of *a large university in West Virginia* students crossing the street between the *student lounge* and the *other side of the street where all the academic buildings are* and she said “I don’t care they have to get to class, I have to get somewhere too. Run them over!” She also complained that *the large university* wants to bring in more students and that would make it even harder for the bus to get her home and it would mean even more people (likely students) would be asking the bus driver about which route(s) to take. Occasionally she’d mention how rude the students crossing the *large university* main campus were and how she thinks there’s no respect for residents.
As a resident who had also been a *large university* student, and knowing that there are *large university* students that ride the *color-coded route of bus*, I didn’t appreciate her own rudeness and how the bus driver didn’t tell her to cool it and show some respect. I was so upset I was tempted to say “Oh, be nice!” and/or tell her to shut her yap but I didn’t want to be just as disrespectful so I kept it to myself. In a case like this, I would’ve loved it if the bus driver told her she was being rude, potentially even to other passengers. I would’ve even been cool with it if the bus driver took a proactive approach and said “You have some valid complaints. Direct them to this department at *large university* so they know that residents want more student/community respect.” I don’t know if the woman would handle it well, but I believe the bus drivers should be better at discouraging such statements/threats while providing an outlet for disgruntled residents to voice their concerns.
Note that any of the *-enclosed words are substitute phrases for locations, and I chose this because the investigation into my complain is ongoing. It’s a respect thing.
When you write your statement of complaint, I recommend doing it when you’re angry but not explosively so. Feeding off your anger can motivate you to write and once you have a complete first draft then you can take a breather and cool off a bit before editing it for submission to the company. I also recommend that when you are in better control of your emotions, add a sentence or two explaining what outcome you want from your disappointing or enraging situation. The assumption behind writing a statement of complaint is that there’s something you want improved or done away with. Be sure that you thoroughly explain what that change is, because whoever reads your complaint only knows what you’ve told them. This is why you need to be in control of your emotions; you create a stronger complaint and the company/organization is more likely to understand what you want and hopefully follows through on it.
I will let you know up front that your statement of complaint will likely be an unpaid project. Of course you can get creative and, like what I did, post it to a pay-per-post or ad-supported blog platform to make some additional money. I highly recommend adding content to your post, such as explaining why you chose to write your statement of complaint in a certain way and going in-depth on the events that sparked it (if your statement of complaint didn’t already describe it in detail. Even if you don’t get rich from writing a statement of complaint, I highly recommend doing it for the most frustrating experiences you have.
I try to keep my gripes about blogging to my Blogging Blahs blog so that I can use Freelance Writing Whisperings for lively but semi-professional posts about blogging and other money-making opportunities. Today I am making an exception, although not as much as you might think. Part of blogging is dealing with the emotions associated with putting your story on the internet and when you put your heart into creating a meaningful narrative and then feeling like you’re not being heard/read. I don’t believe we freelance bloggers describe it enough because when we do get around to writing “Being unread hurts” we preface it with “I don’t mean to sound whiny but…”
I am in a weird place blogging-wise because I enjoy it, I do, but sometimes when I’m unread I feel less inclined to stick with it. On BlogJob, my blogging headquarters, I have been going on yet another hiatus from blogging. The website was down for maintenance at least three days in a row and that certainly didn’t help, but even before then I was struggling to write. If you already follow me, you know that I alternate among writing about quotes that I relate to or need to critique, book and movie reviews, and news of the day with lots of links (Linky Goodness as I have officially christened it). I sometimes need to write about the “frivolous” so that I can prevent my blogs from being solely professional or pretentious. All of my writing is “good” in some way; I don’t have plans to stop alternating my levels of seriousness.
My problem is that I don’t write about my day (unless it relates to something newsworthy). I will not be telling you about my daily routine. I will not be telling you that my cats are sticking their snoots in each other’s buttocks even though you would think they know each other by now. I will not be telling you about the foods I’m debating about cooking (except in a brief status update). I don’t think you care about any of that. On BlogJob, the hot thing for my fellow users to write and read is blogs about someone’s daily routine. Which is fine in its own right, don’t get me wrong, but it leaves those of us who write other content in a position of being unread.
Every new blogger is told “Find your niche!” so that they can attract readers who are interested in the same subject and maybe make blogger friends. You know what we aren’t told? Some niches are more popular than others and good luck being read if you choose an obscure niche! Unfortunately, this is never mentioned because it’s assumed to be common sense. Yeah? If it’s common sense, why does it frustrate us freelance bloggers when we publish a timely, engaging article and…nothing comes of it?