Bringing the “Personal” Back to Personal Blogging

Wicker Park, Chicago

Wicker Park, Chicago

I have a confession to make: I have avoided labeling my page on Instagram a “personal blog” for years.  


For those of you that have better things to do with your time than scroll through all the different business page types on Instagram and Facebook, I’ll summarize a pet peeve of mine (that is a squarely first world problem, of course): there are no good options for travel bloggers.  


More accurately: there are too many options, but you can only choose one.


Even if you are a full-time travel blogger or digital nomad, it’s tough. There is an option called “Local & Travel Website”. There are separate options for “writer” and “photographer” (if you’re a travel blogger, you’re probably both… and you may also be a “podcast” and “video creator” too). There is yet another option for “entrepreneur”, and additional options for “digital creator” and “blogger” (the less personal blog option, I guess?) If you happen to be a travel blogger that also works full time in finance, renovates and redesigns a fixer upper and dabbles in digital art, lettering, and design, then good luck to you my friend.  


Because you sound like me… and we are not very easy to categorize on Instagram


For awhile now, my Instagram title has been writer. Because while I am also an amateur photographer, possibly a local & travel website and an aspiring entrepreneur, it’s no secret to most people that writing is my end game. When I picture 60-year old Sarah, she is in a tiny Tuscan villa on a vineyard writing every day. And drinking Chianti to her heart’s content.  


But let’s get back to the topic at hand: why have I never liked the term “personal blog”? 


Because blogging isn’t supposed to be personal.  




You can’t just blog about whatever you want… or can you?  


If there is one blogging piece of advice I’ve read more than any other, it’s this little myth right here. If you want to build an audience, and a community, and a following, and traffic… you have to tell people what you are. And you have to decide on one thing. Because people from the personal finance and travel and home renovation audiences can’t all follow the same blog. 


Or can they?  


In case this isn’t coming across so far: I don’t believe this blogging rule. And I never have. While I am trying to create some separation between my blogs (travel and travel-related money over here, business and blogging over at Going Places Media), sometimes things overlap. Like right now, because I’m sharing this post about blogging on the wrong blog.  


There is an important reason I’m messing up my own categorization with this post. Something strange has happened now that I’ve been blogging here at Sarah Going for over three years: I’m not writing as many personal stories. Sure, my stories sneak into posts here pretty regularly, but I rarely create an entire post just to tell a personal story. 

Why is that? 


Am I conforming to the belief that you have to have a blog niche to be successful?  


I wouldn’t go that far. But I’ll be the first to admit that a move away from the rambling journal entries I used to write to more organized posts answering questions that could actually help people is a good thing overall. Unfortunately, there’s also a problem with becoming a “better” blogger. 


I miss writing rambling journal entries.  


To be clear, my posts are still nowhere near sterile, professional listicles (I am not sure I could even write that kind of material, to be honest). But I have reigned in the type of writing that makes me fall in love with travel blogs: personal essays. Based on the amount of material I read online telling me that the cardinal sin of blogging is treating your blog like a personal journal, it is possible that I’m the only person left in the world that loves reading personal journal style-blog posts.  


But I do.  


And I love writing them, too. 


Unfortunately, being told that this blog needs to fit within a specific niche or category must have snuck into my subconscious at some point along the way. So much so that when I see the term “personal blog” as an option on Instagram, my gut reaction is to think: “Blogs aren’t supposed to be personal”.  


But that isn’t what I believe.  


So it’s time for a few changes. 


Embracing the personal in personal blogging 


My first step on the road to bringing back more personal stories on this blog will probably surprise no one: I changed my Instagram page description to Personal Blog. Sure, it’s still not a perfect fit (for the reasons we’ve discussed), but it feels like a good fit right now.  


I’m also creating a new tag on this blog called journal. Maybe your whole blog shouldn’t be a journal, and this blog isn’t going to become one. I’ll still be writing as much practical travel content as I can, because I enjoy answering travel questions and addressing travel concerns. But I’m going to mix a few rambling personal story posts in here too.  


If you hate them, you can skip them. I won’t be offended.  


But if you live for personal stories and essays like I do, then the journal tag is for you, my friend.  


I’ll add this rambling post to the journal pile, and we’ll go from there.  


A final thought  


Don’t be afraid to tell your stories. Even if they don’t categorize neatly. Because despite what Instagram may think of us all, people don’t categorize neatly. So it makes sense that our life stories don’t categorize neatly either.  


You can tell yours anyway, if you want to. Because categories don’t really matter that much, despite the blog advice you may have read. 


Truth matters. And creating what you want to create matters.  


Focus on that. 


Everything else will work itself out. 

love, sarah.png