It can be really exciting to start a new blog. You get to decide on all the details of your site, from the great content you’ll create to the personal touch you’ll put on your blog’s design. One type of blog that can be very rewarding to start is a personal blog. With a blog like this, you share your real life experience in order to inspire or educate your target audience.
Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to know where to start with a personal blog. How do you translate your daily experience into something into quality content without things getting boring? How personal do you get in your blog posts?
To help you answer these questions, we’re going to take a look at nine popular blogs in this space and show you what makes them so successful. This way, you’ll get ideas for how to start a blog based on your personal experience.
What Is a Personal Blog?
The term “personal blog” is murky these days. Back when blogs first began, they were almost all personal. In fact, many of them dealt with mundane events that no one today would read about. At the time, however, blogging was so novel that people would read about almost any topic. You didn’t have to be very focused or unique to stand out in the world of blogging when you were only competing with a handful of other blogs.
Today, however, lots has changed. The biggest difference is the advent of social media. It’s much easier to share what goes on in your daily life, even if you don’t know how to use a blogging platform like WordPress. Therefore, the types of personal blogs that you saw in the early days of the internet are no longer relevant. Sure, you can start a blog like that, but no one is going to read it, and search engines will largely ignore it.
The personal blogs of today generally overlap with other blog categories. They could be food blogs, fitness blogs, personal development blogs, travel blogs, or even content marketing blogs. So what still makes them “personal” blogs? In our view, the thing that separates these blogs is that they’re highly driven by the life experience and personality of their creators. These aren’t blogs with lots of guest contributors. They don’t feel like reading a magazine.
Furthermore, the content incorporates personal stories from the author’s life. For instance, instead of just writing a recipe as you might see on a standard food blog, a personal blog would also include the story of the first time the author made the recipe for their children, or how they struggled to use it to impress their future spouse.
To show you a better idea of what this looks like in the real world, let’s take a look at some of the most popular personal blogs on the internet today.
- Mr. Money Mustache
- My Wife Quit Her Job
- Cookie + Kate
- Nia Shanks
- Zen Habits
- Jen Carrington
- Tim Ferriss
- James Clear
Our first example is a blog that deals with personal finance. The author (who goes by “Mr. Money Mustache”) uses the blog to discuss the frugal practices that allowed him to retire early. He also talks about what he does with his time now that he no longer has to work for a living (it turns out he still works, but only on things that excite him).
While he occasionally has guest contributors write for the blog, Mr. Money Mustache’s signature wit and ongoing personal experiences with money drive the blog, making it not only one of the most useful personal finance blogs on the internet, but also an enjoyable personal blog to read. You’ll come for the personal finance and stay for the stories.
My Wife Quit Her Job is the story of how Steve Chou and his wife started an online store that generated over $100K per year. This allowed Jennifer, his wife, to quit her job and stay at home to raise the family’s children. The blog blends stories of entrepreneurship with parenthood, making for a read that’s relatable, useful, and heartwarming.
Even if you don’t have the same goals as the blog’s founder, the site can still teach you a lot about starting a business that you can run from home (or anywhere in the world). As an aspiring blogger, you can also study the site to learn how to incorporate your family life into a blog that isn’t just about parenting (though that is a viable option, too).
Cookie + Kate is a vegetarian food blog. If it just stopped there, it would still be a valuable source of whole food, vegetarian recipes. It’s more than that, however, because of the way that Kate, the site’s founder, has also incorporated stories and photos of her dog Cookie.
Cute dog photos will melt almost anyone’s heart, so using them in your blog can be a fun way to differentiate yourself. This site shows that you can do more with pet photos than just create a dedicated Instagram account. With some creativity, you can use them to create an entire food and recipe brand.
4. Nia Shanks
Nia Shanks’ blog is all about how women can use weight lifting to get into excellent shape. The blog also aims to help women struggling with disordered eating and self-image. As the screenshot above shows, Nia’s image and personality pervade the blog’s content.
Using her name for the blog title immediately brands it as a personal blog. However, the homepage makes it clear that it’s a blog about fitness. This is an important point to make with your personal blog. You need to be clear to your readers that your blog isn’t just a collection of your random thoughts.
Tyler Tervooren created Riskology to help introverts learn how to thrive in today’s world. He tells stories from his own life of traveling the world and taking (smart) risks. The site has grown from stories about Tyler’s life as an introvert to a comprehensive resource for introverts around the world who want to embrace who they are in a world that can feel overwhelmingly extroverted.
Riskology shows how you can take something that’s about as personal as it gets (your personality) and turn it into an engaging blog. If you can be this vulnerable in your blog, it will be much easier for you to connect with your audience.
6. Zen Habits
There are many imitators and spin-offs, but Zen Habits is the original minimalism blog. Sure, maybe it wasn’t the “first,” but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it’s a longstanding, powerful blog that has helped readers to live simpler, healthier, more mindful lives.
Leo Babauta, the site’s founder, has an incredible story. He went from being depressed, stressed, unhealthy, and dissatisfied with his job to running a marathon, getting up early every morning, and writing each day. It didn’t happen overnight, as he’ll be the first to say. Rather, it came because he was able to slowly change his habits and ultimately his life.
This is a blog to read whenever you’re feeling stuck writing a post for your blog. It reminds you to keep it simple, slow down, and just breathe.
Jen Carrington is a creative coach. She helps creative people turn their ideas into businesses. Her blog shares how she’s managed to do what she now helps her coaching clients accomplish. In this way, the blog both serves as an inspiration to readers while also marketing Jen’s services to potential clients.
If you’re already a solo professional, then starting a personal blog like Jen’s can be a smart move for promoting your business. It won’t get you clients right away, but it can be a useful investment over time for building your reputation.
8. Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss is best-known for his book “The 4-Hour Workweek,” which was one of the first books to popularize the idea of an online business that you can run from anywhere in the world with minimal ongoing time commitment. While Ferriss continues to write books, he also runs a blog. The blog began with Tim sharing stories of how he managed to learn impressive feats in record time.
While most of the content on the blog these days consists of show notes for Tim’s podcast, you can still learn a lot by looking back at the posts he wrote in the earlier days of the blog. For one thing, they continue to be relevant and useful, which is a worthwhile goal for the content on any blog. Asking, “Will this still help people in five or even 10 years?” can be a good way to sort your good ideas from your great ideas.
9. James Clear
James Clear is an author, weightlifter, photographer, and world traveler. He’s also a master storyteller, blending scientific research and the biographies of notable figures with advice on how to build powerful habits.
Even though he’s often telling other people’s stories, the blog is distinctly his own. You’ll find his easygoing yet detail-oriented personality in each post he writes. James’ blog shows that you can have a wide range of interests and incorporate them into a blog that still has a unified theme.
Start Your Personal Blog Today
We hope the examples in this guide have shown you how you can start a personal blog that’s both authentic and useful. We’re excited to see what you create, and we want to help you get started. The technical aspects of starting a blog don’t have to be difficult.
It’s easy to create a blog using the combination of WordPress and Bluehost. You don’t need any web development knowledge, and you can have your site up and running in minutes. Learn more about how to get your blog online in our complete guide.