Sunday, April 24, 2005

[Content] First Impressions/Personality

To appeal fully to me, a blog has to have some personality. The first thing I do when I see a new blog is look to see "who is it writing this blog" If I don't see any clues somewhere as to who is writing it and where they are based, then I feel a little bit disengaged from it and am less likely to return so quickly. I remember when I first started blogging, I was a little bit scared of giving away too much about myself, but once I got over that problem, I think I feel more settled actually trying to be me instead of hiding behind a bland mystery persona. How do others feel about this question?

21 comments:

McAuliflower said...

yea... personality is what makes these a distinct step away from simply reading a cookbook.

I've found myself seeking out photos of blog authors on their pages to help "flesh" out who I am reading. I feel these are really important to making a site personable and feel more authentic. Check out how about.com has used head shots of their guides throughout the site. A personal photo is a good way to trick people into thinking a site is more personable than it might actually be!

Jennifer said...

I agree completely. When visiting a new blog, it is one of the first things I look for. If I don't "feel" a personality coming through, I very rarely go back.

Like Sam I really like to be able to tell where a blogger is writing from If it is a place I know well I am even more eager to frequent their site.

Cate said...

Uh oh. I guess there's not enough personality on my blog, and I'm going to have to come out of hiding. ;) Like Sam did originally, I am tempted not to post TOO much personal information on it, but do so in small doses. Instead of purely just recipes, I try and include anectdotes about what's going on in our life (just in case people care ;)), cute things our toddler did, how our day went, etc., in an effort to have people really connect with me, what I'm all about and see the "person" behind the blog and not just words. I think (hope!) I've been successful. I think the more the reader feels involved, the more they're likely to come back regularly. How do you put a picture up in the profile area anyway?

Culinary Fool said...

Grrr my whole comment just disappeared - and it was so good! :-)

I struggle with this, too. From a couple perspectives. First, I'm a little careful about how much I reveal, although I hope my voice comes through in posts. For my picture I chose something that actually represents me pretty well, although that may not be apparent. I'm doing something I love (at an outdoor winery concert). And, this is a bit odd, but if you know me you are just as likely to recognize me from the front as well as the back - I have friends pick me out in crowds all the time by my hair. :-)

The other thing I tread the line with is friends' identities. For instance, all my cooking club photos normally have the people in them and that's the actual focus more than the food, but I try to crop out just the food for the blog. Which may or may not make good food pictures. And I only (except in rare cases) use initials, just because I don't think it's fair to give out info about others and this way I don't feel like I need to ask permission. But they are all a big part of my life so that limits quite a bit, too.

I do look for info on others but if I have a sense of male/female; location and why they have their blog, that works for me. I also like to know if they are in a related professional industry - that sometimes affects how I interpret their posts.

Culinary Fool said...

Oh and to add a photo, go to your profile page and in about the 3rd section you'll see a Photograph title and then a space for a photo url.

If you don't have a place where you can store photos, you can use Flickr (flickr.com). Set up a free account, upload a picture, make sure it's public, and then post it's flckr url in that box on the Edit Profile page.

drbiggles said...

When I started Meathenge, I didn't have an About page up, didn't really have anything about me, at all. I did have my email address up, but that was about it. Nothing about anything, past, present and/or future. If you've been on the Net any amount of time at all, or had to be thoughtful about identity theft and related things ... well, it's just best to keep things to yourself.
Time passed and Meathenge grew. More and more people stopped by and left a few comments. I'd meet people at local restaurants that had read Meathenge. I realized it was insane not to have some information about the Author up there. For the most part, that's what a blog is. One person spewing on a daily/weekly basis.
It really depends on who you want to be. I'm the guy with Meathenge. However, if you go to Shuna's site, it isn't really clear that she's the author. She's pointed out the site to a handful of friends and they thought it was really nice she forwarded the site. They didn't know it was hers. She's going to need to change that, her name is her business. Chef Shuna. It all depends on what you're trying to accomplish with your blog. I say, tear it up and have some fun.

Biggles

Sam said...

Sweetnicks - I think you can give enough away to give your blog a personality without having to reveal all. That's what I do - no reader of mine should think they know everything about me, just everything i think they need to know! Some things are personal. I just put our pic in the side as an image source html call in the template - that way i could resize it to my own specs. Didn't use the profile method. (check my B&P template to see how)

CF - I am quite careful with pictures and usually blur them if they contain friends or I dont have permission form the person in the pic. I started by using initials for my friends. Some got really annoyed with me, starting with Fred, (Hey, I'm not F, I'm FRED) and they asked specifically if I could use their real names. SO for those who have requested, I do. Other more shy retiring friends remain as intials.

Biggles - I think you are being unfair on Shuna. She has an 'About' section that explains all, plus photographs. I think she has kindly been far more revealing than many new bloggers are.

drbiggles said...

Hey Sam,

Naw, Shuna and I already talked about it. Laughed really. She never considered putting her name in lights up there. It would be a bold statement and she's just not like that. For most people, that's fine. But she's attempting to make some money with her classes. She's known by her name, not Eggbeater. If you adverised Eggbeater's Knife Skills class it wouldn't draw much attention. But if you switch out Eggbeater for Chef Shuna Lydon's Knife Skills class, that carries some weight.
The only reason I mentioned it was because of the First Impressions & Personality heading. I found it interesting. When I started Meathenge, it didn't matter whether I used my name or not. I'm an unknown quanitity. She already had a well known name and decided not to use it. I know she has her About up, but it wasn't something that struck out at you. And if the topic of the day didn't really interest you, one may not be interested to even bother with the About.
And that was all there was to that.

Biggles

drbiggles said...

Hey Sam,

Naw, Shuna and I already talked about it. Laughed really. She never considered putting her name in lights up there. It would be a bold statement and she's just not like that. For most people, that's fine. But she's attempting to make some money with her classes. She's known by her name, not Eggbeater. If you adverised Eggbeater's Knife Skills class it wouldn't draw much attention. But if you switch out Eggbeater for Chef Shuna Lydon's Knife Skills class, that carries some weight.
The only reason I mentioned it was because of the First Impressions & Personality heading. I found it interesting. When I started Meathenge, it didn't matter whether I used my name or not. I'm an unknown quanitity. She already had a well known name and decided not to use it. I know she has her About up, but it wasn't something that struck out at you. And if the topic of the day didn't really interest you, one may not be interested to even bother with the About.
And that was all there was to that.

Biggles

Owen said...

I chose to remain pretty anonymous and still do. I have identity theft issues. I have kids. And also, the blog is for me and a few friends and family (a VERY few). It is and was a nice surprise to become part of a greater community, but I am (very Britishly) very sensitive to blowing my own horn. I put in anonymous real life details where I want to and I change direction depending on mood a bit, but I am happy with staying in the background

OsloFoodie said...

There are many blogs out there and I would go to any that I feel is relevant or interesting to me, regardless how much I know about the person who writes it. Sure, sometimes I am curious but I am contented with whatever the blogger wants to share about her/himself. If she/he writes more about her/himself, I would think, how nice, and then read what I come there to read. I developed a good rapport with some bloggers and that too is very nice. But I don't think how much information a blogger chooses to share about her/himself has anything to do with my interest in the blog. I understand people have all sorts of reason to stay anonymous and that's fine with me. I still feel blogging is an act of generosity, people share their experience, moments and stories. That's what's important to me, the sharing. Anymore than that, I'll leave it to the blogger to share what else they want to share, be it more about themselves or how open they want to be.

Rachael said...

When I first started my blog I had never seen another food blog and didn’t even really know what blogging was, I just thought it would be a good way to post recipes and some information about my business (I give private cooking classes among other things). For that reason, I tried to keep it as bland and businesslike as possible. There is, afterall, a link to my website (and vice versa) which gives plenty of info on me, so I did try to maintain a level of professionalism. Still, quite slowly, I started to just write more in my own voice and I began to have more readers who weren’t my clients, just people interested in the writing as much as the recipes. (Which I still find curious, but whatever) I figured if I am scaring off potential clients, well, they wouldn’t have liked me anyway because my blog is utterly and completely me. I realize that is a little off the subject, but since you all mentioned Shuna, I thought I would throw in my little story. As for OTHER blogs and their personalities, I agree completely…I like to know the basics. I don’t necessarily need to know your mothers hometown, but what makes the reading fun for me are the personalities that all share a common interest.

McAuliflower said...

I don't understand the link that's being drawn between blog anonyminity and identity theft.

If your identity is going to be stolen (with financial implications) it isn't going to be because of your blog. It's going to be because of some 3rd party website out there with your financial info from your bank and a lax security set-up.

(off topic, sort of- coworker just had her debit info stolen without a loss of any sort of cards. Checking account emptied by a kid buying stuff online... all because of these security breaches you hear about in the news these days. Oh yeah, and banks don't give back stolen debit $, unlike with credit card fraud.)

Rachael said...

There obviously is some concern (as mentioned above) about cyber stalking and actual stalking and whatnot...which could lead to financial theft, I suppose...

paul said...

I feel it's important to have an about page, I personally don't care what you look like but I' am interested in where you are (but not in a stalker kind of way).

That said my Food Blog doesn't have one (I've been planning for years) but I do have one on my main blog.

Personality can pour from a page without revealing your real identity, but the subject of blogging anonymity is a complex one. Let's just say, there's been many an anonymous blogger (and lots of fictional indentities) that have been exposed by forgetting how connected the internet is to the real world.

Since I compile a mighty big list of food bloggers, it's always nice to find a sentence or two that describes you or your cooking style. Telling us where you are also will help locals find you, and you'll hook people looking for info on the food or restaurants of a region.

"I'm Paul from Chicago and I'm an Omnivore" doesn't say much about my personality, but it might give you an idea of what you'll find on my blog when you come back.

Joy said...

Hmmm...this is a tough one. I've had a few weekends ruined with hate mail:)...That said, I agree that it's nice to know a little about the person writing. If I was able to get past the basics of blogger, I might be able to give a little more personal info:).

Melissa said...

Whenever I read something, whether it's a book, article, or blog, I always try to find an author bio to read first, which gives everything a context somehow. I can understand that some people might not want to reveal too much about themselves online, but I figure that if I'm going to go to the trouble to create a public webspace and encourage visitors, I have a responsibility to tell them who I am. As for including other people's names, I operate on a 'permission only' basis, and if they can't be contacted for permission, I make up a pseudonym. Looks nicer to me than just an initial ;)

Culinary Fool said...

Pseudonyms are a good idea. I'd just get so confused and would forget who I had assigned what! :-) So I stick with initials, because that's the easy way for me to provide continuity from post to post.

Lady Amalthea said...

I started giving people pseudonyms, but then I felt it was getting too "cluttered" and I couldn't come up with pseudonyms for everyone. So I only use first names, or their relationship to me (Mom, Dad, etc.).

On a side note, I'm having trouble posting a picture to my profile. Blogger said the Flickr link wasn't valid as it didn't end in .jpg. Sam, I'd love to look at your template to see how you did it; how does one do that?

Lex Culinaria said...

I was initially quite reluctant to put my name or identifying information on my blog, not becasue I worried about identity theft so much but because I had a second, related non-food blog (my friend Joan calls it my "bitter lawyer blog") where I sometimes talked about my job. After Dooce, (not that I said anything awful) I was worried about the two being associated. I recently password protected my non-food blog, and removed the cross-links. Since then, I've become much freer about identifying details, including, giving up my whole name.

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