What do women want in a blog?

What do women want in a blog by Jo Castro

Are blogs just online magazines or do women seek out something more personal?

Do you prefer reading travel stories or articles about life issues?

I’ll admit. I often get bloggers’ block, when I have tons of ideas to blog about, many at the half-edited stage in my drafts folder, but in reality many of them will not reach the “Publish” button because, bloggers’ block hits half way through.

And bloggers’ block for me is all about how deep into my own life and thoughts I should stray.

The general travel articles are easy, they almost write themselves. But in other instances I know that readers like more intimacy, and a look behind the scenes into my own life. How much of that very personal narrative I’m willing to share becomes the stumbling block. Will people laugh at me, think I’m stupid, think I’m big headed, or think that I’m projectile vomiting thoughts onto the web?

Do you ever feel like that?

What do women want in a blog?

Travel articles, are the lifeblood of Zigazag, and yet I get a big response from readers when I write a more personal type of post such as Fashion and lifestyle after the age of fifty, a guest post I wrote for Styling You – which gives an embarassingly intimate glimpse into my own life.

Other popular posts are those in which I give general blogging advice about How to set up and run a blog which has no personal narrative to speak of.

This conundrum led me on to thinking about why women read blogs. Do we see them as a form of online magazine as we search for information about fashion, health, travel, cookery etc., or do we enjoy the more personal aspect of blogs, when the writer rolls up her sleeves and gets touchy-feely about life issues?

So I’m going to ask you, lovely readers. Why do you read blogs? What piques your interest, or not? Does quirkiness, surprise and humour entertain you …

The Queen and I, by Dave Castro

Look who I saw on a trip back to England! Lol!

Do you seek out advice about fashion, health, travel, cookery and lifestyle?

Or do you look more for comfort, escape and inspiration?

Blogs that share advice and improve things

“Mostly women want to know that what they’re doing in life is on track…that other women are having the same experiences and to share advice on how to improve things, said Sarah Wilson (once editor of Cosmopolitan – blogs at A Sweeter Life)  in an Article by Lucy Kippist.

Wilson went on to say that her readers seem to be drawn to the stories of emotions and life experiences which makes me excited because I know that Travel can be written from a personal point of view on blogs, and not just in an objective, tip driven way as a magazine or newspaper might handle them.Zigazag Travel by Dave Castro

“The content that resonates most  is where I share something that goes deeper than information send-outs, deeper than commentary and opinion, and shares what’s going on for me intimately. When I share about my loneliness or my ‘fraud complex’ or my inability to make decisions, my site lights up. I feel self-conscious at times sharing at this level. But then I remember that readers aren’t really interested in my personal angst…they just want to know that they’re not alone in theirs!”

Is she right do you think?

Q: Do you read and enjoy blogs with travel posts that share information, or those that reflect your personal angst and questions about travel, or are you more interested in reading about, and sharing ideas and conversations about daily life or life issues?

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Comments

  1. good question Jo! I guess travel blogs for me are about finding out personal impressions of a place outside the normal “travel promotion website”. What did real people think about a place, did they enjoy it, what was the campground like, was it worth going there? etc
    The truth is, do people really have time to read blogs? My goodness, it takes up so much time scrolling through the net? So I think they shouldn’t ramble on too much!
    I agree that when I read a blog, I am more likely to be looking for a “how to” or a personal story about personal issues, yes to know that someone out there has gone through the same problem or life issue as me, that I am not alone, and how did they deal with it. It might not “cure” anything, but it might make a difference to me personally reading their journey. Perhaps that is why I like reading memoirs or biographies – I little peek into other people’s lives!
    Hmm..,..something to think about for my own blogging……….
    Great conversation and “think” starter Jo! Happy blogging!
    Jill Harrison recently posted..Carrots, minestrone & flowers!My Profile

  2. Thanks for your insights Jill. I’m also beginning to think that because everyone leads such busy lives and with so many great blogs out there people’s reading time is limited, and while you don’t want to write short insignificant pieces, you do need to connect very quickly – and write from the heart, giving an insight into your own life but not in a “Look at me” way, but in a way that it will project onto other people’s lives in a helpful way. Not easy. Reality TV shows aren’t popular for nothing, I guess.

  3. Good morning, Joanna.

    I have to preface this by saying I’m somewhat biased – my very narrow niche is within the broader one of travel, so that’s what I’m interested in.
    From a quick glance at what you have covered on other travel posts, I find them refreshingly different to the usual travel industry posts and all the more valuable for that. And I share Jill’s view that posts that give the ‘real life’ feel to a place, attraction or whatever, are appealing to people who are maybe thinking of going there or who would like to go there.
    Maybe people don’t regularly read posts about travel matters, but they sure do when they’re thinking about holidays and days out, for example (all assuming they know what a blog is, of course!). So perhaps they are better placed on a blog that is identified as specifically relating to travel, rather than one within a wider sphere of interest.

    Kind regards,
    L
    Linda recently posted..Gorgeous Gardens Made For A Great Day OutMy Profile

  4. Thanks for your thoughtful reply Linda. You’ve certainly given me some food for thought :)

  5. A dilemma! Which do you prefer to write? I personally read travel blogs and whilst the points you often raise in other articles are interesting, I do not seek out personal blogs. But that is just me! You obviously have readers in both camps. It’s interesting that Linda brings up a point that I had also considered for you – 2 blogs could be the answer!
    jenny@atasteoftravel recently posted..Rue Montorgueil Food MarketMy Profile

  6. I am not a traveller so I don’t read travel blogs, but I do love reading about the personal experiences of other people. You might have to do what Caz Makepeace has done and have two Jo!
    Kelly Exeter recently posted..How I got from there to hereMy Profile

  7. Hi Kelly, thanks for your thoughts. I think you’re right – but gosh, orchestrating just one takes up all my energies as it is!

  8. Thanks for your thoughts Jenny. Having readers in both camps is a dilemma, and two blogs seems to be the answer because people have such limited time to visit blogs in the first place. Appreciate you popping by :)

  9. Hi Jo
    It’s like you’ve been reading my mind!
    I’m having the same dilemma with my blog… I have a bajillion ideas yet when I come to write them I stop and think, should I do this from a personal perspective (which means revealing a little more of me to the world) or my usual magaziney style. It’s something I’m wrestling with at the minute… which way to go/should I do both/what would readers want. So in the end I’m like you, should I do two blogs, or change tack completely on the one I’ve got. Decisions, decisions!
    Am hoping I’ll have a miraculous epiphany at the ProBlogger conference!
    Will be lovely to meet you :)

    Linda
    Linda @EcoTraveller recently posted..The Petrified Forest National Park, ArizonaMy Profile

  10. Hi Linda, thanks for popping by to join in this conversation. I think if we both have this dilemma, then there must be lots and lots more bloggers who are also going through the same thing :) Yes, here’s hoping that the Problogger conference will throw some light on the problem and we come away with a clear vision about which way to go forward. Looking forward to meeting you too :) Are you going to the travel bloggers meet up on Thursday night?

  11. Yes, I am. Should be a good night!

  12. a really interesting discussion going on here Jo – insight and thoughts for all of us!
    happy blogging!
    Jill Harrison recently posted..Western Australian wildflowersMy Profile

  13. Happy to give a male perspective(!) although it’s really no different to what’s been written above.

    I think the key is having a fairly narrow and defined focus to your blog. If you’re a travel writer, write about travel. If you’re into sharing the highs and lows of daily life, that should be your thing. When you try to cover too much and write too often, the theme and message get lost and it might turn people off or lose them.

    Like you, I’ve found the personal posts do well, but the posts about ‘how to’ and ‘my experience in…’ also do well. One thing I;ve learned is to keep posts short. Anything over 600-700 words loses the reader – they just don’t seem to have the time to devour longer writing on the web. Where I can, I write shorter paragraphs, bold words out, use subtitles… anything to grab their attention. Oh, and I’ve been told that catchy post titles draw people in! Good luck :)
    Russell VJ Ward recently posted..What To Expect When You’re Not The One ExpectingMy Profile

  14. Thanks Jill! Yes, the conversation is illuminating. I hope as it continues, that it will shed light on questions that we all ask at some point or another during our blogging journey.

  15. I guess I’m the second guy to comment on this issue after Ward and indeed I don’t what women want in a blog.
    Thanks for raising those lovely points. They really helped me.

  16. So glad they gave you food for thought, and it’s great to know that Zigazag attracts male readers too. I think I should have written a more general piece aimed at both genders!

  17. I found your blog through the link at Nikki’s Styling You but I could not find the post it was referring to. However, I really enjoyed this one.

    I think what women want to read is a little different depending on demographics. I am in my late 40s and my readers are from about 35 upwards to 80. ( I read that you wrote a piece on fashion over 50 and cant quite believe you would be in that demographic lol.) I am interested in travel as it is important to me. I love photography. I am less interested in the minuatae of people’s lives I guess. Maybe if I was a lot younger with small children that would be different. I think you post about what you love the most and the real you inevitably shines through anyway.

    Sometimes spreading yourself so thin to cater for everyone means that you do less of what you really love writing about. I like Russell’s comment about being focussed. As for me, I write nonsense, complete nonsense most of the time and don’t follow any of my own advice but I do have some wonderful readers. I am sure they will be interested in your blog too.

    Now, do you have anything about Italy? I really want to go next year.

  18. What an insightful post and a question I haven’t really given much thought. As a family travel blogger, I seek out travel blogs for inspiration and advice. What did this family do while at the place we’re heading to? Sometimes, I’m content with browsing through photo essays as a means to escape my mundane work in between vacations.

    I don’t read many personal blogs much. I have blogger’s block too. I still hold back a little with sharing too much of my life. I’m still not comfortable with even sharing my family members’ names online. I have read that those travel stories that are very personal also tend to go viral. I guess I’ll try to figure out a balance one of these days. So glad to have found your blog.
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted..Canyonlands National Park: Island in the SkyMy Profile

  19. Thanks for your insights Mary. It’s great to know how other people think not only about their own blogging, but also about what they want to read elsewhere. You raise some valid points. Thanks for subscribing too :)

  20. Thanks for pointing out Lilly that the link I’d left at Styling You didn’t go through to the right place! I’ve corrected it now. Silly me :) However, I’m so glad you found this post and thank you for your very interesting and helpful comments. Very kind of you to take the time and also for recommending The Zigazag Mag to your lovely readers :) Italy, sorry not me, but I do know of a very good blog which has LOTS about Italy – you can find it here http://atasteoftravelblog.com/ Have Fun!

  21. I think you’re where I was a couple of years ago. After much umming and ahhing I ended up splitting my blog into two blogs. One for travel and one for blogging tips. it just didn’t work as one blog. You can read about it in a post called One Niche or Two? if you like:) Sometimes you have to try these things out for yourself though!
    Annabel Candy, Successful Blogging recently posted..How I Got 1,500 Email Subscribers in 3 WeeksMy Profile

  22. Thanks for commenting Annabel and pointing me to your post One Niche or Two, which I have read. It’s a really helpful post about this issue and I recommend it to others who find themselves in a similar situation. I know, having two blogs is a personal consideration though, and if adopted, perhaps one which bloggers need to go into with all guns blazing (so to speak) because it can’t be a half hearted attempt. Getting a blog off the ground is time consuming and requires great effort – you have done it so well, twice!

  23. I read blogs that make me feel. If it is a travel piece that helps me dream or recall a beautiful memory then reading is a true blessing. However, your writing is a gift and you have much to share. Go bold.
    Mary recently posted..To Everything there is a SeasonMy Profile

  24. Thank you Mary for such an enlightening and complimentary comment. I shall ‘go bold’ and hopefully ‘deliver’.

  25. Lol I totally agree to this. I always search for things related to travelling as am fond of travelling and eating :P

    Thanks for this wonderful article.

    Cheers,
    Esha
    Esther, Technology Blog recently posted..7 Elements of a Good and Successful Blogging BusinessMy Profile

  26. Two very good reasons then Esha!

  27. Great conversation happening here Jo.

    If it’s a travel blog then I’d want info on:

    * travel
    * interesting deals
    * your experience if you’ve been there with maybe a short vid
    * great pics
    * anything that may be helpful to women re: security; travelling alone; shopping; deals etc

    If the blogging tips can show how you’re developing and growing your Travel blog then that might be good as other travel bloggers may follow you. My sense is that people read a travel blog for travel hints though.

    Speak with your own voice and power Jo and that will resonate with people. I think you can get as personal [or not] as you want. Stories help but you don’t have to disclose anything you don’t want.

    As you know, I adore WA and lived there from when I was 6 to 34 – working in nearly every town as a community development offices, recreation officer and training coordinator. I can’t wait to move back from Ireland after 21 years away.

    I have a plan to get a combi and take my dog Coco on a tour of all the places I worked and see the changes after 21 years and gather stories from people.

    Anyway Jo, keep up the great writing and we will meet face to face one day.

    Liz
    life dreaming with Liz Lennon recently posted..Let’s see if I can do this Challenge – 100 days. No Way.My Profile

  28. Thanks for your fantastic feedback Liz, that’s really helpful. Yes, it’s been interesting to see how this conversation has moved on.

    I really hope that you get back to WA soon, and your trip with a combi and Coco sounds the most wonderful idea – definitely material for a book or blog or both. Thanks for your kind words, and yes, we’ll meet up one day, I’m sure :)

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