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How Personal Experience Helps Me Blog Better

This guest post is by Kiesha of WeBlogBetter.

Have you ever wondered how some bloggers never seem to run out of post ideas? They always manage to escape the dreaded writer’s block unscathed; they’re always full of inspiration. Ideas overflow and pour onto the page as they type feverishly. They’ve tapped into a mystical stream of never-ending stories.

What if I told you that you could tap into the same power?

Everything you’ve already learned and experienced can be used to create infinite and original ideas for your blog. If you can turn on the analytical and creative juices in your brain, you’ll never run out of ideas.

Almost anything you’ve learned in school, on the job—even life’s lessons in general—can be turned into useful analogies or comparisons. Music, television shows, movies, or videos can also be used as fuel for unique and engaging blog posts.

There are almost no limits to this technique. In fact, the more unlikely and unusual the comparisons you make, the better.

Using my personal experience to blog better

Whenever something evokes an “Aha!” moment for me, I immediately think about how I can use that principle for blogging.

For example, late one night, I was watching The Karate Kid. At the point when young Dre finally realizes that all those days and weeks spent picking up his jacket had really been preparing and strengthening him, my mind immediately connected that experience to blogging.

When Mr. Han said, “Kung Fu lives in everything we do … Everything is Kung Fu”, I jumped up like a hot coal had landed in my lap. I grabbed a pen and wrote:

“Blogging lives in everything we do … Everything is blogging! Every experience is potential blogging material!”

My husband thought I was going mad as I frantically scribbled this on an already over-filled piece of paper. It was a major “Aha!” moment!

Yes, everything in my life — even those experiences that I thought were useless wastes of time — had been preparing me for blogging.

You might not be able to see the similarities between blogging and manicuring nails, but what I learned years ago as a nail technician helps me blog better today. I was known for my creative airbrush designs and 3D nail art. I had more customers than I had time. It sounds like I should be rich by now, right?

Here’s the problem: I loved the design/art part of the process, but I hated the chemical aspects of the job. I also hate feet, which wasn’t the best of news for customers who wanted their toes to match their fingers. I suffer from the exact opposite of a “foot fetish.” Would that be a foot phobia? What I learned is that no amount of money justifies doing (or smelling) things you hate.

How does that translate to blogging?

Nothing, not even money, should be the reason for blogging about something you’re not passionate about.

I can see many parallels between applying acrylic nails and blogging.

They both require preparation

When applying acrylic nails, the surface must be adequately prepared. Skimping on this step creates the prime condition for the growth of fungus or other harmful pathogens that, if left untreated, could create medical problems for the customer.

With blogging, if you don’t take adequate time to prepare with research and fact checking, you could potentially steer a reader in the wrong direction. They may not be physically harmed, but advice you offer on your blog could harm a person’s business or their blogging efforts—and maybe even adversely impact their finances.

They Both Require Good Design

If I tried to put a beautiful design on a malformed nail, it only made the malformation more apparent. On the other hand, a well-formed nail with an ugly or bland design would be a waste of sculpting efforts. In other words, the nail had to be both well formed and display a beautiful design.

The same is true for a blog. You can have the most beautiful blog design, but if your site lacks valuable content, no one’s going to want to return. You need both good design and great content.

So you see, yes there is much to learn about blogging from doing nails. There is much to learn about blogging from everything—from all of your experiences.

Over to you

Have you ever thought about how your own abundance of personal experiences relates to your own niche? And how you can use that to create a blog unlike any other?

  1. Start by listing some of the most vivid experiences you’ve had, or lessons you’ve learned over the years.
  2. Then instead of thinking about how different they are from blogging, think about how similar they are.
  3. Use those points of intersection to highlight those similarities.
  4. Then mesh those ideas together to create something new.

What you’ll get is something totally unpredictable and extremely insightful.

Which pieces of your personal experience and life lessons could you use to create an interesting analogy or comparison in a blog post? Which could you use to help you improve your blogging in general?

Kiesha blogs at WeBlogBetter, offering blogging tips and tricks. She’s a technical writer, writing instructor, and blog consultant for small business owners. Connect with her on Twitter @weblogbetter.

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Comments

  1. Leslie says:

    Glad to see this post! I want to respond as a reader of blogs, since my own is still in the early days of creating. Lately all the bloggers I have read and enjoyed for what seems like forever have moved away from sharing experiences and into the area of preaching. It’s a trend, I think and it’s getting very tiresome.

  2. Hi Kiesha,
    Food for thought is in all of us. Your way of presenting it is simple and so “aha”. We are all unique yet, often feel so bland and simple. Getting the inside out is one of the fears we all seem to have.
    Thanks for the inspiration. I always knew their was something special in my life and now I can release it to the world.
    Thanks so much,
    Pierre Trudel
    Thee Quest For Perfect health

  3. As someone who has been blogging for years this is something I know but always struggle with applying. I am going to take that list you made and post it over my desk in a continuing effort to get better at this aspect of my writing.

    I’ve also been exploring on my personal blog the notion of living in a way that leads to better writing. Basically having a story worthy life.

  4. Devesh says:

    Hi Kiesha,

    Awesome to see you here and really great post. I love the way you wrote the post.
    I really like your point on using your personal experience to blog better.

    Thanks for sharing this awesome post lady.

  5. Excellent article Kiesha, its nice to see you over on ProBlogger.net. I myself sometimes struggle with ideas and have to resort to several tactics I have to find inspiration and ambition sometimes to create new articles.

  6. Zack says:

    Great post. Thanks for continually coming up with fresh thoughts. I really like this part:
    1. Start by listing some of the most vivid experiences you’ve had, or lessons you’ve learned over the years.
    2. Then instead of thinking about how different they are from blogging, think about how similar they are.
    3. Use those points of intersection to highlight those similarities.
    4. Then mesh those ideas together to create something new.

    Thanks.

  7. Sometimes it can be information overload on the net, which leaves me lost for ideas.

    Watching films are great for fresh ideas or a holiday!…

    ;]

  8. Brandon Cox says:

    Kiesha, I love how you always present an “over to you” moment in what you write. I always feel I have something to apply when I’m finished reading something you’ve written. Excellent job!

  9. L. Eleana says:

    Congratulations Kiesha for being featured on Problogger! I’m so proud of you. As always, you’ve given more useful tips. Bout to tweet this to the masses right now.

    Have a great weekend!

  10. Hi Pierre! Yes, I encourage you to take those special things that only you possess and blog about them. You never know how much that might benefit others!

    Hi Daryle! I love the idea of a “story worthy life” – that’s such an awesome idea! Now that’s a way to never run out of inspiration for sure!

    Hey Justin! I think we all struggle with this – it’s almost as if I have no choice but to dig into personal experience. Otherwise, I’d be completely tapped out :)

    Hi David! Yeah, it’s super easy to get overloaded! That’s why I do a lot of tuning out! I choose what I read and view online very selectively. And I just love it when I get the rare opportunity to watch a movie or show that inspires me – it literally breathes new life into me and my blog.

  11. Kiesha,

    Great to have you on Problogger… seen your stuff around for awhile.

    I’ve found that the more I write, the more I’m able to write. You have to just get started, write garbage, edit, edit some more and then KEEP writing.

    Once you get into the habit of writing SOMETHING every day, then your mind starts to naturrally look for things that make great blog topics.

    If you want to bring more customers into your business, or your blog, you have to make sure that you are providing them with a consistent flow of new information that interests them, or you will lose them.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  12. Kiesha, good post. It’s true, everything we’ve done in our lives and continue to do can contribute to our blogging more skillfully and creating more engagement with our readership. You painted this picture nicely.

    Haha, and you made me laugh with your talk about feet. That wasn’t totally expected–but gave me a good laugh :-)

  13. Love this topic – I always use my family’s karate experiences or raising the mooses experience to inspire my blog posts. Past titles have included ‘What being kicked thru the air has taught me about blogging’ and ‘Defeating YOUR Tunnel of Doom (a karate obstacle course)’ etc.

    Personal stories always add that special flavor!

  14. Nate says:

    Great post! It definitely presents a new and refreshing way to produce content. One thing I would add to your message is to be sure to include a fair amount of your opinion. Combining life experiences with personal opinion makes for a great read, regardless of whether or not you agree with the writer or not!

  15. I work with Real Estate Agents (my niche). We recommend blogging (and WordPress) as the tool of choice for building your brand/presence on the web. Most agents respond with: “But what do I write about?” My response: “Real Estate IS Content!”

    Everything you do, from research, to meeting with clients to answering questions, it’s all worthy blog material! Go through the list of things clients as you on a daily basis, and start formulating responses as blog posts. The next time you preview a neighborhood or do research, write a blog post. Basically, everything you do, answer and research, is a worthy blog post.

    This isn’t just applicable in real estate, I’m sure any profession can employ the same ideas.

  16. Hi Keisha,

    Great post, and I know just what you mean. Since I write about communication and related personal growth ideas, ideas are all around me, constantly. In almost any situation–even the nasty yard work I had to do recently–I have a blog post. I just don’t have enough time to write them all! If I ever run out of topics, I’ll let you know.

    Oh and I wouldn’t want to do feet either, no matter what it paid! lol

  17. Kiesha says:

    Hi Barbara!
    Okay, now you’ve totally piqued my curiosity – I’ve got to check out this ‘What being kicked thru the air has taught me about blogging’ post! That’s exactly what I’m talking about here – use your personal experience to catch people off guard with an insightful blog post. :)

  18. Keisha,

    I like Karate Kid movie and I can relate. Everything can relate to blogging (with caveat of what is valuable to readers) can be written. Other things are great for personal blogs.

    Good to see you writing for problogger! happy anniversary!

  19. dan dees says:

    Well, personal experience helps a lot in making your blog post better than the usual. It guarantees quality and natural inputs. The best thing you can share is something that you’ve already have had an experienced. It should be based on your own understanding and your own learning so it helps even better. Anyone can blog but not everyone can actually get tons of readers.

  20. Jagan Mangat says:

    You really connected blogging to The karate kid movie.The post was really good,enjoyed it and there are so many bloggers who never goes out of regular posting schedule.And i too tries to post regularly as blogging is everything[you said that too].Good job keep it up.

  21. LOL- I do the same thing- someone will say something, or something will happen and I will say, “This would be great in my blog…”

    Now my family teases me and often says it before I can!

    BTW- I LOVE to have my feet rubbed, but have a foot phobia or whatever myself when it comes to touching other peoples feet!

    Except bay feet, of course. Good nibbling :-)

  22. Kathy Condon says:

    I knew there was a reason that I read your blog! I have been saying that for quite a while—-basically keep your eyes and ears open….I also think you need to write everyday so that the awareness of what is happening around you becomes sharper, thus making it easier to find subject and life lessons for ahas.

    http://www.kathycondon.info/blog

  23. Linda says:

    Just lately I’ve realised that my personal experience is the best resource I have. Now you’ve confirmed it, Keisha, I’ll go and write that ever lengthening list of experiences right now!

  24. Shirly says:

    Hi Kiesha,
    You know if it wasn’t for personal experiences, I don’t think I would have so many ideas to blog about. I have to say that a lot of my blog articles so far has been from ‘Aha!’ moments.
    Unfortunately today, I made a bit of a boob (mistake) because I had an ‘Aha!’ idea that my ‘other half’ actually said in conversation and I didn’t whip my Iphone out to note it down. Now I can’t remember it. But I guess thats a lesson learnt!

  25. Thanks for posting this! I’ve always been passionate about movies, but I write our corporate blog…sometimes I stop myself when I’m about to write “5 things we can all learn from Jerry Maguire”…next time I’ll just write it!

  26. Kiesha says:

    Hey Mike!
    Thanks for the anniversary wishes! I really appreciate that!

    Hi Carolee!
    What in the world are “bay feet?” Don’t worry about grossing me out – my family is from the south and as a kid (and a few times during my adulthood) we used to eat Pickled Pigs Feet – sounds gross, but they’re really not bad :)

    Hey Linda,
    You’re doing awesomely with personal experience stories – that’s what I love about your writing style. Keep it up!

    Hi Shirly,
    I feel your pain – nothing is worse than a brilliant idea forgotten. That’s why I use my phone’s voice recorder – whenever I’m in a pinch with no paper, I can just turn it on and give myself a few reminders.

  27. Kristy says:

    EXPERIENCE IS EVERYTHING! It’s what we can connect to, and it’s what brings us together. Sharing personal experience earns the trust of your readers, and it makes for an interesting post that others can relate to…but this isn’t just a truth in blogging; I believe this lesson can be extended into most facets of life.

    As a teacher I initially had a hard time sharing my personal experiences with my students, but once I finally did, I found that not only did they trust me more, but they also appreciated my efforts more and were more willing to learn and take risks.

    Great post!

  28. Good post. I have learned to take each experience as a step to who I am today and that is reflected in my blog. Thanks for the post.

  29. Nice post. Thanks!

    Just to comment on something you said at the beginning: I can relate to your suddenly scratching down notes during the Karate Kid (still haven’t see it. I grew up with the original, so it’s hard for me to accept a new one!). I have a moleskine that I carry around everywhere and am always writing down ideas for my photoblog (or future photos, or for twitter, or my journal, or whatever). My wife thinks I’m weird when I suddenly stop eating in the middle of dinner and write down an idea that occurred to me based one something she says about her day at work. I tell her it’s an American thing (she is Japanese) — we’re just weird that way. heh, I’ll probably regret that excuse someday.

  30. I love this post! I agree with you about many of the blogs becoming preachy. From the outset of my blog I’ve just related stories. I’ve had a diverse and interesting life and found through blogging that my experiences can help others overcome obstacles in their own life.

    I’m going to check out your blog and sign up… we need more good ‘aha’ stories out in the blogosphere!
    Thanks for the post!

  31. First of let me say congrats on the post Kiesha. Now where is my Guest post. Sure I’m not a problogger But hey,

    OK enough begging on my part, but seriously well done, and great post.

    Making ones blog personal without making it too personal is a skill that many bloggers should master.

    People like the truth behind the personal experiences. They love the drama and the excitement

    The key though here is, if we learn from those experiences, not only would we blog better, but we would also grow as a person..

  32. Hi Kiesha,

    Such a great post and I agree with you.I always used my personal experience for my blog post and some of the reader said that they feel the human touch on it.

  33. Dewan says:

    This is indeed a very good post as to learn how to use one’s personal experiences into blogging and other fields as one can narrate things in better way from personal experiences

  34. I really liked this post and the comments. I completely agree with Leslie’s comment about too much preaching on blogs these days. Some of them are just lists of things you should do. I call them Posts Without People.

    Every-day life presents so much material. One public speaker wrote how writers and speakers almost relish something like really bad customer-service because they know what a great story it will make.

  35. Hi Kiesha! Congrats on your Problogger guest post. I can’t believe I didn’t know about this. You’re someone who is always able to come up with great blog topics, and I’ve read posts you’ve written from your experience. They are always great.

    Thanks for continually providing solid advice.

    Cheers,
    Tia