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How Posting a Humble ‘Selfie’ Grew Traffic, Shares and Comments on a New Blog

Two months ago my wife, Vanessa, started to blog.

It is something she’s been planning for some time and with a little encouragement and some design help from Shayne, we set up at Style and Shenanigans.

The blog is in its very early days and Vanessa is still finding her voice but I think she’s a natural. I’ve been excited to see her experiment with a variety of kinds of blog posts.

NewImageTwo days ago saw a new type of blog post on Style and Shenanigans – a post that I watched Vanessa put a lot of thought into. It was the first time she’d shown herself on the blog in a picture with a post called Everyday Style @ Shenanigans Central.

The post included a montage of humble selfie shots of an outfit she wore and a description of the different elements in the outfit.

I totally understand V’s hesitation with the post.

Putting a picture of yourself ‘out there’ for all to see is something I remember pondering for a few days, before I did  when I started blogging back in 2002.

Back then, I had to go and get an image scanned to be able to put my photo up so it wasn’t something I could do on the spur of the moment. I also worried about doing it. I was concerned about privacy but I also felt weird about having my face ‘out there’.

I think I’ve gotten over that… as a quick search on Google Images will show (although I didn’t post all of these shots myself and at least one have been ‘doctored’).

Selfies

While we live in an age of the ‘selfie’ – when people constantly photograph and share pictures of themselves – many new bloggers do worry about their first time.

It won’t be for everyone and you will want to consider issues around privacy and safety however, there are some definite benefits. You can see some of those benefits with Vanessa’s post this week.

V’s blog post statistics were notable for three reasons:

  • Firstly, it was a record day of traffic. While it didn’t go viral it was the best day of traffic so far on the blog and around 7 times the traffic of a normal day.
  • Secondly, the post got shared more than a normal post. Again, it wasn’t a viral post but a greater number of people shared it around.
  • Thirdly, the post had more comments than she’d had previously. I think this was related to more than the increase in traffic.

My reflection upon V’s post was that it was a post that people connected to, a lot more than previous posts. Because of that, it generated more interest and more engagement.

People relate to people. We’re wired to be drawn to others and respond to their faces and stories. It’s no wonder that by injecting some personal touches into a blog – it has a positive impact.

I noticed this same thing when I first started posting images and videos of myself in my early blogging. It felt weird at first – but it helped my readers connect to me.

A Surprise Benefit of Being Personal

I also think that it had another benefit for my blog. It made ME feel more connected too. I noticed this in particular when I started posting videos of myself, here on ProBlogger. The same was true when I first did video streaming chats and webinars.

There is something about creating content that is more personal that makes ME feel more engaged with my readers. Perhaps having been seen and heard by my readers – I feel a little more accountable to them.

Whatever it is, I feel like by putting myself out there and over the years my blogging has improved.

Have you posted pictures of yourself on your blog?

I’d love to hear about your experience of this. Have you posted more personal content on your blog? Pictures, video, stories etc?

Was it something you struggled with or just did? What impact did it have?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Sally Akins says:

    I’m still very apprehensive about putting photos or video of myself out on the internet.

    I can really see how beneficial it would be, and I know it helps me feel connected to the people behind blogs and websites that I visit. But I’m still too shy at the moment…

    I guess I’ll have to bite the bullet and do it at some point!

  2. Devon says:

    I remember spending ages going back and forth on whether or not I should post photos of myself on my site. When I finally did, both in style posts and in leading with ‘me’ rather than a faceless logo, I was nervous, but I think it’s been worth it in terms of creating connections and fostering trust with readers and potential clients.
    The next frontier for me is video…still building up the courage on that one.

    Thanks for sharing Vanessa’s story with us!
    Devon

    • Monja says:

      Hi Devon, Looks like we all need to overcome the same obstacles. I’m over posting photos but still hesitate to do videos. I’m totally afraid of how I look and if I get over professional, if I can’t remember the text, etc. I guess again, all it needs is exercise. Actually that was the case when I did screencasts and I’m sure it will be as well when I do videos. Good luck to you!

  3. Darren,

    First, congratulations to Vanessa on the success of her post. Watch out for two successful bloggers in the future. I have shared a few pictures but did feel a little self-conscious because I have the perfect face for radio. I wasn’t worried as much about the safety issue. With everything available on the Internet, we do not have much privacy anymore either. I do think it helps people make a connection with you. Michael Hyatt says people trust people not organizations. When people see you, it is easier to make a connection with another human being. Thanks for a thought provoking post.

  4. Making things personal sure feels weird to begin with, and I need to do far more of it, but people still want to connect with other people not with a computer! Good luck to Vanessa, I’m sure she will do very well, especially as she has you to ask for advise, if she wants to! Thanks for some really great insight and advice about blogging.

    David

  5. Jef Menguin says:

    I am reinventing my blog. Instead of posting pictures from the Net, I decided to post the pictures I have taken. The pictures do not have to say anything about the topic. But they must say something about what I believe in, in case of my blog, of what I do.

    My blog promotes the best in Filipinos and of the Philippines. I took pictures of my travels, and place some of these pictures as featured images of the blog entry. I still do not know doing this will work, but I trust that my readers will accept me more.

    They want to read and see a person, not a million of words.

    Jef Menguin | http://jefmenguin.com

  6. Kalee says:

    I don’t mind posting pictures of myself because I want to connect with my audience; however, I always am a little hesitant about sharing photos with my family or friends in them. I just posted engagement pictures for example. I was really nervous about it, but I wanted to include everyone because they were important to me.

  7. Darren,

    I think there is a delicate balance here, for bloggers, between being personal and not being personal enough. Though few will probably admit to it, I really do believe that people visit blogs with expectations akin to buying products. Deep deep down, I don’t think that people start following a blog or a blogger because of they themselves exclusively…instead, I do believe there is an inherent drive for every visitor to first consider themselves and their own needs.

    Sure, pictures, stories, etc are all apart of establishing an online brand and persona, but, like buying a product, people do ultimate deep down want to know what exactly it is that you can give to them. If you don’t provide value, regardless of how you ‘look’ in a picture, or how deeply your story resonates, I think it will be hard to get people to not only return visit, but also develop a fascination and loyalty to your brand. With that said, I do have a picture or two of myself and my husband on our blog, but, we’ve tried not to make our blog about “us” specifically. Admittedly, we are still trying hard to strike that delicate balance I mentioned earlier.

    Oh….and, one another thing, I think many also underestimate the power of personal story. I don’t think readers necessarily want to read posts where you go on a journal like entry all about yourself….but, instead, I’ve seen some bloggers have great success with tying elements of their own personal story with a much broader content topic. I’m convinced that people love personal stories…just so long as they are elegantly interwoven into a subject matter that they can derive value from. We have tried to do this with our blog, as well.

    Great post, again, Darren!

  8. Jenn says:

    Hi, Darren! Congrats to your wife on the start up of her new blog!

    I started out blogging anonymously, but I decided to start posting photos because I was blogging about my family. I felt if I was going to share my family’s life on the web, it would truly enrich my writing content to add personal photos. Also, I am such a mom, as I love the photos I take of my cute kids! :)

    I am also careful with what photos I post to ensure privacy and security. For example, my husband is active duty army, so I am mindful not to post sensitive military-related information.

    Something else I’ve learned about blogging (and you mentioned Vanessa is trying to find her voice), is when you have established your voice or blog content, you have to be consistent with it. For instance, since I blog about homeschooling, I know I have to make sure my blog is family-friendly if I want to connect with other homeschool families.

    I love the tips you provide on your blog! Thank you!! :)

  9. Tom says:

    Congrats on the blog Vanessa!!

    I’m still in a toss-up whether I should be putting my picture up on my blog–right on the front page in the little ‘About Me’ section I have.

    I understand it makes for a great connection with the readers, but I *HATE* pictures of myself. Probably best to just bite the bullet and get it over with.

  10. Caroline says:

    I hate pictures of myself…hence the only one is me with a mo…it’s not really “Me”.
    It’s great to see V start her blogging journey! She’s a natural :)

  11. Steve says:

    Hi Darren,

    I think posting a selfie pic that is relevant to the post itself is a great way to improve the post as V did. Giving people a visual to support your point is always a winner.

    Selfie for selfie’s sake is just wrong as demonstrated by Kevin24/7

    My personal favourite is one your little’uns in the background who couldn’t care less what mummy was doing. That is brilliant!

  12. I have found that my posts with my most “raw” in the moment emotions get some of the best feedback. I think that is what people crave on blogs is REALNESS. That’s personally why I read blogs instead of magazines!

  13. My mug is hovering right over the front page of my blog. I tend not to get very personal with what I post, although I’m seriously considering switching that up for tomorrow’s post. It should be interesting. ;-)

  14. Sajan Kota says:

    I always liked the idea of sharing pictures on the blog. however we need to be little careful when posting pictures. After reading post i can understand how beneficial it would be.

    Good Luck to Vanessa with her blog. Thanks for the nice post.

  15. Michael says:

    I use a pic of myself in the about me section. I might add one to a more visible area as well. I’ve noticed that visitors do actually check out the about me section. It seems that they really want to ‘see’ who you are, and a pic helps…

  16. Amy says:

    I have always posted pictures of myself but have found just in the last year that the crazier I act, the more people like it. I have a hard time with it so I don’t do it often but the times I’ve been really silly, people have really connected with it. I’m not sure I get it but it works.
    Congrats, Vanessa!

    • Amy – I don’t get it too and it does work. Crazy works :)

      My theory (or 2 cents worth) is that people want to see something different, not just stand n’ pose shots – those are everywhere. It really is about 100% transparency and being on show and standing out (eg: purple cow). Just that these days we’ve seen too many purple cows – Meh. It’s almost like you gotta do a Shock n’ Awe to be seen/stand out. Oh that and some decent content…

  17. Hey Darren – how the times they have changed. : )

    I remember circa 2005 you rarely mentioned “V” and photos/selfies where a long way off.

    I actually found SnS via a Twitter “You might also want to follow:” and was a little stunned digging around and going hey … V =

    I’m liking the SnS design, nice font (which I’ll probably swipe for myself). Well done, Vanessa.

    Photos on blogs (and generally around social media): For me, it all depends on the type of blog/business you’re in. I’m going down the fiction writer route these days so I’m slowly getting my ugly mug out there.

    Cheers … and Go Pies ’14

  18. I use an icon as my image, and have grown my blog and business without a real picture. For me it’s about privacy and safety and I just really like being anonymous. That being said, I have been planning a reveal (just one picture of myself, no kids) for the last few months – it’ll be fun to see the reaction :)

  19. Roberta says:

    I’ve had my site since 2006 and I have never put a picture of myself up. I may get around to it, but I completely understand anyone’s hesitation about the issue.

  20. Peg Corwin says:

    I felt strange too, posting a photo of myself in an early blog post. This link has me reading the book I reviewed in this post. http://howtostartasocialnetwork.com/2008/05/25/how-to-start-a-social-networking-website-part-6-why-people-join/

  21. Posting pictures on your blog can be very beneficial. It helps your audience be able to get to know you on a more personal level.

  22. Dan Erickson says:

    I have a header that rotates with several pictures of myself and I occasionally post a pictures on posts. But what caught my attention about this post is the “personal” element. I’m moving my blog more in the direction of a personal blog rather than the traditional model I’ve been taught to follow.

  23. Leah says:

    I do think people connect more with you as a blogger if your post is something personal even sans selfies (although having a photo does help a lot!). I’ve been trying to get back into being more personable in my blog and posting photos that I’ve taken. :)

    I like your wife’s blog! Very cute layout, easy on the eyes. :)

  24. Yes, I have found that posting more pictures of myself and being a bit more personal does bring more engagement. I struggle with how personal to be, as I like to protect my ‘real life’ a bit aside from blogging.

  25. David White says:

    Interesting article!
    I’ve always been reluctant to post my pic, but maybe I’ll try posting some selfie this week :D
    Thanks for the great article!

  26. Sam Hugh says:

    I think it’s a personal choice. Some bloggers wouldn’t want their pictures published.
    Sam

  27. I’ve gotten over feeling strange about posting my photo. I would have a hard time following a blog that DIDN’T have a photo of the blogger – I just need to be able to picture the person I’m reading from.

    On another note, my blog is loading much too slowly and I haven’t been able to figure out how to speed it up. Do you recommend any companies that offer the service of helping with that? I contacted one, but they wanted $300 per month, which is WAY out of my budget.

    Thanks!
    ~Angie @ Knick of Time

  28. Cicily says:

    ALOHA!

    One: Your wife is GORGEOUS and has FANTASTIC style! Love the photographs.

    Two: I love posting person photographs on my blog. I am now writing a BLOG for DivorcedMoms.com and i noticed, I am one of the few bloggers who is able to show her face. I think it connects me to my readers.

    Now people in my community recognize me, “Hey, aren’t you that girl!” Cracks me up and makes me smile. Have a great day!

  29. karen Main says:

    I made a video entirely of selfies. http://vimeo.com/70914885
    then wrote a blog post to go with it describing the benefits of selfies for a 43 year old Mum of 2 who was often left out of the picture. http://karenmainonline.com/is-it-okay-to-take-selfies/
    It is still the most shared and visited post my humble bog has had.
    Wishing your wife every success in her new venture.

  30. Hi Darren,

    I recently put a personal blog post out there with the intention of not only sharing my personal experience on a subject but also putting myself out there more than I usually would. (http://www.themotherload.com.au/2013/10/confessions-of-failed-feeder-when.html if anyone is interested). This post has been by far my most popular to date and I believe when you share something just a little beyond your normal level of comfort as a writer, you’re giving your audience a gift of sorts. At least, that’s my take on it. Love Vanessa’s selfie by the way – gorgeous colour palette!

  31. Ankica says:

    Publishing personal information, due to personal safety, is something that would not be, in general, recommended. The question is: are we safe at all, as we involve in social net- webs, such is Facebook, and being watched by many cameras in the streets, roads…We give our personal information to banks, to supermarkets delivery services. We have revealed ourselves, to so many organizations, and personally, I do not believe in that story that you can be on web and be totally safe.
    I write a cooking blog, and I have publish so many personal data, that my readers can picture my life, in the period of time, when my post is written. I find that that personal approach in writing recipes for beginners, gave me, audience, that I have never dreamed is possible. Many cooking bloggers have better photography, more various recipes, much more comments, but still, my way of addressing to reader, as we are together in kitchen, my tips for every step in preparing some meal, gave me opportunity to have blog that is so good in traffic, as I do hard, on promote it.
    The main issue is the reason why are we writing a blog. Reasons may be various, but at the end, content is the most important thing for traffic and quotation on searching engines.Blog will be alive far as long as it meets the interest of your target group. So you have to find balance between personal an useful to attract people to came again to your blog. There are so many web addresses that we open in browser just once, because we were curious to see something, but just few, that we open regularly for its content.
    I did not mean to brag, I just submitted my personal experience: I worked spontaneously and sincerely, and it turned out that this was most appreciated by my audience.

  32. Wayne Tully says:

    Getting myself out there was something I struggled with early on and in some respects still do. But the added benefit of getting yourself onto video and in photos on your blogs really does help with confidence mainly for me. I’m still not a confident speaker in videos and whilst I love blogging I really can’t help my self and sometimes I act crazy in some of my videos, although not all. I’ll have to try and take some good clear photos of myself eating a Pot Noodle or something and who knows, maybe it’ll take off like the Clappers!!

  33. I have posted pictures of myself and videos cooking – which is what I teach. I’m use to teaching but not watching myself. This was difficult especially viewing myself at various angles. The plus from these videos is my audience knows me better now from those posts. However I’ve never discussed my personal life until recently shared a much needed vacation with my husband. I debated and now wish I had not shared even the brief comment. Maybe I imagined it but I had fewer comments and those that commented, the majority mentioned nothing of the time shared with my husband. My guess is my viewers weren’t accustomed to hearing that from me. I doubt I will share that way again. I think once we establish a specific tone for our blog it’s difficult to break out of that. What do you think?

  34. kathyj333 says:

    Allowing myself to really be seen is something I’m working on. I’ve been so afraid for years that people will see who I actually am and then they won’t like me. But I have to get over that if I want an audience. I’ve found that once I let my hair down, whether it’s in a blog post or on Facebook, I get a lot more attention.

  35. This is absolutely true! I get more comments and interaction when a post includes photos of myself. I’m hesitant to do it too much though, because I wonder how much of me is too much? I want to be personal, but I don’t want to make it all about me.

  36. So, you want to connect with you audience? Show them you you are human? Increase engagement? Ha. YES! I think it’s kinda funny that we have all of a sudden started calling self photo’s Selfie’s…which is new to me. 2 Years ago I started doing it as a blogger for Daily GEMS…by experiment, and by accident. I figured I would be “taking the audience on a tour of the city” and I would be there with them. WOW, what an impact…as mentioned in your blog today. YES, If I may suggest, is the BEST way to connect with your audience…it’s the REAL you are looking for, do it. Get comfortable, and have fun with it. Strange at first I know, but you get the hang of it after a while by making the Photo about the BIG picture and not about YOU. It is your audience living vicariously WITH you. That’s my advice. Break the fear, and you will adapt and change…YES, it IS you. And it speaks many more words than you know. Thanks Darren.

  37. Mandi says:

    I didn’t post any pictures of myself or any selfies until I got hit in the face by my surfboard and then I posted a blog post all about my injuries and I couldn’t post this without a picture.

    Equally my blog is all about Photography and i’m always the one taking the pictures and not in the pictures so I don’t see many more personal pictures going up on my blog, but maybe.

  38. Grace Miles says:

    Hey Darren, I’ve been reading your blog for years– back then you were wearing the green t-shirt in your main photo.

    This post resonates with me because I don’t have any photos of myself on my blog, and I’ve been writing it for 4 years. I have a good reader base. I’m getting ready to take it to the next level, and I know that I’ll need to show my face sooner or later. That is a big step for me. Thanks for bringing this up.

  39. Love and so agree with this post!

    I recently found a 20yr old picture of myself looking at an early print byline of mine outside a mini-mart that I ran with a post looking back on the writer I was then — and I was blown away at how much people loved seeing that.

    I look like complete crap in the picture — I’m wearing sad baggy clothes to cover baby belly (my son was about 9 months old), wearing old dorky glasses instead of my contacts…and it really got people reminiscing about the starts of their own writing careers.

    I think “Selfies” make you accessible and show you’re a real person and not some magical being. It makes you more relatable.

  40. Susan Neal says:

    Hi – apart from the picture on my “about” page, I haven’t posted any images or videos of myself, but I do often share personal stories in my posts and find that always gets a great response from readers – as you say, people like to feel they’re connecting with a real human being.

  41. Sarah Bauer says:

    Thoughtful post here, Darren! The blogger selfie topic doesn’t get much attention online, but it’s definitely something that we all think about.

    There are photos attached to my blog posts across multiple websites and I’m OK with it. Here’s why: I choose to provide photos of myself that I like! Some of them date back a couple years, but what of it? They reflect who I am in a way that I am comfortable sharing, and create a confident space for connecting with readers on a person-to-person level.

    Cheers,
    Sarah Bauer
    Navigator Multimedia

  42. I have my pic, on my “about” page, and Gravatar on the sidebar. That’s all, and I don’t think that’s enough on this type of site. I always look on the “about” page on other blogs and always want to see the author’s picture. it’s very important for me.

  43. Darren, I can just see it now… You and your wife sitting in the living room with a bunching of typing noises in the air. :D Your going to have to pass that blogging down to your kids next!

  44. Yasmina says:

    I’ve never posted pictures or videos of myself. I understand that it will help me connect with people. Giving a personal touch in one’s post always helps relate to people. But I’m still very apprehensive about it. Thanks for the post.

  45. Aaron says:

    I have my mugshot on my home page and another on my About page. I have used photos of myself in some of my blog posts and have no problem with it.
    Since my blog is mainly to drive more face to face business I figure my potential clients have every right to see who they might be considering contacting.
    I will say though that it drives me up the wall when individuals in my line of work do not include a single photo of themselves on their site. It makes me wonder if they have something to hide, like maybe they are not practicing what they preach.

  46. Daryl says:

    Darren,

    You should wear a turban more often!

    Currently I do have a couple of pictures on my website – though these aren’t on my posts, but my about me page and contact page.

    In the future, I will add relevant stories/pictures of or about myself when the time is right!

  47. David Kirba says:

    I love that “doctored” picture of you :) I have not posted a picture of myself yet… and I’m not sure if I would be comfortable doing it. The same applies to most areas of my life… I don’t post many pictures of myself on my social networking sites either. I just prefer being behind the camera, not in front of it.

  48. Hey Darren,

    It’s funny how I didn’t think this would help to connect and engage with readers until I saw someone else do it just recently. At first I thought it was strange, but I saw the results that came from it. I figured it would be the same as posting pictures in your profile or on your wall in facebook. People want to connect with those that aren’t hiding from the world. Showing your different expressions can definitely attract people and allow them to get really familiar with who you are. Thanks for sharing!

  49. People like people. That’s key. The power of the photo is what it is because we’re not capable of making connections with a name. The face is what’s key. I’d speculate that’s played a large part in Vanessa’s recent traffic growth.

    It also may have helped her to go all in and take blogging more seriously. I know beginning to post pictures of myself on my blog definitely had the same effect!

  50. Hi Darren
    I am so glad you posted this article. I started blogging about 7 months ago. Several times I have been ready to post a photo of myself but when it came time to do ….I could not do it. I could not figure out why I was having such a tough time with this till I read this article. I discovered that fear is the problem. I am my worst critic and when I look at all the blogs out there , mine seams to fall short. In my mind I am afraid to post a picture of me because then I am exposing the person behind the blog. Even though my name is on there …it’s different
    But I believe I am reaching a point when I am ready to post a picture and feel good about it.
    Thanks for all your great articles