Would you pass “The TMI Test”?

Would You Pass The TMI Test
Think about your Facebook News Feed for a minute. Do any of these look familiar?

  • “Check out this rash. Think it’s poison ivy?” (Please, please just check WebMD.)
  • “I’m so borrrrrred.” (Translation: “I need some purpose in my life. Or maybe Netflix.”)
  • “Spaghetti with meatballs tonight!” (Unless you own a restaurant….)
  • “Look who went #2 in the potty!” (I know I’ll be a proud mama when that happens, but please e-smack me if I alert the media.)

It’s called sharing T.M.I. Too. much. information. It happens, and we’re all keenly aware of it. That’s precisely why I get this question all. of. the time:

“How do I let my audience/clients/fans know who I am without sharing TOO much?”

There’s no simple answer, but I’ve come up with a short list of TWO common sense questions to help you make smart choices on a case-by-case basis.

I call it “The TMI Test.”

Here’s a little backstory for you: This whole topic was inspired by a conversation I had with one of my dream clients (and friends!), Grishma Dille. We were talking about babies (our kiddos are the same age), and I sent her a link to a post from my personal blog, Stories from a Screensaver. Her first response?

“Nikki, I didn’t know you had a blog before this!”

That sentence literally jumped off of the screen and smacked me in the face. I’ve known Grish since MARCH, and I didn’t tell her about my blog? (It’s all about my family and my pregnancy, for Pete’s, and that’s her specialty!)

The thing is: I haven’t been intentionally HIDING my personal blog from you (it’s actually been linked over on my Giving Back page since the dawn of time, June 6th), but I haven’t drawn your attention to it either.

Two reasons why:

  1. I haven’t had time to make a good plan. Figuring out how to merge these two “worlds” was a big concern of mine before I actually launched my business. But then, things got a little busy.
  2. I didn’t write that content to be helpful. It was just for fun, family, and friends. I wasn’t sure if my biz crowd (YOU) would care to know about it. (Sidenote: Totally take a look and tell me if you would, BTW. You can even watch my biz idea develop before your eyes!)

Why am I telling you all this? To prove to you that I’ve struggled with this question too. Yet another reason for me to create…

The TMI Test

Click the video to check it out:

So that’s it! Pretty simple, right? And in case you’re feeling geeky…

  • You don’t need to tell them everything; you just need to tell them enough. (Tweet that!)
  • If you wouldn’t want to see it on Google page 1, DON’T SHARE IT. (Tweet that!)

It’s share time!

We can talk about all KINDS of fun stuff this week. I even thought of a bonus Q after shooting the video.

To start, if you’ve got more Qs related to writing about YOU and your business (without sounding like a robot), click right here to be sure they’re answered in my upcoming course.

Then, in the comments below THIS post, tell me (us):

  • What’s one personal story that has really resonated with your audience?
  • What’s one thing you’d never need to tell them, but would be fun to tell us anyway?

As always, if you like this post (and don’t think it’s TMI), please SHARE it using the icons to the left. Maybe together we can stop people from posting rashes on Facebook. (Oh why not…tweet that too.)

To just enough information,




P.S. If you think you need professional help (when it comes to words + people), work with me. That’s what I do, dude.

P.P.S. If you’re keeping track, this post undoubtedly holds my personal record for number of links. It’s a miracle you made it this far!



  1. claire stone

    Another (your second!) great video, with a really handy way to see what is TMI! I always struggle with how much I should share – not because I don’t want to share too deeply, but that I worry that I’m just too darned goofy to be considered professional if I go sharing exactly who I am! And this video has made me realise that, for the time being, I guess I do have sides to my personality that I’m just not comfortable having on the front page! So that takes one thing off my mind!
    thank you so much,

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Another Q I get all the time, Claire! People want to show personality but maintain credibility, and of COURSE that’s totally possible. (Hello, Conversational Copy Cheat Sheet!)

      That said – that front page rule is a great filter.

      It’s easy to slip into a comfort zone and think we’ve got our own private corners of the digital world, but NOTHING’s really private these days. Gotta remember that!

      1. claire stone

        Soooo true. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who worries about that. Thanks for bringing it down to an easy level though which makes it much more simple for people like me!

  2. Lynn

    Thanks for the video. What if we are very private people and have a hard time sharing ourselves with people we don’t know. I realize it is part of having an online business but it is very hard for me. How do you get over that?

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Perfect follow-up Q, Lynn! I’ve been asked that a lot as well. These two go hand-in-hand!

      First, remember you really never have to share anything you don’t WANT to share (Q2).

      Then try to flip your switch and think from THEIR perspective. What would they need to know about you in order to feel comfortable doing business with you? That know, like, and trust factor.

      With a lot of this, it helps to come from a place of service – as in, put the focus on who you’re trying to HELP as opposed to you. Sometimes it’s easier to put yourself out there if you know you’re really serving someone by doing so.

      Does that make sense?

  3. Teri

    Hi Nikki, great video and super wrap up at the end :)

    I share just enough to let people know who I am, ex: I’m a Nana to 4 grandbabies at the age of 43… I met my hunky Texas husband online.. Fun little stuff that I’m proud to talk about. I shared a small list at the bottom of my about page but since it was at the bottom I figured that only those who were really interested would go that far anyway. There was one thing I hesitated to share because of its controversy but I shared anyway (I’m a firearms owner). But when it comes down to it, if someone doesn’t want to work with me because of this then that’s ok, because to me it’d be a silly reason anyway. I also added my personal belief, (boldly inspired by you) and I’m ok with that too. Thank you Nikki!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      You’ve got it, Teri! Everybody loves a Nana, and your “right people” will definitely appreciate the details – even (especially) the “controversial” ones :)

      Main point here is that when we’re communicating for our businesses, important to think about what serves our audiences FIRST. That’s exactly why I advise my clients to start with the helpful stuff, then include the fun stuff a bit further down the page (just like you’ve done!)

  4. Louvelle Marie

    Love this post Nikki, so true, thought provoking and NECESSARY in this day and age!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      So glad you liked it, Louvelle. Thank you for sharing that!

  5. Janelle Page

    Another awesome video! The special effects are getting better each week! ;)

    I first began as an Intuitive Eating coach working with women struggling with eating disorders, disordered eating (yes there is a difference between the two) and messed up relationships with food.

    I debated whether I should share that I too had suffered from an eating disorder in college. It was something I worried would hurt my credibility. I decided that this unique challenge made me specially suited to help these women and so my personal struggles definitley added value.

    I am glad I decided to share and I’m glad it wasn’t TMI. It has helped me build relationships of trust with my clients and be a more effective and personable mentor. My services have now expanded and I continue to share relevant life experiences.

    I have never really had a system for self disclosure, but I’m digging the 1) does it add value and the 2) do I care if it’s on google approach. Thanks for putting it in words. You truly are the communication stylist extraordinaire! ;)

    Janelle Page
    Self-Improvement Trainer

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      That’s a great example of a USEFUL, relevant, helpful share, Janelle! Makes you more relatable AND more credible since your clients know you’ve been through it. Empathy is a powerful thing.

      Thanks for “sharing” it here! :)

  6. Marsha from YesYesMarsha.com


    For YEARS, I’ve had two self-imposed rules on twitter:

    (1) Every post must ADD VALUE (Just like the lady said!)
    (2) No complaining unless it’s funny or interesting.

    Now, with adding value, I would include, “adding value to my friend by mentioning and making her happy (in moderation), and
    “adding value to me by making me look cool”
    (eg https://twitter.com/YesYesMarsha/status/376814462474272768)
    (though I would like to add that I chased that up with a value-adding movie review!)

    LOVED the “Would you be happy if this went viral?” – totally adding it to the rule list!

    Thanks, Nikki. Another ace video. You rule!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Marsha, you’re always on point.

      GREAT rules. Thanks for sharing the inclusions! “Making her happy” and “Making me look cool” are totally legit intentions ;)

  7. Amy

    I am very excited for your first online course :)

  8. Eden

    Great post, sharing to get it out to the masses because, seriously, this needs to be said more often.
    When hubby and I were getting ready to move out of the country I wasn’t sure if I wanted to let my business audience know because I didnt want to seem like I was boosting and that my business/clients would be effected by us moving to paradise. But I shared it on my Facebook page and was surprised at the overwhelming amount of support and kudos.
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Looks like a smart decision, Eden! I would LOVE to visit Belize one day.

      I’m happy to share our life in Hawaii — in the images on this site, in the theme of my private FB page (“The Island of Dream Clients”), and, one day, in a LIVE event of some kind…still dreaming up the details :)

  9. Sumbul

    Great post Nikki.

    Sometimes when I am writing a blog I do wonder if I am not sharing enough but I always put a personal story in it because I do believe that people connect with it and get the message more than a robotic version of the story.

    One personal story that has really resonated with my audience is the story about how I was working as a dentist one day and like a light switch went on and started feeling other people’s energy. I was a complete skeptic so did not even believe in energy at that time, but the story of how it all started was a big hit with my audience.

    What I have not shared with them and am sharing with you is that from that point my life was not pleasant. I went through several periods of self doubt and “are you crazy thinking that you are talking to the dead?” thoughts! But now I am totally standing in my truth(loving it too) and know where I am going is pretty exciting. But I usually do not share all my reservations at the time I got my calling cause I do think it is TMI!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Great example(s), Sumbul!

      Stories are helpful for so many reasons. From a communication standpoint: we process information better when we hear it in narrative form. From a human perspective: we love to relate to (and work with) real PEOPLE.

      Keep on sharing, sister.

  10. Eleanore Strong

    Great video, Nikki! I’m building a business around the concept of leading a drama-free life. I write about choosing good relationships and avoiding bad ones, having difficult conversations, and moving on from disappointment. So many of the lessons I teach were learned from direct experience, so I sometimes worry about how to protect the privacy of the people in my stories and avoid sounding like I’m badmouthing them. Thus far I’ve handled it by changing identifying details, avoiding names, and sometimes merging two stories together. I also try to focus more on the lesson learned from the experience than on criticizing the person I learned it from! :) It’s challenging, and I bet it’s something many writers struggle with.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      “Focus more on the lesson than on criticizing the person you learned it from.” – I think you’ve got a tweetable there, Eleanore :)

      1. Eleanore Strong

        You’re right! Adding it to my list right now. :)

        1. Nikki Elledge Brown

          Sweet! Tag me in it (@nikkielledge) so I can retweet it for you :)

  11. Susie Mordoh

    What a great post Nikki, I’m a video fan because I feel like it’s a window into your world and getting to know you. The TMI test is great! I always thought that way about email. Don’t put it in writing if you can’t bear to see it on a billboard in Times Square ;) Thank you!!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      It’s true and SO easy to forget, Susie. The internet doesn’t forget!

      Nice to meet you :)

  12. Natcha

    Story that resonates with my audience: struggling with body image as a young Asian girl, as well as my weight and a few chronic health issues.

    I feel like my audience *needs* to know this. Am I over the top here? Maybe they didn’t need to know that I almost died of anorexia but this is where all my passion came from.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Trust your intuition, Natcha! Sounds like you know your story, your audience, and exactly how sharing your story can serve them.

      Let me know how it goes :)

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