Unfortunately, the answer to life, the universe and everything isn't really 42 (The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy). Dearly wish it was; life and blogging would have been so much simpler.
Why do people blog? To connect with people, to promote stuff, to play expert on something, or to vent about things, or some combination of the above, or all of the above? Betsy Lerner, the author of The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers, said in her book that authors want their work to be published and read because the motivation deep down is that they want to be loved. I think it is the same for blogging; deep down bloggers wish for validation in the form of readership, too. If nobody takes interest (well, positive interest) in a blog, it would take a rather self-absorbed author to find it fun, as opposed to a pointless soul-destroying task. Okay, so I am being dramatic. It is true, though, that if the author does not care for an audience, it might as well be a private diary. Otherwise, a lack of interest inevitably renders a sense of rejection that will gradually gnaw away the authors' motivation to continue the blog.
But why do people follow blogs? I guess, people have to relate, which is obviously some level of connection, to what you have to say. That is, of course, discounting the occasional 'follower' with the ulterior motive of gaining exposure for themselves through someone else's more popular blog. Anyhow, appreciating one post does not make a reader care about reading another of the same blog.
I have been told that my blog apparently is too discrete (no, not "discreet"), having no sense of continuum or a specific enough theme, one type of appeal for return visits. Even a blog on puzzles, with puzzles, provides both a theme and the enticement of another rush, the pleasure of playing another game.
It is fine and dandy to have a theme, but short of continually renewed challenges, like games, or a tantalizing unfolding story/stream of events, a theme otherwise doesn't exactly engage readers to become 'long term customers'. However, many blogs, including ones on various expertise, that reveal glimpses into the authors' personal life, especially trials and triumphs, seem to receive plenty of following. Needless to say, people connect with you if they can relate on some level to what you are going through. Even if an author is blogging about designs and arts, perhaps, readers get to feel like they know the 'star' behind the glamour. This completely contradicts some of the advices that warns a blog should not be about the author. Mind you, the author of one such advice blogged about the author's own personal horrible experience in the very next post.
Let's not delude ourselves; blogging is, as any writing for a readership is, motivated by a desire for validation, i.e. it is about the blogger, but with strong hopes for sharing common grounds with readers. Well, it would be in no doubt a bit more of a struggle for a blogger to kindle connection with readers through personability, if the person is self-conscious or more-than-mildly allergic to disclosing anything about herself.
Perhaps, the question isn't "to disclose, or not to disclose", but rather, what and to what degree is appropriate disclosure. This is sounding more and more akin to a test of EQ.
This post does not offer any answers, sorry. I do not wish to condescend to my readers, because that would be playing expert, which I am not. I am merely offering my thoughts to anyone interested to ponder. If you have any answers, I would love to hear from you.