You may have heard the fuss around the interwebs over the past few days regarding a certain blogger who has felt the need to close down her blog at the hand of online bullies.
I’m not going to cover the details, but instead will say that bullying, name calling, and judgments that aren’t constructive and rather filled with vitriol, are NEVER okay and NEVER justified.
So instead of rehash the situation, I would like to offer some poignant reminders on blogging. Although these points are aimed at those new to the blogosphere, I think all bloggers sometimes need a gentle reminder too.
Let me preface this by admitting, I’m certainly no expert, but after being in the blogosphere for over six years the invaluable thing I can offer is experience. (It took me 5 blogs to find my niche!)
1. Be comfortable with what you are writing
I’ve written previously about blogging with authenticity and with heart. It goes without saying that if you are creating a ‘persona’ online, it will be your downfall.
Be honest, and be yourself, but also be comfortable with what you are putting out there. If you want to go all out, that’s fine. On the other hand, if you want to be more reserved and private, that too is fine. Find the balance that sits well with you.
It may take time. Believe me I’ve had a lot of trial and a lot of errors. I’ve gone from a short stint of all out blogging and sharing everything, to anonymous blogging behind a pen name, to where I am today.
The bottom line is, trust your gut. If it sits okay with you, great, but if you have any doubts, really think before you hit publish.
2. Think globally
If you naively think that no-one will read your blog you are wrong. Although you may not think your blog reaches further than family and friends, it only takes the click of a ‘share’ button for your thoughts to go global. I’m always surprsied when I check my Google analytics (which isn’t that often oops!) how many different countries my blog reaches. And I’m one of the smaller bloggers! There’s a reason it’s called the World Wide Web.
3. How much do you want to share?
This is something that you will learn over time, but it is probably the most important things to remember.
Some questions to ask yourself are:
Do you want to share photos of your children and your family?
How much personal information do you want to put out there? i.e. Where you live? Where you work? Your daily schedule? Holiday plans?
Are you comfortable knowing that your personal stories will be dissected and judged and available for everyone to see?
Would your children be happy in years to come knowing you have shared so much of their lives online with, for lack of a better word, ‘strangers’?
Would you be happy for your employer or a potential employer to stumble across your blog? Or your parents? Or Grandma?
Remember, once it’s out there, it’s out there!
4. It’s not just your blog, it’s your entire online presence
Although you may be quite good at setting boundaries on your blog, do you apply this to your other online platforms?
It’s not just your blog, you need to make sure all your online platforms reflect your boundaries. And it’s important with Facebook to check your security and privacy settings regularly. For me, the place I do share some more personal photos is Facebook, and because of this I check my privacy settings weekly. Facebook is constantly changing their settings which often bump off your privacy settings, so go check yours now!
5. Prepare yourself for the good, the bad and the ugly.
Of course the good parts of blogging usually outweigh the bad, but even so, as wrong as it is, you must prepare yourself for the ugly side. Even if you are a small time blogger you will at some stage receive some negative feedback or be judged.
My most recent encounter was after commenting on another blog where I shared my opinion on a ‘controversial’ subject. I was then engaged by another commenter who proceeded to judge my opinion and call me a hypocrite. It’s not a nice feeling, and there are many bloggers who have suffered so much worse. So much horribly worse.
Unfortunately the internet provides perfect conditions for judging others. People can hide behind ‘screen names’ and ‘avatars’ and say what ever they like. Often things they would never dream of saying to your face.
Many believe that if you are writing on the internet that it entitles others to judge your every sentence. Every opinion, every photo, every piece of you and your life.But it doesn’t. And it’s crazy to think that it won’t happen. The world is not perfect, people are not always kind nor compassionate and respect is something that is all too often lacking.
Bring your manners to the table. Be aware that your words, no matter how good intentioned may hurt a lot deeper than you realise.
However you decide to blog is entirely up to you, but don’t ever feel you are limiting yourself as a blogger if you choose to set boundaries. And again, trust that gut; it’s almost always right.
What boundaries do you have for your blog?
Have you ever regretted putting something out there?