“Personal” Blogging: Where’s the Line Between Authenticity & Privacy?

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Authentic” is arguably one of the most overused words when it comes to blogging and social media these days. People want brands to be authentic if they're represented on Twitter or Facebook. That's how we can trust we are speaking to a real human being, with personality, brand knowledge and maybe even a little wit. People expect the same of personal bloggers, including all of us! Each one of us was inspired to start blogging for one reason or another. Eventually we reach the point where we need to consciously think about how much we're sharing – either because of time, or because our blog reaches critical mass and our readers demand it of us. So how do we find that sweet balance of being authentic via our blog or social media, while maintaining some shred of sanity and privacy for ourselves?

Hackers, stalkers and trolls are abound on the internet, and you don't have time for that!

I bring up privacy because it's a very real thing to worry about. Hackers, stalkers and trolls are abound on the internet, and you don't have time for that! Personal style bloggers shoot outfit and event photos often near their home, and while there's some amazing scenery in our backyards, safety and common sense should play a part in how obvious your location is. It might sound exaggerated – but you also don't want to be the example of when sharing goes wrong!

Many of us represent so much more than just ourselves – we have families, significant others, friends, jobs and neighborhoods who are very much a part of our world too. Be mindful and respectful of how comfortable they are with you including them in blog posts, FourSquare check-ins or tweets. Personally, my mother and sister are super-shy and don't spend a ton of time on social media, so I don't mention them a whole lot in my blog posts or updates.

Be mindful and respectful of how comfortable [your friends/family] are with you including them in blog posts, FourSquare check-ins or tweets.

There's another term out there associated with having a digital presence, and that's “FOMO“, or the fear of missing out. It's very easy to get caught up in FOMO – for example, have you ever scrolled through your Instagram or Twitter feed and wished you had the popularity, closet or endless trips to beautiful places that high-profile bloggers are blessed with? (Don't do that & compare yourself, by the way. Comparison is the thief of joy, as they say. It's also the thief of productivity, self-confidence and momentum!) Or maybe you're unwittingly inspiring FOMO in your readers or followers, leading to resentment or jealousy. We are all guilty of sharing only the most-flattering photos and news we're most proud of. I'm challenging you today to “keep it real” with your readers. If you're comfortable with it, post about a bad day, or no-makeup-sweatpants day, or a serious “I'm going through some stuff” post (life changes, being sick, etc.) You'd be surprised how many of your readers will open up and relate their own bad days or life-changing situations to you. Better yet, if you're down, your readers can offer support, love and kindness in a time of need.

More than anything, being authentic shouldn't feel forced, and while you should challenge yourself to be the best blogger you can be, understand your comfort level with how much you're sharing about yourself. When you are writing from an honest and true place, that's when your readers can truly see your shine.

 

Where do you draw the line between what you're sharing and your privacy?

[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

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15 Responses

  1. Stacey

    I’m so glad you posted this. Just today, I posted a picture of my infant son on my blog to announce some big news and I couldn’t help but think…”Am I pimping out my son?” I’ve tried very hard not to include a lot of personal things about him and my family to keep that autonomy, but as a fashion and lifestyle blogger who sometimes talks about motherhood, I also need to share personal things at some level. Its definitely a balance I’m still working on!

    Reply
    • Addie

      I agree with the balance statement Stacey.
      And thank you for this: “Comparison is the thief of joy, as they say. It’s also the thief of productivity, self-confidence and momentum!)” AMEN!

      http://willcodeforclothes.com

      Reply
  2. Juliana

    I love the line “comparison is the thief of joy.” It’s such a beautiful way of saying something that’s very, very true. Thank you for this post!

    – Juliana

    Reply
  3. The Redhead

    Even in my outfit posts I say a little bit about myself and my day. I also have posts that are irrelevant with fashion and are just important times for me. Truth is though half the people don’t even read. Ex my latest post were I have photos of a makeup artist working on a model that looks nothing like me and I got comments like “you look awesome”. It is disappointing that people don’t even read the 1st line sometimes…

    Reply
      • Paula shoe fiend

        I used to get miffed about people that left comments demonstrating they had’nt even read the first line of a post but then I think about all the international visitors my blog gets, they maybe have English as a second language or cannot read it at all – they may look to your blog just for your pictures – OR – they may just be trying to get you to visit theirs in which case you were never going to reach them anyway. So don’t feel discouraged, for every spammer there is a reader out there wanting to make a real connection and it’s great when you find those people 🙂

        ♥ Paula Shoe Fiend.

  4. Joelle & Zeke

    I’ve been actually meaning to put up a page on my blog that readers can read if they wish regarding my health challenges I have dealt and am dealing with. I was told more than once in my personal life that I seemed too perfect and that people would have a tough time relating to or befriending me because they would feel that they would have nothing to offer me. Nothing could be farther from the truth as I have struggled so much in my life and have been envious of others for seemingly being too perfect. Now as a blogger over 40, I have discovered over the years that everyone has bad days and struggles – you just might not know about them. I think sharing some of the bad things is cathartic and it makes people trust you and relate to you more. Maybe I have to go and make that page ’cause it might help and inspire others as well.

    Reply
  5. Cameron

    My father reads everything I write, whether in my blog or for my freelance work, so there are some things I will never bring up in my writing (especially when it comes to the safety of my father, my family and myself).

    Speaking of, I haven’t written in my blog much about my own struggle to get back on my feet after losing my job through Chapter 7 bankruptcy; in fact, my blog has been dead because said struggle came to a head this summer, leading to my departure to Seattle to start again. My reasoning: No one really needs to read about this, as most of it is depressing.

    That’s all I have to say.

    Reply
  6. Mary King

    I try to write “personally” but am careful about how personal I get. I don’t necessarily mind writing about details of my personal life, but I am very careful about it. I absolutely do not discuss specific things/people in order to protect their privacy. I learned about that the hard way several years ago when I ran a forum on a completely unrelated topic and one person did her best to not only disparage me on several sites, but also attempted to drag those things into it as . She had been banned from every single site she posted on, but I learned very quickly how much trouble one single person can cause if they are determined to do it. From then on out, I made the decision not to discuss these things. I have a good friend who went through a similar situation with her blog. She discusses her family a lot, and one unhappy reader took that information and tried to cause trouble at her daughter’s job. If leaving out certain aspects of my life causes me to lose some readers, so be it. But it isn’t worth risking the privacy of those I love.

    Reply
  7. Donna

    Good points. I put a little bit about myself on my blog in order to explain why I’m qualified, or where I’m coming from. Occasionally I will write about personal tragedies, usually to explain why I’m not posting.
    Four weeks ago my father was hospitalized and I had to go out of town right away to be with him. I didn’t have time to write posts in advance, and while I was there I was too busy to write. Then he passed away, and once I got home I was too sad to write about beauty or fashion. I wrote a post to explain my absence, and it also was somewhat cathartic for me to write about it. I never put names in my posts, and I didn’t post any photos of my Dad to protect my family’s privacy. To me that is a good way to share.
    Donna
    http://Www.prettysparklythings.blogspot.com

    Reply
  8. Andra Dorolti

    Interesting article and very true.
    I am also quite personal and give more examples. However, I try to keep it casual and I never share something too personal or intimate.
    Even so, many people ask me why or how can I do it.. I guess it’s also part of our personality.
    I do not mind giving more details about myself and what I do… however, like this article states, we need to be careful.

    Andra

    http://www.andradorolti.com/

    Reply
  9. Toni Styles

    Important article. We as bloggers have a responsibility both to self and to our readers. We should be authentic – some may share more than others, but because the platform is a public one, it requires a level of caution. I think readers ultimately appreciate that.

    http://rhythmandruffle.com <3

    Reply
  10. choolee

    i try to write peronally but not telling to much about my privat situation. best example: you had a rough day at work, your boss pisses you off. i would never say so! or you are complaining to your bf, you had some “specific” illness 😀 i would never tell my readers about things like that. and the most importend thing, safity first. never tell a stranger your phonenr. adress or something. its enough to get spamed per mail. And – I nerver discuss with ppl about that – its my life so my rules 🙂

    check out my blog, i’d love to read your feedback about my “personal” writing <3
    http://www.chicchoolee.com

    Reply
  11. Ernest

    There’s a war going on online when it comes to privacy and authenticity.
    How easy is it to copy and paste someone else’s content and use it freely by just making a little bit of editing. How easy is it for people’s credit card and bank information being stolen. Were is the boundary the line you don’t cross and who is in charge of drawing that line??? All of us

    This is a war that can never be won.

    Reply