Ah…the joys of the Internet. It allows people who you don't know and can remain anonymous to call your ankles fat and speculate on whether or not you're pregnant when you just had a little too much desert. All while remaining anonymous. But it also gives us a platform for doing what we love and sometimes earning a living from it, so yeah, there are tradeoffs.
Over the years, I've written a lot on the subject of haters and dealing with negativity on fashion blogs, starting with the blogger trend of several years ago to close comments completely. Ultimately, your blog is your blog, you don't owe it to anyone to accept floods of negative comments or even to deal with them in a specific way, but if you hope at all to blog long-term, or use your blog/online presence to launch into a new career, then learning how to deal with negativity is par for the course.
Prepare for it
If you're going to call yourself an “expert” at something, or give yourself a title, then you should be prepared to hear from people who may not agree with your characterization of yourself. I'm not saying you have to defend every statement you make or how you see yourself, just that you need to be ready for the haters to come out of the woodwork. Once you've declared yourself “social media guru” (please don't), or “stylist,” it's out there, and you should have a body of work or list of accomplishments to back up your claims.
And nowadays if you have a presence online, and especially if you post pictures of yourself, you're going to get negative comments either on your blog, or off. Decide before you do it if you're ready to handle the criticism, whether it's founded or not, and if you're not, then maybe putting yourself out there online isn't the right choice for you. Whether we agree with people posting anonymous (or not anonymous) negative comments online or not, it's going to happen, so have a plan in place for how you're going to deal with it; it should never take you by surprise.
Learn from it
You can tell a difference between shallow, ridiculous negative comments from commenters who are just trying to be hurtful, and the ones who bring up valid concerns/issues. Any comment about a blogger's physical appearance I put in the shallow, ridiculous bin and ignore it, but if readers are commenting on disclosure issues, sponsored posts, or politely disagreeing with something you wrote, then perhaps they have a point.
A lot of times, the things that hurt us most have a ring of truth to them, and it's up to us to figure out what we're meant to learn from them. Don't just dismiss every disagreement or negative comment you receive; decide if there's any merit to it at all, and how you're going to learn from it.
Respond to it
If you're interested in having genuine conversation on your blog, and the comment in question is a respectful disagreement with you and/or has some validity, it's best if you respond to it. If the comment contains a personal attack, borders on just being hateful AND you decide NOT to delete it, I feel like it's good practice to respond to it, but rise above it and take the higher ground. Respond politely, with facts as much as possible, and perhaps an apology if that is warranted.
If you're making an argument for or against something, be prepared to back it up, and clarify what you meant if it could have been taken out of context or was offensive in some way. You're never going to make everyone happy, or get them to agree with you, but if you are polite and keep your response simple and to the point, you'll go a long way towards cultivating a respectful, vibrant community on your blog.
Some negative comments should be ignored or moderated out; comments that are simply hurtful and mean for the sake of being hurtful can safely be ignored or deleted. Name-calling and pointing out physical flaws are always grounds for deletion in my book, but I always take a second to try and look at the comment as an outsider to try and determine why the reader left it.
Overall, your blog is your community and your “home” online, so it should be treated with respect, and you have the ultimate say in the tone of the comments and what gets approved and deleted. But think about the power that has and what you want to do with it – how you want to be perceived long-term, and what your community says about you. Most importantly, know what you're getting into when you start a fashion blog, and be prepared for everything that will come your way – both positive AND negative. Dealing with both will be the measure of your success.
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]