When Times Get Tough…Should You Discuss It On Your Blog?

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I'm going to be totally honest here, and admit that when I'm in a period of emotional stress, trauma, depression, grieving, and just general strife in my personal life, I pretty much fall apart. As I've aged, I've gotten much better at dealing with these things as time has gone on, but I still can't get over the fact that I simply cannot focus and write during these periods of my life.

I don't have the same motivation, energy, or the enthusiasm to write about the fun, fashion-related items that I love to share, when something that feels so all-consuming and serious is bearing down on me. I think it's human nature to want to share what's top-of-mind, but when you normally talk about fashion and beauty, and you're having health issues or your cat is super duper sick (which is what happened to me a few weeks ago), it's hard to resist sharing what's really on your mind with your readers, since it's all that you care about now, even though it may be completely out of context for your blog.

It's a difficult balance between letting readers into your into your life, yet ensuring that they don't feel uncomfortable or off-put by something that you may experiencing.

I asked a few well-established blogging friends to weigh in, so that we can all gain some perspective on some strategies to professionally walk the line when encountering this:

Katy Atlas, Sugar Laws

“Many bloggers struggle with how to present the details of their lives online — especially during the tough moments.  I think a blogger should always try to embrace openness and honesty, when things are going well and when they're not — but it takes a lot of courage to share the tough times, and sometimes it's just too hard to do when you're in the thick of them.

My balance is this: I write about my own tough moments, but I mostly do it after the fact.

When things are tough, it's sometimes just too hard to share my thoughts and feelings online, but once I've figured out how to move forward, I try my best to be open about whatever the challenge was.

One example: After posting weekly baby bump photos for 40 weeks, once our son was born, I finally wrote about the difficulties I'd had trying to get pregnant (here).

Partly out of superstition and partly from privacy, I never felt comfortable sharing our story until after the baby was here.  But once I did, I received so many wonderful comments and emails from readers who appreciated that I was willing to share the struggle as well as the happy ending.”

Bryce Gruber, The Luxury Spot

“Yes, I do share, but in an upbeat way. A while back a close friend of mine was going through a health crisis, so I posted an article sharing cute, proactive ways to support research for her illness. I try not to dwell too deeply on the sadness/hate stuff, but I definitely do include uplifting and supportive things.

Readers seem to like the realism and the thanks-for-not-making-me-cry-at-my-desk approach.”

 Jen Jeffery, House of Jeffers

“As a blogger, you put out this perception of who you are. But, the reality is there's life beyond the OOTD post. I'm human, and hardships happen which aren't as fun to talk about as that new Kate Spade handbag is. While your readers visit your blog because they want to connect with you through your style and to be inspired, they might not be so interested, or care, in a post about something that's especially sad and uncomfortable to read.

Typically on House Of Jeffers, I am very guarded about sharing things in my personal life.

While I do think it's important to give your audience a well-rounded look into who you are, and what your interests are beyond the blog, the decision to share something very personal and troubling might not be of relevance to your blog.

It's relevant to you, but your readers, while sympathetic to your troubles, might be turned off by your bummer of a post.

This April, I made the decision to share that I had to undergo surgery. Beyond the blog, this was a very difficult time in my life with a lot of back story that I didn't share with my readers – because it really was a downer. But, I approached the subject in a way that gave them insight into why I'd be gone from my blog for a while, and my feelings on why I took me so long to write about it. So while the post was about my surgery, I talked more about how I didn't want my blog to turn into an epic pity party. I think it's all in the way you approach writing about bad news so that it's relatable, not uncomfortable, to your audience.”

How have you dealt with discussing (or not discussing) such topics on your blog?

[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

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About The Author

Blogging at her site Fashion Pulse Daily since 2008 and working on fashion's editorial side since 2003 has lent Julia the acumen to think creatively and endure in the colliding worlds of blogging, fashion and beauty. New York City is her backdrop for inspiration (and many a outfit photo), where she is often found on her couch, feverishly typing away at her latest post, with her trusty feline at her side. Follow her on Instagram , Twitter, and Pinterest.

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21 Responses

  1. Roxanne

    As a blogger, no matter whether you carry a top profile or are just one of the ‘regular ones’, you do have a following, say on twitter and Instagram, and while you might not exactly instagram those hard moments, you definitely might tweet about them at some point, and based on the level of those hardships, your followers might want to know more, and that’s how you connect with them.
    I believe in sharing when things get tough. However there’s a fine line between sharing and talking about tough stuff and whining and complaining as well. As long as you draw that line in between, you’re good.
    When I lost a loved one, I did a post where I spoke about it and shared memories as well.

    .

    Reply
  2. Mel

    I was literally thinking about this earlier today. I’m going through a very difficult and personal situation but felt like it wasn’t relevant to what I have posted on my blog in the past.

    Reply
  3. Sammi

    I think there is a tendency among bloggers to make our blog a positive place or an escape from reality. Of course, you want your blog to be a nice place to visit for your readers, but I have found that being honest about any hardships you’re experiencing have a really positive effect on readership and comments. I’ve seen bloggers get into a rut of complaining and getting TOO deep into the negatives of their personal lives, but I think if you’re having a tough time and it’s out of the ordinary, it benefits to share it, if you can. Your readers will respect your vulnerability and frankness, and it’s a way for them to see the “real” you. In addition, it can absolutely be a catharsis to share your hardships in such a way. It takes a bit of courage, I’ll admit, but being able to write about a horrible breakup and an unexpected death of a friend were really important posts in my blogging journey, and they were actually really well-received.

    Reply
  4. TlvBirdie

    We all have up and downs, it’s only natural.
    Once you decide you’re making it personal on your blog, it doesn’t mean your readers would watch you always smiling and cheered up. If you have a reliable base of followers, who not only post comments about your bag or shoes, but who have a sympathy for you as a personal, they will only support you, share their experiences on the subject and leave their advices. But I never accept complaining, this is the thing that has to be buried in the darkest part of your closet.

    Oly
    http://www.tlvbirdie.com

    Reply
  5. Lara

    It depends on the blog nice of course, but I like it when people are honest. I don’t personally like complaining too much, but if I can turn a negative experience into a post that can encourage others, I will def do that. I have written about my depression and ADHD but they are sorta recovery stories -and with a spark of humor.

    Reply
  6. heather

    I think it’s important to share your personal experience with your readers. You are beyond just your lovely outfits and events that you attend. I love sharing happy times with my readers as well as some of the low moments. You never know someone might be going through the same thing as you and can find someone to relate too. I do believe that these shouldn’t just be “bitching” post but educational or inspirational. I had wrote a post with my outfit post when our wedding reception had closed on us 3 weeks prior to our wedding. I wanted to share this moment in my life b/c I wanted people to know that life can deal you a shitty hand sometimes but you need to be thankful for the people in your life. I just think we are more then one dimensional.

    <3
    heather
    fashionistanygirl.com

    Reply
  7. Adrianna

    I agree with the bloggers in your article about sharing with their readers after the fact or turning the personal issue into a positive post. However, sometimes privacy is ok too, after all, my readers come to my site for style inspiration. xx

    http://aakinal.com

    Reply
  8. Tara

    I’m always a big proponent of honesty, but honesty with discretion. As a blogger, you don’t have to reveal any details – well, you don’t have to reveal anything, really – but I think that it’s always much more dignified to let your readers know something is up. A blog isn’t a magazine or newspaper. The whole point is to generate a conversation (hence the comments), so you have a more intimate or personal connection to the people who read your words. That’s the whole point, right? So I say share at least that there’s a reason for the lack of posts.

    http://www.southbysunset.com

    Reply
  9. Akaleistar

    I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot lately, so this post is timely! I don’t usually share personal problems on my blog, but I, also, think it is important for bloggers to share what is really happening in their lives. Life isn’t perfect, but so often, life looks perfect online.

    Reply
  10. Anastasia

    That is a difficult question! While it’s up to a blogger – to set the boundary between his private life and the publicity on the blog (or actually define where this boundary passes) it’s very important too think twice before hit “publish”.

    xx
    http://fashionpeekaboo.com

    Reply
  11. Arvind

    As a blogger, you should be honest with your thought. We cannot afford to lie or hide while writing. But the same time it is very important that we should not reveal our feeling to unknown world, which you don’t know. You can not predict or assume about readers thinking.
    Allow you can do is write your thoughts without revealing your feeling in details.
    But never ever lie or hide any thing.
    Thanks
    Arvind
    http://www.first-realize.com

    Reply
  12. Onianwah

    I rarely share personal moments on my blog. It is totally unintentional and even when something happens and I want to share, the moment passes and I tell myself there is no point in sharing the moment again. I guess, I am somewhat still protective of my personal life I guess.

    Barbara
    http://www.barbara1923.com
    Lagos, Nigeria

    Reply
  13. Julia

    Thanks everyone for all of your comments on this subject; it’s so interesting to see how varied your thoughts are on this topic.

    Reply
  14. Abby

    The more relateable a blogger is the better the interaction and the more you will be able to build a responsive audience. Admitting times are tough or that you are going through something can create a more personal link between a reader and a blog. However, those who whine constantly and pour out their feelings on a weekly basis just create a place of doom and gloom and no one truly wants to read something sad all the time.

    Reply
  15. JustMariklo

    This is a great post, I have battled with trying to be myself and still professional when dealing with life struggles. But a blog is all about being personal I think. Hard to find a happy middle

    Reply
  16. Georgina

    This is very timely for me. My relationship broke down recently, and I chose to share. I’ve tried not to turn my blog into a pity party, but obviously it does have an impact. We were living together, so he was very much part of my blog. Readers will notice his absence, and of course there’s been a drop in posting when I feel like hell, and while I’ve been trying to move out of our shared home.

    Reply
    • Faith Bowman

      That’s a big opportunity to show your readers that you’re real, and that breaking up happens to everyone. You could really help someone else get through the same thing by sharing your experiences.

      And don’t worry- you’ll heal eventually. ;-D

      Faith

      Reply
  17. lino

    You can share both your happiness and toughness on your blog, it is natural that everyone would suffer something and enjoy her or his life.

    Reply
  18. Faith

    I think you should be as honest as you can, while respecting your own privacy. Our stories also belong to family, friends, co-workers, and the readers. A post that outlines a hard-time can be great to let readers know that you’re a real person, but no oversharing personal info and no pity parties.

    To be honest, I’m saving the worst stuff for my memoir. #futurebookdeal

    Reply