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
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?
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