How To Maintain Your Sanity in the World of Blogging
I believe the secret to successful, effective communication and change-making through blogging is authenticity . It’s important to be open about your struggles, open about who you are, and open about how you’re evolving and growing as a person in order to be relatable to your readership. Building a community based on mutual trust is the best way to ensure your readers come back for more and get the most benefit from your work, simply because they feel like you understand what they’re going through in a way other people may not.
However, over-sharing is just as dangerous as under-sharing. In a world where we are constantly connected, how do we maintain boundaries that maintain our sanity and sense of security both in real life and online? Where is the line drawn between authenticity and voyeurism? What is the best way to strike the balance between authenticity and privacy?
As someone whose blog is based upon the idea of being “fearlessly authentic” and “talking about the shit you don’t want to talk about,” I’ve struggled with these questions time and time again. Through trial-and-error and quite a bit of self-reflection, I’ve come to some basic tenets to keep in mind while pursuing effective sharing online.
#1. It’s your blog (not your mom’s or your boyfriend’s or your best friend’s).
Rule number one with sharing the nitty gritty online is to only share your nitty gritty online.
Many of the topics that are important to write about are also deeply personal. Big topics like drug addiction, mental health, domestic violence, and disease carry with them a lot of emotional baggage to unpack. Without a doubt, the raw and real blogs that exist on these topics create a lot of change in the world- they serve as safe spaces for those dealing with similar issues to convene, connect, and feel a little less alone in their struggles. However, it’s never okay to “out” someone for an experience you’ve personally not gone through. Only you have the right to share your story in a way that feels authentic and safe for you, which means it’s just as untasteful to share someone else’s story without their permission as it would be for them to do the same with yours.
Always ask explicit permission before writing about other people and their more sensitive topics on your blog. They may request that you either offer them full anonymity, or that you do not write about it at all. No matter how “good” of a post you may think it will make, it’s extremely important that you respect their wishes.
#2. Weigh the consequences.
Consider if what you’re sharing has any potential consequences to the goals you have. Is what you’re sharing something that will change your online public image, and if so, is that something you’re comfortable with? I always encourage being your true self (both online and offline), but online writings can have real-life consequences. Writing about personal experiences with people in a way they don’t agree with may put strain on your relationship with them. Venting about your boss on your blog may land you in the hot seat at work. Expressing a particularly controversial belief or affiliation may offend or ostracize your audience. While it’s always up to you to decide what image you want to create online, it’s also up to you to decide what’s worth it within the context of your life.
#3. Take the time to ask if what you’re writing is relevant.
The themes of my blog are self-acceptance, eating disorder recovery, and yoga. This means I’ve gotten used to sharing deeply personal aspects of my life that relate to these topics. However, there are other parts of my life that, while personal and a part of who I am, that I choose not to write about on my blog. Things like my relationships with my significant other and family members, my finances, and aspects of my personal health are things that are “authentically” a part of me, but aren’t relevant to share. Depending on the type of blog you’re creating, your specific criteria for relevance will vary: a deep and heavy piece about your mental health struggles may have no place on your entrepreneurial-themed blog, depending on the context, for example.
It’s also important to recognize when what you’re sharing may be more relevant in your diary than on your blog. Seething recounts of arguments (edited for anonymity or not) or long rants about your workplace may feel good to get out on paper, but may be irrelevant to your mission online. Save the specifics for your diary, and hone in on the true lessons you’ve taken away from these kinds of instances to share online.
#4. Find your personal comfort zone.
Everyone has different limits for what they care to share online with a public audience. Many parents, for example, choose not to post pictures of their children on their blogs or public social media accounts. Others may have a completely family-themed blog (I’m looking at you, mommy bloggers), and post almost nothing but pictures of their children. You’ll have to understand what’s comfortable for you and what’s most conducive to your goals and personal mission statement. Find your boundaries and then stick to them- never feel pressured to share certain elements of your life online to garner more attention or meet the demands of your audience. Creating a balance between your personal life and your personal blog is a fickle game, but in the end, maintaining this balance will offer you some peace in a wildly connected world.
Creative Community Developer at Snapfluence.
I'm the Oxford comma's biggest fan.