Are you getting too personal on your blog?

When to pump the brakes

It’s an easy thing to do. You get so used to writing on your blog that before you know it, you’re revealing a little too much. So, how do you know when to hold back on details that might be TMI? Here’s a quick guide to help you understand when it’s time to quit getting too personal on your blog.

You might be getting too personal on your blog if:

You got fired for it.

This happened to Heather Armstrong of the wildly popular Dooce.com. As she writes on her About page:

“In February 2001, I launched dooce.com as a place to write about pop culture, music, and my life as a single woman. I never expected more than a couple of dozen people to read it. A year later I was fired from my job for this website because I had written stories that included people in my workplace. My advice to you is BE YE NOT SO STUPID. Never write about work on the internet unless your boss knows and sanctions the fact that YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT WORK ON THE INTERNET.”

Good lesson here: Watch what you post about people who haven’t given their consent.

Everyone knows your kid’s full name.

I know there are different points of view on this topic, and my opinion might tick some people off, but I think it’s somewhat irresponsible to put a bunch of personal details about your children out there for the Average Joe to read about. We live in a scary world, friends. Sharing your kid’s full name, age, school, favorite color and choice snack foods isn’t a good idea.

Angry eyes followed you throughout the family reunion.

In Harriet the Spy, circa 1996 (damn I’m old), Michelle Trachtenberg said:

“The truth is important, but so are your friends. If you can have them both then it’s a good life.”

If you write about friends and family on your blog, you might want to keep some truths to yourself to keep your relationships in tact! Your brother flunking the bar six times. Your aunt’s shameful affair. Your best friend’s horrible new hair color. Just because you’ve got the scoop doesn’t mean you need to spill it on your blog. Oh, and enticing your followers to “read between the lines” will likely backfire. Your family is totally gonna know you’re talking about Aunt Matilda even if you use a pseudonym!

Your significant other wants you to quit blogging …

And it’s not about the money. My husband doesn’t mind me posting a picture or two of us, but he is adamantly against me posting pretty much anything about him on my blog. I respect this because I understand he is a private person. To go against his wishes and post a bunch of things about him would be asking for trouble. Don’t ask for trouble! If you’re getting into frequent arguments with your S.O. over the personal deets you post on your blog, it’s time to ask yourself if that content is worth the risk to your relationship. Probably not.

You lost sponsorship or ad revenue because of your content.

If you’re like many of us bloggers, sponsored posts are an important revenue stream. So when advertisers pull their support because you’re getting too personal on your blog, it’s definitely time to pump the brakes!

Your audience can count your dog’s spots …

And your blog has nothing to do with pet care or ownership. Look, letting the world know you have a dog is all well and good, but some deets just don’t need to be mentioned. The date he was neutered? The odd color of his feces last Thursday? Too much! We respect that you love your pup and think he’s cute enough — but we don’t need to see a pic of little fluffy every damn post, mmmkay?

The person in line behind you at the supermarket asks about your underwear.

If you blog about lingerie, readers expect to hear reviews about your favorite brands. However, if you run a blog about anything else, this might just be too personal.

Your comments are flooded with phrases like “TMI” and “We didn’t need to know that!”

Consistently over-sharing with readers who’ve clearly expressed annoyance with it will bring your readership to a grinding halt.

 

If your audience is flat out telling you that you’re getting too personal on your blog, it’s probably true. Listen to them.

Ask these questions before you share

Bottom line: there are lots of things you probably shouldn’t post on your blog. This is not to say you can’t let your readers sneak a peek behind the curtain. You can, and you should. Just don’t go crazy with the over-sharing.

Before you post, take a moment to consider potential consequences. Ask yourself:

  • Will this post offend someone? If so, will it offend someone I care about?
  • Could I lose a job or a sponsor?
  • Could I put my family at risk?
  • Am I risking an important personal relationship?

Genuinely think about what will happen the moment you hit the Publish button. Sure, you can always delete the post later, but once the damage is done, it may be too late.


Also published on Medium.