Last week I wrote The Single Best Thing You Can Do For Your Website’s Traffic. A few days later, my husband, Jonathan “Skippy” Schwarz of Skippy’s List made an effort at using that bit of information in his post Skippy Exposes Himself To The Internet. This post is in response to his attempt to use the advice I wrote in my article.
Basically, after I wrote the article explaining how audiences like transparency in business, and blogging about yourself on a personal level can help your business, my husband went to his blog and, ah…over-shared.
His post rather graphically demonstrates how one might take the advice I gave and run a little too much with it. When writing about yourself, bear in mind important points such as:
- Your target audience
- The impact on your personal life
- The impact on your professional life
- Legal issues
In his post, Skippy went into what we call TMI Land (Too Much Information). He shared details about himself that, while funny to his target audience, other audiences may not find anywhere near as amusing. Some may even find it too shocking and offensive. So keep this in mind when writing about yourself. Your goal is to share, but not necessarily to be the blog equivalent of a Shock Jock (unless, that’s what your target audience is just going to love).
When sharing details about yourself, remember that people you know will likely read your blog too. If you’re writing about your feelings about a friend or a personal relationship with a spouse, are they going to be hurt, angry, and/or embarrassed by what you wrote? Will it have the potential to destroy a relationship? What about writing about your children? Is your spouse fine with you giving their names and talking about their details or would they rather you keep that offline or at least give fake names or use a first initial when talking about the kids? Keep this in mind when writing. As with all things in life: if you don’t want the whole world knowing private details of your life, don’t put it online.
Are you working a full-time or part-time job while blogging? While some companies encourage employees to blog frankly about what goes on in their office, the vast majority of businesses are not OK with this practice. Public relations and marketing are busy crafting a careful image of the organization and you could destroy that with one blog post. Then, you’ll find yourself open to lawsuit or at the very least, be fired. Make sure your company is fine with what you are blogging about (and get that in writing!) and/or just make sure you avoid giving details that could backfire later.
There are a lot of legal issues when it comes to writing online too. As suggested above, you could find yourself in a lawsuit if you give away industrial or trade secrets belonging to your employer.
But what if you aren’t sharing that information? There are other issues to watch for too.
When writing about individuals or organizations, you’ll want to be careful about your facts and make sure you aren’t committing libel. If you are sued, the proof is right there online. Think you’ll win the lawsuit by just deleting the offending information? Not necessarily. There are websites out there like the Wayback Machine at Archive.org that keep copies of old websites much like a digital library. Also, your accuser may have also taken screenshots or made printouts of your site too.
Lastly, don’t rely on “but I saw on such and such website that this was true”. Not everything you see online is true and many sites just parrot the same misinformation for years. I’ve seen this happen on a number of subjects. At the very least, some websites may have information that is very outdated. So keep that in mind when writing too.
So remember, don’t just start writing without thought to what you are putting online. Everything has consequences and not all of them are good. Are there any other pitfalls bloggers should watch out for? And have you experienced or seen blogging gone bad?