It’s common knowledge that employers will check social media pages during an interview process and things that are deemed inappropriate can have a potentially damaging impact on a candidates success when applying for a job. Similarly, there are endless stories of people who have had their employment terminated after posting something online. Social media has now become a part of our daily lives, to the point where are now teaching students in the education system about how to manage social media accounts appropriately.
It seems logical for me that blogs that are solely for the purpose of business should be handled in a professional, efficient and eloquent manner, in the same way you would expect someone in any profession to behave in person within the workplace.
But what about personal blogs?
With approximately 2.75 MILLION blog posts published every single day, blogging is an immensely popular hobby with an enormous community and has now even become a viable career option for many. For me, it’s been a life-changing experience and the best thing I have ever done, but it hasn’t been without it’s issues.
The problem with posting online is the false sense of security that is created from hiding behind a screen. For many, a blog can be seen as a form of therapy, a safe space to discuss issues that they wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about within their immediate circle of family and friends. However, the fact that there is usually no face-to-face interaction with others often leads many to forget that ANYONE from anywhere in the world can read a public post, including people from both our personal and professional lives.
I started this blog when I was employed as a full-time teacher and used it as a way of easing the depression and anxiety that I was struggling with. At first, I told virtually nobody, but after a few years I indeed became lulled into a false belief that what I was doing was safe. I developed my social media accounts, occasionally posted things from my blog on my personal Facebook page so my friends and family could read it, and even TOLD people about it, particularly when one of my posts about teaching went viral on Facebook. Some of my family, friends and colleagues followed my blog and social media accounts.
Inevitably, this caused problems. I’ve upset family members and friends by posting about things without telling them first, or voicing an opinion on something that they have disagreed with and I had an issue in my former workplace which was mortifying. Consequently, I’ve been left with no choice but to self-censor – I’m now extremely careful with the topics that I discuss and how I phrase things. It’s frustrating and defeats the object of why I started the blog in the first place, but it’s entirely my own fault.
To Self-Censor, or Not?
As owner of your own personal blog, it SHOULD mean that you can post about what you deem appropriate and for many the purpose of a blog is self-expression. While I always want to applaud anyone who is confident and self-assured enough to blog with nonchalance, it’s a sad fact that your words could eventually come back and bite you where it hurts at a later date. If you choose not to self-censor (for whatever reason), you should be prepared to deal with potential consequences.
Here’s a few ideas and thoughts when self-censoring on a personal blog
Blog anonymously or use a pseudonym. I’ve known many bloggers through their pseudonyms over the years, and this has been an effective way for them to remain anonymous. However, if you truly want to be known by the pseudonym, then be consistent – I’ve known some bloggers who have revealed their true identities and then gone on to regret it.
Create separate social media accounts (this is an effective way of building a brand too). I’m grateful that I did that right from the beginning – all of my social media accounts are different to my personal Facebook page. I ruined it by telling everyone in my personal life what they were, but the premise was initially there at least.
Be diplomatic and fair when writing about controversial topics and avoid ranting from a one-sided perspective – the beauty of this is that you still get to voice your opinion, but the fact that you have included an alternative argument within your post leaves it open to discussion, rather than criticism.
Remember that you don’t have to publish more personal posts on your own blog – talk to a trusted blog friend about posting on their blog anonymously. You get to write what you want, they get the views. Everybody wins.
Be careful when using inappropriate language. I don’t read blogs that use homophobic, racist or sexist language, but I do enjoy numerous blogs that use quite graphic language and swear words – this is a part of their personalities and, for me at least, enhances their posts. However, the use of any of this language is never looked upon favourably in a professional environment. (And as a side note, if you’re using the blog to preach hate in any form in 2017 then you’ve only got yourself to blame if it affects you negatively).
NEVER include names, details or photographs of anyone without their permission first and NEVER discuss your workplace. Do you hate your job, think your boss is awful or detest your lazy colleague? Tell a friend, don’t put it online.
Avoid personally attacking anyone. You’re asking for trouble.
And, while it may seem obvious…
Don’t actually tell anyone about your blog. It doesn’t guarantee that someone in your personal life won’t discover it at some point, but it reduces the chance of someone seeing it at least.
What do you guys think? Do you censor your personal blogs?
You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to follow my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks
I used to have a lifestyle blog, focusing on topics like food, fashion and travel. That became a little too…how shall I put it…frivolous as I got older. As I approached my mid-30s, I felt more and more out of place in that plastic/fake world. I started writing about my views on society/the world and it became more and more out of place on a site called DelectablyChic!. So last week, I started a site under my own name. I don’t want to make it too controversial, but I feel like it’s a better place to discuss topics like mental health awareness, my experiences being a first generation Canadian in Toronto, etc, etc… This is necessary for me because I have always felt that my views as a first gen are largely ignored, even dismissed by others who are supposedly in my place. :S I will still be blogging about lifestyle, of course, but using my own name allows me to talk about whatever I want – within reason. I DO draw the line on certain topics…
Thanks for your insights Cynthia! What topics do you think you wouldn’t discuss?
I suppose anything that is too private – or at least if I DO, and the topic refers to people other than myself, I’d likely change people’s names.
I’ve done that a few times before too. I’ve never referred to my niece by her real name for example…
But all those potential employers visiting my blog with increase my numbers! 🙂
Hahaha! You’re not that far off a million views now Austin, how many more do you need???
Had to check…78,000 more. 🙂
Woooooooo! Nearly there!
This is an interesting topic Suzie. After a month and a half of blogging I am learning so much. I have tried to self censor, in regards to not disclosing names and photos of my husband, kids and loved ones etc. The whole social media thing is new to me too, and I am trying to learn more about this in regards to boosting traffic to my blog. So posts like these and tips about blogging are a Godsend for me. Thank you
Thanks Lorelle! really pleased you found it useful! What social media do you use?
At the moment it’s just FB, Instagram and Pintrest. But I’m not sure wether to use pintrest as a business account. Presently it’s a normal account.
Get a pinterest business account and spend some time building up your pins – it’s totally worth it!
Do you have to pay for that, and do I just convert my current account to it?
You just convert your existing account…
Thanks Suzie. X
Great insight. As I have started off in the same manner you had I feel like I should take this seriously. However, I feel like YOLOing because let’s face it if we cannot voice out our opinion then there is really nothig leftfor us to do. As long as we are not naming names we are good?
Yeah pretty much haha! I feel I have to be careful though…
I’ve always blogged fairly anonymously. Unfortunately over time I’ve always caved to the idea that I want more people to read my stuff, so I tell family and friends and then the safety of anonymity is gone.
This time round (my newest blog) is all about my own catharsis. It is extremely personal but also incredibly important that I write it – so I’ll attempt to remain unknown by people who know me…..we’ll see.
You’ve definitely got the right idea!
I totally related to this. I’ve been blogging for over 7 years on different blogs. Some were for specific purposes e.g. fundraising for a charity challenge – so these needed info on the people involved etc. My creative blog I tend to be general in my references on purpose.
I do also have a blog I set up as a career change diary, but that isn’t linked to anything, is totally anonymous, and I only shared it with a career change group I was in – exactly because it talked about my attitudes to the work I was doing at the time.
That’s definitely the most sensible way to look at things!
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I have to admit I do tend to steer away from negative or ranting posts, i want to build on my blog for an author profile and I think that would be a mistake. I also tend to not go very personal with my posts, but that’s my personality
I think if your blog isn’t a personal one then it’s best to keep the content solely focused on non-personal topics…
Cool, thanks Suzie
I always blog anonymously, although early on I’ve discovered that if I leave a comment on someone else’s blog, they would be able to see my personal email address. So, to add to your list, if you want to stay anonymous, make sure that the email address you use for WordPress (or other platforms that would let others see your email) is also anonymous.
Oh my gosh yes, that’s something I didn’t think to include! There’s also the thing about making your email account name appropriate – some of them I’ve seen make my eyes water haha!
This is what happened me. So I just left it in the end.
A super post as usual and id love to flip but don’t see a button… gosh I am worse than I thought at the tech side of blogging. Have a great weekend!
I need to put one up – totally not your fault lovely! You’re not bad at the tech thing, just never be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure of anything!
Thanks Suzie, but i could need a tech transplant to keep it all in my head.
Fucking excellent post!
Thank you! Really pleased you liked it!
This has been bugging me since I started blogging, and I still tussle with it. It gets bound up in the question “who is the real me?” because we reveal different parts of ourselves depending on the personality and interest of whom we’re talking to, and there’s infinite variation in that on the internet / blogosphere! I really want to be authentic and integrated online, but somehow that seems a stretch.
You’re so right! I always think that people are social chameleons, adapting to their surroundings and people that they are talking to… The same can be said for online conversations at times…
Mmmmm I keep my blog pretty unpersonal unless it is about me but only general stuff ..my radical thoughts I answer to those on other blogs…I don’t have to worry about an employer but all they would find out is I love to cook…lol
Hahaha! That’s a great thing for them to find out!
I absolutely censor my personal blog. I made a decision when I started it that I would not swear or write about anyone without their permission. I also do not make fun of anyone but myself. This has created a positive experience for me and I believe for my readers. It gives me peace of mind to know that anyone can read it and I have nothing to hide.
I think that’s a really good way to look at it – at least then you don’t have to worry about possible repercussions!
Great post! Unfortunately I learned the hard way and I’m more censored now. But, it came at the right time as I wanted to rebrand and focus on different topics, so it came good in the end 😉
It’s always difficult when someone in your personal life discovers your blog and you don’t want them to read it haha! Glad it has worked out for the best!
Great info, Suzie! I’m an educator, as well, and as such, I feel like I’ve always been too cautious. I worry over anything and everything with regard to voicing my opinion. With my blog, I decided to put my authentic self out there. Even though there is a LOT of material, I don’t write about work (co-workers or students) – that will have to wait until retirement 🙂 What I write about is pretty “tame,” but it still took me a while to let go of the fear related to putting myself out there.
Thank you! It’s difficult when you’re in this sort of profession – I bet you have some amazing stories!
I liked reading this. I am currently looking into future careers, for example Primary School teaching or marketing – different I know. And on a daily basis, I think about what I post. It is kind of sad but at the same time, a reality of current times when it comes to employment. I don’t mind friends and family reading! I’d love for blogging to be my job, but honestly, I don’t know how to make it happen – keep on dreaming eh!
Hi Channon! Blogging is graft but totally worth it – and you can always do it on the side while you’re working which is great!
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Hi Suzie – having found your great facebook group, I had to have a look about your site and I love it. This post really caught my eye and has made me think about how I blog – although I am slightly different as I am no longer able to work so future job interviews is not an issue here! However I will be showing my tweens – as this obviously applies to all their online activity, not just blogging. I have included your link on my regular feature Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You! as all bloggers should read it! Great connecting, Claire
Thanks so much Claire – really appreciate it – and I’m really pleased that you like the Facebook group too!
Thanks for all you are doing xxx
My first blog was a personal one and I blogged anonymously without telling anyone other than my mother, but now that I’m blogging professionally, I use my real name and pretty much everyone knows that I do it. I use pseudonyms for my kids and husband and don’t talk about them or get personal like I did on my old blog.
Thanks! Do you find it difficult? Do you self censor?
Hi this is interesting. When I started out to blog a year back I consciously decided to avoid social or politcal blogs, explicit words or personal attacks and to keep my articles light and humorous because that’s me! Once in a way I do tend to include a mention or two of something trending in my country. But it has never been hardcore and it has helped generate discussion. But I go over it several times before I hit the publish button to make sure it’s what I intended it to be in the first place – a lighthearted humor blog!!
I’m the same – I made the mistake of discussing things political once and I will never do that again. Now I check my posts a bajillion times beforehand
‘Bajillion’ that’s a nice one!
I try and bring the word into at least one conversation a day haha!
I’m generally wary when I write on my blog mostly from the cyber safety aspect. Plus I hate confrontations and dealing with argumentative people so I avoid controversial topics. But when it comes to my personal stories and anything that involves just me, I am exactly who I am. I don’t rant about people on the blog or about bad choices. I take them as lessons and move on. It’s helped me a lot. But a lovely thought provoking post, Suzie.
I think that’s a really nice way of looking at it!
Great advice Suzie. When I started blogging earlier this year I didn’t consider going anonymous. And I shared it on all my social media – as I was really keen to get it read! Would I take the same approach now? I’m not sure. I aim to write a light-hearted, humorous posts and if I feel I’ve wandered into territory that something that might offend or upset I’ll change it.
It’s always a catch 22 isn’t it! I am always conscious of what I write, which so,etikes defeats the purpose of what I started the blog for!
I run a holistic health blog but I felt I wanted to write about more relaxed and fun experiences so I started my fun blog in a different name, that I wanted completely separate from the ‘serious’ one. Then I realised that the two blogs were connected and my full profile was visible at the end of all my posts on my ‘anonymous’ blog.
I ended up just leaving it, so I call Tasheenga my alter ego and point out to anyone that reads the about section, that Tasheenga had a tendency to exaggerate everything and not to take anything she says too seriously. It’s mainly so I can practice my creative writing, blog about fun with friends and express my inner contrary self when the need arises. Names are all fake and any photos are of friends who just love seeing themselves on the blog! Problem is, I enjoy writing on this blog so much more and my poor holistic blog has taken a back seat! 😦
A lot of bloggers have an alter ego, and kudos to them! If Beyoncé can have one, so can everyone else haha!
Well now, I never considered this at all until i read your blog. My blog, as you know, focuses on grief, love, and ill-fated relationships, but when it comes to the latter, I always omit names and details to protect the not so innocent (hahahaha); however, he subscribes to it, so he’s glutton for punishment if you ask me LOL! Anyway, I’m the worst at letting a swear word slip every now and again but nothing too, too bad. It’s part of my everyday language, but maybe I should change that up! I did consider not telling anyone who I was and using a pseudonym when I first starting writing, but then decided I didn’t want to hide behind a keyboard. Perhaps I should have thought that through a little more. As far as censoring…I see exactly what you mean in terms of employment, but for me, I walk a fine line with that and with what I’m doing right now to help others using Truly Madly Sassy as my voice and medium to reach them. I’ll definitely have to think hard on this one…thank you, Suzie, for the reminder.
Thanks lovely! A really good bloggy friend of mine swears in her blog and you wouldn’t believe the amount of complaints she’s had over the years about it! Everything is always personal preference… Just make sure that you write for you!
I find it difficult to draw a line in the sand sometimes, but I find it surprising how hyper sensitive some people appear to be. It seems that some people can take offence at the most innocuous comment or have had a serious sense of humour bypass. As the saying goes you can’t please all of the people all of the time and so, quite honestly, I gave up trying.
I think you have totally the right idea, and it’s even more difficult online as people can’t tell the tone of certain phrases and take it the wrong way…
Great post and tips!
This is something that I struggle with in each post. I’m finding that more and more, I write more personally in my Travel and Photography blog as it makes it a little more ‘real’. Otherwise, I was writing in an early ‘Lonely Planet’ style, but not intentionally. As a Technical Writer, the transition from technical to creative was difficult, but think I’m getting there… 😉
Perhaps my style has also changed over the three years of my blog’s life.
I’ve found that my style has completely changed since starting the blog… It makes for some cringeworthy reading though later when you go back to earlier posts haha!
I know exactly what you mean and have re-written a couple of mine but can never seem to find the time for a re-write.
I can’t believe how cringy some of the articles I wrote in the early to mid-90s were. Most of them I took down later on, due to embarrassment, one that was and still is very popular, I edited heavily. It’s still a bit cringy, but not as bad. I’d take it down, but I get emails about it all the time, and when I look at the stats on page views (not too often), it is always up there.
In case you’re interested in laughing a bit: http://www.buchanan1.net/carb_rebuild.html