From Tracie: Blogging Boundaries - What Will You Share?

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Blogging Boundaries - What Will You Share?

There is one important question you need to ask yourself when you first start blogging. What am I willing to share? If you don't set your boundaries firmly in place from the beginning, you are likely to find yourself having crossed a line you didn't define and regretting it.

What Will You Share On Your Blog?

You are thinking about sharing something online:


Do you want to share a picture of your family? Awesome. Family is a great thing. Before you hit publish, are you comfortable with that picture? Really comfortable?

All the blogging rules say pictures are important, and people want to see the faces behind the blog, but if you don't feel completely comfortable putting pictures of your kids (or your spouse, or you) on your blog, don't do it. Once you put that picture out there, it is out there forever.

*If you have a picture that involves your kid's poo or vomit - or your poo or vomit - that is called oversharing. Move away from the publish button and delete that picture immediately. Please.

Do you want to write about your children? Awesome. I like stories about your kid (sometimes).

Is it a funny story? Great. Is it funny because your kid did something embarrassing, or something embarrassing happened? Maybe not so great.

I know how tempting it can be write that really funny story. You just know people are going to laugh, and comment, and share, and by the end of the day you will be a world-famous humorist.

But it probably won't happen like that.

The things you write online last forever, so you need to know before you sit at the keyboard if writing that story (that could hurt your kid's feelings when they read it one day) is really worth it for a few laughs and pageviews.

Do you want to write about your childhood? Awesome. Do you have a nice memory about a trip to the beach when your family was having a group hug, and the sun set at just the right time, and then a dolphin went swimming past, and you saw a shooting star? Or you want to share your grandmother's special cookie recipe? Go ahead and publish that now.

Warm and fuzzy memories are always nice, and you have no reason to fear sharing them.

Do you want to talk about dark things in your childhood? Hard things? Write it. Write hard. Then let that post sit in drafts. Think about it, maybe even for a couple of days, or a week (or even longer) - are you ready for the fallout? Are you ready to answer questions, get emails, and possibly have uncomfortable conversations with family members or friends? If you are ready, hit publish (and send me the link so I can support you).

I firmly believe that writing about hard things is healing, sharing those words is even more healing, and touching other people with those words is powerful. Being a little scared, or very scared, to put your words out there is okay. But if you are not ready to deal with what comes with having people read them; don't hit publish.

Please hear my heart on this, if you don't hit publish, you are not a coward! Your blog might not be the place for that story, or this might not be the time to tell it. That is okay. When you are ready to share, you will. Don't pressure yourself to share hard things before the time is right.

Sharing is awesome.

And it is much more awesome with boundaries in place. You need to be able to hit publish with confidence, knowing you are completely okay sharing that post, picture, or story.

I know my boundaries. Over my years of writing, some of the boundaries have moved. It is okay to make a new decision about what you will or will not share.

I share pictures of my family. I use my real name (but I didn't in the beginning). I might share embarrassing stories about myself, but when I share a funny story about someone I love, it is never embarrassing. I write about my childhood, the good and the bad (and I change names where appropriate). Although lives intersect, I do my best to not tell other people's stories. I write about my healing journey, the hard days and the victories. I do not share personal details about my marriage.

The balance is not hard at all, if you have your boundaries in place before you sit down to write. If you already know what you are not going to write about, it makes it easier to find something you will write. And for all those other words, you can buy a journal.

What are your blogging boundaries?

This post has been wandering around my mind for a while, but I was inspired to finally write it after reading Strive For The Happy at Sellabit Mum, a really great post about what and how she is going to share online.
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51 comments:

  1. These are some great insights, Tracie. <3

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  2. I love this post!! And, I've love for you to consider submitting it to my new writing community (project: underblog) www.projectunderblog.com

    This perspective should be shared with more folks!

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    1. Thanks Neena. I'm loving what y'all are doing over there are Project: Underblog. It looks very cool.

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  3. In the age of the overshare, these are good thoughts.

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  4. I think everyone has their own boundaries and I love how you've presented it here. And how even those funny kid stories we want to share for page-views and world-domination - well maybe they are better to be written in the baby book. Thank you for the link-back. xo

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    1. ....its just too bad there isn't a "baby book" for recording all those funny, world-domination stories about husbands. Because I have a couple of those that I'm not writing about here on the blog, too.

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  5. I'll echo the other comments here: some great insights:)

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  6. I try to maintain boundaries. It's ok if I write about me, but I try not to write about other people unless it's very vague or it's a flattering story. I figure if they don't know I'm writing about them (or even if they do) I need to respect their privacy. And I don't write much about my marriage or my parents.

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    1. My mom doesn't really like me to write about her very much (and she doesn't like pictures either) so I try to honor that. It is sad, because she is hilarious, and I could probably write about her for weeks and weeks without running out of stories.

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  7. Wish I'd read this back when I first started blogging. I've found myself blogging about my kids less as they get older. I don't hide my name but I don't directly blog under it, either. I don't use their names, because I'm sure one day they'll be googling themselves and they don't need to read about how much their vomit traumatized me. I do use pictures, but they tend to be blurry, from behind or really old. Wow, I'm way into this topic. :)

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    1. Ha! I love that you are into it.

      Vomit is traumatizing. Tis true.

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  8. Thank you Tracie. These are great tips. As you know, I write about social problems. But I keep my current personal life private. Cheers!

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    1. Yes! You have a great boundaries and balance in your sharing.

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  9. I think this is a great topic to constantly be evaluating. I started off without using my name and worrying about pictures. Now I don't worry so much about that as most people can easily be found on the web without having a blog.
    I don't write too much about my son and I don't use his name. I don't write about most of my family members because I know they wouldn't like it.
    I do write about my past pretty openly when I write about it at all. I've never felt the need to keep my issues in the dark.

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    1. I think you have a really good balance on your blog. You are right that it is pretty easy to find people online even when they don't have a blog.

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  10. I used to think. No pictures of kids, ever, but it's hard. I try to limit my pics of my kids (and my stories) especially since my daughter was teased once at school because of something I wrote on my blog. I felt terrible.

    Anyway, I also rarely share about the husband. I'm not sure why. Marriage feels so private.

    Ughhh, and now you have me thinking.

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    1. She was teased at school? That is so sad!

      It is hard to not share any kid pictures. Kid pictures are most of the pictures I take (probably true for a lot of moms). Marriage feels private to me too.

      Thinking is good!

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  11. I love this, Tracie! Really good advice and something I consider for EVERY.SINGLE.POST I write. I'm especially careful with posts about my children. Yes, I write about how hard motherhood is, and inevitably, the children are involved and part of the storytelling but I always ensure that I respect them as people. Because my blog is for them as much as it is for me, and who wants to read crap about themselves, especially from their own mother?

    (also loved Tracy's post!)

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    1. "I always ensure that I respect them as people."

      This is exactly the point I think some parents ignore when they write about their kids online (or even in life, but that is a whole separate issue). Kids do deserve that consideration and respect.

      You do a beautiful job capturing the moments and stories in your life and your kid's lives.

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  12. WHen I first started blogging, I refused to post pictures of my kids. Now that they are a bit older, I post them, but still won't reveal their names.

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    1. It is great that you have found a middle space where you are comfortable.

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  13. If only everyone put this much thought into it before they hit "publish." Nice "meeting" you at #blognow last night.

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    1. Nice "meeting" you too!

      Sometimes the internet still feels small in the blogging spaces, and I think it is easy to forget how your words can touch someone else's life (for good or bad).

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  14. These are really great points. I am very cautious about sharing the things my kids as well as my reaction to them. I don't want them thinking that I spent their young childhoods hiding in the bathroom from them or drinking a bottle of wine at after dealing with them all day.

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  15. I love this. For me, I get a sense of discomfort when I start writing about something that is pushing a boundary and that's when it sits in drafts.

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  16. Hopping over from SITS.

    I am right there with you! If I don't have permission to share it, I don't - period. You have to think about all the ramifications, because (even if you delete it) there is no guarentee that the damage isn't already done. Basically, it's a "do unto others" thing with me. If you wouldn't want them sharing those things about you, if you're not ready for the "please explain"s, then don't post it. Words said, or typed, in haste should never be, especially if they are venting words, and I think you know what I mean.

    Anyway, thanks so much for the reminders! :) Great stuff!

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  17. I love this. This is why I choose to blog anonymously (at least for now). I am an abuse survivor, and my blog is very open and frank. Maybe someday I'd be willing to have all the dark things I wrote associated with real-life "me". If that ever happens, I'll reveal my real name and location. Until then, I'd prefer to keep it separate.

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  18. So true. I do this all the time - write and let things sit in draft. And thank goodness I do. Some of those will drafts will never see the light of day. It's easy to get wrapped up in the moment, but I always let at least one other person read my post before it goes up. It's my safety net :)

    P.s. You rock!

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  19. Love this... Very wise words!

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  20. I am much less crazy cautious now then when I first started blogging- but I am sure to never say specifically where I live (just "New England") and I try to keep my man out of it unless I've got a project he's helping me with or he gives me the ok. I think the line is different for everyone, but it's so important to find it!

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  21. I do have concerned about our location. I live with a cop, which has made me suspicious of everyone; not to mention we've been burglarized (person caught) and stalked (person caught). His profession comes in handy sometimes. But cops do gain enemies at times; not as many as the TV shows us, but there are some nut jobs out there.

    I mention my city, because I talk about local things, like the canine parvovirus outbreak, experiences at the local dog park, and local pet businesses. I want to promote others as well as provide a service to local dog owners as well as my audience on the world wide web.

    Protecting our provicy is definitely a balancing act.

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  22. I have numerous boundaries regarding my blog and they are: I don't use my real name, I don't blog about my children (but have posted a couple of pictures of my daughter) and I don't blog about my work. I do not post any face forward pictures of my partner.

    I also live in an entirely different area than the location I state on my blog.

    thriftshopcommando.blogspot.com

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  23. This is a really good post. Never share anything in the internet unless you're ok with letting it swim around in the world wide web forever!

    http://thebloggettrie.blogspot.com/

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  24. Great post. Wise advice. I've written draft posts when I've been upset and thought better of it the next day. They crossed my boundaries for being to personal. Although writing them was very therapeutic.

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  25. Very helpful to a new blogger. I decided not to use my child's real name and have only shown him as a baby (he's elementary school aged now). I come from a difficult family and although I may likely tell some of that story, I'm aware of how public and permanent blogging is and the possible repercussions.

    Thanks again.

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  26. Awesome insight and great advice! I also ask myself, "Do I want this out there?" before I post anything... so very important.

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  27. Somehow I am still not comfortable sharing photos of even myself....

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  28. Great article! I had a hard time writing about myself at first until I realized that a lot of my "story" would maybe help someone else going through a tough time. You brought a lot of good points to light! Thanks for an awesome post!

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  29. Excellent post! Thank you for sharing, I agree with all of this.

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  30. I try to stay from anything too personal whether it's fights with my husband, things that happened in the past, sex, or frustrations about people in my life. On occasion I will write about my struggles with conceiving (though it's been awhile since I did write anything on that) or emotional struggles because of depression and anxiety. I consider myself an open book with very few boundaries but because I am aware of the fact that once it's out there there's no going back I try to avoid anything too controversial.

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  31. I LOVE THIS!!! And I will remember because right now I am sharing, some hard things and some not so hard things and so far it has been healing but i will take care as I go forward. Thank you for this!!!

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  32. Such great insight. I am at the stage right now where I will share things about myself, but I think twice when it comes to stories about my family or even their picture. I'm not very comfortable posting pictures of my kids online, and while I sometimes feel like I'm in the stone age for my feelings, I know it does all comes down to my boundaries.

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  33. A lot of food for thought, thanks!

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  34. My boundaries have definitely changed over the years

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  35. Those are great boundaries about sharing. I am still trying to set boundaries when it comes to what to sharing on blog. I don't overshare things in my relationship or family problems like in detail. If what I am sharing involves others I always ask if it's okay to post them. Looking at my blog I don't think I overstepped any of the boundaries I set so far. However you said a lot of things I should keep in mind when it comes to writing just in case.

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