Welcome to the 14th day of #LoveBlog! Today’s prompt is Boundaries. You can find the rest of this month’s prompts at the original post.
Figuring out boundaries as a blogger can be tricky, especially if you’re a new blogger. I know my honesty about everything from sex to sexism makes it seem like I don’t have any boundaries online, but trust me, I do!
No two bloggers will take the exact same approach on setting boundaries. That’s okay. However, every blogger should have a general idea of her boundaries before writing a personal post, or even before engaging personally with someone online, whether that be on social media or on someone else’s blog.
If you are trying to figure out your own blogging boundaries, here are a few questions to ask.
Is your story too personal?
This is a subjective question that only you can answer for yourself. Some bloggers are very open about the hard issues: miscarriage, death, grief, mental illness, physical illness, misogyny, racism, poverty, trauma, job loss, and many more.
But if you are not ready to share that part of your life, or you’re just not comfortable opening up that much, that is okay. You are NOT inauthentic or fake just because you want to keep personal parts of your life personal.
Can you handle the potential backlash?
This goes along with the question of whether or not your story is too personal. Personal stories about the hard issues can also be controversial. It really shouldn’t be controversial for me to tell my firsthand experiences with misogyny and sexism, and yet those blog posts produce the highest quantity of hateful comments.
Usually I can handle it. But not always.
Believe it or not, I absolutely choose not to share certain parts of my life that are hard. Or I wait a long time to share them. I still have specific, challenging stories that I want to publish, but I’m just not ready. I’m setting boundaries on my emotional and mental well-being by not opening myself up for potential backlash.
Is it your story to tell?
This question can be tricky to navigate. Our stories intersect the stories of others. Ask yourself a series of questions to decide if the story is appropriate to publish or not.
First, is it your story at all? Are you a main character in the narrative? If not, how personal is the story? Is the story a positive look at someone else or negative?
If the story is very personal, or if it is negative, what is your motivation for writing it? Do you want to shame that other person? Have a laugh at their expense? These are not good reasons to write a blog post about someone else.
If you think your motivations are good, still consider fudging some of the details in the story and using pseudonyms.
I surprised my parents for their 30th wedding anniversary by blogging about them. That was a positive blog post about conversations I’ve had with my parents, and the ways they modeled marriage and parenthood. It was mostly their story and partly mine, and I wrote it out of love and respect.
What if your story intersects the story of someone else?
Can you still share it? Even if the other person is shown in a negative light?
That’s a choice to make on a case-by-case basis. Again, question your own motivations for writing this blog post, and consider writing it in such a way to mask the identities of the other person involved.
I refer to the people in my life, past or present, who do or say sexist and/or misogynistic things. If the sexism is mild, yeah, I might identify the person by name or relationship to me if the story doesn’t make sense otherwise. If I can tell the story without identifiers, I do that instead.
For misogyny, I don’t identify names or even relationships to me. Of course, the misogynists themselves might recognize their words or actions in my blog post, but that’s not my problem.
Pro tip: don’t be a misogynistic asshole to a writer.
How much should you blog about your family?
Family includes, but is not limited to: spouse, children, parents, siblings, extended family.
What is okay to share about your family? What isn’t?
I blog very openly about my marriage.
However, I talk to Dan about any marriage-related blog post in which I write anything more negative than admitting he’s a picky eater. That is the most negative thing I will write publicly about him or our marriage without talking to him first. Whenever possible, I have him read the entire blog post (or tweet, or Facebook post) before I hit publish.
And, for the record, Dan does it too! Some of his tweets include the hashtag #ShitMyWifeSays for when I say something ridiculous.
I also use our real first and last names. But other bloggers use pseudonyms or initials. Or they use real first names, but not last names. Lindsay at Trial By Sapphire keeps her husband’s name off her blog. Her reasoning?
“My husband doesn’t mind if people who read this blog know his name. However, I decided to omit it, because I am married to someone whose name gets Google’d for professional reasons, and I prefer that my blog not end up in the search results…”
Makes sense to me!
Dan and I don’t have kids, so I still haven’t figured out what I will and will not share about pregnancy or adoption or children. Sage at Sage the Blog shared her thoughts a few years ago on blogging about pregnancy and children. She was not pregnant at the time, and she did point out that her thoughts might change. The whole post is great and respectful of bloggers who make different decisions. This quote opens the post. [Emphasis original].
I do not think I will share my pregnancy online. At least not on my blog. But as I said above, that is subject to change. There are many reasons for this.
The first reason is privacy. Although I am a blogger and choose to put my life out there on the internet, I do still have boundaries and I am actually a pretty private person. I don’t plan to ever write a “mommy blog” so it shouldn’t be terribly hard to write about other things, or at least when I do write about motherhood or share on social media, to keep my children’s faces and information private.
Sage is actually current pregnant, and this is what she wrote in her latest blog post.
Some of you have asked me about how my pregnancy is going and although I don’t plan to talk much about it here, things are going really well. I’m currently 23 weeks and our little boy is right on track. I had my first baby shower a few weeks ago while I was home in Arizona and it was lovely.
I personally love reading about bloggers’ pregnancies, seeing their bump updates, and learning about their birth stories. However, this is a personal boundary to decide.
Many of the blogs I follow are “mommy blogs,” which are honestly just like lifestyle blogs, only with kids.
Some bloggers use nicknames for their kids instead of real names. Others will use their kids’ names, but not show pictures of their kids.
Again, this is a personal boundary to decide with the other parent.
What stories are okay to share about your kids? Consider how your kids will feel as teenagers and as adults when they read stories about themselves online.
Not your kids
Y’all, I love my nephew. He’s the cutest little kid that ever existed. But he’s not my kid.
I’ve shared two pictures of him on my blog. His face is hidden in both photos. I haven’t mentioned his birthday or his full name.
Be very careful about what you put online about kids who aren’t your own. Even though this section is under Family, this advice goes for any kids who aren’t your own, not just nieces and nephews and cousins.
Resources on blogging boundaries
This post got a lot longer than I anticipated! And I left out an entirely separate topic that might become a future blog post about setting boundaries online to protect both your time and your well-being.
If you want to read more on how to set boundaries as a blogger, I came across a few blog posts while researching this.
Meet Your #LoveBlog Hosts!
Brita Long is the pink and sparkly personality behind the Christian feminist lifestyle blog, Belle Brita. While her first love will always be Paris, she lives happily with her husband Daniel Fleck in the Atlanta area.
Laura is a big dreamer, full-time marketing manager, blogger, and part-time artist. She aspires to inspire people in their everyday lives and to help them live towards their dreams while making the most of their lives. She has been blogging for about 6 years now and has recently found her glorious niche of sharing her stories, thoughts on life, and daily inspiration.
Laurisa is part of The Total Addiction team (left to right: Bobbi Jo, Laurisa, Renee). Their mission is to encourage, uplift and minister to other women. They collectively blog about their addictions to fashion, beauty, life, positivity, inspiration, and most of all, Jesus. When Laurisa isn’t at Total Addiction, you can find her at home with her hunky husband and their four delightful offspring.
How do you set boundaries as a blogger?