Part of the fun and catharsis of blogging is having an open forum to runteldat.
And there’s something to be said for having the courage to publish personal details about their lives in such a public manner.
But more often than not, the HOW or WHY you tell something is more important than WHAT you tell.
Many times, bloggers post out of doubt. They may be unsure of themselves or a decision they made, so they put it to their readers, seeking validation for a choice that they know, deep down, wasn’t a good one. The problem with this is that if they post confidently despite their doubts — “Here is what I’m doing! This is the right decision for me!” — their readers might just affirm their decision because they don’t want to leave negative comments.
We suggest you examine your motives for posting and decide whether to retool your approach or hold off from hitting the “submit” button all together. Here are some questions to think about…
- Are you making light of a potentially severe situation? “How come I can’t find the perfect pair of jeans until I shop in the kids’ section? One step closer to being able to share clothes with my 10 year old niece.” This is a situation in which you might be trying to joke to see how people respond, or to convince yourself that it’s not a big deal. Being lighthearted is great, but making jokes like that is an irresponsible way to seek the answers you need.
- Are you seeking validation for an insecurity or the way you handled a situation? This especially pertains to bloggers who have a lot of yes (wo)men readers who peddle “rah rah sis boom bah” responses like a Girl Scout hawking Samoas. Example: “I know I’m supposed to drink a lot of water when I do triathlons but my bladder is the size of a pea so I skipped all the water stations. Maybe that’s why I had a horrible headache and was dizzy all afternoon?”
- Can you say it 140 characters or less? I’m thinking of a word…it starts with a T and rhymes with “glitter.” Methinks you don’t need to waste the 99 cents a minute by calling your Psychic Friends for the answer…or wasting a blog post on the topic. Ask your Twitter buddies, get quick feedback, and move on.
- Could the topic trigger destructive behaviors in your readers? It’s OK and even refreshing to have blog posts that strike up a healthy debate, but you should tread lightly when blogging about something that could hit home in a hard way to your readers. There’s obviously no way to please everybody, nor should your posts go from a triple Americano to “lukewarm water, hold the joe” in an attempt to be cautious, but if you feel you must post about something that may not sit well with some readers, I recommend offering a huge bolded disclaimer in the front. My friend who writes a blog about controversial issues employs this tactic anytime she brings up some pretty graphic topics.
- Why are you sharing details about your friends and family with your post? If you’re risking alienating our close friends and family because you’ve shared details about them they would rather you kept mum, ask yourself what is so important about this topic that you’d break that trust. And if you aren’t sure? Ask. Kendra does a great job of summing up the difference between “TMI” and “NMI” (not my information) here.
- Are you risking your job security or career potential? If any of your co-workers read your blog and/or it is easily retrievable via a Google search with your name or your Facebook profile, you are taking a considerable risk. Sure you might think you work at a chill company, but you never know when a catty or competitive co-worker will bust into the archives and go for the jugular. If you are applying for a job and realize that anybody who types your name into Google can find your blog, discretion should be exercised more frequently than Richard Simmons. Make sure the topic is really necessary to your readers before you post about it.
- Where’s the fire? If this is a topic you’re unsure about, you don’t need to rush out a post. You have the right to take your time
That isn’t to say that you can’t ever write about situations in which you doubt yourself. Here are some cases when readers could benefit from hearing your two cents about sticky situations:
- You take proper accountability for poor decisions made. There is no shame in saying, “I messed up.” Kristen has some great tips on failing with flying colors when this happens. Please note, posts of this nature should generally only apply to situations that are relevant to your every day blog content. If you write about fueling yourself for a race, you shouldn’t devote an entire post apologizing for venturing out into the public with a white pants clad camel toe, complete with photographic proof. Unless such occurrence happened while fueling yourself at a race, it doesn’t belong on the blog. If you feel we MUST know about this, employ the 140 character or less method.
- Numerous readers have requested your insight on this particular topic. There’s never a surefire guarantee that every post is going to garner praise from every reader but chances are, if many of your longtime readers have requested a post on this topic (particularly if they think you have poked fun at something serious in the past), it’s something they want to read about.
- It is an excerpt from your work that has been previously published or will soon be published. If it’s up for public consumption and something you feel comfortable sharing on your blog, then go for it But again, make sure it relates to the tone and topic of your blog. I highly doubt the “self-published” story you wrote in first grade about a fictional trip to India (am I the only one who did things like this at age 7?), belongs on a blog about bike racing.
Have you ever stopped reading a blog because you questioned the how and why of what was written? Do you ever think about the how and the why behind your posts? Please share!