Stuff I Know About Blogging

by Lori Dwyer on February 6, 2012 · 26 comments

“She writes of love, death and herself.”

A while back I published this very tongue–in–cheek post; a solid attempt to not publish things I shouldn’t be writing about. Y’all loved it (thank you very much). But I did get a few emails in the aftermath, requesting an actual post by that title– ‘How To Be A Personal Blogger, Without Getting Too Personal’.

I’m not sure I’m the best person to ask about this one. But what I think I know, I’m happy to share. Enjoy… but like everything you read online, take it with a grain of salt. I think that’s lesson one.

Don’t publish when you’re angry. Notice I didn’t say “Don’t blog when you’re angry”? By all means, if you are pissed off, do some blogging. But keep it in your drafts folder. Wait at least 24 hours– until you’re not so pissed anymore– and then decide if you really want to hit publish.

If you wouldn’t be comfortable putting it on the side of a bus, don’t blog it. Wise words from a parenting forum I used to be a part of– whatever you write online has the potential to be seen as widely as an ad on the side of a city bus. Think of it as the equivalent of taking out a full page in your local newspaper. Because even if there aren’t that many people reading now, there may be, some time in the future.

And on that note, it’s like oil into water. Whatever you put online, stays there. you can delete it. But it may be cached, crawled, lifted or saved in a hundred different ways. I’ve always had the counter–argument to “what will your children think in ten years?!”– I’m not arrogant enough to actually think my blog will still be visible in ten years. The has to be a limit on the amount of crap that google caches. But… better to safe than sorry. It’s like oil into water– what you put into the World Wide Web is almost impossible to remove again.

Don’t assume no one will read it. A blogging mate of mine had a very sad situation a while back. She wrote a post, venting her frustrations about the behaviors of one of her friends. The friend in question ended up getting wind of this post and reading her blog. You can imagine what came next– it was painful for everyone involved. Nowhere on the Internet is a truly secret space.

Don’t be anonymous as an excuse to break the rules. I love anonymous bloggers– the best example being the awesome Glowless, who only outed herself in preparation for the first Aussie Blog Conference. So people would have some idea who the hell this hot Perth chick with the Wilma Flintstone fashion was.
Seriously, though, people blog anonymously for all kinds of reason– freedom of expression, the fun of being someone else, to protect the boundaries they’ve drawn. But remember anonymity doesn’t give you a license to be cruel, or disrespectful, of break the ’rules’ of personal blogging. Don’t write anything anonymously that you wouldn’t write as yourself. Because nothing stays a secret online for long. And what you say may just come back to haunt you.

Stand by what you write. And eat humble pie if you’re wrong. This wont be so much of a problem if you follow rule number two– don’t publish when you’re angry. And if you find yourself in the wrong, be prepared to admit it. Even bloggers are human.

Set your limits, and change them as you go. Some people use real names for themselves and others, some use aliases, some– like me– a bit of both. Some people are comfortable publishing photos of their kids, some are not. Some bloggers happily reveal their location, while others are more guarded.
None of us are right, or wrong– its all about comfort levels. As a public, personal blogger, you choose what you are and are not comfortable with. And that will change as you grow and learn. Run with it.

Decide what is your story to tell. Just because you heard it, or saw it, doesn’t mean it’s yours to write about. I know, I know– hypocrite much, considering the story I’ve told here? But believe it or not, I don’t blog about everything. There are things I don’t write, because they’re not mine to write about. And I’ve paid for what I’ve disclosed… I’m not sure I recommend it.

Watch your back. Or get a lawyer. If you think something could possibly get you into hot water; through slander, libel, misunderstanding or just someone holding a grudge– don’t publish it. Listen to your gut instinct… it’s usually right.

Be honest. Good blogging is good story telling, and the key to story telling is to omit some details and emphasize others. But don’t lie, outright, about yourself or the people you know. You will get found out, it will damage your credibility, and you will feel like shit.

Be prepared for potential fall out. Writing your life down on a public stream leaves you, if nothing else, open to judgement from many more people than if you kept it all under lock and unpublished key. People love to judge. Some of them make a hobby of it. Be prepared to be judged, talked about and occasionally dismissed. Be prepared for potential fallout, especially if you overstep the lines of other peoples privacy. If it happens– own it.

Decide what’s yours. And keep it. Not everything has to go on your blog, and never feel obligated to open up memories you’d rather keep to yourself. Some days you may just feel as if your soul is splashed all over the screen. Having stuff that is yours, and only yours, no matter how insignificant it may be; that’s a soothing saline dilution to the sting of over–sharing.

If it stops serving its purpose, stop doing it. We blog for fun, for therapy, for a hobby, an outlet, something creative to work our fingers at. We blog to share, to tell stories, to keep memories, to challenge viewpoints. We blog to bear witness to life as it passes.

Every blog has a purpose, and you know the purpose of yours. When it stops fulfilling that purpose, and you can’t mold it into something new… let it go. And move on.

A blog is only ever as good as the intention every post is written with.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Shellye February 9, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Great advice, Lori! Thanks for sharing!


marketingtomilk February 8, 2012 at 6:12 am

wise wise post. all bloggers would do well to read this.



TAHNEE February 7, 2012 at 9:13 am

perfect advice! thanks for your wise words


Baggage February 7, 2012 at 7:42 am

I just started back blogging again, and these are some great reminders. Thanks.


Rhonda February 7, 2012 at 4:32 am

Thank you for publishing this. I often struggle with what to publish and what not to publish. But I am comfortable with my level and that's all that really matters. Thanks for helping me to see that.


the worstest mommy February 7, 2012 at 3:59 am

Great advice, especially for new bloggers trying to find their voice!


Glowless @ Where’s My Glow February 7, 2012 at 1:51 am

P.S. LOOOOVE that you remember my Wilma fashion ;-) Your dress was amazeballs


Glowless @ Where’s My Glow February 7, 2012 at 1:50 am

Watch your back or get a lawyer… or ask someone who teaches defamation law really really nicely to proof read your post for you. I did that a few weeks ago just in case.
Spot on, chook xxx


Melissa February 6, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Well said!


Karen at MomAgain@40 February 6, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Good points! Thanks!


Melissa February 6, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Perfect advice – thank you :)


Claire February 6, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Great advice! Some of these I've learned the hard way, most I've avoided, but this is an ace 'how to'!


Smaggle February 6, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Awesome. Completely.

I remember (years ago!) when a blogger posted about her boyfriend cheating on her and deleted it. It was then that I realised you can't unpublish on Google Reader. I had that post in my feed for WEEKS.

Just be careful.


Miss Pink February 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm

I LOVE the anonymous tips. I think many anonymous bloggers miss that point.
I'm actually proud to say that everything I've written on this blog, I'm ok with people knowing. I live by the rule of don't speak/write it, no matter who to, if you wouldn't be ok with others finding out. It doesn't always mean I actually want to them to know right then, but if they did find out, well I can handle that.

I foten say on my blog, this is shit I just don't talk about to people in my real life, and I think people may take that in the wrong way. I don't talk about it because it's massively awkward and I'm not stupid, people don't want to talk about that shit, myself included, but it doesn't mean that I would be hugely pissed if they knew.

I am in awe of those who can sign their name/face to their blog. Really and truely, there are times where I'm like "Fuck this I'm gunna upload a picture of ALL of me, no disguises" and then 2 minutes later I'm like "Nah, I really can't".
Being anonymous for me is purely incidental and due to family circumstances which I have to respect and protect my children from. It just so happens that being anonymous lead to me posting that post about why I wouldn't go to the ABC, and then talking deeper about that side to me. I'm not afriad to sign my name to it, but I am afraid of what could arise if just a handful of people found my blog (for my children's sake), and so that is the only downfall to me blogging. The rest, I stand behind 100% and signing "Miss Pink" to it, has as much weight as if I signed my real name to it.

Personal blogging is just that, personal. You need to set yourself your own rules because lets face it, we are all writing on our own set of rules.
I agree about posting an angry post. My advice, is to sleep on it, re-read it in the morning, and then decide if you're really ok with posting it, if you could change or omit a few sentances and still post it, or if it just needs to be locked away.

I think that you need to write a post on how you keep coming up with so much to write about. I just can't zero in on the one idea long enough most the time that I know I am missing out on some fantastic stories. Ahh the troubled mind.


Mum on the Run February 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Solid advice – for everyone negating the net.
I teach ten year olds and am trying to drum these realities into them before they learn the hard way.
:-) x


lori February 6, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Great advice. I struggle with that balance of writing the real truth without saying too much. Recently, actually. It's less painful to just be funny.


Kristen February 6, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Hey Lori – Ok.. so weirder than weird – I wrote blogging rules today. And I wrote it when I was pissed off. "oops" – but – I didn't steal the idea from you… and they are more of online rules than blogging rules.

Once again – yours are better :)

Always a supporter… Kristen


Dorothy Krajewski February 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I'm happy for my blog to be on the side of a bus, unless it has my name and photo splashed all over it and it drives around my neighbourhood.

But, if the bus was to pay me a shitload of money to publish every single details about my life, photo, name and all, hell, I'd say yes! I have a price…! A substantial one, but I still have a price…


Sharon @ Pandamoanium February 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Another very timely post for me today. I just had to write a post on what my blog was and was not due to a very offensive attacking comment I got on an extremely personal, painful post.

In the end, you have to own what you write, be prepared to stand by it and shrug off the haters.

And don't publish anything libelous.


The Babbling Bandit February 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Great post! Will definitely favourite this one so I can go back over these wise guidelines whenever I feel I maybe oversharing (which is often).

V. The Babbling Bandit


Good Golly Miss Holly! February 6, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I giggled reading this, timing is impeccible about today's installment of the in-law saga over here ;)

I own every damn word I write and the fallout is beautiful – I feel like I am banging my head against a brickwall! x


Lisa H February 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Lot's of great advice there Lori. You're a very wise woman :-)


edenland February 6, 2012 at 10:07 am

Oh, and what about a DEEPLY full-on post that years ago, someone anonymously published then retracted the next day? Tell me that's not cached – uh, a friend wants to know.


edenland February 6, 2012 at 10:05 am

LOVE this post, very much. And I deeply laughed about the bus billboard. There's buses driving around the world with hugely inappropriate shit written all over them … whoops!

I owe you a thank-you. I clicked on your tongue-in-cheek post about How to be a Personal Blogger .. (without being too personal) because my god I needed to learn that. After a minute thinking, Lori has forgotten to attach her post! I got it.

Straight away I wrote a post called Compelling … you know those posts where you wake up the next morning thinking NOOOOOOOO!!

But I'm glad I did.

I'm so glad you blog, Lori. You are only thirty, man. I am a DECADE OLDER THAN YOU. And proud that we are peers.



Kelloggsville February 6, 2012 at 10:03 am

Great advice. You mentioned caching. I've done posts on how to request cache removal for google and bing. Search the online privacy label at I had an issue with wanting to clear out some overly personal stuff and found caching a problem. I wrote up how I sorted if out. I came to the conclusion if you werent prepared to write it on a banner and carry it around the local supermarket, don't blog it. Much like the bus ad.


Me February 6, 2012 at 9:06 am

Thanks for this Lori – great guidelines to follow – especially #1 !

Have the best Monday possible.


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