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As bloggers, we have a propensity toward sharing some of the most private moments of our personal history. But it’s a fine line to walk – how much do you share, and how? Today, 2012 BBC Speaker Robin Farr shares her tips on striking the right balance.
How to Blog Honestly Without Losing Your Dignity
“Authenticity” is practically a buzzword in blogging, but there’s a reason: it works. It works because your readers are people and people like to read about other people, not other people pretending to be something they’re not.
Most of us – though not all, to be sure – are authentic on our blogs. But there’s authentic and then there’s honest. Really honest. What would it take for you to be really honest?
I’ll start by telling you my most honest post – which I never, ever thought I’d write – was about my experience with postpartum depression and rage and how one day I got so mad I actually slapped my baby. (And I will fully admit that mentioning it again here makes me incredibly nervous even though I got a lot of support after my post.)
We all have something we’re afraid of sharing. Some people write it and then don’t publish it, which is cathartic, but what if you did?
Don’t hyperventilate. Let’s talk about how to be comfortable sharing personal stuff.
Define your boundaries
Some bloggers publish posts about things others can’t imagine sharing – marital problems, miscarriages, mental health issues – while for others the line is much closer to home (with curtains closed, thank you very much). It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are comfortable with what you choose to publish.
Do it because you want to, not for validation
If you’re comfortable writing about something sensitive, you should be fine (even if you’re nervous). If you’re looking for validation from others, you’re probably not ready.
Don’t just barf it out there
I’m the queen of writing something emotional, reading it through for typos, and then publishing it. Sometimes that’s the only way I can do it. There are ways to increase your comfort level, though, such as:
- Starting small. Work up to the brutally honest stuff or write it in pieces.
- Sharing it on someone else’s blog as a guest post, which, for many, feels a lot less vulnerable.
- Writing the post and then coming back to it later to see how it sits with you.
- Asking for backup. Several bloggers I know have told others they’re writing a sensitive post. If you do that those people can then back you up with supportive comments once you’ve posted it.
Publication is Power
There are lots of examples of bloggers publishing something hard to share and feeling better for it. Here are two that stand out for me:
- Cristi from Motherhood Unadorned on how she doesn’t think suicide is selfish. That post sparked great dialogue and got syndicated on BlogHer to boot.
- Yuliya from She Suggests recently posted about suffering from depression – a very hard thing to admit, but now she has some extra support and she’s helping others as well.
My experience has been equally positive. In addition to overwhelming support for the post I mentioned in the intro, I also wrote about another aspect of PPD and submitted it for publication. It was accepted and now appears in Welcome to My World along with other bloggers’ stories about being a working vs. stay-at-home mom. (I also had another piece published in a book about depression. See? Honesty pays!)
Whatever your big secret is, I guarantee someone else will have been through something similar, and if you choose to share it you’ll be helping both of you.
Have you shared any really personal stories? (If so, leave me a link in the comments!) If not, maybe it’s time to cross the bridge and step into the light.
Looking For More On Writing?
If you are looking for more inspiration on how to stay motivated both in blogging and in life, then you do not want to miss these posts:
- How to Write a Blog Post in 15 Minutes or Less
- Hanging Onto Your Blogging Mojo
- 4 Ways to Find and Keep Your Motivation
- 10 Blogging Pitfalls You Should Avoid
- Who Are You Writing For?
About The Author
Robin Farr is a writer, wife, communications professional, speaker and mom. She experienced undiagnosed postpartum depression after her son was born in 2008 and started her blog, Farewell, Stranger, as a way of writing herself out of it. In doing so she discovered strength in brutal honesty and the power of community.
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[email protected] says
I used to write very transparently about my life as a survivor of childhood sexual/mental/physical/spiritual abuse, domestic violence, eating disorder, PTSD, infertility, and other things. Then I stopped writing anonymously, and was publicly and privately attacked by family and others who once knew me, who either felt attacked themselves, or believed I was lying (despite the fact that my father is serving life in prison – a judge, jury, and a host of other legal personnel sure believed me). I freaked out, and shut down. I changed blogs, and started writing one called Our Little Bit Of Wonderful, with the express intent of only publicizing “wonderful” things. I started reviewing books (eventually other things, too), and my blog just…became totally impersonal. My family of origin, and my relatives and “friends” loved it. So did 7,500 strangers. And then I lost it again, and decided I couldn’t pretend my life was rosy, when it’s not. My daughter (a beautiful baby after 4 years of infertility issues and 2 miscarriages, neither of which 99% of my circles knew about) was about 8 months old, and I had barely mentioned her on my blog, because I was struggling with moderate PPD (by which I mean I adored my daughter, but wandered around in a weepy fog all the time, and had flashes of rage I didn’t know how to handle except to stuff), and I just couldn’t bring myself to talk about that, and all the factors contributing to it (my mother and I didn’t speak for 6 months because I had to cut my brother out of my life after he assaulted (“mild” or not, it was assault) my 6 month old baby). It all just felt too raw, and the fact that my blog was a big “hey look, happy happy happy” made me feel like I couldn’t just start saying “hey, this is the real story”. So I shut it down, and opened my current blog, The Homemade Creative. I had fantastic intentions – and then 2013 turned out to be one long crap fest, and I literally didn’t have TIME to write anything but overdue reviews. So here I am, 9 months in, and yet another blog that looks like we’re a pretty normal, quiet, happy family. And we DO love each other dearly! We just have had more than our share of illness, injury, depression, and financial crisis’. And now I don’t know how to even start being transparent. There’s too much to say! And I’m really scared of being attacked. My best friend of nine years flipped out on me a couple of weeks ago – it was brutal and heartbreaking and enraging, but I thought it was over. And then a couple of days ago, I wrote a review of the movie CAMP about abused foster kids, and prefaced it with a trigger warning and a comment about not always watching stuff like this because it’s triggering for me as a survivor of child abuse and domestic violence. She commented on the post (I didn’t know she was still reading my blog), saying how she knew I had been sexually abused (not something I’d said, which felt like a violation), but that she was surprised to hear me say I had been a victim of domestic violence, as “that means spousal abuse, and I certainly hope that’s not the case for you.” She knows darn well that my husband is the kindest, gentlest man EVER – it was pure spite. I ended up sharing the Department of Justice’s definition (which includes ANY intimate relationship wherein one partner or member of a domestic group is abused), and said that NO I was not a victim of spouse abuse, and that I planned to write about my experiences in the future, so she could reference those if she wanted to know why “domestic abuse” applies to me (though again, she KNOWS why it does – pure spite). Anyway…I’m scared.
[email protected] says
That was REALLY long, sorry.
Clare Byrd says
How much does a new photographer know to be blogging about? My blog is a blog based on writing honestly. I’m working on a post about my mother’s alcoholism, and how it killed her. It was most helpful!
I think my blog is fairly honest although I sometimes hold back a bit. One of the most honest and personal post I have written was a recent one.
Haha…I do it all the time. I am always looking for blogs who put it out there like I do, however, I find very little. Oftentimes I feel alone in this big bloggy world, and like I need to be blogging about something different. What keeps me posting ( besides the fact that this is what I WANT to blog about) are the many comments (sometimes privately) that I get from people who thank me and who can relate. Since finding SITS GIRLS I am finding similar blogs.
Thanks for this article. It was most helpful!
A few weeks ago I posted about my experience with an abusive parent. It was very therapeutic and at the same time, I think it helped some readers gain some perspective on who I am and why I am the way I am (did that make sense?). I think in order for someone to understand who you are, they have to understand who you were.
Dionne Adkison says
I have issues with self-worth. Here is one take on it. I still have more to write…I am just not ready yet.
Thank you for the courage to speak about PPD…I had it bad with my second son. My blog is a blog based on writing honestly.
I think most of my blog is personal and honest. I had a troubled teen and I decided that sharing my experiences (with my daughter’s permission of course) could help other parents, but I think the hardest post I ever wrote (while in tears) was my daughter’s attempted suicide.
This was excellent information. Thank you for sharing 🙂
Gabrielle Bass says
This topic just came up in a FB group I’m in. I don’t get too deep on my blog, but I love sharing about my life (juicing, massage, shopping, etc.) and what I’m doing. I also love reading people’s personal stories about their life-struggles and victories. I think the market I want to attract will be able to connect with me through my blog/writing, not my website. My personality is VERY strong and built me a very profitable massage business, so when I started in photography, I was stumped about what to write on my blog because I was new at photography. How much does a new photographer know to be blogging about? NOT MUCH. So with that, I am sharing parts of myself along this journey and feel that it is a creative outlet for me as well. I make sure to have at least one business-related post a week, something inspirational, and something personal, which will all have a photo attached. Photography is personal for me, so including posts about me on my blog is essential to the growing process for me as well as blogging sessions. And “personally”, what I have to say isn’t all that “personal” :o)
Natalie @MamaTrack says
Great post, Robin! No one does authentic like you do. Thanks for sharing the tips!
Pamela- The Culdesac Mom says
I’m working on a post about my mother’s alcoholism, and how it killed her. I’m not sure when I’ll post it, but it will definitely be the most personal post I’ve ever written!
Robin @ Farewell, Stranger says
You’ll know when you’re ready to post it, and I’m sure you’ll get a lot of support. Good for you!
When I started writing about my depression and other struggles, I was surprised at how much better it made me feel. The writing itself was therapeutic but also the support I received in the comments. It was good to feel I wasn’t alone.
Robin @ Farewell, Stranger says
That’s awesome, and that was my experience too.