How to Blog without Embarrassing Your Mother or Losing Friends

By Amy Lupold Bair, Susannah Gardner

You might think that it goes without saying that if you can lose your job over opinions that you express on your blog, you can also damage your personal relationships with friends and family. It’s worth saying it anyway.

Many bloggers get caught up in the confessional mood and post content that they later regret — though perhaps not as much as a friend or relative regrets it.

How to understand what’s at stake with your blog

Successful blogger Heather Armstrong alienated her family early in her blogging career when she posted her views on the religion in which she was raised. Her parents, who were still firm believers in that religion, read the post and were hurt, as was her extended family and the community in which they lived.

Heather calls herself a poster child for what not to do on a blog, though, in fact, the process has resulted in Dooce, a blog that’s both well-known and profitable today.

In an interview with Rebecca Blood (who studies blogs), Heather cautions that criticizing others might make great posts, but the chances are good that the person you criticize will read what you’ve written and feel hurt.

Even if you never criticize others, you might possibly reveal information about others — their conversations with you or their interactions in your life. It is nearly impossible to blog about your personal life without at least vaguely referencing others.

How to protect others in your life on your blog

Some bloggers choose to apply the Mom Test to a post before clicking Publish: Will your mom approve of your post? Although this approach works for many bloggers, you may worry more about local friends and work clients when deciding to publish a post.

Decide what appropriateness litmus test works for you before you begin blogging, or even decide that you’re willing to take a no-holds-barred approach to blogging and put it all out there.

If you’d like to consider others before creating content on your blog, think about the following:

  • Don’t blog about topics that you think might hurt others.

  • Don’t blog about others without their permission, even about topics that you consider inconsequential. Don’t identify friends, family, and romantic interests by name without their permission.

  • Remember that your blog software archives your blog posts, so someone might read what you say today at a later time. For instance, if you write a report on an unsuccessful relationship, the next person you want to date might read it.

Before you hit the Publish button, stop for a second and put yourself in the shoes of your reader: Are you writing for the reader, or are you writing for yourself? If your answer is the latter, you might be better off keeping a real diary in a format that the entire world can’t publicly access.