By Amy Lupold Bair, Susannah Gardner

Although turning blogging into a full-time job is a possibility, it is still an incredibly rare accomplishment when you consider the vast number of people who blog. According to a 2012 study by Blogging.org, the United States alone has approximately 31 million bloggers. Most bloggers must maintain a job outside of blogging in order to receive an income.

Because you spend so much of your day at work, it may seem natural to include work stories in your blog. In fact, the characters and chaos you encounter every day may provide great blog fodder! However, keep in mind that blogging about work may get you in trouble, and that even blogs meant to be anonymous can’t really guarantee protection or anonymity.

You should also find out whether your place of work has a privacy policy that includes blogging and social media before you begin blogging, especially if you’re considering including work stories on your site.

If you choose to discuss people you work with on your blog, someone may be able to identify them even if you don’t identify them by name. This could get you in trouble with both your coworkers and your boss.

Some bloggers identify both themselves and their employers on their personal blogs. Doing so is certainly transparent — after all, work is a big part of your life — but it isn’t necessarily wise.

As noted earlier, some places of business have policies against employee blogging and use of social media. Including information about your job and place of work may also give the wrong impression to your readers that you are blogging on behalf of your employer.

It is wise to include a disclaimer on your site stating that all opinions are your own and not that of your employer. Generally speaking, employers don’t want people to associate the business with the political agendas, family relationships, or dating habits of their employees.

Employers today know that blogs exist, and they’re fully capable of typing your name, their name, or the company name into a search engine and finding blogs that talk about them or their company. Blogging anonymously — although a good idea if you want to criticize your employer — doesn’t really guarantee that you won’t get caught, particularly if other people in your office know about your blog.

You are encouraged to blog about whatever floats your boat, but if you want to blog about work, you need to do so safely. Here are a few tips that you can use to stay on your employer’s good side:

  • Regardless of what you blog about, don’t blog while you are at work. Using company time and resources to write a personal blog is a clear violation of most employment contracts and can get you disciplined or fired, even if all you do on your blog is sing your boss’s praises.

  • Find out whether your workplace has a blogging policy. If your boss doesn’t know, consult with the HR department. In some cases, a policy might be in place that makes certain requests of your blogging behavior, and you can choose whether to comply with them.

  • Ask questions about your employer’s blogging policy if it’s unclear or incomplete. Find out whether certain subjects are off limits and whether you can identify yourself as an employee.

  • Be smart about what you choose to say about your work and your colleagues. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying what you write in public, don’t put it on your blog. Remember, anonymity is never guaranteed!

  • Don’t reveal trade secrets. Trade secrets include confidential information about how your employer does business that can impact revenue or reputation. If you aren’t sure whether you can blog about something, run it by your boss first.

  • Review other rules and regulations that might impact what you can blog about. For example, some employers have policies about taking photographs of the workplace or revealing addresses of buildings.

  • Consider including a disclosure statement on your blog that says you’re blogging for personal expression and not as a representative of your employer. Thomas Duff makes his blogging position clear in his very thorough disclosure statement on Duffbert’s Random Musings.

    A disclosure statement on Duffbert’s Random Musings