Like many teens, I had a secret diary for a while. In it, I wrote my feelings about daily occurrences. I especially wrote how I felt about those around me.
My diary was secret for a good reason. I would have been humiliated had anyone ever found and read it.
Most of what I wrote in there was just a reaction anyway. I wrote it and forgot it.
Sadly, some writers treat their blogs and social media accounts like personal diaries. In this post, I explain why I think this is a bad idea. I’ll look at some instances where it’s okay to get personal, and some where it’s not.
Oversharing and Transparency
I might as well get this part of the post out of the way. Some of the oversharing comes from a desire to be transparent online.
Whenever I write about online sharing, I get comments about the importance of transparency. They say things like,
This is what I’m like and my clients need to know that.
If what I share upsets a potential client, they aren’t the right client for me.
Hmm. Maybe so…
Let me be clear. I do believe in online transparency. But I don’t think you have to share everything about yourself to be transparent. Some things about yourself just aren’t interesting or relevant to your readers.
Besides, you couldn’t share everything about yourself even if you tried. So, you might as well share things that will enhance your online brand. Think about that.
What Not to Share Online
If you run a business, you need to be careful about what you share in blog posts or on social media. Before you share anything, ask these three questions:
- How is this information relevant to my target audience?
- Will my target audience be interested in this information?
- Can my target audience learn from what I am sharing?
If the answer is “no,” don’t share it. It’s really that simple.
Here are some examples of topics your readers don’t need to know:
- The fight you just had with your friend or relative. If you’re just venting your feelings, there are better ways. Try talking to a close friend or counselor.
- How upset you are with your current client. Client problems tend to come back and haunt you. If you must share a client problem, make sure it’s well documented.
- How you don’t like a particular project. Again, this makes you sound like a whiner. Most freelancers have to take a project or two that they don’t like.
- What you made per hour on one project. I see this all the time. Unfortunately, such figures are often link bait and don’t represent annual earnings.
- Your cuss word vocabulary. While some people cuss, believe it or not, there are many who do not. Some of those who do not are prospective clients. Enough said.
- The gross details of your latest (short-term) illness. You don’t your clients to think that you are too sick to finish a project for them.
You can probably think of other examples.
When It’s Good to Share
There are times when sharing personal information is a good idea. A personal illustration can add an extra dimension to your posts and articles. This is especially true if you are sharing how you solved a problem.
I have a great deal of admiration for those who have overcome obstacles or illness. In a small way, I’ve shared about obstacles I’ve faced. It’s my hope that sharing about losing weight and overcoming shyness help others.
If bravely sharing your story helps someone else, I am all for it. We all need inspiration from time to time.
Before You Share
There’s an easy way you can keep from over sharing. Follow these three simple guidelines:
- Wait. Never publish a post in the heat of emotion. Chances are, your feelings will change over time.
- Think. Could your post be misunderstood? If so, reword it or consider not publishing.
- Get a second opinion. If you’re not sure, share the post privately with someone you trust. Ask for feedback.
If you’ve followed these guidelines and you still think your story is relevant and could help others, go ahead.
How do you react when you see something too personal online?
Everyone will draw the line for online sharing in a different place. Some will still treat their blogs and social media accounts like a personal diary.
Where do you draw the line?