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Blogging and Privacy: How to Blog Authentically Without Losing Your Voice

Posted By Stacey Roberts 27th of January 2015 General 37

Hello! (1)Laura Tremaine’s blog is called Hollywood Housewife because she is just that – married to a movie producer and living in LA. A longtime blogger, she’s learned how to balance honest storytelling with keeping her husband, her family, and their life together somewhat incognito. Always only a Google search away from film fans, Laura has erred on the side of caution when it comes to sharing her tales, but manages never to lose the heart of them. She is a gifted writer with an interesting story to tell, and I have no doubt you’ll take away lots to think about if you’ve ever been concerned about laying out your life on the internet in blog form.

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Blog Beginnings

I started blogging as a creative outlet for my writing. I moved to Los Angeles from Oklahoma with the romantic notion that I was going to write novels and screenplays for a living. But I never got that far. I fell into television & movie production as a way to pay the bills, and that workload is really kind of intense. After I got married, I quit working in reality television and decided that I finally wanted to pursue that original dream. Blogging was just beginning to get huge, and the instant gratification of publishing on the internet was so alluring.

At first I just did it for myself and the handful of family and friends that read my first small blog. After a few stops and starts, I finally decided that I wanted to take the whole thing more seriously and grow an audience. I started over with the blog name Hollywood Housewife (because I am one) and have been plugging along with it ever since.

Privacy Needs

My husband Jeff Tremaine is a successful director/producer with a large fan base. The demographics that are attracted to his movies and tv shows aren’t necessarily the same people who want to read about my parenting journey. In the beginning, it was really important to me to keep the two things separate. There are a lot of google searches for his name and work, and I didn’t want people looking for a crude clip of a movie stumbling upon my list of favorite moisturizers. After we had children, I was especially concerned about our family’s privacy and how I could write my story without exploiting our two kids or too much of his personal life.

By now there has been some crossover – people who love him have found my Instagram, for example, which then leads them to the blog and everything else. It’s okay, though. You can see pretty quickly what I’m about, so that naturally weeds out those who aren’t interested in family, faith, & beauty content. And for the most part, almost everyone has been very respectful of the distance I keep between what I’m doing on the internet and what he’s doing on the big screen.

No-Go Zones

For search engine reasons, I don’t use my husband’s name and I have given him and our children little nicknames I use instead. The reasoning behind this makes sense, but sometimes I wish I’d picked something a little less silly. It’s tricky to write the more serious posts while referring to the most important people in my life as The Gorilla, Pigtail, and Pirate. You live and you learn, I guess, but that is one thing that I tell newer bloggers to think long and hard about.

I also don’t include too much about where we live, but I think everyone on the internet – blogger or not – should do that. And there are huge chunks of our life I leave out entirely. We’ve had very significant illnesses on both sides of our family, and even though it was on our hearts day and night, I didn’t write about any of it for years. It just didn’t feel right. I also never write about our personal relationships with people who are well known. I want my blog to be a peek into a true Hollywood household, but it’s not a site for name-dropping.

hhousewife

Balancing Authenticity and Privacy

If it were just me, my blog would be a LOT more tell-all. I have no patience for fake people, and I like to write honestly about things. But juggling these other factors in our life has been a good discipline, actually. I’ve rarely hit publish on a post and wished I could take it back. I’m very deliberate about what and how much I share, but it’s all truth. I think the authenticity comes from me sharing MY heart and MY taste, and less about being juicy. It’s easy for me to be honest about what *I’m* feeling or the products and things that *I* like, and I try to leave anyone else out of the equation. I figure that will get me in the least trouble.

I’m also fairly quick to say if I made a mistake, failed at something, or if I changed my mind on a topic. There is no picture perfect illusion on my blog. This goes a long way in deconstructing  whatever myth people might assume about our lifestyle.

Reader Relationships

I have some of the best readers on the planet. I’m always underestimating them and they’re constantly surprising me. Like if I think I’m posting something sorta wackadoo and they’re not going to understand what I mean – they do! They’re almost always along for the ride and I love this about them. Somewhere along the way we’ve sliced through the blogger wall, and I always feel like I’m a real person writing to real people. It’s easy to get confused about that.

I interact with my readers daily on Facebook and Instagram  I love twitter, but my readers aren’t over there so much. My favorite way to interact with my readers has been through my monthly Secret Posts  These go to subscribers’ emails and the content is more personal than what I put out on the blog. Lately I’ve been asking readers to respond to the Secret Posts, and people are blowing me away with their thoughtful interaction.

And Her Husband?

He loves the blog. It’s the only one he reads – ha! Because his career is such a circus, he has always encouraged me to have my own thing and to pursue it as much as I wanted. He keeps the kids when I go on blogging trips and conferences, and he’s often my sounding board when I’m about to publish a sensitive post.

He is way less concerned about our general privacy than I am. Or maybe he just trusts the way I’ve handled it so far. He has never asked me to delete or change something I’ve posted.

More Privacy = More Struggle

We’ve had a few weird things happen, like people finding me and trying to get a direct line to him. I’ve received more than one script in the mail that someone wishes I’d pass along. (Those go directly in the trash, we can’t directly accept anything like that for legal reasons.) It’s also annoying that sometimes I can’t write about a major thing in our life until after it’s already happened. Last year he made the movie Bad Grandpa and I basically couldn’t write about any part of it for over a year, even though it was a huge part of our daily lives.

That’s not a real struggle, though, is it? While I sometimes have to be creative or find a workaround when writing about our friends and family, the bottom line is that you’ll never regret being too careful about what you put online.

The Takeaway

Even though blogging and social media continue to change rapidly, I feel really lucky to be able to tell my story in real time on the internet. There are people who put way too much of themselves out for the world to see, and there are people who are terrified to put even the littlest bit on display. But for most of us – no matter what level of privacy we either must or choose to maintain – there is a happy medium. Be creative! I know one blogger who writes about some of her current mental health struggles as if it was something that happened a long time ago. That makes her feel safer about sharing. Another blogger I know spills out a lot of harsh detail about a certain situation and she has ended up a thought leader on a topic very few are willing to discuss publicly. A lot of obstacles can be worked around, be it a job or a family situation, or anything else you’ve convinced yourself requires silence. If you want to tell your story, do it. There’s no shortage of people who want to hear it. [Tweet that!]

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So how about you – what’s the balance you strike between authenticity and privacy? It’s one I’ve definitely juggled.

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about simple living, good food, and travelling the world with kids at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

About Stacey Roberts
Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama, follow on Pinterest for fun and useful tips, peek behind the curtain on Instagramand Snapchat, listen to her 90s pop culture podcast, or be entertained on Facebook.
Comments
  1. I loved reading this post. :-) Though I’m not married, much less to anyone in Hollywood, I’m a very private person. Blogging about my wellness journey is fun because I get to share about what I’m passionate about, but it’s also been a balance between sharing enough but not too much.

  2. Well, blog privacy is very important as number of negative SEOers is increasing day by day.
    Thanks for such an awesome post written in creative format.

  3. It sounds like you’ve found a nice balance between what to post and what not to. I’m currently working towards that in my writing- I don’t really use names in my posts, and keep a lot of details out of my writing, but try not to take it too far.
    I don’t want my blog to feel impersonal, but at the same time I have very good reasons for keeping some things to myself! I guess for now it’s just a case of keeping going until I’ve figured it out.
    Thanks for an interesting read.
    Reece

    • Stacey Roberts says: 01/29/2015 at 2:23 pm

      I think it’s one of those things you learn as you go – you quickly realise what you feel comfortable with, it’s such a gut thing.

  4. The privacy is one of the most important things nowadays as there are a lot of people out there who just want to take advantage of your hard work. So keeping this in mind, you should always work on improving your blog and keeping your voice to yourselves.

    • Stacey Roberts says: 01/29/2015 at 2:23 pm

      I think an authentic voice is incredibly important for a blog.

  5. As content is supposed to be king for web and get in touch with the right audience then privacy becomes most important due to lots of fraudulent cropping up in no time. for keeping our privacy this is really a good article for sharing wonderful information. thanks Stacey Roberts for written on such topic.

  6. Loved reading this post. :) Blogging about my wellness journey is rewarding, but it’s also been a balance between sharing enough versus sharing too much.

  7. To be honest, your situation is unique. I don’t think there are too many bloggers who have to protect their privacy for the same reason as you.

    Many bloggers do try to keep their blogging persona separate from their real life. It allows them to be more authentic. Sometimes there are other reasons too. For example, Ramsay from blogtyrant used to blog under the pseudoname “theblogtyrant”. As long as you engage with your readers, I don’t think it makes too much of a difference.

    Neil

    • Stacey Roberts says: 01/29/2015 at 2:25 pm

      I think it makes a massive difference. I think people crave authenticity and shared experience. Getting the balance right between sharing your experiences while keeping certain things private can be a tricky line. Of course the extent differs between various niches, but if you’re a personal blogger with a personal story, then it’s going to be more of an issue. I actually don’t know many bloggers who try to keep their blogging persona separate from their real life. This IS their real life.

      • Maybe you are right, Stacey.

      • Couldn’t agree more, Stacey. I am more REAL online than I am in real life. Still, I don’t use my kids names, or any of my family. I blog about MY experiences and perceptions of events and I’m prepared to be as open about them as I can. I don’t hide behind a bloggy persona.

  8. Privacy is very important and an ounce of prevention goes a long way. (Especially for women! I learned this lesson through a high-conflict divorce.)

    I’ve used a PO Box, Google voice, and different email adresses for years, plus domain privacy. And early on I decided there were certain topics that were just off-limits. It makes it easier to focus on the whole point of the blog anyway–I blog about singing and working in the classical music industry–not much else fits that niche, except my cat, he’s the official mascot. ;) I did make exceptions when there were deaths in the family because I had to cancel performances.

    My 2nd blog is about learning German as a Foreign language…no private topics there.

    When I first started out I attended a seminar on eNewsletter publishing and someone used the adage “Stick to your knitting.” If you stick to it, there’s not a lot of room for private topics anyway.

    Thanks for this post–a very important topic!

    • Hi MezzoNicole! I’m interested to read your blog about learning German because I’m trying to brush up my very rusty German. :) May I have your blog’s URL? Thanks!

    • Stacey Roberts says: 01/29/2015 at 2:28 pm

      But what if your blog or site is of a more personal nature? I think that’s where the line gets hazy. If your niche is parenting, or wellness, or a personal blog or similar, it can be a real lissue. It’s always going to be easier if you only write about cooking or tech or music to keep your story to an acceptable level of privacy. But if your personal story is your knitting, then it’s an issue even if they’re sticking to it!

      • Agreed. My blog is about my life, it’s why I started blogging in the first place. No avoiding personal details there, and to be honest, what would be the point?

  9. Great post! I really love the tips on nicknames. The very issue of privacy is what kept me from setting up my blog for several years!
    I like things private on my personal social media accounts and opening up my home to the web was too great a barrier to overcome.

    For me, the big mental break came when I decided that I could blog without being the subject of the blog. Looking back, I realized I was shortchanging myself (or maybe being arrogant!) for thinking I only had value to my readers by opening up my entire life for them.

    I admit that choosing a subject that doesn’t require photos from my own abode helps me feel a better sense of privacy. With the openness so many other bloggers share I think blog readers come to expect that they see the whole story when their is a lot more going on behind the scenes. As my blog progresses, I think I may bring up my ‘boundaries’ to the readers so they realize their is more to picture than just the brand I present.

  10. Thanks for the post. Not all blog really need privacy but my situation taught me a lesson. I included my phone number as part of my ”contact us” in my first blog but after a particular incident, I was forced to remove it and leave on the contact via email as the only option.

  11. We all love what we do online – but still deserve privacy for our families. Thanks for bringing this topic up!

  12. By german law we have to publish our adresse in our blog imprints. No privacy there, with all the fears to see some wierdo in front of your door some day…

    • Anaik says: 01/31/2015 at 4:52 pm

      Hey Cala, some email carriers also require a house address (and not a PO box, in the USA for example) to comply with spam-related laws, however, I’ve heard some people get around it by putting the address of their accountant’s office. Obviously get legal advice for your country, but is that perhaps an option?

  13. I’m very much this way too, and I want to share, share, share!! But my husband and teenaged kids (and even some of my extended family) much prefer that I leave them out of it. That leaves me to only blog about myself and the dog. And after a while, I even get tired of reading about ME.

  14. I don’t ever write about my friends or situations that happen with them unless I ask them first and I never use names. I dont use my partner or daughters real names either, although I wish I had thought up better nicknames too! I’ve never had any issues but having my daughter has made me be a lot more cautious about what I write so it cant come back to haunt her later in life.

  15. This is definitely something I am constantly considering and redefining. I don’t have a famous husband but I do have two kids who are too young to consent to what they do and don’t want on the internet, so I’m always second guessing. I don’t post photos of them and I don’t use their real names. I try to think of what they would think at age 15 about the stories I write. I hope I’m getting the balance right.

  16. Wonderful story Stacey and Laura,

    The line is sometimes difficult to draw i.e. if writing about relationships, you want to talk authentically about what you’ve learned but don’t want to publicly diss your exes either. If talking about finance, you might want to share your monthly budgeting — without sounding like you’re showing off.

    I’m still learning, but often my guiding principle is — would I be comfortable sharing this in person with an acquaintance? If it really makes me uncomfortable then it doesn’t get published. If it makes me a little scared, then it usually makes good content ;)

  17. I’m an over-sharer on my blog, but I think that comes with the territory of being an infertility blog, as well as coming from a dysfunctional family. My blog isn’t written for other people, so I try not to filter myself. I want true honesty from myself and others. If everything is made pretty and stylised, other people feel that’s the way they should be living and no one ever feels like they measure up.
    I often write as a stream of conciousness, almost like a diary. I could never just not write about something major that was happening in our lives, certainly not something that was impacting us everyday.

  18. I guess most people’s biggest trouble is staying inspired without copying and I think it’s really hard at times to find our true voice.

    What I think can help people find there voice is learning to express them self in a way that really depicts how we feel. People tend to feel connection with people who are transparent with who they are and are accepting of there shortcomings.

    But then there always needs to be balance where transparancy does not cross the line of invading privacy or sharing too much.

    Anyhow, really enjoyed reading the post Stacey.

  19. The tip about the nicknames is fantastic advice!

  20. HH is one of my favorite blogs to read. I love how Laura keeps it real, interesting, and engaging.

  21. I don’t want my blog to feel impersonal, but at the same time I have very good reasons for keeping some things to myself! I guess for now it’s just a case of keeping going until I’ve figured it out

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