With so many blogging services available to writers, it’s hard to resist jumping onto the soapbox. But to be successful at it, you must do more than simply share your thoughts, observations, and opinions. Good bloggers cultivate relationships with those who read and comment on their posts. According to Merlin Mann of 43 Folders, “good blogs have a voice” and “reflect focused obsessions.”
Sometimes, however, your obsessions might lead you to blog about topics that could offend your followers. Although you might enjoy stirring the proverbial pot, you should always anticipate how your words will affect your community of readers, especially when those readers include friends or family members.
Many public figures relish being in the media spotlight and will frequently provide fodder for your blog. However, loved ones won’t appreciate seeing themselves emerge as characters in your latest post. Avoid misguided attempts to be humorous at their expense, and eschew public denunciations of the things they hold dear. Don’t be discouraged; you will have plenty to write about it. Just remember that the best approach to blogging is to think before you post.
Practice these 5 steps to avoid jeopardizing your personal relationships:
- Choose your topics carefully. Steer clear of topics you know will alienate someone you care about. It’s okay if you’re not willing to forego the topics of religion and politics, but you must — first and foremost — keep private information private. Your sister’s latest romantic escapade is not for public consumption. She will not be okay with your using her personal experiences to highlight the pitfalls of Internet dating.
- Cite sources to back up your arguments. Don’t get caught in the middle of the ocean without a life vest. Find strength in numbers. By supporting your argument with information gleaned from reputable online sources, articles, and blogs, you won’t feel as isolated. Be sure to correctly cite your sources.
- Invite others to share their opinions. If you suspect you’re going to come across as overly judgmental or opinionated in your blog, you can soften the impact of your words by questioning yourself, by presenting both sides of an argument, and by inviting others to share their responses in the comments section. Remember, your goal should be to build a community, not destroy it. Keep the lines of communication open.
- Be sensitive to your readers. No one likes a meanie. Respond to opposing comments with respect.
- Be willing to admit when you’re wrong. Everyone makes mistakes, even you. Remember that, because they love you, friends and family members might find it difficult to confront you when you’ve offended them. Some may simply withdraw from you, while others may lash out in anger. Either way, if your self-published suckerpunch has left a loved one smarting, be prepared to do damage control. Apologize — in person and in writing. Then apologize again. It is never a weakness to admit when you’re wrong.
Tammy R is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.