Don’t Cross the “What Not to Blog” Line

I have a confession…

Yesterday I almost shared a post with you titled “Sometimes Life #*&$%@* &#*@$ and There’s Nothing You Can Do About It.”

I don’t use strong language very often.  And even the censored version above is PG so get any other words out of your head, okay?  The fact that I was tempted to write that tells you a lot about where I’m at.

There’s always a lesson and we should make it a point to seek those lessons out.  So looking for the positives (or benefits, always the benefits, right marketing friends?) I realized three things…

Drawing a line in the sand.  An old metaphor.

1.  I finally found that line! 

Over the years I’ve blogged, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked, “What’s too personal to blog?” or “What topics should I avoid?”

And I hate it when I can’t answer a good question.  Now I can!

Personally I’ve had trouble coming up with the answer because I tend to share pretty openly here and find that most of the challenges I deal with, you can identify with and it’s encouraging for you to know you aren’t alone.  I lean towards sharing them after I’m through them and can give the “other side” perspective and support.  But sometimes I share it when I’m in it.

I’ve shared some pretty personal stuff with you over the years…. how terrified I am of public speaking… that the voices in my head totally freak me out every time I hit publish on a blog post… how I get nervous when I email my list… the time I had a meltdown at a business event and threw all the hotel pillows around the room… my guilt around coming out of a cult and fear of failing again… and that the moment I got serious about figuring out how to build a business back in 2001 was when I sat on the floor of an apartment crying and holding my toddler who was crying because we didn’t have food and he was hungry.  And somehow even after sharing that, you’re still here, reading.  You might have wondered if I had a “line.”

I don’t separate “business” and “life” like many do.  Sure, this is my “business” blog – but it’s MY blog.  Who I am and my life journey is such a big part of my business that I can’t even begin to separate that.  I realize that doesn’t work for everyone.

Here’s my answer: When you hit the line, you’ll know.

2.  That line is a really personal thing.

I’m not ready to go into what I’m dealing with right now publicly, even though I could easily draw out the parallels between personal life and business, share how it’s affecting my business, and talk about that ever-challenging line of family/work balance.

I’ve seen others blog about it and make it work.  I applaud their bravery.

So my line is only mine.  I can’t tell you what you shouldn’t share.  You’ll have to think it through and trust your own intuition.

Mine says now is not the time.  Later.  There’s a bigger story writing itself that I have to be patient for.

3.  There’s always something you can do about whatever is happening in your world.

One of the things I love most about blogging (and writing in general) is the clarity it brings.  Putting words down on paper forces me think through what I’m writing.

Why in the world would I ever write “there’s nothing you can do about it”?  I know better than that!

Sometimes things get really, really tough and scary.  But we’ve always got choices.

I can wish I were stronger, and that doesn’t change where I’m at right now.  So I choose to feel, learn from it, and come out stronger and wiser on the other side.

Talk with me… What’s your line?  Have you found it yet?  Or are you cool with sharing everything?  What’s the craziest or most personal thing you’ve shared on your blog (feel free to link to a post or two from your blog with your comment)?

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70 Comments

  1. Probably this: http://jahangiri.us/new/health-fitness/perky-pincushions/

    My line generally involves other people and their right to privacy. I wouldn’t blog about the intimate details of my relationship with my husband, or discuss things others had told me in confidence. Like you, I’m just me – an integrated, whole person. I can compartmentalize, but it’s like lying – you have to have a really good memory if you’re going to lie about something or intentionally hide something. So I try to have little or nothing to hide, because my memory’s not flawless. Is it always accurate? No. I’m pretty sure no one’s is – we’re all writing our own stories from our own perspectives. I think we all have the right to write about anything that affects us, personally, provided we’re respectful of and fair to others, to the best of our ability.

    And, as you say, you’ll know the line when you run into it. For some of us, it’s a very clear line. For others, it’s a lot more squiggly and broken. And for some, it’s simply a challenge, daring them to cross it – and they will.
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted… A Month-Long Rest and RebellionMy Profile

    1. Hey Holly, I think you’ve hit on one of the things that makes blogging beautiful — we’re telling our own stories through our own eyes and it’s all unique.

      The logical side of me wants a straight line, but in reality mine is very squiggly and broken. Nice visual description.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 5 Easy Ways to Find Your Next 10 Fabulous Blog Post IdeasMy Profile

      1. Speaking of squiggly and broken lines – but completely off-topic – my “logical side” wanted, for the longest time, for blogging to be an orderly, linear progression of chronological thought. I struggled with that until I finally just gave up and let whatever needed to be said bubble up to the surface and out my fingertips. I think HTML taught me that linear wasn’t the be-all, end-all – we could always tie it together with links. ;)

        Unfortunately, Marketing took over the web and induced link-blindness, so now most readers won’t click my carefully crafted links (or even notice the occasional “Easter Egg” built into my alt text) and that makes me sad. :(
        Holly Jahangiri recently posted… The Next Big ThingMy Profile

        1. Holly- I’m SO happy you gave up the linear for your blog. Maybe for your autobiography, but for blogging, you got to let the heart go where it will.
          Roger Green recently posted… MOVIE REVIEWS: Oscar-nominated short animated filmsMy Profile

          1. If I ever write an autobiography, Roger, it’ll probably be non-linear, too! Even life is like that – we live chronologically, but always influenced by our mental flashbacks and dreams of the future. We may have long-term goals, but the path is a meandering one – not a well-paved superhighway. And the fun is in the detours on the journey, not just the destination.

            I’m glad you’re glad, too.
            Holly Jahangiri recently posted… HardcoreMy Profile

          2. I used to do a lot more series and linear sequences. And then I discovered I have more fun and am more passionate about it when I just go with what I want to share, what I see as needed, and what’s happening in my business bigger picture.

            I haven’t heard the Easter Egg concept in forever!! LOVE it! And yeah, most people don’t know to look for that. ;)
            Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 5 Easy Ways to Find Your Next 10 Fabulous Blog Post IdeasMy Profile

  2. I understand what you are saying and no I have not found that line in the sand yet. The reason, I always read what I am writing and will delete it before I send it, if it contains to much of me. I have learned not to blog when I am upset and on my second glass of wine. :) And I like to write early in the morning before the pressures of the day start to catch up with me. But I’m with you that Life is a school that we never graduate from for as long as we are here, so it is to our advantage to try and learn the lessons as we go.
    Chef William recently posted… Jicama and Mango SaladMy Profile

    1. That sounds like a smart move, no blogging after the second drink! :)

      I hadn’t looked at the time of day for blogging from that perspective, William, but I can see where early in the morning could work great before the day gets crazy.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… One Simple Way to Get More Readers Sharing Your Blog PostsMy Profile

      1. For some of you, maybe. From personal experience, though, a dearth of caffeine does not serve me well. The other day, a friend was talking about a crazy coworker, and wrote something about how she was “talking to folks all over the country” – I read it as “talking to forks all over the country,” and that fit in so well with batsh** crazy that I couldn’t stop laughing. Of course, my reply to her made no sense at all…
        Holly Jahangiri recently posted… Thoughts on Technology, Community, Censorship, and FriendsMy Profile

        1. Yeah, we won’t discuss what happens here when I skip my coffee… ;) Caffeine is a necessity. Mojitos or wine on the other hand, I definitely shouldn’t blog when I’m around.
          Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Cross the “What Not to Blog” LineMy Profile

    2. As a reader, I definitely prefer blogs where the writer reveals himself or herself. Not in an “OMG, TMI, my eyes – my brain – I can never scrub it clean of that image now – aaaarrrrrggggh!!” kind of way, mind you, but in an honest way that readers can relate to on a human-to-human level.

      I don’t need to read a treatise on some bland and mostly obvious concept, or a short, snappy paragraph that adds nothing to my understanding or appreciation of anything at all. The noise to signal ratio on the Internet is appallingly high.

      But if I read something that makes me think I might want to sit down with you for coffee and a chat, I might actually comment. And if that results in conversation back and forth, I might actually bookmark your blog. And if I read two or three posts that make me feel that way, I might visit and comment again – you see how this works, right? :) When it comes to “connecting” on social media, we all talk a good fight – but we ought to be very clear and not waste each others’ time. I’ll come to a site selling useful products or services that I need, when I need them. I’ll visit other sites because they’re fun, entertaining, engaging, and don’t feel like a waste of time. I don’t say “waste of time” in that horribly snobbish way some people say, “I never watch TV – it’s such a waste of time” but in that very personal way that says, “Hmm, I’ve just spent the last 10 minutes of my LIFE reading your blog, and it was totally worth it, so now I’m going to spend another 10 commenting on it, too!” or “Well, crap, that was 10 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.” :)

      And when it comes to most blogs and bloggers, that’s not PERSONAL (it’s not you, it’s me – really) – it just means we didn’t click, or the blog wasn’t what I needed or was looking for at the time. It doesn’t mean it’s not exactly what someone ELSE needed or was looking for. So as with any writing, you have to have a thick skin, sometimes.

      But, speaking only for myself, I think I might enjoy the occasional ramblings of a slightly tipsy chef.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted… #28Acts of KindnessMy Profile

      1. That’s a great reminder, Holly. We really do connect with *people* and if we can get that conversation feeling happening that’s the key.
        Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 5 Easy Ways to Find Your Next 10 Fabulous Blog Post IdeasMy Profile

  3. I am not very good at sharing personal stuff on my blog. It does confuse me though as on the one hand we are meant to be open and honest. I have never been that great at exposing my inner feelings to people that I don’t know. Not that good at exposing my feelings to people that I do know.
    Wade Balsdon recently posted… Confessions of a compulsive eaterMy Profile

    1. Everyone’s got their own style, Wade. :) You definitely don’t have to get touchy-feely kind of personal with a blog for it to succeed. So if that’s not who you are, then being open and honest doesn’t have to include that type of sharing.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Learning to Be GentleMy Profile

  4. Who hasn’t gone through those feelings Michelle? But not many of us admit to it.

    I understand what you mean too, and sometimes I wonder where the boundary lies. I sent a newsletter to my list just a couple of weeks called ‘There’s always time for half naked men and chocolate’ and I wondered later whether I should have sent it! Hey it got a large number of opens :-)

    I have a business blog on my website and I’m just about to start a personal blog which is going to be my third book, so this will open me up to the world – but hey I am me, I am my business, like it or not!
    Karen Williams recently posted… Hello world!My Profile

    1. I’ve never been one to hide feelings or flaws — kinda figure I am who I am and I’m okay with that. ;)

      Oh I can see why that subject line worked!! LOL Creative!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 5 Easy Ways to Find Your Next 10 Fabulous Blog Post IdeasMy Profile

  5. I try to imagine that I’m sharing what I’m writing with a real live person (not that you all aren’t real) and that stops me from over-sharing. I remind myself that nobody really wants to hear THAT much about me, and that my aim in having a blog in the first place is to uplift and encourage and teach others, not to drag them down with my foul moods or worries. The most personal thing I’ve shared? Probably my woes with the Dreaded Varmint. That was a dark time for me, and I didn’t sugar-coat it. ;)
    Amy recently posted… Increase the happiness in your home today–bake bread!My Profile

    1. Oh good, glad we internet people count as “real” – ha ha! But I get what you’re saying, Amy. And that’s important. It’s easy to forget sometimes that behind every screen is a real person, with real feelings, and that’s so important to respect.

    2. If we’re not real… what are YOU? :)

      I laugh, now, when I connect on Facebook with friends who, 20 years ago, dismissed my mention of online conversations as, “just talking to people in the computer – not REAL people.” Um… I try not to rub their faces in it that they think they invented the Internet and OMGitssocool!!
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted… A Month-Long Rest and RebellionMy Profile

      1. LOL Funny how perspectives change. ;)
        Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Cross the “What Not to Blog” LineMy Profile

  6. I’m an open book, but my line is when I use my blog to attack someone for their thoughts or actions. It’s okay for me to share my thoughts, but not to attack another. Sometimes I get nasty emails from pet professionals and I’m tempted to turn to my blog and lash back – that’s not who I want to be. If I can’t turn that exchange into a blog post that benefits my readers without causing harm to the person, then I drop it.

    I linked an example below :)
    Kimberly, The Fur Mom recently posted… Political Correctness has Inspired me to Redefine Alpha and PackMy Profile

    1. The world needs to take that line with you, Kimberly, it’d be a better place. Thank you for sharing it.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Learning to Be GentleMy Profile

    1. Just popped over to read that — interesting adventure… glad it worked out as a minor thing on the record and not more serious for you.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Cross the “What Not to Blog” LineMy Profile

  7. Hi Michelle,

    I loved your post and I will seek out your old blogs about when you hit that ‘line’ in the past. I agree – we all have our lines and I think this is where we need to focus – where is YOUR line. Your post said it brilliantly. I believe as coaches we can look from the outside that if we can assist others in getting their lives ‘sorted’ it means we have done ours already… so blogging for me is a little reminder that life can be a pile of sh*t at times for all of us – me too… I found our recently that my blogging voice got silenced when I just couldnt find a lesson in the path my life was taking… until I did and then I wrote – with honesty about what life is about for me and the lessons we learn.

    Here it is http://www.kerryhales.com/are-you-being-the-best-you-you-can-be/

    Thank you again. Your post was the perfect thing for me to read today. Perfect.
    Kerry Hales recently posted… Are you being the best ‘you’ you can be…My Profile

    1. I might have to go back and link those – I’ve gotten quite a few emails asking where to read about the incidents I referenced… they’re all on my blog here somewhere.

      One of the things I’ve loved about the coaches I’ve worked with has been their honesty in sharing their struggles and what they’ve overcome. It adds so much to their guidance, for me, when I know they’re sharing from experience.

      Glad this was perfect timing for you, Kerry. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Cross the “What Not to Blog” LineMy Profile

  8. I think it’s good to wait until you’re not in the middle of it for a lot of things. I share a LOT on my blog, and don’t really keep business and personal separate. However, I draw the line at things I’m mad about or client issues. I’m not going to tell you who decided not to pay their bill or why I’m pissed off at a particular networking buddy.

    Those things are nobody’s business, and that’s more venting and ranting than productive blogging. When looking for your line (and you’re right – it’s different for everyone), you have to ask yourself, “Can someone get any value from this experience?” For example, Marie Forleo recently addressed what to do with non-paying clients. Write your post with how to help your audience in mind, and you should be good.
    Amethyst Mahoney recently posted… What’s Presidents’ Day Got to Do With It?My Profile

    1. Those are VERY smart lines. I wouldn’t share that kind of specific info either since it’d be awful close to the line of slander/libel or picking a fight online. I try to avoid anything even close to that.

      Good perspective – find the helpful lesson in whatever the situation is. :)

      Love your new Gravatar, Amethyst!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Why You Must Invite Your Readers to…My Profile

  9. I believe that you are a person first- so personal stuff is going to be shared. How much? If it’s something that I wouldn’t mind if my grandma or my kids read it- then it’s probably okay. Think twice before posting something that might not be helpful. And try to stay positive. Somewhere in there is my line.
    And with life- there are always lessons to be learned.
    Denys Kelley recently posted… Have you made this number ONE mistake on your Profile?My Profile

    1. I have to giggle thinking of my Grandmother reading my blog, Denys. :)

      I heard someone say once that you shouldn’t post anything on Twitter that you wouldn’t be okay with someone putting on a billboard with your name and photo that your family drives by every day. Suppose that’d be true of a blog, too.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 5 Easy Ways to Find Your Next 10 Fabulous Blog Post IdeasMy Profile

  10. Michelle thank you for this post. I understand totally what you are saying. Personally, my line is very close. I don’t know if that alienates people, but I try to be very careful what I share. Actually, I’ve never even told my extended family about my blogs because, well, I’m afraid. Afraid of being judged, afraid of being told my ideas are stupid. If someone I don’t know thinks that of me that’s fine, but I have a really, really hard time being torn to pieces by people I love. Earlier this year I almost hung it up and gave up on the blogging venture, but I gave it one more concerted push and stopped wasting my time. It’s paid off. One blog is up to a PR3 and another to PR2.

    This is probably one of the most personal things I’ve ever confessed. But yes I do feel that writing things down gives you clarity and I often write things and then delete them just to get it out of my system.
    Lucero De La Tierra recently posted… Ease Pain Naturally with Noxicare Event, ends 2/25My Profile

  11. I tend to be an extremely private person when I am going through difficult times. I would not blog about other people in my life unless it is something positive or I have their explicit permission. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and putting the spotlight on the things that really matter.
    Leslie Jeansonne recently posted… HeadboardsMy Profile

  12. I believe there is power in transparency. yet there are boundaries that should not be crossed like things you and your husband share privately. Though online it is possible to say anything you want there is a “ring” to truth and only Truth has the power to impact lives. A creative writer can make life experiences and lessons funny yet in the midst of it expose the hard things in life in a way that the reader leaves being inspired.
    Brenda Lea McKee recently posted… It’s All About LoveMy Profile

  13. This is a big one…what’s your line. I have a life that has imploded…with fireworks and sonic booms twice in five years. I am very open about it and what it has felt like continuing to find my footing again. Hence my blog http://falldownseventimesgetupeight.com What I have become very aware of is that I need to keep my writings to my feelings and be careful and what I include about anyone else.

    I wrote about not getting a birthday cake. BOOM! I had a bit of fallout to deal with because of that. It made me really step back…somethings maybe it’s better that the voices in your head just discuss! LOL And you and I draw out general lessons to share with everyone else. Maybe….
    Jean Buschke recently posted… When was the last time you felt happy for someone else?My Profile

  14. Hi Michelle,
    WOW!! Great question ~ as soon as I read your post I started feeling those same things that you spoke about. I crossed a BIG line last year when I finally shared my story on my blog. The post is all about how I grew up with a shameful secret and I’ve included it in my About Page. I had such an amazing response. Let me explain ~ I’m a therapist and coach working to help others transform their lives. I’d never shared my transformation story with anyone before until a client made a judgement about my past that surprised me. She said that I was so calm and ‘together’ that she imagined me growing up in a happy family (she even imagined I was the local minister’s daughter and saw me skipping through meadows) she was so wrong! And in that moment I made a decision to share my story with her. It had the most profound effect and helped her so much to see that if I had transformed my life so dramatically, then so could she. In that moment I knew it was time to let my story out and so many people have contacted me since with positive comments. Here it is if you’d like to read it on my about page http://www.heatherbestel.com/about/meet-heather/
    My aim was for it to be read by those who need to hear it and to give voice to those who feel they can’t speak up for themselves. I hope it helps someone. Thank you for this opportunity. My love xxx
    Heather Bestel recently posted… The February Challenge is here ~ Love Yourself!My Profile

  15. Thanks Michelle. Many times I want to share something more personal on my blog and stop myself because my blog is “supposed” to be about my business (i.e. offer marketing & copywriting tips). However, a few times, when I’ve said “what the heck” and shared a piece of myself, it’s been fine.

    Then, I find myself wanting to do more of that – share more “life situations” as people relate. So I think I’m still searching for the fine line of how to balance the personal with the professional.
    Hugs to you for being who you are.
    ~Debra :)
    Debra Jason recently posted… Why Not Write About Love Every Day?My Profile

  16. Thank you for giving grace in the answer to this question – “when you hit the line you’ll know.” The first time I published a piece on my blog that seemed too personal, http://viewfromthewinepress.blogspot.com/2011/11/i-wept-in-wind-tonight.html, I took it down a few hours after I posted it. The following evening I was blogging with a friend and told her about the disenfranchised piece. She read it on my computer and encouraged me to re-post it, saying I’d never know how many people would be able to relate to my experience and be encouraged in the reading. So I re-posted it and learned a little bit about becoming courageous when I write. I am thankful, however, for the “edit” option if the question marks about something I’ve posted all stand together side to side and form a “line” I’d feel more comfortable dealing with than ignoring. It’s a journey in wisdom and courage when I blog.
    Eula McLeod recently posted… BookedMy Profile

  17. I don’t really have a line but I don’t blog about myself. Not because I’m opposed to sharing – honestly ask me anything, I’m an open book. But I write about kids and sleep and my readers are looking for answers, not my own personal dilemmas or what is going on with MY kids. So I try to keep an eye on – is this useful? Is this actionable? “My personal stuff” will always get a “no” to those questions so there you go.

    I do struggle with language because I do swear in real life. And tired parents often swear too. I wrote a review of the Go the F to Sleep Book because I thought it was awesome – language and all. But I don’t use BIG swear words on my blog. For my own purposes I think it’s OK to say things like “crap naps” and whatnot but I don’t drop F bombs and such just because it seems … I don’t know…rude?

    That being said I’m not offended when others use language. If it’s appropriate to what you write about then have at it.
    Alexis recently posted… 5 Things I Learned from Doing Sleep ConsultsMy Profile

  18. Hi, Michelle… I blog about addiction/alcoholism and recovery.. and I realized I NEED to get personal on my blog.. after all, there are no pretty stories when dealing with addiction/alcoholism. My boyfriend had a big problem with something I shared about myself on my blog because his sister reads my blog. I felt bad for a few minutes and then thought.. my blog is to help me and the still sick and suffering… I cannot be pussy footing around trying not to hurt people’s feelings…
    Addiction/Alcoholism is real, it sucks and it gets pretty ugly!

    Thanks much for your blog post today.. .

    Darlene
    Darlene Steelman recently posted… Frustration… Procrastination… Those Damn ‘tions…My Profile

  19. Hi Michelle – this is a really great blog post. I often wonder if I cross a line in my blog writing. I am not a good business writer… I enjoy sharing art and creativity – of mine and others, but I also share much of my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I wonder if I share too much. One line I am sure of is what some of your readers have mentioned… I won’t write about others in a personal or negative way. Only will I mention their support through troubled times. I think that is a pretty clear line, but the rest I am still a little fuzzy about. Thanks for a very thoughtful post and I hope that things turn around with whatever it is that made you consider writing your original post.
    Suerae Stein recently posted… Imagination&#8230; Friend or Foe? Part 2</p>My Profile

  20. Hi Michelle, This is a wonderful post and one that I have often thought about. Especially in the scrapbooking world when you scrapbook your family that is what you are showing online and on mulitple platforms. At first I was scared to share all my layouts but then I realized they are there and they are there to share and to teach people. I do have a line and I don’t share all my photos or all my life stories but I do share a big part of myself.
    Beth Soler recently posted… Scrapbooking Music!My Profile

    1. I can see where that one would make you stop and think. :) Great example of finding what you’re comfortable with sharing and balancing that with how you share and serve your audience.

  21. I agree! There should be a line when it comes to blogging and the same should apply to anything we post online. It really concerns me when I see people posting their personal life over Facebook and Twitter! I hope I don’t cross the line as I am a fiction blogger! When I started blogging, I would write articles but even then you have to be so careful with what you say! No-one wants to become an “internet troll” !
    sophiebowns recently posted… Planchette-Part 54My Profile

    1. It’s worth taking the time to really figure out what we’re okay with sharing and what we aren’t, keeping in mind that nothing on the internet (even “private” social networking sites) is ever completely private. I’m often amazed at what’s shared on social sites and it’s no wonder that many employers are looking into that as part of the hiring process. Always important to think through the future implications of what we share.

  22. Michelle! Wow, are you talking to me! I had one of those days yesterday. I think that my line is right now some very personal things that I’m still dealing with, that I feel touchy about. But things that I’ve overcome by God’s grace and mercy I can share freely.
    Continue to share, Michelle. I am very encouraged when you write on personal stuff, because a lot of times I can relate to it. I am learning that what I deal with and what is inside me directly affects my writing., and it can help people. Thanks a lot.

    Sharon
    http://
    acreativeresearcher.blogspot.com/2012/10/why-i-started-this-blog.html ·

    1. It can be tough to separate that, I find the same thing, Sharon. My writing is very affected by my emotions and what I’m feeling.

  23. My line is not language (although I must honestly admit that my vernacular includes words that I would not post on my blog)… Instead, it’s the avoidance of partisan politics. Not because I am not politically involved, but because I don’t think it enhances anything on my blog. And, I don’t try to proselytize on my blog- yes, the Supreme Being is mentioned- but not religion per se…
    Long live the lines!
    Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA recently posted… The Times, they are a-changing..My Profile

    1. Politics is a hot button! I don’t think it’d enhance my blog either so I tend to avoid it other than very general references here and there.

      I’m still finding the line on spirituality for myself since my path there is such a big part of who I’ve become and where my business is (or isn’t) going.

      And definitely agree, long live the lines! :)

  24. I do try to keep my blog about business rather than personal stuff. Although, I have shared a few things – my depression, my thoughts on homelessness and how close I came, my thoughts on coaching and facing my fears.
    Each time the support has been outstanding, whether it was comments or people taking the time to email.
    Is there a line? Well it’s sort of a dotted one. I am sure the day will come when I think, “No, that’s too much” and don’t post.
    Jan recently posted… Socially Build Your List &#8211; How To Add Social Share Buttons To PDF ReportsMy Profile

    1. Isn’t that cool, Jan? It really does help us to connect with our readers, and allow them to support us, when we share our human-ness.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Cross the “What Not to Blog” LineMy Profile

  25. I’m still figuring this one out …

    I’m a bona fide introvert not to be confused with being shy. I really don’t have the need to share personal “stuff’ with anyone. I would read in amazement and awe when other bloggers did. I thought to myself “wow, maybe I should be doing that.”
    I’ve come to realize that sharing is important because the people I’m trying to connect with do not live next door. We’re not on a tiny island. For them to get to know me, I have to share some personal stuff about me.
    Where is the line?
    I’m not sure but I will NEVER – maybe I shouldn’t say never, but this is my reality at this moment in time – share anything that my intuition – my gut feeling – tells me not too. Intuition is silenced by anger and overwhelm. The proverbial sleep on it helps – I step away, deal with the anger, frustration and/or overwhelm before I hit the post button.
    Peace and love is my default reaction in life and I honor that in my blog posts as well!
    You’re growing Michelle; peeling away the unwanted layers like we do with an onion. Keep doing your work, my friend, you are changing lives.
    Adalia John recently posted… 3 Habits that Help Me to Stay ConfidentMy Profile

    1. That’s a really important reminder, Adalia. Our intuition is always there but if we’re too emotional or in the midst of things sometimes we forget to listen. Sleeping on it is always smart.

      I really love how you worded your default reaction and how you want to honor that on your blog, too. Beautiful.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Cross the “What Not to Blog” LineMy Profile

  26. I’ve always had a difficult time interjecting personal information on my blog. I know it would help with deepening rapport and connecting with my audience but I just haven’t been able to do it, yet. When I say “yet” I mean that I plan to slowly start adding more personal details, but I doubt I will ever share information like crises, health scares, and financial successes. But then again, never say never :)

    1. Over the years my comfort zone for sharing things has grown but there are still some of those personal things I’ve kept private, too, Suzanne. What I have shared has definitely helped me to connect with and encourage my readers. I was thinking about that again this morning when I mailed this post out to my list and wondered what the reaction would be… I love the discussions this type of post creates though. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Cross the “What Not to Blog” LineMy Profile

  27. First of all, Michelle, best of luck getting through the current crisis. This, too, shall pass.

    As for where to draw the line: Yeah, I grapple with this all the time–and usually come down on the side of transparency. I can get very personal on my blog and in my discussion list posts. I even have a tag called “Shel’s personal life.”

    However, even when I’m sharing deeply, I want it to reinforce my messages: that green can be profitable, that we all can contribute to making the world better–which means I DO talk about politics, a lot–and that there are right and wrong ways to publish a book. So I might go into great depth about an incident in my life that allows me to draw a lesson for my readers–but I generally don’t choose to share stuff that’s not at all relevant.

    And also, I follow the philosophy that focusing on the positive is better for me and better for my readers. I don’t review a book if I have only negative things to say about it. I censor myself if I have a desire to trash people. And I try not to whine even while expressing outrage. If I feel like whining on my blog, I stop myself and go for a walk. I am very aware that cyberspace is forever, so I avoid posting anything I’ll regret years later.

    This doesn’t mean I won’t talk about a hard time I might be going through. I will, if it serves a purpose, and if I can look at it with a positive point of view. Example: at some point I will write about my recent IRS audit–not about all the unbillable time I had to spend preparing it, but rather about how it finally got me to clean my office after stewing in my clutter for years, AND about how being well-prepared and keeping good records made the whole thing very painless.

    If I just need to vent, I have other, private channels for that.
    Shel Horowitz – Green/Ethical Marketing Expert recently posted… About Shel/BlogMy Profile

  28. I do not write about my family, except for an incidental “we” as related to a trip or activity. I believe that they have the right to their own privacy and while people may be interested in knowing that I am part of a family, they don’t have the right to know what would naturally be shared with close friends and extended family members. It’s just like business-there are degrees of relationship and you can be friendly and open but also professional.

  29. I walk that line every time my mouse hovers over the publish button.
    I am personable, open and my readers have an open invitation into my crochet world but My personal life is not offered to the world. Personally, I don’t have a problem with talking about my life..but that isn’t the deal I made :) My husband supports me and my endeavors but that was his ‘condition’. So I respect that.
    I have talked a bit about my grown kids when their lives crossed with my crochet and I turned it into a feature…with their permission of course.
    Tracy Joyner recently posted… Feb 7, Stash-Buster Challenge 2013My Profile

  30. Thanks, Michelle! You always seem to post the right thing at the right time and right when I needed it most :)

    Yes, I agree there is a line and it really is dependent on each of us. I also believe that our true fans/followers/friends/peers/colleagues stick with us no matter what. And when we share something personal, it somehow creates a stronger bond.

    Going through my own “sometimes life #*&#?@! $#@&$” meltdown, all I can say is thank you for posting this. My heart goes out to you as you work through this “moment of chaos”, and when it passes we will both have some lessons to share that will help someone else later on reading our “I made it through this crazy chaotic shindig and I promise you will too” kind of post. Sending LOTS of hugs your way! ~ Kimberly
    Kimberly ~ Gypsy recently posted… Monday Magicks ~ Facing Your Fears Captain America StyleMy Profile

  31. Seriously felt like you were in my head on this one, Michelle. I recently shared a post with my readers (mostly Christian Leaders) about the types of posts that folks might not want to put on their Facebook Fan Pages. I tried to be more general and encourage folks to use their own good sense because I agree that it really is personal. You have to know what the folks who God has called you to serve need and want.

    Michelle, you definitely seem to have a great understanding of the folks you are serving and what they want/need to hear (and not hear). Thanks so much for sharing (and not sharing)!

    ~Donna Marie Johnson, Your Social Networking Liaison
    Donna Marie Johnson recently posted… Facebook Fan Page February Week 2My Profile

    1. I had to read that last sentence twice, Donna! LOL It’s something I’m still learning and discovering how closely I can walk to that line from a place of service and support.

      We (humanity) have so much more in common in our experiences than we often realize. It’s so easy to feel alone when there’s so much support there if we allow it.

      And I agree on the Facebook thing–there’s definitely a line there and I’ve seen some craziness on Facebook!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Learning to Be GentleMy Profile

  32. Dear Michelle,
    Although I can’t really tell you when I’ve reached my line, because it happens, I turn it over to God and have to let go of it. If I didn’t, it might get the best of me and that would be counterproductive. I really enjoyed and appreciated the honesty of your blog. Thanks so much, Debbie Seiling
    Debra Seiling recently posted… They Work Slyly Trying to Deceive Christians…My Profile

    1. Knowing our own limits and where to turn when we’ve reached them is priceless.

  33. On my last blog, I tended to share more personal things than I do on my current one. But I didn’t go too overboard with it. For instance, I once used my terrible experience on a cross trainer machine at the gym to create a post on how NOT to work out. And then there was one I clicked publish on out of anger, but that was all right. Someone called me a Nazi and said some very derogatory things about my family, so I did an open letter sort of thing to tell him off.

    I think my readers would be like, “Wait…what?” if I did anything like that on my current blog. The closest to personal I have been has been a post about how I became interested in the things I blog about, and I added one of my baby pictures with my dad.
    Angie Schaffer-von Scheffelheim recently posted… Snow Day Cinema—Classics to Curl Up WithMy Profile

  34. I haven’t found my line yet. The page on “my story” is where I’ve shared the most raw stuff, although not in detail. It’s here: http://www.juggleitall.com/a-life-out-of-balance/. I share whatever is relevant to what I do and what will help my readers.

    Thinking of you as you go through your challenging time, Michelle.
    Leanne Chesser recently posted… 7 Ways to Improve Your ProductivityMy Profile

  35. I like this post, and many of the comments too actually. Especialy Holly’s.
    I think it realoly is about building a connetion and with so many of us seemingly time poor you are only going to vist and revisit blogs you truly connect with so a personal elemnet helps with that bonding feeling with its author.
    My line would be anything that hurts anybody else is an way or something that I will regret later on .
    Great post.
    Rebecca X
    Rebecca Mugridge recently posted… RECIPE – No Added Sugar Choccyliscious MuffinsMy Profile

  36. Great post Michelle. I love you openness here. Frankly, I need to work on opening up a little more on my blog. Thanks for the motivation :-)
    Neil Butterfield recently posted… Dealing with headaches naturallyMy Profile

  37. I think there should be a line for the most personal things, but those will be different for each person. I’ve told no one to include my family or closest friends about the health issues I deal with daily. I don’t want anyone to take on my worries or clients to think they couldn’t depend on me to perform my work, and I’m not interested in the “feel sorry” game.

    I believe it does, however, give me courage to move forward when I hear others talk about their own daily challenges. I laud you for sharing your “secrets” and at the same time, you have full permission to keep some of your secrets. We need to keep some things just for ourselves. Thanks, Michelle!

  38. Very nice lesson you shared. There are really times when we reached a borderline and seems like everything inside us just gotta explode. But before we do that exploding, let\’s bear in mind what will be the long-term effects of it. We gotta take things slowly no matter how tough the situation may be.

  39. I am not really good at sharing everything about me, or about my personal feeling. I am not that brave to do such thing, it’s awkward just thinking about it. Anyway, thanks for sharing this experience of your, I salute you for that!

    ~Marnie
    Marnie Byod recently posted… Brisbane Home Sellers – Now is the time to Renovate to SellMy Profile

  40. I think you got it right as all know when we’ve reached that line, or have that line in our mind and will stop at that point. For instance, I keep most stuff about my wife out of my blog posts unless it relates to a story I’m telling. So any of her personal stuff is off-limits unless she shared it herself, and since she’s not online, it’s all good.
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted… How Do You Accept Criticism?My Profile

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