If you’re about to start a mommy blog, I encourage you to give some thought to the following questions:
- Is your blog going to be publicly available or limited to subscribers you permit access?
- Are you going to use your own name or a pseudonym?
- Are you going to use your children’s names or pseudonyms?
- Do you want to tell the internet where you are or where you’re going to be?
- What about your life, your spouse’s life, and your children’s lives needs to remain private?
- Are you going to publish photographs of yourself and your family? Will those photographs include faces?
- What are the implications of your choices if you’re still blogging 5 or 10 years from now?
I’ll be perfectly honest and confess that I thought about exactly none of these things a decade ago when I went on Blogger and claimed the rodrigueztwins subdomain as my own. I was just picking a spot to park ultrasound and baby photos, so I wasn’t concerned that people would happen across my mommy blog. I referred to my daughters by name, shared photos, talked about potty training drama, and didn’t much worry about it.
When I joined How Do You Do It? as a contributor, I was more experienced and had heard some nightmare stories of crazy people reposting friends’ blog content, including photos, as their own for the attention of a being a twin mom. I decided to keep blogging under my own name, but I would refer to my daughters by their initials. I work for the state, so my employment is a matter of public record. However, I protect my home address, never mention the name of the suburb in which I live in any blog post (Austin has a lot of suburbs), and do not mention by name locations that my daughters and I frequent regularly. While this means that our favourite businesses don’t get the benefit of my social influence, my daughters’ safety and privacy come first.
Allow me to give you some additional context and advice on the questions I posed at the beginning of this post.
Is your blog going to be publicly available or limited to subscribers you permit access?
Privacy has its benefits…
The easiest way to keep creepsters off your site is to keep it locked down by default. Both Blogger and WordPress allow you to set this up easily. If you choose this, Blogger has the benefit of being tied to your friends’ Google accounts, so they don’t have to create a new account as they might need to do for WordPress. You know exactly who can read your posts and see your photos.
But privacy has its limitations
One of the great strengths of the blogosphere is meeting new people through their blogs and the comments they leave on others’ posts. If your blog is locked down to people you already know, you won’t be able to grow your readership. Furthermore, you won’t be in the running for sponsored posts and other blogging perks.
Unauthorized readers will see a default page like this instead of your brilliant blog posts.
Are you going to use your own name or a pseudonym?
There’s a degree of liberty to blogging anonymously. You can share opinions that you might not otherwise feel free to express, for instance your thoughts on your mother-in-law’s cooking. However, if you are somehow “outed” at a later date, this could be excruciatingly embarrassing. You can also use a pseudonym to avoid a simple Google search on your name finding your blog. This can be a benefit if you are a teacher or in some other field where you might not want your day-to-day mommy details to be easy to find.
A nice witty pseudonym can make it easy for you to stand out in the crowd, even if anonymity is no issue. In all honesty, there are a lot of mommy bloggers named Jen, Sarah, Amanda, and Jessica. One very easy way to see whether a name is available to see whether someone has already claimed the associated Twitter account. My name, Sadia, is unusual enough in the English-speaking world that it works for me as my blog handle, although my personal brand has become entwined with the HDYDI brand in the years that I’ve been coordinating things there. My friend Diane blogs as Momo Fali, a misinterpretation arising from her once referring to herself as momofali, or Mom of Ali(son). See, witty works!
Are you going to use your children’s names or pseudonyms?
This is an entirely personal decision, but please remember that information once on the internet, stays on the internet. Think about your children’s privacy not only in the here and now, but 18 years down the road when they’re considering college and farther along into their professional careers.
Do you want to tell the internet where you are or where you’re going to be?
I totally understand that lots of people have no problem using Foursquare or Facebook’s location functionality to share their current location publicly. I personally don’t feel comfortable doing that. I don’t blog about going on vacation until we’re back. I don’t mention restaurants, schools, or other small locations where you might find us regularly on my blogs. I have been recognized, on occasion, from my blog photos and more often, by name when I introduce myself, but I’ve never been actively sought out by a reader in person and I’d like to keep it that way.
What about your life, your spouse’s life, and your children’s lives needs to remain private?
You need to have a conversation with your partner about what you will and won’t blog about, unless you plan to keep your blog life a secret from him or her. Are you going to be public about marital spats? The blogosphere can make for a wonderful place to seek marriage counseling, but there’s the downside that your dirty laundry is all out there.
Protect your children’s online privacy in the same way that you would in real life. Around age 5, your kids may be mature enough to have an opinion and a say in what you post on your blog. My daughters and I have regular conversations on this subject, and as their opinion evolve and mature, so do the boundaries about what I will and will not share.
Someday, your children will learn to read. There’s plenty that I’d like to say about my ex-husband’s life choices, but I’m not going to blog about anything that I wouldn’t say within earshot of my daughters. If there’s something you wouldn’t want your children to read about when they’re 8 or 22, it’s probably best not to blog about it.
Are you going to publish photographs of yourself and your family? Will those photographs include faces?
Be especially careful about the photographs you post. There are some really twisted people out there. One of the Facebook twin parenting support groups I’m part of learned that a member was downloading member belly photos and sharing then on a pregnancy fetish site. Photos that you or I see as entirely innocent may not stay that way out on the internet. Be careful, but not paranoid.
Personally, I think that it’s perfectly fine to share photos of myself and my children on my blog. If I’m thinking about posting a photo that includes my daughters’ friends, I ask permission. No one has ever said no, but I ask anyway. As I said, I have been recognized in public, twice that I can remember. One of these meetings has turned into a fast friendship. I think it’s fantastic. If another twin mom has read my ramblings and still wants to be friends, and our kids get along, great!
What are the implications of your choices if you’re still blogging 5 or 10 years from now?
This is the part that I think we forget. There are little things, like not including your child’s current age in his or her pseudonym. Calling your little one The Toddler may work for a while, but it gets awkward when you have to write things like, “The Toddler started first grade today” or “The Toddler is heading to college”. Also, it may be wise to move posts with potty training details back to draft status as your child approaches school age. She or he probably won’t want friends to see potty pictures. My daughter J had no problem with it, but M did, so those posts are gone.
I have seen more than a few bloggers choose blog names that reflect the size of their family, only to have to scramble when they have another child or two a few years down the road. Pick a name that will be evergreen.