marketing minute | how much of yourself should you put out there?

March 25, 2010 separator marketing minute

I was watching an episode of House (episode: Private Lives) the other night, and it got me thinking. The episode is about a blogger who basically has boundary issues and puts her and her husband’s personal lives on the web for all the world to contemplate and criticize. The show begs the question, “When is enough enough?
I really want to know what you guys think about this, but of course you get to hear my overblown opinion on the topic in the meantime! It’s important to consider what information you give out because in the technology age that we live in, once it’s out, it’s out.
Personal Information
I personally try to keep things on a first-name basis. If I’m commenting on a WordPress blog or anything where I must enter a username, they get a cute little ‘Lindsay {Shrimp}.’ That’s really all anybody needs anyway, right?  Yeah, you all know I live in Lexington, but a lot of other people live here too, so whatev. I’m fine with pictures of me because this blog definitely has a personal component, but you’ll never see anything in a bathing suit, drunk, or anything I would not want an employer or grandparent to see. I think that’s a good test – suitable for work or grandparents, I mean.
Family & Friends
Though you guys may get a very occasional photo of friends or family on leShrimp, you won’t find names or revealing information. It’s my decision to put my business on here, but my loved ones have not agreed to having their lives documented. Such boundaries should be respected because this isn’t like Facebook, where they can just ‘untag’ a photo. I’ll name names occasionally (my brother, the artist, for example!), but my guy is the Mister, and my friends are my friends because I feel like that’s how it should be, unless you have permission otherwise. Oh, and you gets names and lots of pics of Mish and Rosco because, umm, they’re precious. You know this.
Opinions & Viewpoints
Okay, I’m clearly fine with being very opinionated on here, but you know what you won’t see me writing about? Politics and religion (moooostly…). That’s not to say that I have any problems with anybody who rants politics and God, but I have decided a few things: My readers are from all over the world, and that means you guys all believe a plethora of different things.You’re all right about most things because you, just like me, are entitled to believe whatever the heck you want, and that’s your business. Finally, divulging how I feel about certain things is akin to baring a little bit of my soul, and I just don’t feel like this is the place for that sort of thing.
Personal Baggage
Yeah – I bitch and moan. I rant. You get to hear the occasional complaint about the burdens of grad school and snow and bad cats, but you won’t hear about fights with the Mister, medical tmi, or what I may or may not have cried myself to sleep over last week. For some people, blogging is an outlet, and more power to them. For me, however, I think that I would wake up the next morning and just cringe excessively. Some things can’t be taken back, so I’d prefer to just not put them out there to begin with.
Your Turn!
So what are you comfortable with? First name? Last name? Alias? Do you plaster your picture all over your blog (guilty!), or are you a dark shape in the background behind your writing? Would we recognize your entire extended family and all your friends from your pictures and stories, or do you have a ‘Mister’ or a ‘Hubby?’ Where do you draw the line?


  1. Hi. Good article on the impact of marketing on business. I’ve read a lot of such literature in my time and maybe due to this knowledge I started to manage my capital properly. I decided to invest in precious metals, my choice was gold If you were also thinking about it, study how quickly and with what losses you can sell the metal. If you’re not investing for a few decades, it’s better to invest in gold. It’s more liquid than platinum and palladium: it’s easier to buy and sell at the best price.

  2. I just googled my full name and straight away you can see what town I live in, how old I am and what I do (my shop and blog)…

    I kind of knew that anyway but yeah you do have to be careful! I use my partner and kids first names on my blog but I have a different surname to them. I haven’t posted many pics of them or me. The one thing I’ll be mindful of, because I do want to use more personal pics in future, is never to give away my exact location. Obviously my hometown is there but I wouldn’t have streetnames, our house, or any obvious landmarks in the background of photos and say something like “Oh here we are just near our house” 🙂
    I don’t think I’m interesting enough to be stalked but I’ve gotta be careful for the kids.

  3. This post is so pertinent to me right now, so thanks for blogging about this. My favorite blogs are those with a clear focus, they could be craft blogs, fashion blog, even political. I like the personal touch, which doesn’t mean FULL name, but just enough info to connect with them.

    I avoid giving my legal name, and ask permission to post pics of my friends before doing so. Recently went on a family trip and wanted to blog about it but chose not to post pictures of the kids, just the gentleman friend.

    I try to be like the interesting people I know in real life: open and warm and genuine. Honest, but never messy.
    If I were to run across pics with those bars on the eyes, I would move on however, just can’t connect to it. Cheers! -Bella Q

  4. Oh, and I don’t put pictures up of people if I don’t have their permission. I only very recently (like, in the last week) started using my boyfriend’s real name.

  5. My blog is pretty much a fashion/outfit blog, so I don’t usually share a lot of details. I’ll say “I wore this to X restaurant and it was delicious” or whatever. I’ll talk about books I read, movies I watch, places I go. I don’t talk about my specific city, but I’m OK with people knowing I’m in the Cincinnati area. I use my first name but never my last (almost…once I accidentally commented on a blog with my full name because my stupid new computer auto-filled-out the “name” field and I didn’t notice. Ugh!)

    I wouldn’t say I’m a “guarded” person but I’m pretty private if I don’t know you (and I don’t know the majority of people online!). I would mention something big, like if I moved or went back to school or got married. But I don’t have the urge to get into the specifics of those things online. Basically, I don’t have a lot of “feelings” talk on my blog. It’s pretty superficial.

  6. I put all of my info out. You can find my first and last name in the phone book or on Facebook and I’ve been online so long, I’m not scared. There are much more personal things than your name. If people could really destroy you with just your full name, we’d all be in trouble. I’m never posting my social or any unflattering pic I wouldn’t mind my worst enemy getting their hands on.

    About my husband, he doesn’t mind, so I post about him occasionally, although I become naturally more private and don’t type his name as often, although it’s easy to find if you look.

    I’m sure I’ll post pictures of my child. To me, the issue is more about TMI than safety. For instance, I write about my pregnancy on my blog now, but I’m writing about things like body hair and baby clothes. So many people blog about really personal things, from digestive issues to mistakes in life… As far as I’m concerned, if I don’t want everyone on the planet to potentially see something, I keep it offline.

  7. I definitely draw the line when it comes to involving other people in my blog posts without their permission. If I absolutely have to mention someone, I’ll ask their permission, then refer to them by their first initial, Gossip-Girl style. I do talk about my health, but only on my chronic illness blog, where I’m mostly blogging to connect with other people who have chronic illnesses. My fashion blog, on the other hand, is strictly that. I’m all over it, but it’s definitely not about my personal life– it’s about a love for beauty and creativity and, obviously, clothes!

    My sister saw that same House show and we had a long conversation about my blogging rules for myself (I’m the only blogger in our family). I’m sorry that’s the image of bloggers that got out to the masses, but it’s true, some people do like to TMI all over the internetz!


  8. I post outfit pics from time to time, but mostly post on my opinions and not many specifics of my personal life. I had to laugh because my latest post features bathing suits but only because it was a bathing suit hunt related post and it clearly is about the bathing suit not me in it, even rambled about the print in said image so even if an employer sees it is ok.

  9. I choose to remain anonymous, as I would rather be known for my work than anything else- my work should stand on its own as a positive contribution. Privacy is priceless. Fame seems to end in ruin. Out of fortune and fame- I’ll take the money and remain anonymous- thank you.

  10. It’s a good question. I tend to go only on a first name basis, and I rarely post photos of myself, though I’d love to take those outfit photos, some of my friends read my blog, and of course, with that comes judgement from people you often see. It’s just a bit awkward, and I guess I’m rather insecure!

  11. Usually I use my fist name and last initial. It used to be just my first name until I one day when I posted a comment on a blog post and someone with the same name as me made a comment on the same post.
    When I mention relatives I never mention name or even which one. Like when I mention my niece, I’m not specific on which one.
    Also, it might seem strange, but when I post photos to my blog that I’m actually in I never show my face. You might get a hint of a side profile, but that’s it. I’m not comfortable with it otherwise.

  12. Hi! Great post! I thought about this a lot recently. I am never using any names (except the person does have a blog, but those also get linked!) or tell where I live. Fashion bloggers are among the nicest people I can think of, but there are other people out there,too. I am also not telling what profession I have. That said, it becomes more difficult to stay ‘personal’ to your readers. Well, I try doing so with posting about my likes and faves, about meetings with my friends or about my creative outcomes. That’s how far it goes and I’ll keep it at that point.


    PS: I fully understand it, but I dislike blogs with people having those black bar over their eyes….creeepy.

  13. That really is a tough subject. At first I only blogged about strictly un-personal things, and never talked about anything less than chipper and happy. But the more familiar I became with the blog world, the more I realize that the blogs I enjoy the most are the ones that show both sides- the ups and downs. It makes the authors more real and lovable, and not too Martha Stewart-ish. I mean, could you imagine Martha blogging about how she still cries over her first husband at night? She’s not even like a real person.
    So I guess I do like my blog authors to show their human side occasionally, but I totally agree w/you about the medical TMI *shudder*

  14. i’m new to the blogging thing, but i think it’s tricky finding a balance between making things personal enough to be interesting, and having people do the OMG TMI recoil after reading.
    great post!

  15. I was just struggling with this issue. I want to add a personal style element to my blog, but was too chicken to put pictures of myself up … ultimately I decide to take the plunge and I am glad I did! It’s been so fun.

    But, I don’t use my real name and that gives me some piece of mind.

  16. I was just struggling with this issue. I want to add a personal style element to my blog, but was too chicken to put pictures of myself up … ultimately I decide to take the plunge and I am glad I did! It’s been so fun.

    But, I don’t use my real name and that gives me some piece of mind.

  17. I give my name, but am normally known as The Gosfam. I am very careful to talk about where I live, because we live in a VERY small town, and I probably could be fairly easy to find 🙂 Pictures don’t bother me.

  18. I love this post! I think as a fashion blogger it can be hard too (my posts generally include outfit shots). I definitely keep a line though. I never talk about work, unless it’s the “joys” of my career, or provide too much personal info. I figure people probably aren’t that interested in me and my boring little life that much anyways! 😉

  19. I just wanted to say that your post hits the spot. I don’t think that people should post something so personal that they will regret it later… Such as what you cry about and all that. People want to read something that is upbeat and positive. They are looking for an outlet and don’t want to read negitivity online. If you just want to piss and moan on your blog and someone subscribes chances are they want to piss and moan also. Thanks for the great tips and I wanted to let you know that I re-blogged about your posting and you can see it @

  20. Great post! I agree with all of your points, I try to keep my blog light and fun, mostly about my business with a little bit of what is going on in my life, just enough to keep it interesting and slightly personal. I usually post my first name, but not my last. I also don’t put up pictures of my little guy unless you can’t see his face in the pic, I am a little nervous about posting his picture on the internet, even though he is the cutest boy ever!

  21. Great post!

    My blog isn’t a business, so quite a few of the points made already don’t apply to me, but I still try and not get too personal in the things I talk about. I am pretty opinionated, but I always make sure my opinions are reasonably coherent so that I don’t regret anything I say. Private life stuff will occasionally slip out but it’s not something I actively look to write about, not so much because of privacy concerns but because I don’t think it’s very interesting. If I want to bitch and gossip, I’ll keep it within my real life friends.

    I also don’t use my second name so that if anybody like an employer were to google me, they wouldn’t find my blog. Not because I have anything to hide, but I just think they might think it frivolous to put pictures of outfits online. I once did an interview with a Scottish national newspaper, they used my full name and I wasn’t too happy. I use my boyfriend’s name cos it’s Dave and it’s such a common name, and will also occasionally post pictures of him, just because our lives are difficult to keep apart sometimes, but my family and my friends are off limits.

    Sorry, huge comment!

  22. I agree with every point you’ve made! You’ve just summed this whole issue up so well. Gonna tweet this. Excellent post!

  23. Yah, I sort of limit the amount of personal info on my blog too… and try to keep it light hearted and fun. I see it more as a forum to share inspiration, ideas and my work…rather than use it as a space where I would vent all my problems and any drama! 😉
    Did you hear about the couple in the US that had their house robbed because one of the family members had blogged and tweeted about them leaving their house on vacation? Stories like this always make me a bit paranoid.

  24. I use my full name as my blog is also part of my portfolio as a freelance journalist. I don’t mind putting myself out there, but it does mean I sometimes have to restrain myself in my writing and personal opinions, as these things tend to stay out there forever. My blog is also linked to my facebook and twitter, so even on there I’ve become much more restrained than I used to be. Every reader is a potential employer after all…

    Sometimes I wish I could be anonymous and rant and gossip as much as I’d like, but it’s a conscious choice you have to make as a blogger I suppose…

  25. my name is part of my business and has been for over 30 years. people google me to find me all the time and my phone number is on my websites. most of my business demands that people be able to find me. and, i’ve never had a problem except for a woman who called me on business on an easter morning once…

    as for blogging, i do not put up my grown children, my husband or my grandchildren. there is a picture of me and lots of my dog, though 😉

    i figure anyone who wants to, can find out all sorts of things these days and because i am on twitter, facebook, flickr and have 2 blogs….i try to keep the overly personal to a minimum….

  26. I’m guilty of using my full name,first and last. I refer to my husband a lot and simple Google search would turn up our last name so I felt ok using it.I also do use pictures of myself, husband, and my son and a few of my family members. BUT as much as I try to be transparent on my blog,I don’t go into extreme details on everything. I think I have more danger of someone following me home from the grocery store then someone stalking me on the internet.

  27. I’m fairly open, I give out my first name, and many people will know my last via the business but I don’t broadcast it. I use my husband’s name because he doesn’t seem to mind. I don’t have a lot of pictures of myself, but lots of my dogs 🙂 and the occasional photo of my husband.

    When it comes to opinions I take a step back. I’m really opinionated. REALLY. But I keep it off my blog since it’s associated with my business and something I’m just not willing to risk.

  28. I am always surprised at how little self-regard some posters show for themselves…we live in an era where, providing you are famous or just a wannabe, your life is out there for the whole world to thumb through…ick! Some folks think they don’t need personal boundaries, until of course someone crosses them, and that’s when the squealing starts!
    We are not all Tiger Woods or Sandra Bullock..we did not sell our souls for fame and forturne, so no way would I do some huge reveal in my blog, especially if it involved others…it is one thing to write about how you feel.. quite another to ‘out’ your acquaintances and loved ones…

  29. I was anonymous for a while, but now that I’m working in the online space, it’s just better practice for me to use my full name… But I am comfortable with anonymous, first name, full name bases… Plus it’s your blog. You have a right to share what you would like! No obligations or strings.

  30. Oh, and I never put my last name out there, ever, facebook and emails being the exception.

  31. I am with you on all points. My blog is about life after college, so it does get personal but I keep it very “blanket” not many specifics. But I do discuss things that are happening to me.

    I have included pictures of myself and my bff, who also blogs and has an etsy shop so it is like extra marketing for her so it is A-Okay. If I ever mention someone specifically I link them in my blog.

    And I never put anything my grandparents wouldn’t be okay with because they read my blog haha.

    I did touch on politics recently, I was a little nervous, but it directly related to “life after college” so I only related it to me, so I think it was safe.

    Great blog topic!

  32. I give my full name because if I ever want to be an author it would be out there anyways and it’s part of branding myself. I give my husbands name because, no offense, I hate reading DH over and over and over again. But I do draw the line. Probably the best way to describe it is the same as you: if my grandparents would be ok with it and if I won’t cringe the next morning, I post it.

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