This post is to remind my fellow bloggers and the blogging community of the obvious – letting people know where you are is letting EVERYONE know where you are. This post isn’t intended to make us live in fear, or to prevent us from sharing with our readers. It is more to inspire us to consider all the information we share and to make us more aware of our safety and the safety of our families.
At a recent blogging conference, one of the speakers spoke out against programs where you earn points for “checking in” or for tweeting out when you arrive at your favorite store. She shared a story about how one woman was tweeting while she and her husband were out running errands. One of her “friends”, getting a play-by-play update of where the woman was, took that opportunity to break into her house and steal her stuff. Horrible friend? Yes. A lesson for us? Darn tootin.
As bloggers, there is a lot of information about us out there. Almost all of us share stories about our lives – whether it’s a crazy experience with KFC or more personal stories about our own faith and growth. Some bloggers share a little bit more, such as pictures and names of their kids and family members, to give readers an even closer glimpse into their lives. And if all of your readers are good-hearted with wholesome intent, then there would be no question about what to share or what not to share. However, we can’t control who our readers are, and when it comes to the internet, there are many who would use our stories and/or pictures of our families for something not so innocent.
With all of the information out there, I think there are a few things that we can do to help minimize our risks:
- Invest the extra $10 on registration to ensure that you get privacy for your domain name. This is a MUST in my opinion.
- Avoid including too many specific about where you live – especially when you’re taking pictures of or around your home.
- Be selective if you’re including pictures of kids. Scary but true that there are people out there who won’t have the best intentions for you or your family. (Add that with their ability to find out where you live and it becomes a lot scarier.)
- If your blog is dependent on your name, then this tip isn’t for you – it’s just one of many options a blogger could use. Consider a nom de plume (pen name.) I am defined by my experiences, not my name, so I feel confident that you can still know the real me even if you don’t know my real name.
- If you can afford it, purchase a PO Box or mailbox from the post office or UPS for product/prize shipment.
- If you’re traveling (whether it’s a vacation or attending a blog conference) and decide to post or tweet real-time, be sure to consider these tips and words of advice before divulging unnecessary private information. As an obvious example, there’s no need to say, “I sure hope my plants don’t die while I’m gone” or “I’m sure the kids won’t have a party while they’re home alone.”
Remember that these are just tips to follow to help make us safer. They aren’t intended to make us paranoid or to prevent us from communicating with our readers. They are more meant to help us to all be more aware of our surroundings and activities whether we are at home blogging or on the road. As a reader of many blogs, I appreciate when a blogger shares her story, but I would never want her to sacrifice her safety, or the safety of her family. Let’s be safe.