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Blogging

There are some fantastic blogs by women for women — there are also easy ways to make blogging safe and fun.

Starting a blog

There are some amazing blogs out there covering every imaginable topic you might be interested in, such as work, politics, sport, cooking, social issues, everyday parenting and feminist views. It is very easy to create a blog and there are things you can do to protect your online privacy and keep yourself safe.

Choose a blog platform

There are hundreds of blogging platforms. The most popular are: WordPress, Blogger, Blog.com, Tumblr and Squarespace.

Look at the blog of your favourite bloggers. The platform, for example ‘Powered by Wordpress’, or the Tumblr ‘t’ will often be referenced at the bottom of the page. Look at a couple of blogging platforms and choose the one that appeals to you. Bear in mind that the number of features available will depend on whether you select a free or a paid plan.

Choose a webhost

The majority of blogging tools will host your blog on their own servers.

Alternatively, you might want to find your own webhost. A quick search online will find a number of potential hosts, as well as a lot of advice on how to choose the best host for you.

What you need to know before you start blogging

Attract followers

To get an audience you need to promote your blog. Start with friends — ask them to ‘follow’ you and share your posts. Posting blogs regularly will make your blog be more interesting for your followers, but remember that regular posting is a commitment so don’t try too much at first.

Most blogs become public and therefore searchable on the internet. Readers can subscribe, becoming followers, so that each time you post a new blog entry, an email link to it is immediately sent to them. If you prefer to restrict your followers, you can set up a private forum where only those you invite can become followers.

Some people find blogs useful for promoting their businesses. Others use them to air their personal opinions or to support causes.

Don’t overshare

Protect your personal information to prevent identify theft and to protect yourself against criminals and predators. This means protecting details like where you live, your preferred local hangouts or any holiday information. Criminals can use such personal information to steal identities, track people down and even rob people when they are not home.

Be aware that any photos you post may have GPS location data and they can be downloaded or collected by others.

Anyone can read your personal thoughts and views — anyone including future employers, former partners and more.

Be prepared for online abusers

The majority of people are decent, but we need be alert for those who aren’t.

Predators can manipulate your feelings and opinions to build your trust, and they can gain your friendship by making you feel special or valued. Their purpose may be online grooming, or to collect your financial records or personal information in order to commit a crime. They may even want to meet and harm you. Don’t share too much with anyone you don’t know personally, and block and report anyone who makes you feel unsafe.

Be careful when linking accounts

Make sure your blog followers and other readers can’t find your personal information. Check the privacy settings of your social media accounts that your blog site links to. For information on privacy settings in individual social media services see the eSafety Guide.

People can take things the wrong way

Most people are expressing an opinion when blogging and while some readers may support this view, others may think it offensive. Think carefully about what message you are sharing and be aware that some may perceive it differently. Rather than becoming frustrated that some of your followers are not ‘getting’ your message, remember that such diverse reactions are normal and they create opportunity for discussion.

There are many examples of humour being taken seriously or causing offence to followers.

Think how easy it is to misinterpret emails and text messages. This is normal because every individual in the world has a unique brain and their own life experience. Develop a plan to manage those times when you are misread or not understood. Don’t take it personally, just clear it up and move on.

Keep it legal

Blogs are subject to the law — defamation and copyright law are two examples to be aware of. Make sure that what you post is factual or clearly listed as your personal views and thoughts. The Arts Law Centre of Australia provides an information sheet outlining legal issues for bloggers to be aware of.

Quick guide to safe blogging

Safe blogging is a balancing act. Consider how much information you share and what information you keep private. Review what information you share on your blog whenever your circumstances change.

Limit personal information

Limit the amount of personal information you put online. The limit should include information about your family, especially children. Don’t upload any photos or videos with geolocation information. If you are not sure, don’t upload it. Increase your safety by turning off ‘Location settings’ on your devices before taking photos or videos you will share online.

Use a pseudonym

Consider using an assumed name or a nickname. This is the first step in protecting your identity and reducing the risk of someone taking offence to your post or tracking you down.

Use a private forum

Blogs can be set up as a private forum giving you the means to decide who can read your blog. Setting up your blog so that you need to accept subscribers before they have access can help you limit who can see your personal information and views.

Safety tip — remember that any reader can copy your private post and put it on a public forum.

Dealing with comments

Most blogs allow readers to comment on each post; some blogs limit who can comment on your post; while others are more secure and require the blogger’s approval before they are posted. Regularly review who your subscribers are.

Report and block

Anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

Quick fixes for existing blogs

Have a friend or family member read your blog articles (posts) before you publish them. Ask them to look for anything that may give away too much of your personal information or put you at risk. A second set of eyes can sometimes see things in a different way.

If there are unpleasant or distressing comments or messages placed on your blog or they become repetitive and even sexual, make screen captures of each entry so that you have evidence if you need to take things further. Then delete the messages so other readers, employers etc. cannot see them. See our advice on collecting evidence for help with this.

If you feel threatened or at risk, contact the blog site and make a report identifying that you are being targeted by a user. If you think the risk is higher, contact your local police or call Triple Zero 000.