Separating Blog You from You You: Online Boundaries

Sometimes it's okay for the carrots to touch the potatoes; other times not. How do you want your virtual carrots and potatoes to interact? (Also, is there gravy?)

No matter what kind of blog you publish, you’re sharing some information about yourself. Yet even if you write a purely personal blog or are completely comfortable peppering posts with details about your life, you may want to shield some things from the internet’s prying eyes.

We often encourage you to use social networks and other online tools to help grow your blog — it’s a key part of growing traffic, and it brings in motivating feedback — but not every online space you frequent has to be connected to your blog. It’s time to think critically about managing your online identity.

Wait just one minute…

You’ve joined Twitter, set up a Facebook fan page for your blog, and are publicizing your posts to LinkedIn. Harness the power of social media: that’s what we keep telling you, isn’t it? Yeah, it is. Look, we’re linking to those posts right now — you should be harnessing the power of social media.

Harnesses notwithstanding, there may be limits to how highly networked you want be. Do you smell a cautionary tale? I do! Learn from my mistakes:

In 2008 I started a blog named Thursday Night Smackdown. (Yes, it sounds like a the name of a professional wrestling show. No, it was not about wrestling.) I had a lot of fun with it, and after writing it for a while, identified with it completely and assumed that I’d write it until the end of my days.

I bought a domain and created an email address with it. When I joined services like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Skype, I joined as Thursday Night Smackdown, using variants of the blog’s title as usernames to create a unified online persona.

The blog chugged along happily for five years, but in 2013, it was time to call it quits and start a new one. I still wanted to use Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Skype and keep all my followers — but I wanted to use them as me, not as “the Thursday Night Smackdown Blogger.”

Problem: creating new accounts meant starting from scratch. Changing usernames meant confusing lots of people, and wasn’t an option in some cases. What to do?

Ultimately, I made different decisions for different services. Some I couldn’t change without creating new accounts, so now I’m stuck with the Skype handle of a professional wrestler.

Don’t let this be you! Friends don’t let friends impersonate wrestlers on Skype. On all other social networks, I now participate as me; I’ve connected my new blog to sites like Twitter, too, to make sharing posts easier — I just don’t participate as the blog.

Social networks are absolutely useful tools for growing your blog, and making use of them is key to getting the word out about your site. However, it’s not difficult to think of situations where collapsing your online identity with your blog’s isn’t ideal:

  • A fitness blogger uses Pinterest to highlight gear, clothes, workouts, and inspirational photos. She’s also renovating her house and collecting lots of ideas, but doesn’t really want to share potential bedroom paint colors or guest bathroom toilet options with all her fit friends.
  • You write a personal blog that uses some, um, salty language. While LinkedIn can be a useful tool to use with your blog, your posting style may raise questions of professionalism with potential employers — “blog you” may not jive with “work you.”
  • You’re a Renaissance Faire lover, but are wary of bombarding your uninterested family on Facebook or work pals on Twitter with links to your new posts on medieval cookery. (Their loss.)
Sometimes it's okay for the carrots to touch the potatoes; other times not. How do you want your virtual carrots and potatoes to interact? (Also, is there gravy?)

Sometimes it’s okay for the carrots to touch the potatoes; other times not. How do you want your virtual carrots and potatoes to interact? (Also, is there any gravy? I love gravy.)

Great, what now?

How do you use online tools effectively to meet your blogging goals while also carving out the space you need for you, your family, or your career?

Here are a few approaches. These aren’t definitive, since your choices will be functions of your personal, professional, and blog goals, but it’s a starting place for thinking through how connected you want your online selves to be:

  • Dueling accounts. On some services, it might make sense to have a “you” account and a “blog” account. Some, like Facebook, have a service geared toward that situation; for others, you may have two totally separate accounts — Twitter and Pinterest especially.
  • Private accounts. If there’s something you know you’d like to keep separate, don’t link to it from your blog. Or, if you’d still like to connect with die-hard readers, link to your profile but require approval for the connection; most services now have privacy settings that support this.
  • Blog-specific email. It’s cheap as free to create a new email address with services like Gmail and Yahoo. Create a simple address to use for blog-related things and as a contact address, and keep your personal email address off the blog.
  • Profile and feed maintenance. You can keep some links off your blog altogether, and you’ll also want to watch what you mention, feature, and link to on the sites and services you do connect — your Gravatar profile might have professional info included because you also use it for work, or your Flickr feed may feature family photos you don’t want to share. Be mindful of how all your accounts are working together.
  • Pseudonyms. Blog under a pseudonym (or anonymously), and join related services and networks using that name. You’ll end up maintaining dual accounts in some cases, but the demarcation between blog you and you you will be razor sharp.

None of this is meant to deter you from using social networks and linking them to your blog — that’s a key part of ushering visitors into your online house. It’s simply worth thinking about how far you want to extend your blog’s brand, and how you want to manage that.

Maintaining the line between you and your blog doesn’t actually have to be much work if you put in a little up-front thought about how much you’d like to integrate your blog with the rest of “online you.” Once your have your blog and social networks set up in a way that works for you, you’re off to the races.

Is this something you think about? Has it come up for you, and how did you handle the overlap?

Show Comments


Comments are closed.

Close Comments


  1. Me too. I have a separate Face book page as well as a Twitter account as my blog. The only problem with the Facebook page, is that it doesn’t allow signing in to sites that require Facebook registration from the page. I have refused to be part of communities that require that, to avoid having to share my personal details and that of my friends. Neat post Michelle :-)


  2. I’ve had this question for years and have tried to be careful. Mostly I save personal info for fb messaging, and keep the rest above the deeply personal level. Almost all my topics, as a mom blogger, interrelate and overlap; even my midnight musings provide fodder for my readers, and my linkedin account is a hoot, in my opinion, since I call myself a “professional mom” and any speaking or even any typing/filing of the past or future, has been and always will be done from that core. (The 3M account goes in the 3’s do not mess with that drawer.)
    Still, we undertook one dangerous mission, rescuing a teen while his mom did drug detox/rehab, and while I don’t think dangerous people could have found us just from my talking about, as we put it, “Our Project”, or from this mention here, on this page of yours, sometimes I do hear things that go bump in the night and wonder…


  3. My writing is only relevant because (even though I’m often terrified) I write about things that scares me, or embarrasses me, or that makes me feel ashamed, or is an honest reflection of how I feel about sometimes sensitive and personal topics.

    I put my face at the top of the blog and use my first name because I want it to be person. Because I want people to feel. Because it matters.

    I use my name. (Hi, I’m Matt.)

    But I don’t use my last name. I do that to protect the people I write honestly about.

    That means I can’t push my posts on Facebook or my personal Twitter account.

    It means there are people in my personal and professional life that I hope never find out about this.

    And it means that if I’m ever fortunate enough to publish books, I’m just going to have to bite the bullet, making my neurosis and stress over this all for naught anyway.



  4. great post. i only started blogging lately, but as someone who likes to keep my life private (even on my real Facebook page), starting to write and promote things that are so close to home made me plan out my online presence just as you described.

    But i did put up my picture. who can say “no” to that face? :)


  5. This is an interesting post and something that I think people really need to think about before they start a blog, Annie


  6. I post by the golden rule of: Don’t want people to know… don’t post it on the internets. That includes Facebook, Twitter, and my blog. For professional reasons and social reasons regarding my daughter, I do NOT post their names, not even their first names. They are the husband unit and the daughter unit. My Mom is mentioned a LOT on my blog and that is all she goes by is Mom. Her handle on the blog is even “Kim’s Mom”.

    I cannot take the chance that something I say about my husband affects his job, or something I say about my daughter will affect her social life. ( Let’s admit, we don’t intentionally want to embarrass our kids. )

    I’ve had people ask why I don’t separate out my interest into separate blogs. I addressed it one day on my blog. The bottom line is my blog is about me, and that includes all parts me. So people can follow me ( please do btw), but they are going to get a little bit of everything. I have a Facebook page that people can like that is administered by my personal account, but my personal account is just that … personal.

    That is just how I run my blog though. It may not work for everyone.


  7. At the Community Pool, I once commented to an anonymous 14-17 year old about his blog. (I don’t remember his exact age.) Then, he contacted me through my blog to ask a follow-up question. We exchanged a couple of emails, but he failed to realize that his email account sent his name with his messages. He was using a free online email account, but it had his real name on it. (He asked me how I knew his name.) Since WordPress seems to have its share of younger bloggers who might not understand how to maintain anonymity, perhaps a “helpful hint” might be suitable on the registration screen.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have two blogs, and each has its own social media connections. The problem is, none of the accounts including WP will allow you to be signed into both accounts at the same time. Cookies, I guess! So in order to have both accounts open at the same time I have to use two browsers, which slows everything down and is a pain. Am I doing something wrong?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well, I am probably going about this a little backwards, but I could use some advice. I am only just starting out in blogging and honestly, I have no idea how everything works.

    What social networks are best for connecting to a blog? I am a freelance writer/recently self-published author, so I’m not really worried about my professional standing…but I don’t want to give too much information about my personal life…


  10. I’ve set up blog accounts. I like this. I can manage everything separately. It means not using my real name though when I blog. II sometimes wonder if this might impact people’s view of my integrity in the future. But hey, I’ve told you all now! I feel much better.


  11. I have a personal Facebook site and another farm Facebook page. Sometimes I add blogs manually to the farm one but I keep my Facebook (family and friends) very separate from my blog although I used to have wordpress automatically in the past I stopped a few months ago. My posts still publishes to my twitter although I am thinking of stopping that and just twitter some posts.. I do not remember ever linking to link-in since I do not do a lot of business type of posts. I have posted on pin interest for projects with pictures but I do it manually. In the future I will be posting some of the posts to my website I am building.

    This might be more time consuming but it works for me.


  12. My 1st blog I found out the hard way about personal and online life. After a few yrs I had gotten a great readership then I got a stalker. And all my info on my real world life was there for the picking. Long story short I shut everything down and have started again :( lost alot of good readers but have learnt to be careful with what I put up about myself and my real world life. Great post!


  13. Interesting topic Michelle, but I’m left slightly wondering what I’ve missed. Seriously. I’ve got multiple blogs and blog IDs, similarly on FB before I chucked it for two accounts (mine and the dogs) although still kept up my partner’s. No idea why as I never look. Two Twitters – mine and the dog’s again. Dogs tweet a lot surprisingly. I actually set up a twitter account with my own name. But by then, I’d got so used to internet pseudonyms and alternative identities I couldn’t handle it. There’s an addiction to creating a new persona on the internet.

    And in a way it is refreshing. It’s like a new start, and we meet new people without the detritus of our old life.

    I do write about my past and my personal life and if someone was determined maybe they could track me down, but hey, who cares?


  14. Hi Michelle – I have a really, really, really dumb question. If I have a FaceBook account (which is mostly to keep in touch with my family), and I want to set up a separate FaceBook account to link to my blog, will anyone be able to tell, or will they be totally separate unless I connect them, somehow? Thanks – Silent


  15. None of my social media accounts are connected with my blog. My writing is not necessarily for those who I know personally. The blog was started for the purpose of expressing my thoughts and opinions, and gaining insight from those who I do not know. I feel that the most honest comments come from people who I’ve never met.


  16. Thank you Michelle. This is something I have been trying to work through for quite some time now. I am trying to maintain two separate identities online – one under my blog name and one under my own name. My intention is to use Fifteen Acres as a blog which is anonymous but personal (like Matt, above, I do use my first name, but not my surname). I have this connected with Twitter and Facebook.

    The other online identity I have is under my full name and a separate blog name which I won’t identify here. My intention for this one is to create a professional profile of writing and photography I can use to support my endeavors to carve out a new creative career for myself. I have this linked to a separate Twitter account and Pinterest. When I feel it is developed sufficiently, I will also probably link this to LinkedIn.

    At one end the two separate WordPress accounts and two Twitter accounts make it reasonably straight forward to separate my online identity. However, there are some things I find messy Keeping up with other people’s tweets is hard enough on one account, let alone two. There are some things that overlap – for example when I take a photograph that is of a ‘portfolio’ quality and I’d like to share it on both bogs.

    My Facebook page is under my own name, but I restrict this to solely friends I know in person. For this reason, I don’t publish my professional blog posts to Facebook.

    As an aside, when I first set up my professional blog, I did it as a second blog under Fifteen Acres, but I found that it was not possible to use my full name on one and be anonymous on the other, so I ended up having to take out a separate subscription for this., .

    I’m still grappling with the finer points – Gr avatar, for example – and now that I am at a point where I want to sell some photographs (all of which are on my anonymous site) how to set this in motion without revealing my identity.


  17. Let’s take this blogger situation a bit further: you sell it to a buyer who sees the social media accounts as part of the blog’s infrastructure, authority, and ranking.

    When I sold my blog, I cheerfully threw in my Twitter & Pinterest accounts. I turned over admin of the Facebook fan page and kept my own personal Facebook page. I kept my Linkedin account (because it’s personal) and I’m keeping my Google+ account (because it’s personal).

    Yet Google’s page ranking algorithm ties a blog’s ranking to its author credentials, and author credentials come from Google+. I don’t have a solution for this Google conundrum, but lawyers are already debating it. My buyer and I reached a friendly agreement without a lawyer’s advice, but what if you’re selling your blog to a corporation like Quinstreet?


  18. really nice post and totally agree. My blogs is connected into my social account that i want to, not into linkedin coz sometime i post a private thing about myself that wouldn’t be great to be read by employers.


  19. I am new to blogging and am finding it a struggle. This article is informative. I have been wondering how to build my audience and now I think I understand what my next step needs to be.