Sometimes it makes complete sense to add different layers of privacy to your content.
We’ve touched on similar topics in the past, from creating boundaries between your blog persona and real-life one, to keeping your daily life safe from online intrusions.
The great thing about having your own site is that with one click of the Publish button, you can reach the entire world. Or at least that subset of the world with an internet connection, a bit of free time, and a keen interest in knitting / vegan brownies / attachment parenting / haiku writing / [insert your favorite topic(s) here].
What do you do, though, when you want to keep that public stage open — but also share some of your work in a more discreet way? Sometimes you might feel like writing a more personal post than you do usually. Or you might want to get feedback on a work in progress you’re not entirely happy about yet. There are all kinds of situations where putting yourself out there in the public sphere might be a bit daunting.
It’s important to note that even the strictest privacy settings can’t provide 100% hermetic protection once you’ve shared anything with someone else online. Always ask yourself: “Am I okay with this potentially becoming public?”
The good news is that you can eat your cake and have it, too. There are several ways to add layers of privacy to your content without sacrificing the warm welcome you otherwise extend to your readers. Here are some ideas to consider.
Did you know you can password-protect any of your posts? I saw this feature used to great effect in a recent Blogging U. course on poetry. Some participants felt uncomfortable posting poems for the whole world to see, and others thought they would clash with their normal style of blogging. Instead, they published their work in password-protected posts, sharing the password with a specific audience — others who were taking the same course.
If you use password protection and want to give engaged readers a way to ask for the password, make sure you’ve specified a way they can reach you — for example, by inserting a contact form into your About page (or a designated Contact page).
Password, take two.
Password-protected posts are useful in many contexts, but some bloggers might be concerned about having them visible in their feed. That’s a reasonable reservation if you publish a lot of these: you probably don’t want to give off a secretive, over-protective vibe, especially for first-time visitors.
This is where password-protected pages can save the day (confused about the differences between posts and pages? You’re not the first one! Here’s a cheat sheet created especially for you). Since pages — the static content on your site — aren’t part of your ever-updated stream of posts, your readers are less likely to look for them. You can update them as often as you want without the risk of alienating those without access.
Club members only!
Password protection is a good idea for separating public and non-public content on your site. In some cases, though, your best solution might just be starting another blog entirely — you can add as many blogs as you wish for free — and set it as a private site. You can then invite others to read, contribute, or administer the site (read more on user roles here).
We’ve been using private blogs with great success at Blogging U., where each course has its own private Commons site. Likewise, many bloggers have started private communities for a variety of reasons — from authors wishing to give each other feedback discreetly, to people looking to discuss sensitive topics without the added pressure of (potential) public scrutiny.
Blogging is still a form of publishing — of making someting publicly accessible. But that doesn’t mean that every single word, in every single blog, needs to be available to everyone, all the time.
How do you approach privacy on your blog? Have you ever been in a situation where you considered limiting access to some of your posts?