The title of this might sound a bit odd. Because for the large part, blogging is a rather ‘safe’ job by nature. There’s rarely any stunts you have to pull (aside from that time I thought it would be a good idea to say yes to a mountain adventure sports press trip – good one, Scarlett) and you don’t have to handle dangerous machinery (although there was that one time I caught the tip of my finger in my camera cover while closing it – ouch!).
So to sum up, it’s not exactly an adrenaline junkies dream job. Being careful isn’t really something you associate to a blogger.
However, of course – the majority of a blogger’s work is internet based and with that, we often forget about the dangers associated. Most of us are so engrained and intertwined (me included) in the vast world wide web that we don’t often consider the darker implications. We may have had an ‘internet safety’ briefing aged 13, but that was ten years ago now (OMG I’m officially old) and all that seems to spring to mind are those cute little hedgehogs – and I’m pretty sure they were related to crossing roads…
Anyway, trolls and negative comments are seen as part and parcel of the blogging world (albeit one we’d rather not have to deal with) however there’s also a few things that aren’t always considered. And so with this in mind, I thought I’d put together a little post on staying safe while blogging. I don’t want to scare anyone or put anyone off, but I think sometimes it’s worth reminding yourself to err on the edge of caution and stay safe! Because as much as the blogging girls (and guys) I know are fab, not everyone has an individuals best interests at heart.
- Don’t post in real time unless you’re with another person. I’ve been guilty of this many times but I am now far more conscious about making sure I post after I leave a place, rather than when I’m still there. Of course if I’m with my boyfriend or a group of friends, I do post but it’s worth being careful if you’re alone – because locations are easily detectable on snapchat, Instagram and Twitter through geotags – and that’s if the location isn’t instantly recognisable anyway.
- Make sure you set your domain registration address to private. When you register your domain name for your blog, you’re asked to provide your home address – which essentially means that your server and any associated companies can reach you as and when they please. However it’s little known knowledge that all of this information (including your phone number in many instances) goes onto a publicly accessible database online called ‘WhoIs’. There you can search for the details of the ownership of any domain and access the registrants details. When I first discovered this, I was slightly terrified. Anyone could search this information freely. However, luckily the details I’d input initially when registering were out of date in my instance anyway as I’d moved several times since and I’d managed to change the details to a representative office of my company instead. If you’re not able to do this, you can pay extra to keep the details hidden. I know GoDaddy offers this service for an extra £10 or so.
- Remember that anything you disclose may stay in the public domain. For me, blogging is all about being open and sharing my life (or at least some of it) online. I love writing about the things I love, where I’ve been or what I’ve seen. However remember that once this goes live, everyone can see it. Any photograph you post, any information you disclose and any tweet you make. You may delete it afterwards in haste but pretty much everything is cached anyway, so people may have access to it after it’s taken down. It sounds a bit of a basic one but I think sometimes people forget that. And I don’t necessarily mean in the case of bloggers. I saw an instance recently where a friend of mine (who was a blogger) was criticised by an individual on social media, whose biography stated that she worked for a PR company. Remember, you’re representing YOU online. Don’t say anything you might regret.
- Be cautious when being asked to meet in person. Again, this might sound like a bit of an odd one, but as a community, we’re so used to being so friendly and so eager to network that we forget that anyone can pose as anyone online. Anyone could pose as a PR and invite you to a meeting. Obviously it’s highly unlikely that anyone would – but a little Google search beforehand, just to double check people are who they say they are is probably best. Better to be safe! And saying that, it’s always best to meet in a public place first (ie: a coffee shop or restaurant), which 9 times out of 10, a PR would do anyway. If they suggest something different, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- And similarly, don’t just give out your address to anyone. As much as gifts are lovely, I now make sure that I’m only giving out my address to someone if I’ve checked them first. Again, anyone could pose as a PR and ask to send you something that sounds too good to be true ‘on a gifting basis’. I know a few bloggers have a PO Box or a Doddle Parcel Delivery box – which I think are great options! Obviously if you know the PR/Agency then it’s absolutely fine – but it’s worth keeping your wits about you.
- Make sure you let people know what your email address is. And display it clearly on your blog and social pages. As odd and as obvious as this sounds, I’ve heard instances of people impersonating other bloggers in order to get gifts from brands – which is both terrifying and slightly sad at the same time. One because the person will undoubtably get caught out (we now know their address) and two because someone thinks that it’s okay to impersonate another person and get away with it. Very strange! Of course, sometimes this is out of your control but as long as the PR can easily access your email – hopefully any with an inkling something isn’t right will check your page first.
- Don’t be afraid to contact the police if someone or something is causing you concern. They have specialist teams of people to deal with online matters and no-body should be made to feel uncomfortable by using online platforms. Keep record of any instances and let them deal with the matter.
Again, this wasn’t intended to scare anyone but simply raise awareness of some of the things we probably should consider but forget to do so. Remember the internet is an incredible platform and an amazing tool which so many inspiring people have utilised to create their own brands and digital businesses. However it also should be used with caution. Not everyone is a nice person unfortunately and it’s better to stay safe!
Do you have anymore tips for staying safe online? Or do you remember the hedgehogs advert?