Looking at my blog today, you might be surprised to know that I experienced crippling fear and self-doubt when I first started blogging (it took me three months to publish my first post… and then I deleted it).
You might also be surprised to know that I kept my blog a secret from my boyfriend, my friends and my family for years. The thought of everyone finding out about this blog struck fear and panic into my heart. I was convinced everyone would think I was ridiculous, that I would be deeply embarrassed and that I would never be able to recover (because all of my friends and family would cut me out of their lives for starting a blog – obviously).
If you’ve been doing any research on how to start a blog, you’ll know that most bloggers recommend sharing your posts with your facebook friends to create a little momentum. And I can see what they’re getting at – a blog needs readers! But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. And if you can’t either, this is the perfect post for you!
Did I need to keep my blog a secret? Maybe. Maybe not. But the fact is I did, and in this post I’m going to share how I did it! Let’s get into it:
Is it hard to keep your blog a secret?
I was actually surprised by how easy it was to keep my blog a secret from not only my friends and family, but also from my boyfriend Steve (and we were living together for months before I plucked up the courage to show him)!
I had an instagram profile, a twitter profile a facebook page and a Pinterest profile for my blog. And as long as I made sure they didn’t get connected with my personal accounts, my friends were none the wiser!
The only thing that was challenging about keeping my blog a secret was the stress. I spent a lot of time worrying that everyone would find out about it. And as time went on, I got even more anxious – not only was there the embarrassment that I had my own blog, but also the embarrassment that I had kept it a secret. What a loser!
So yeah, the main thing I found challenging about keeping my blog a secret was the self-created fear and doubt that had driven me to keep my blog a secret in the first place (find out more about that here). But I wouldn’t change it for the world! Blogging forced me to learn how to manage my mind and figure out how to move past the fears and doubts that I had so I could get to where I am today.
And when I did tell everyone, no one laughed and no one cared that I hadn’t told them. What a relief!
Should you use my real name if you want to keep your blog a secret?
Ok, so I’m not sure I can give a proper answer for this one. The reason? My name is Sam Brown – one of the most common names in the world. Plus there’s a very famous singer named Sam Brown and a famous travel reporter named Sam Brown. Which basically means that if you google my name (even today), I just simply don’t come up. So using my real name was never something I was afraid to do!
But if you have been gifted with a more unique name than Sam Brown, using your personal name might be something you’re worried about. What if your friends and family google you? What if they find your blog and can see that it’s you?
For this reason, you might like to make the name of your blog something unrelated to your own name (which a lot of people do anyway). But I’m still a big advocate of using your real name, or at least a real nickname, on your blog. You’re entitled to your own opinion on this but having a connection with your readers is hugely important to your success. And it’s hard to create that connection if you readers have no idea who they’re getting advice from!
I share more about how to choose a name for your blog in this post: How To Start A Blog: A Simple Guide For Beginners.
Is it ok to include photos if you want to keep your blog a secret?
I don’t know about you, but the first thing I do when I find a blog I like is I go to the ‘about me’ page. If I can’t see a photo of them, I’m bummed. No matter how amazing someone’s advice is, if I can’t feel any sort of connection to them – I don’t care!
Like most people, I’m nosy. I want to know where my advice is coming from. And not only that, I want to know where they live, how old they are, whether they have a boyfriend and who their favourite Kardashian is. Information is cheap, I want to feel connected to a person!
So even if you do decide you’re going to use a nickname, make sure you’ve got a real photo of you! And don’t let your perfectionism get the better of you – any photo will do (but if you don’t have one you like, here’s a great guide to taking selfies that aren’t actually selfies from a fashion blogger who takes all of her own photos).
Should you make your blog private if you want to keep your blog a secret?
When you start a blog, there are privacy settings you can enable to stop Google from finding it. I do not recommend enabling these settings! Even though you’re not ready to tell your friends and family about your blog, make sure you don’t hide it from the entire world.
How do you get people to my blog if you want to keep your blog a secret?
Even if you don’t tell your friends and family, there are plenty of people who can become your readers (my blog is a testament to that)! I’ll be creating my own resources to help you get more eyes on your blog very soon (watch this space), but for now I recommend checking out Melyssa Griffin’s advice about Pinterest. She’s so helpful and Pinterest is one of the cheapest and easiest way to get interested people to your blog!
If you went back in time, would you still keep your blog a secret?
I honestly would still keep my blog a secret for the first little bit! I kept my blog a secret because, in the frame of mind I was in when I first started, I needed the privacy to find my voice, get my confidence and figure out what I wanted to write about. So I did what I had to do – and I wouldn’t change it!
If you want to tell your friends and family, go for it! But if you’re scared to tell them, it’s ok to nurture your blog in private before sharing it with the world.
Do you recommend keeping your blog a secret?
On the whole, I don’t recommend keeping your blog a secret (as it can be a little stressful plus everyone will most likely be supportive anyway). BUT if the idea of sharing your blog with your friends and family is holding you back, by all means start a secret blog!
When should you start telling your friends and family?
When I first started my blog, I thought so much as an innocent snicker from a friend would be enough to have my delete my entire website. Now I’m at the point where everyone knows, but I honestly never thought I would get here!
I don’t think there’s a particular milestone that means you should start telling people. For me, it just slowly started to happen. It took me months to get comfortable with the idea that I had something to important to say (btw back then I didn’t even share any proper advice, just one or two-line blog posts with links to things I liked).
Then I told my boyfriend Steve. He didn’t ridicule me as I had feared he would (and I had NO real reason to think he would – my brain had just gone crazy). Then I told my brother Alex. He didn’t laugh. Then I mentioned it in a text to one of my friends. She was ok with it. And then another friend. They didn’t abandon me. And on it went.
Each time I got the balls to tell somewhere there was a period of weeks, if not months, between. And each time I felt an overwhelming amount of anxiety as I waited for everyone’s approval (since I still hadn’t even given myself approval, so why the hell would they).
My advice is to just to get started. If you keep at it (and please keep at it – it takes at least 6 months if not a year to see any kind of success, for me it took 3 years) there will come a time when you are ready to tell your friends and family. And until that moment comes, it will literally feel impossible to tell anyone. And that’s ok. Let it be, get to work and it will all begin to unfold.
How did you start your blog?
Since I get asked this question so often, I wrote a whole blog post about it! See my post on How To Start A Blog: A Simple Guide For Beginners to learn how I got started (as well as everything I use to run my blog and get subscribers). And you can find out more about my blogging journey in the podcast episode I did on blogging, self-doubt and how to get started.
Got a question I haven’t answered?
So there you have it – my advice on how to keep your blog a secret. I hope you found it helpful! And if you have any more questions, please comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.