Transparency is always listed in those ‘top 10' lists of how to get visitors to keep coming back to your site. But I've found that your audience, or at least some of the people that read you blog are not to be trusted.
It's the internet and many people are not worried about being held accountable for their actions. I've seen it live in a webinar, and I've talked to individuals who were shocked that people they trusted had misused private information.
Even with your blogging and vlogging topics, is it always appropriate to bare everything?
I don't think so.
I wouldn't quite call it “Lying”, but I do believe there are times when ‘skipping' certain parts of the truth, or respectfully refusing to divulge certain information will be good for your reputation, your blog, and your business.
People love to know about money. Heck, I'm curious what other people make on their websites, and would love to ask them, but I don't.
Because I know that I don't like it when people ask me.
I feel like if I say too much, and you could be a target for copy cats or worse. Visitors can speculate if they like, but most people will keep a respectful distance with regards to your private income stats. The people that ask, in my experience, are either 100% fresh and want to know what type of goals they can set, or they're looking to turn a fast dollar and just looking for the quickest scheme they can get involve in.
I've seen the subject pushed sometimes, some even resorting to taunting to try to goad others into revealing their earnings. Don't take the bait. I've told some people how much I earn before, but it never resulted in a lasting friendship, so don't feel like you're missing out on anything.
2. Personal Info in Videos
I'm guilty of this, but when you do tutorial videos and put them on YouTube, you'd be surprised what information you can extract from them. A personal email address when you sign into an account, how many letters are in your password, your browsing history as you type a URL into your browser – it's all there and permanently recorded for everyone to see.
Most people won't notice, and most of those that do won't care. But just takes one teenage troublemaker to think he's being clever or cool to misuse your information in just one of the many ways possible to make a bad day for you. Make sure you blur out all your information.
3. Private Problems, Politics, Religion
If you have a personal blog for family and friends, then fine, hanging out dirty laundry is fine because it's not going to affect any revenue streams. Even if you've got a business/blog mix and are making money from it, getting to know your readers on a personal level is important to reader engagement, and thus, return visits.
But you have to be very careful about how you approach these topics. The most successful people who talk about these things are usually very liberal and open minded, accepting all races, sexes, belief systems, and writing off politics as a whole.
If you don't fit into this category, you're going to cut your audience by a large chunk if you do have strong beliefs one way or the other. If that's your niche, and you're fine doing that – great. Go for it. But if you want to reach the widest audience possible, you'll need to tone it down a bit.
I don't think it's appropriate AT ALL to lie to your readers, ever. These are the people you're writing for. But I do think that there are moments when you should leave out parts of ‘the story', protect certain aspects of your privacy or real life, and bend the truth a little to be more fitting for the internet.
Viewers, readers, subscribers, etc, etc are your friends. But they're internet friends, and the internet has never been known for accountability. Be smart about what you post.