Working online, it’s easy to have your name, picture, and possibly even location plastered all around the Internet. It can be a problem, however, if you want to keep your identity safe. This issue becomes even more important if you are a mom blogger who talks about your kids.
HERE ARE A FEW BASIC STEPS TO TAKE TO HELP PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY AND STILL ENJOY BLOGGING.
1. Don’t post your exact location online. When blogging, there is no need to share your address or even your hometown with the world. If you want to get local opportunities, giving out the closest large city is enough information for brands and reps to find you. If you live in a small town, avoid using Foursquare/Swarm and similar apps for checking in.
2. Have your mail delivered somewhere else. Along with keeping your location private, a post office box will further prevent your home address from being found online. If you have a newsletter, most services require you to add an address at the bottom of each email. A PO box keeps your readers from learning your residence. Need an actual physical address (some companies will not deliver to a PO Box)? The UPS Store gives you a physical street address without the restrictions of a PO Box. They also allow you to sign up for text or email notifications so you only have to stop in when you actually have a package. And they are much more secure than having boxes of products left on your front step when you are not home.
3. Be careful when posting photos. If you take a lot of pictures outside your home (such as in the front yard), make sure not to capture your house in them (and especially not your house number). This could lead local people to your front door if you aren’t careful. Check your phone to see if you have location settings turned on – this could broadcast your exact location with every photo!
4. Ask around before giving out your info. Most PR reps that contact you will be legit business people looking to work with you and your blog. However, the internet is also known for scammers. Post in FB blogging groups or ask your friends before you give your address to someone over email. Be even more careful with who you send a W-9 form to, as that will contain your social security number.
5. Apply for an EIN. Your Employer ID Number (EIN) works as your social security number. When you need to fill out tax forms for a brand, you can give them this number to help keep your identity private. It is free to get an EIN number.
6. Watch out for phishing scams. As a blogger, you likely get hundreds of emails each week. It can be easy to open a message, skim the contents, and click a link. However, you want to pay attention when it comes to emails that deal with your money or other personal information. Scammers are known to send phishing emails, which are messages that look legit but the links are misleading. If clicked, they can retrieve your personal information. Paypal phishing scams are among the most popular – there will be a message about needing to log into your account, but the link provided will not actually take you to PayPal. Clicking on links can also unleash malware onto your computer. Do not click on links without knowing exactly where they came from!
We don’t want to scare you – just help you think ahead and avoid any situations that you might regret later!