#5onFri: Five Ways to Protect Your Privacy While Promoting Your Writing Online

by Indiana Lee
published in Writing

Regardless of the type of work you do, when you present yourself as a writer, you put a part of who you are into everything you create. That level of vulnerability makes it all the more important that you take steps to protect your privacy while promoting your writing online.

If you’ve never given much thought to protecting your privacy, then the time is now to get started. Here are five easy-to-implement tips to help you feel comfortable promoting your writing online and assure your personal information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

1) Take Website Security Seriously

Taking steps to protect privacy online benefits both you and your audience. Most writers have an author website to showcase their work and connect with readers. Security on your site is vital. 

In order to protect your website against hackers and malware, you should perform any updates as soon as possible after receiving a notification. Frequently, software updates include “security patches,” which fix holes in programs that could leave you vulnerable.

Another step you should take to make your website more secure is encrypting your web browsing. Before the “www” in your website, the link in the address bar should start with “https.” If it starts with “http,” that means the connection between the user and the website is open and anyone who tapped into the user’s internet connection could see what they’re doing online. With a WordPress website, encrypting your web browsing is as simple as downloading a plugin.

Additionally, you should back up your website regularly so you always have a recent copy on hand to restore in case something does go wrong.

2) Have An Author Privacy Policy

Just as a secure website benefits both you and your audience so does having an author privacy policy. In fact, recent legislation in many countries around the world requires you to have it on your website. Your author privacy policy is where you disclose the kind of information you collect on your site and how you use it. For example, you might collect email addresses for a monthly newsletter.

Beyond acknowledging the personal information you collect, you must disclose any non-personal information you gather. This might include what browser your web visitor is using or their means of connection to your site. The author privacy policy is also where you let your audience know if cookies are being used to enhance the visitor experience.

Still not sure how to structure an author privacy policy? Book Cave contributor Catia Shattuck put together an author privacy policy template that you can customize to fit your own website needs.

The best practice for an author privacy policy is to have it on its own page. You should place a link either in the navigation bar under “About” or in the site’s footer. Always include an email address readers can use to get in contact with you if they have questions or concerns.    

3) Don’t Share Personal Information

If you’re a writer who uses their website to share about themselves and establish deeper connections with your audience, you should be especially careful about the kind of personal information you post online.

You likely know not to share your social security number, passwords, and banking information, but in the course of connecting with readers, you might let other personal info slip. Such information includes your birth date, place of birth, and mother’s maiden name.

Rather than giving out your home address, consider getting a PO box for correspondence. Instead of sharing your actual phone number, sign up for a Google Voice number.

It’s a good idea to err on the side of caution when it comes to sharing personal information like your specific schedule. If you’re taking headshots for your website, which is one of the key elements to author website branding, try to avoid easily recognizable locations. That’s something to keep in mind even if you’re taking your own professional headshot.

4) Store Personal Data Safely

Even if you do your best to limit the personal information you share online, there will still be personal data on your website (both yours and your audience’s) that you need to protect and store safely. Taking command of your online data, which consists of any information that could be used to identify you, is critical for protecting your privacy.

The best way to store personal data safely is by using strong and various passwords. When choosing a password, remember that the more complex it is, the harder it is to crack. Here are some tips for creating strong passwords:

  • Mix lowercase and uppercase characters.
  • Include numbers and/or symbols.
  • Use a passphrase that’s easy for you to remember but not too common.

You should avoid using the same password across accounts and never share your passwords.

5) Define Your Boundaries

At its core, writing is a deeply personal endeavor. If you’re still struggling with how to preserve what makes your work special while also protecting your privacy, you should spend time thinking about and defining your boundaries.

Your author brand is an important part of your business and building it is essential for long-term success. An audience who feels like they know you is more likely to read and support your work.

That being said, there’s no need to be an open book (ha, writer humor). It’s possible to keep your audience interested and attract new readers without divulging information you’re uncomfortable sharing.

With a clearly defined brand, there’s no confusion about the story you want to tell and the boundaries you need to stay within. Having a plan in place makes decisions about what you want to share easy. If you follow these steps, you can protect privacy while still promoting your writing online.  

Indiana Lee is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest with a passion for covering workplace issues, social justice, environmental protection, and more. In her off time she enjoys hiking with her two dogs. You can follow her on twitter @indianalee3, or reach her at indianaleewrites@gmail.com

Enjoyed this article?