protect yourself online

How to Protect Yourself Online as a Content Creator

6 July 2020 | by Gina Lucia

As a content creator, it’s important to learn how to protect yourself online. No matter the size of your business or audience, there are plenty of ways someone could get hold of your information and do with it, what they please.

Just starting out, or been around for years? Get the following in place now, so you don’t have to worry about it later.

Looking for ways to protect your mental health as a content creator? Check out my other article here: How to Protect Your Mental Health as a Content Creator

How to protect your privacy as a content creator

Protecting your privacy online is more important than we think. Fan bases can grow rapidly and strangers on the internet can gain access to private information quicker than you can protect yourself.

It’s important to regularly check the places mentioned in this article to make sure you’re not sacrificing your privacy online. 

Note: This article hasn’t been checked by a lawyer, so when implementing the following, make sure you’re remaining compliant with the right bodies and keep your safety in mind. 

Check #1: Your website

Your website likely contains contact details for business enquiries and even for fans to get in touch with you. However, you need to make sure the contact methods you offer are safe (in your mind) to share with the world. 

Do you just showcase your email address, or do you also have your phone number and address on this page? Check these and be sure they’re safe for you to share.

Next, you’ll want to check your Privacy Policy and any other such pages. Certain types of compliance like GDPR require you provide the name and contact details of your business. 

According to the ICO, you need the following:

  • Name and contact details of your organisation.
  • Name and contact details of your representative (if applicable).
  • Contact details of your data protection officer (if applicable).

If your audience is small and growing, you likely have no representative you can use as your business address and no business premises, other than the one you live at. 

To keep your location private, determine whether you have the ability to add an alternative address. If not, what contact details could you provide (for now) that would still provide users with a credible way to get in touch with you?

Check #2: Your social media profiles

As a content creator online, you probably try to keep your business and personal life separate. However, if not checked properly, you could be leaving yourself open and vulnerable.

Step 1: Remove any photos that might give your location away.

If you share photographs of your life on your business profiles, then you might be sharing some private information without even thinking about it.

The following types of photographs can be pieced together to give away your location:

  • The view from your window
  • The outside of your house
  • Things in your neighbourhood
  • Shots inside that show small glimpses of outside
  • The car you own
  • The things you do on a regular basis

Think before posting these types of pictures. Could someone piece together your routine, where you like to visit, the types of houses in your area and your car to finally figure out where you live?

Even the words you share in your photo descriptions could give your location away. Things like:

  • My favourite regular coffee shop
  • I always go here on a Wednesday
  • This place is just a short walk away from me

Talking about trips you take away could also risk the safety of your home while you’re gone. Notifying the world that you’re away from your house poses a risk, especially if you tend to talk about where you live regularly. 

Step 2: Check your private profiles

As a business owner, you probably want to keep your business and personal life separate. So, you have a private Facebook page. However, just because it’s private, doesn’t mean it’s actually private.

Make sure to check the settings on any private social media profiles you have. Are some of your posts public? Who do you share your email address with? Do you give anything away in your profile or cover photos?

To keep these private profiles, actually private, you’ll need to do the work and check everything to make sure your information is secure.

Step 3: Make sure your private friends are actually friends

We all started our Facebook profiles accepting any and all friend requests. But how often, if ever, do you check them?

Go through your friend list and think about the future of your business. As a content creator, your popularity can grow fast. Even if it doesn’t, you don’t want anybody knowing information about you, that you don’t trust.

My rule of thumb: If I’m okay with them knowing where I live, I keep them as a Facebook friend. If I don’t, I delete.

Be intentional with this because it’s your safety we’re talking about here.

Step 4: Don’t forget the people you live with

If you share online that you live with certain people (family or otherwise), it’s wise to check that their private and public social profiles also don’t give away your location.

Even if your online presence is secure, someone you live with could easily post a photograph showing the outside of your house and all your hard work goes out the window. 

Make sure they understand your need for safety and go through the previous few steps with them.

Check #3: Your email marketing

If you have an email list then you’ll have to, by law, add an address to the bottom of every email you send. This is in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act. It’s a US law but if you use services like ConvertKit or MailChimp then you’ll be required to add your address regardless of where you’re located. 

According to the FTC, you need to:

Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.

So, you can either include your personal address and share it with your email subscribers (not advised), or registers for a PO Box if you can afford it.

Alternatively, ConvertKit allows you to use their address in your emails or it provides a few other options. MailChimp doesn’t go quite so far but it does have some extra information if you require it.

Protect yourself online no matter your business size

In order to protect yourself online, you’ll need to be vigilant. Even when just starting out, this is more important than you think.

Think of it as a monthly business task. Check over your personal and private social profiles regularly and keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Have I missed anything or made any mistakes in this article? Let me know in the comments and I’ll make sure to add/correct it.