Oh, Sh*t! Should You Swear on Your Blog?
First and foremost…
I had asked this question ages ago, but got unexpectedly busy with extensive blog maintenance and various personal things.
Apologies for the delay to those who took the time to contribute!
Prior to writing my very first blog post in 2004, I sat for a while and asked, “How should I even approach this?”
I had just started a tech blog, which meant that the average reader would (probably) be hip, young-ish, and not too conservative. The end result was a conversational news piece with mild sarcasm that still provided everything the user needed to know.
I wanted to play it safe. Nevertheless, I always wondered if a more “colorful” attitude would have been acceptable…
Considering I never left the publishing scene, I recently decided to ask around for opinions.
The Big Question:
Should you use profanity in your blog posts?
A. Olivia Joyce says:
I would say that it all depends on your audience and the type of blog you are running.
If you are more of an influencer type of a blog this means that you, as a personality, stand behind your content and choose how to present it.
A great example of this is the PropertyInvestmentProject blog run by The Landlord, where profanity takes a good part of every post, differentiates the blog from all others and makes it easier for the target audience to identify with the grumpy landlord’s problems.
On the other hand, if your blog is more of a business type of blog, your use of language shouldn’t be much different than your daily interactions with your customers.
Amber Morris had a similar opinion, as you should “create content with your audience in mind…”
A. Kate.Windleton says:
Profanity is a personal decision…
The beauty of blogging is that everyone can have their own opinion, and others can either like it or dislike it.
In some cases it might help some brands to swear in their content.
You definitely have to ask yourself the question: Is my blog or business suffering because I have an opinion and I’m not afraid to show it? With that in mind, it also can lead to some really good benefits such as:
the power of surprise;
the confidence to stand behind your words;
it sends a signal to like-minded people;
It signals authenticity;
It signals writing with a unique voice.
Anyway, if you do decide that cursing is for you, at least say what you want to say, but most likely you won’t get the wanted social media reshares and distribution.
A. Matteo Grader says:
When I’m at the office, I’m given the task to write a piece of content that is detailed, punctual and is supposed to raise brand awareness and improve our trust factors.
If I use offensive or obscene language in this type of blog posts, I’ll definitely not get far.
That said, using profane language on your own blog is very often adequate and might actually help you achieve success when you want to communicate a specific message to your audience.
Profanity emits a very strong emotion that captures the attention. I frequently get taken away while reading blog posts, but when I get to lines that use profane language, this brings me back and makes me feel I’ve missed something.
A. arab_girl says:
I guess it depends on what category you post your blog in, however if there is a disclaimer before the article, i guess its fine because if they do proceed to read the article, then they cant blame you for it….
A. kalo.dimitrov had quite a thorough answer, adding:
There are two extreme sides of the argument with just as much positive and negative facts.
Blogs, in general, differ their tone of voice from service pages on commercial sites. No one would ever dream of writing profanities and curse words when introducing a product or a service they make a living with.
If your blog has a more informative purpose, it’s better not to use profanities. Your readers go there to look for answers to certain questions and would prefer not to be distracted with your open-mindedness.
If you’re working on a travel blog and you want to share your experiences with something that brought an intense emotion in your life, you’d want to express is as best as words can let you. Sometimes, these emotions are negative, and there isn’t a better way to express them, than with a nice juicy curse word. Short, to the point, and most people will understand, even feel closer to you.
Profanities in any kind of blog are not recommended if you’ve just started your blog writing career. If you already have an established audience, you can experiment with some profane language here and there just to see if there will be a reaction reflected in your visits count and comment section.
A. Janice Wald brings up a good point:
If you are trying to attract readers who are not offended by that kind of language or who use that kind of language themselves, that’s one thing to consider. Alexa.com can tell you the age range of your average reader.
Since you are taking a risk of offending people, and there are less offensive ways of expressing the same thought, I say play safe and avoid profanity.
Dennis Muigai admits he enjoys the occasional bad language, as his audience is practically asking for it…
I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer to that question. Picture this scenario, I have a gossip or fashion website where most of my audience is teens and young adults, and my readers use slang and swear when emailing me or commenting on forums. This means that my audience is open to swearing, so why not use it?
Yes, audience matters, but a little swearing that leans on the funny end doesn’t hurt you once in a while.
Mark Morris says being too blunt can (and will) prevent some people from reading his material:
I do occasionally swear in my articles. An occasional hell, or damn, even in conservative circles is not nearly as taboo as it was just a few years ago, and I try to keep it mild.
First, I want my kids to be able to read my stuff. Second, I just don’t think the F bomb looks that good in print and it’s too incendiary to be useful.
Other content writers are completely against profanity, and understandably so.
Aileen Friedman says:
Not at all that includes blasphemy. In one book of mine the character blurted out in shock but I used words such as bleep bleep bleep! It’s funny as well as getting the point across.
There are so many expressive words and phrases that can be used instead of this.. be creative, you’re a writer.
Richard Bushey says:
The only time I ever swear in my posts is if it’s a pun. Other than that, it comes off as unprofessional and immature. It almost seems like an attempt to be edgy.
Jon Clayton says
Funny you should mention this. I do not swear at all in my writing or blog posts. Nor do I care for much profanity in what I read.
Ways to Potentially Get Away with it:
Want to spice up your style, but don’t know how your audience might react? Try these tips…
Start by using it sparingly throughout your content. Don’t see any negative reactions? Proceed with caution, but don’t overdo it.
Avoid being nasty within the title/headlines/subheadings, unless you really have no choice or it’s 110% fitting. There’s a time and a place for it.
Add a warning, such as NSFW (Not safe for work) or a simple note informing readers what’s ahead, as Arab-girl said earlier.
- There are plenty of reasons to rely on colorful words, as described by Kate.Windleton (especially if you’re looking to adapt a unique angle).
- To some people, it’s all about remaining honest and true to themselves.
- You’d be surprised. Marketing works in mysterious ways…
- Kate and Mark bring up excellent points: Swearing may cost you social shares, and certain people won’t be able to read your content.
- Janice says there is absolutely no risk in keeping things clean. So why not take the safest route?
Swearing can be an art and a science. Sometimes it’s witty and oddly welcome. But cross that very thin line, and readers may believe you’re desperate and needlessly edgy. Also, sarcasm and satire are always available for consideration…
Finally, Consider this…
Mr. Money Mustache was making $4,000 per month from a certain affiliate/sponsor, but because he used the word “Badassity” in a banner, they ultimately dropped him.
Who the fuck would have thought?