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When to Use a Blogging Pen Name

For years I wrestled with how to credit myself as a blog author. I was conflicted as to whether I should use my real name or a pseudonym. Somewhere along the line, I reached what I considered a happy medium; I used different variations of my name for different blogs. The thinking being that if someone was searching for me, like an employer or ex-girlfriend, all of my work would not appear off the bat. It takes some digging and piecing together to track down my full body of work, some of which, could be considered NSFW. That worked for me several years ago. These days, as my personal goals have shifted, I find myself working hard to bring all of my content under one tent. Here are the pros/cons of using a nom de plume for blogging.

PROS

Name changer.
We spend our entire lives being called something that someone else chose for us. Even if a woman gets married, she has no control over her new surname. A pen name gives you a change to get creative and give yourself a name that matches your personality. How many tough guys named Frances do you know? Overnight you can take on a persona and become man’s man Spike McCall or southern sensation Dusty Rivers. Cooler than the generic John Smith, no?

For the masses. It’s not right, but people form opinions based on name alone. Judgement can be passed if a name is associated with a specific gender, religion or class status. Neutralize your name by picking something that is generic and not attached to any specific group. You also have a chance to break out of the “generic” name pack. If you are a John Smith (or an Andrew Rosen), a new name can help you rank better in search engines – or at least stand out from the pack.

Protection. What if your boss finds out you’ve been blogging nasty things about him? Or what if your mom sees that you told the world she dried out last night’s steak dinner? Avoid offending people by concealing your identity.

CONS

Findability and Credibility. We live in a world where people are constantly stealing content. Things have gotten so bad that even Twitter will be looking to have bloggers pay to verify their accounts. In essence, you are your own brand. So if you are hoping to embark on a career path that involves you selling YOU, it becomes exponentially more difficult when you are juggling several pen names. It also scatters your work across search engine results, forcing people do some leg work to connect the dots.

Linked Forever. I once considered writing under the alias Werdna Nesor (my name backwards). Upon further thought, I realized that this might seem clever at 1am on a Tuesday morning, but do I really want to be attached to such silliness down the road? Since you never know when your content will sprout wings and fly, make sure you choose a pen name you are comfortable living with – forever.

Do you blog under your real name or a pen name?

Categories: Blogging Sense, Blogging Tips
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Comments

  1. Ross Joyner ) says: 5/13/2010

    I have always found using a pen name to be useless, simply because there is always a way to track you back to your real name. Secondly as you point out when you use different pen names you spread out your link juice to what you are doing :-) Thanks for the article I found it interesting and will be posting on my blog at http://www.rossjoyner.com

    Reply

    • dave says: 7/26/2010

      it depends completely upon the individual and the circumstances. Hate your family? Family hate you? That’s a reason to change your name to your writing pseudonym/pen name.. or maybe you’ve recently undergone some sort of profound personality change, one that has placed you in a “new life” where your old connections have little meaning. This is a reason, too.

      People with fairly unique names need not apply.. just us John Smith’s out there.

      Reply

  2. Toni Schaberick ) says: 5/16/2010

    We asked this questions also when we first launched LinkMommy.com in September of 2009. Meanwhile recognized as one of the most innovative and unique online advertising and marketing platforms ever created, we decided to write and post all articles on our website at
    http://www.linkmommy.com/Blog

    Regards,

    Toni Schaberick
    Co-Founder/Co-Owner
    LinkMommy.com
    Venice, Florida
    USA

    Reply

  3. Lito|TheFilipinoEntrepreneur.Com ) says: 9/21/2010

    I thought it is not necessary to use pen names on your blog on my earlier blogging days but I find it useful for protecting my blog from unscrupulous individuals who knows my real identity.

    Reply