Advice for Beginning Bloggers: Blog Under Your Real Name

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[The first paragraph from my previous post was left out by mistake:

I decided to join Phyllis and Robin (and Baila!) on NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) where you post every day for the month. I'm a day late, but never mind. In addition to my usual topics, I will be sharing pictures from around town. Petach Tikva is full of modern artwork, some good and some notoriously bad. I'll be focusing on the traffic circles, each of which has a unique sculpture or landscaping.]

Today’s post:

People believe that blogging anonymously is easier. You can say whatever you want, however you want, without any consequences. But blogging anonymously is harder than blogging under your real name.

There are good reasons for blogging with a pseudonym. Some bloggers suffer backlash if their views become known. They could lose their jobs, or even be in physical danger. Other bloggers take advantage of a secret identity to talk openly about sensitive, personal issues. This is helpful for readers with similar problems.

But unless one of the above applies to you, I recommend blogging under your real name.

What do you lose when you are no longer anonymous? Well, you’ll have to think twice before telling that nasty story about your neighbor.  People have the mistaken impression that anything goes on the internet. But ranting gets tiresome after a while.

Anonymous blogging is hard because you have to make sure not to share too many details about yourself so you won’t be “outed.” One of the bloggers at the Blogger’s Event talked about how confusing it was to keep track of her two Facebook profiles. She doesn’t want her family to find out about her blog. Being anonymous makes you faceless, and it’s hard to develop real relationships.

Since I’ve put my name to my blog only good things have happened.

  1. Subjects. I can write about a whole new range of topics that I couldn’t before, because people would have identified me too easily.
  2. Publicity. I have many more readers. I put my blog address on my email signature, add my links to Facebook and pass out a card with the URLs of my sites. People who know you personally are more likely to read than some random person who finds you on the internet.
  3. Connection. Blogging anonymously creates distance. Exposure opens you up to closer relationships with your readers.
  4. Professional opportunities. I consider my blog part of my writing portfolio. When I was semi-anonymous I could still share but no one searching for my name could find it.
  5. Authority and Influence. People take bloggers more seriously when they are open about their identities.
  6. Nostalgia. Having your name on your blog means your friends from elementary school can find you easily.

I only took down a few posts when I put my name up on the blog. I was  only semi-anonymous and anyone who cared to know who I was could find out. I do write less about my family but that would have happened anyway.

Bloggers, how did you make the decision about whether to be anonymous? Do you regret it?

If you enjoyed this post you might also like:

Advice for Beginning Bloggers: Allow Full Feeds

Why I Moved My Blog to WordPress

My New Blog: CookingManager.Com

Commenting on Comments: Building a Blog Community

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Comments

  1. I considered giving up “my” anonymity but decided against it, and I’m glad I did.

    http://myweirdkids.blogspot.com/2009/08/coming-home.html

    I would prefer that my current and any possible future employers not read my blog. Since I’m blogging as a hobby (at best), I have no future writing ambitions and within reason, I don’t care if a lot of people read my blog. (A few comments here and there are nice, though).

    I have no ambitions to be a “serious” blogger because I already have a full-time job (career?) and I don’t plan to make a career out of writing.

  2. I should add that a couple of my older kids read my blog, so I have to be careful not to rant, anyway; have to watch my language and how I express my opinions.

  3. mominisrael says:

    Tesyaa, I would have been surprised if you would have put yours under your real name.

  4. I blog under my real name. i hope to have a career as a writer and this is one way for my work to reach a target audience. there are things i would love to blog about – kid’s school for example, but i refrain because of the possible backlash. Not that the school condones Internet….

    as a named blogger one has to be very careful not to hurt those near and dear with a blog post. when friends or family might appear in something i write i generally ask permission.

  5. I’m still not sure where on the blog your real identity is revealed?

    For myself, I’m not hiding from anyone, it’s just that my Hebrew name makes English speakers break their teeth. I use a pen name online anyway, for that reason, so I really don’t think it matters when it comes to my blog.

  6. I blog semi-anon. no family name but otherwise its all good.

  7.  professional  life is the most important reason to be anon. You never know what you’ll write that can tick off an employer. Even just having a blog can be a red flag. That was my motivation to switch, although its pretty silly because my real name is still all over the place and the blog will still pop up with a basic google search. Other than that i have nothing to hide. I amswer blog relateed email with my name, I put the blog address when I post on yahoo groups, etc.
    I’m also more sensitive about blogging about my son. I’m shocked by what some ppl post. My son is too young to read the blog, but I don’t imagine he’d be completely pleased when older. This is disappointing for me because one of the main reasons i started to blog is to force myself to keel a diay about him
    Some ppl also have social or communal reasons. I live on the communAL margins anyway in my neighborhood so this isn’t relevant for me. My friends in generAl just think it’s weird.

    At the end of the day it’s a personal decision and since most bloggers are small time it doesn’t really matter. But I think it’s chaval that the popular public policy bloggers are anon. They have some great ideas, but being anon weakens their Authority, credence and moral support (even if they are otherwise a nobody). But at the end of the day they don’t owe anyone anything and mus t weigh the same considerations as the rest of us.

  8. When I started blogging, I wanted to protect my privacy, so I used a nickname. Nowadays I’m more relaxed. But I don’t use the real names of my family members or describe them.

  9. Lion of zIon says:

    By moral authority I meant something more on the way of morale encouragement

  10. HSM: You find plenty of other subjects.
    IsraeliMom: Please share!
    JdJ: Da Jew is not your last name?
    LoZ: Which bloggers do you mean?
    Mimi: I avoid my family’s names too, although I’ve shown some kids’ pictures.

  11. I will stick to anonymous!!! I blog about our lives and especially my kids and while I keep things positive and light I would hate a future employer/partner to google them and discover their childhood online and things my kids would maybe not like to reveal!!! That being said – all my friends know me by my online name and I would never blog against any of them, the neighbors or family members – it just isn’t nice.

    We do bump into people that know us from the internet from time to time, and they are normally pleasant but I do get the creeps when people leave comments like: I happened to notice your house and was able to watch your kids playing in the garden…” then I am so glad to be anonymous!!!

    Funnily enough a local podcast interviewed a couple of local bloggers and afterwards I noticed that regardless of what they blog about all the women were anonymous and all the men used their real names!!!

  12. I blog about my family and about special needs, so I can’t go public. There are times that I would love to go public, because there are things I’d like to talk about that are too identifying. I may have gotten too close already- at least one person had IDed me, though thankfully she already knew most of what I write about.

    Unfortunately, there are still stigmas associated with special needs, so I can’t expose my family. Also, when my son outgrows enough of his symptoms to move into the “normal” community, I don’t want everyone in the world knowing what he used to deal with because of prejudices. If you know him and us, you know he’s awesome. If you’ve just searched to get my blog, and my daughter’s looking to get into high school… Not so simple.

    BTW, I’m looking into publishing some related things in print, and I’d need to use a pseudonym there too.

  13. MII, this is only semi-related, but what is the etiquette when you identify an anonymous blogger as a neighbor or acquaintance? Is it OK to say “I see you have a blog” or is it better to just keep quiet?

    • I want to point out that Tesyaa considers me an authority on blog etiquette.
      For the semi-anon blogs like Mrs. S. or ProfK, I imagine it would be okay. For others, you might want to let them know that they are not as anonymous as they think. Any other opinions?

  14. I’m okay with everyone knowing who I am, but there are times I want to write about something personal, whether it be about my kids, my husband, or some dark thought going through my mind. Sometimes I edit myself in terms of language and humor that may be slightly off-color. So in terms of that it would be helpful to be anonymous.

    But I do think that you lose credibility by being anonymous. Sure if noone knew who I was I could basically say anything I liked. Having to edit myself keeps me more responsible to the blog and to my readers.

    Because of the privacy thing, I do sometimes write without posting–keep it as draft. This way it’s there, and who knows in the future I may decide to publish it, or more likely show it to my kids…

  15. For me, being semi-anonymous is a good fit. I still have to be careful and responsible when I write, because anyone who knows me in real life should be able to figure out my identity quite easily. But the [very] thin veneer of anonymity affords me – and my family – some welcome privacy.

  16. I began my blog as a way to keep friends and family aware of what was going on in my life so anonymity wasn’t an option. I too self-censor at times as I’m very aware that what goes online, stays online and I don’t want it to come back and bite me in the butt. But this can be a good habit and I have friends I can vent to in real life so it’s okay. I like the fact that people can find me – Baila and I hooked up again because she got to my blog through someone (yours, I think) and realized she knew me. Sometimes I think long and hard before I decide to “come out” to the blogosphere like when I posted about the death of my daughter but I’ve had only good reactions to my blogging so I’m fine with being known.

  17. I’m semi anon as well (go by my first name) and I like that as well.

  18. I’m happy I’m anon. No regrets here.

  19. I use a nom de plume but it’s not so much for the purposes of being anonymous as it is for creating some distance for my readers between me and the words I pen. I want the concentration on the postings, not on the persona. Plenty of people who already know who I am or who can figure it out fairly simply by details that are in my postings. Still, posting anonymously does provides a slight wall between who I may be in whatever real life situation you may know me in and what I write, a separation I feel works to the benefit of what I write.

    I believe I’m just as careful to avoid undue ranting or truth stretching while being anonymous as I would be were my name known. For me, personal character doesn’t change just because my “real” name is not on the blog. Actually, my blog name is just another one of the “real” names that various people know me as. We all have a multitude of names, depending on our relationships to others. Why should using the Internet be any different? I don’t believe my readers have lost out on anything essential, nor have I, in not having my birth name on my writing.

  20. Interesting post. I personally like to stay anonymous but I have let a few close friends know about the blog. It’s not a huge deal to me when people find out about it, but it does inhibit my writing… I battle against this and try to forget about who’s reading. My parents, for instance, do read it, but I’ve asked them not to comment because I find it very unnerving for some reason.

    Good luck with NaBloPoMo! You should join our group “Blogging Abroad”… we’d love to have you.

  21. Greetings from ‘Blogging Abroad’ group!

    I’m anon. because I don’t want curious ex-coworkers etc. to sneak my life.
    They talk about people enough on Facebook. I’m not in Fb any more. Had enough of that.
    I don’t want to share my family/private life.
    Except my breast cancer. But that’s different.

    But I have met couple of bloggers. I write emails every now and then with couple. So you can connect people behind the anon. if you really want.

    Have a nice day!

  22. My real name is for Facebook. I wouldn’t feel so free blogging about work and my students and maybe other topics if I blogged under my real name. Teaching is a very public job so I like to keep some things private.

  23. I find the question and the comments interesting.

    I am “quasi-anonymous.” I use my first name and my husband’s first name, but I don’t include our last name or our children’s names.

    I have linked to articles that mention my full name, and I publicize my blog, so with the slightest effort, anyone who wants to know can find out who we are.

    Still, I feel that not referring to my kids by name gives them somewhat of an added layer of protection (read: privacy).

    The only disadvantage that I have is that there are things I cannot write about — like huge fights or my kids feelings. But the advantages of being open and honest far outweigh the disadvantages.

    One of the main purposes of my blog is to let family and friends know how I am doing. I could not do that if I was anonymous. I write about cancer, so I can spend my time talking about other things!

  24. btw, I still can’t find the button to receive notification of follow up comments

  25. Getting back to long overdue comment reply:
    Staying Afloat: This is what did it for me. I wanted recognition for my writing, and the thought of having to publish under a pseudonym or disconnect from this blog made me put my name to the blog.
    Christine and BLOGsite: Thanks for visiting. Interesting to see what others are doing. We are all fascinated with cross-cultural differences.

  26. B”H

    Ima2Seven suggested I check your blog out for tips on enhancing my brand new blog.

    For me, the most helpful tips you posted related to building the Community. Thanks

    My Blog has 3 objectives: 1. To make available our Multi-media ‘Kosher’ Library’s Inventory (we ship world wide, see blog for details) 2. To provide infomation about CDs, Books, DVDs, etc and 3. To provide valuable links….sort of being ‘The Source’ (ahhh I do miss Fortunoffs:):)

    I’m wondering if you have any tips for creating focus and flow to my Blog.

    May you have a Shabbat filled with Menuha and a Joyous Purim.