Let's be frank here. If you want to find out something about a person, you can easily Google their name and discover a couple of facts about them. I think that's kind of creepy, but that's the world that we live in.
Keeping this in mind, complete strangers could potentially find information about you once you become a blogger. This fact might understandably overwhelm you. Which might be making you feel like blogging isn’t really your thing.
If you're uncomfortable with putting your full name and personal information out there and are thinking about blogging anonymously, I have a couple of tips for you.
How to Blog Anonymously:
1. Use your first name only
2. Only use photos that you haven't used anywhere else
3. Always pay for domain privacy
4. Use a pseudo name you've never used before
5. Set up an LLC that doesn't include your name
Can you build a blogging business anonymously?
I'll be totally honest with you; I've seen a lot of bloggers in my time. I've watched both peers of mine and students from my courses, and I can tell you that the ones that grow the fastest and have the most success aren't the ones that are blogging anonymously.
They are typically the bloggers that are blogging publicly. They're sharing their names and pictures of themselves and they're not hiding behind the keyboard.
But, putting our names out there and putting out a picture, can be really nerve-wracking. I personally do not believe that anyone can be quite as successful blogging 100% anonymously as they would be if they were blogging publicly.
However, the good news is, I think there is a happy medium.
Take comfort in the fact that you can be a successful blogger but still not share your first and last name and other personal details about yourself.
FRIENDLY SIDE NOTE: If you are uncomfortable with the idea of starting a blog and having your name or picture out there, then you probably shouldn't have social media accounts either.
If you have a Facebook account, Instagram account, or any of those other social media accounts, you are putting your information out there. So, if you have social media but don't want to start a blog, remember you're already more exposed then you might even realize
Pros and Cons of Blogging Anonymously
Just like everything in this world, there are both pros and cons to blogging anonymously. Before jumping into starting your blog one way or the other, you'll want to think through the information below.
Pros of Anonymous Blogging
The most obvious benefit of blogging anonymously is that no one knows who you are. Some bloggers really enjoy the freedom that this anonymity gives them.
When they aren't worried that their family or friends will know that they are the one writing, they have the freedom to be completely open.
If you blog about really personal topics like finances or relationships, not having your personal information out there might make it easier for you to share.
Or even if you want to share income reports, you might not be comfortable with people knowing how much you make each month. But, if they don't know who you are and can't find out who you are, then it's less of a big deal.
Some bloggers choose to blog anonymously because they are shy. However, when they are behind the keyboard and no one knows it's them they seem to come alive in a way that they aren't able to when people know who they are.
Or, they do it because they want to protect, not only their own identity, but that of their family as well.
Cons of Blogging Anonymously
The biggest con of blogging anonymously is that it can make it harder for your readers to connect with you. People connect with people. If you aren't letting them know who you are, there will be a gap there.
People love having a name and a face to associate with the blogs and businesses that they follow.
It's also really hard to keep things separate. When you're blogging anonymously you have to be extra careful that you aren't putting in too much personal detail. This could cause you to rethink some blog posts or how to approach them.
I've seen it described as a type of Superman/Clark Kent situation. You have to work really hard to make sure that you aren't getting everything confused.
If you are blogging with the goal that you would like to get paid as a freelance writer in the future, it's hard to prove that it's your work.
When you slap your name all over your blog potential clients can see that you are behind the blog. When it's anonymous, they might not trust that it's your work.
And, finally, when you don't share your identity, it's hard to celebrate your wins. When you try to keep your identity a secret online you probably aren't going to want to spread the word in your personal life that much either.
That could lead to your identity accidentally being revealed when you don't want it to be. But, building a blogging business is a lot of work and it's hard when you can't share your excitement about it with others.
5 Tips for Blogging Anonymously
Do you still want to blog anonymously? No judgment here! Some people have some real reasons why they want to blog on the down low even if they have to deal with the cons. And, that's perfectly OK.
So, if that's you, here are 5 tips to help you build your blogging business anonymously:
1. Use your first name only
Simply eliminate your last name from your blog. This can make it harder for people to connect the dots.
Or, if you have a shortened version of your name that you can use, do it. For example, if your name is Katherine, you could go by Kat or Katy.
This allows your readers to still feel like they're connecting with a person. They don't have to know your last name to build a relationship with you. They still "see" a person behind the blog.
2. Use a photo of yourself or an avatar that hasn’t been previously shared
I’ve talked before about how people can do a Google reverse image search of the image you use on your site.
So, if you put a picture of the front of your house on your blog, they can take a screenshot of it, search it, and potentially find old real estate listings. That means they would have your address!
You need to keep this in mind for every image if you are blogging anonymously. If you share a picture on your blog that you also shared on social media, people can use that to find out who you are.
So, let's say you start a blog and don't use your first and last name. But then you use a photo that you've shared on your personal Facebook account before.
People could potentially get the Google result that the image was shared before on your social media profile.
This is why I never recommend sharing pictures of the outside of your home or your neighborhood or your child’s school or anything that could really give away your exact location.
There are plenty of creeps out there. Never forget that, and take the necessary precautions to protect you and your family.
I really want you guys to stay as safe as possible whether or not you are blogging anonymously. So, don't share any of the photos that you shared on social media previously.
3. Always pay for domain privacy protection
*I'm going to start this section with a side note: If you want to run a professional blogging business, then you need to have your own domain. That means you need to be YOURBLOGNAME.com. Not YOURBLOGNAME.wordpress.com or YOURBLOGNAME.blogger.com or anything else. This is one of the first steps to setting yourself up as a professional blogger and not a hobby blogger.
A lot of people don't realize this until it's too late, but when you purchase a domain, you are going to have to enter an email and phone number. This information is then available for anyone to see if they are finding out who owns the domain name. But, if you purchase the domain privacy protection, this information is not displayed.
Last time I looked, the cost of privacy protection was something like 99¢ a month. If privacy is really your concern, it's well worth the $12 a year to protect that information. And it is for me! I sure as heck don't want people to see my phone number.
Even if privacy isn't that important to you, I still feel that you should pay for the domain privacy protection as a blogger. You don't want random strangers to have your phone number. You have to remember that this information is public to the entire world once it goes online.
Perhaps you haven't purchased your domain yet. You can use my tutorial as a guide. I show you how to purchase your domain and set up your hosting. And, within the tutorial, I show you where you can check that box to purchase domain privacy protection.
4. Use a pseudo name you've never used before
A lot of my students and bloggers that I've run into over the years have used a different name. Kind of like a stage name or writer's name if you will.
If you're really concerned about privacy and decide to use a pseudo name, make sure it's a name that you've never used before.
So, you might think well, I used to be called [fill in your nickname] when I was a kid. But, who's going to put two and two together?
The answer is —people. People will probably be able to put two and two together. Especially if you grow enough that you become an influencer in your local area.
If that kind of thing makes you uncomfortable, you're definitely not going to want to use a name that's previously been connected to you at any other time.
I know this sounds like I'm trying to put you in witness protection. But, I have known bloggers that before becoming a blogger experienced stalker-like situations. And that's a very scary experience. So, if you have a situation like that, you definitely want to make sure that you start anew.
If you really want to keep your blogging world separate from your personal life, choose a name that you've never been called before.
5. Set up an LLC that doesn't include your name
If you truly want to run a blogging business for the long-term, and I'm talking years not months, and don't want to use your personal name, you can create an LLC. This stands for Limited Liability Company.
Don't let that overwhelm you. Remember you are starting a blogging business, not just a blog.
You can create any type of business name you want, as long as it's available. Then, when you work with affiliates and partners or hire out certain tasks, it will all be under your LLC name. You won't have to put your name, address, or social security number on anything.
If you want more information on how to get an LLC or if you really need one, talk to a local business attorney or you can listen to the Law & Wit podcast for creative entrepreneurs: Do You Need an LLC? It has some good resources for how to handle the legal side of your business.
Can you make money from an anonymous blog?
OK, so you know you want to blog anonymously, and you have the tips on how to succeed in doing that, but can you really make money like that?
I'm not going to say it's going to be as easy, but you can definitely make money blogging, even blogging anonymously. And, there are a lot of different ways that you can earn income as a blogger.
Passive Income vs. Active Income
You can make money through passive income like creating an online course, putting ads on your blog, or working with affiliates to promote their products.
Or, you can choose streams of active income. This could be offering one-on-one coaching services to your readers or writing paid guest posts for others.
You can tell the difference between the two based on the work you put into them and the money you earn from that work. If you are trading time for money, such as online coaching, then it's active income. But, if you create something or do some work and then continue to make money from it over and over again, that's passive income.
Many blogging businesses use a combination of passive and active income streams to reach their financial goals. You can see examples of how I make money blogging at my income reports below:
If you want to keep learning about growing your income as a blogger make sure to subscribe to the Allison Lindstrom YouTube channel, where I share tips and strategies on how to grow a blogging business.
How do you blog safely?
If you are debating blogging anonymously, it's most likely for safety reasons. There are ways that you can use your name when blogging and still keep yourself safe. In my post Internet Safety Tips for Moms Who Blog & Influencers, I shared tips about how to do just that. A few of the tips that I shared included:
Don't share information about your child's schools (including any school mascots or logos)
Don't check-in on social media when you've arrived somewhere
Never share pictures of where you live
Keeping safety in mind when running a blogging business is crucial. It's not just about your safety, it's about the safety of your family as well. You don't want to overshare and have the wrong person get ahold of your personal information.
Yes, there are bad people in the world. But, there are also just people that don't understand boundaries. It might not be that they have bad intentions, they just don't understand when they have crossed the line. You don't want to deal with either group of people if you don't have to.
How can I promote my blog without social media?
I get that social media is all the rage these days. But, I've found that it can also be very distracting to my productivity levels.
Everyone interacts differently with social media. But I've managed to succeed while only giving it a small percentage of my attention and energy.
I have been very successful at using Google, Pinterest, and YouTube as my main sources of traffic. While Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be helpful, they are not 100% necessary. Your goal is to get people to your blog and you can accomplish that by focusing on SEO.
By implementing a good SEO strategy, you can have your readers coming to you instead of having to spend time constantly trying to connect with them on social media. If you need tips on how to incorporate SEO into your blog, check out my post, SEO Tips for Bloggers.
If you find that you are constantly falling down the rabbit hole and getting lost in social media, take a break. See if you can spend that time in other areas that will be more successful in bringing traffic to your site.
Can I really be a successful blogger if I blog anonymously?
Over the past couple of years, time and again this question has come up. I'm quite frank when I respond to these questions. It's not a matter of whether or not you can be successful. I think that anyone probably could.
Blogging anonymously is a more difficult road!
It's not so much about choosing "Do I want to be this successful on the path of blogging anonymously or successful on this other path by blogging publicly?" Instead, it's more of a decision of "Do I want the road to be especially difficult or a normal level of difficulty?"
One of the ways that we grow as a blogger is by humanizing our brand and really connecting on a personal level with our readers.
Now, that doesn't mean that we have to list out our birthday and home address. That's not what I'm talking about when I say "connecting on a personal level".
It's really just more about humanizing your brand. You guys know Allison Lindstrom as having my face and my hand gestures (Not sure what I mean? Watch the video above to see how expressive I can be haha).
You can also hear my voice. And, if you've followed me long enough, you know personal tidbits about my life. I like connecting with you guys on that personal level.
If someone is blogging 100% anonymously, it's hard to humanize the brand because there is no human there. It's completely anonymous, so it's hard for readers to remember who they are.
Think about the difference between talking with someone face-to-face compared to through an email. You may remember some of what was emailed, but it's harder to remember exactly what went on in that conversation than if you had it with them face to face. See the difference?
You have to decide if blogging anonymously is right for you
It's a lot easier to humanize and grow your blogging brand if people know who you are. But, in the end, it's 100% up to you.
I'm not going to tell you that you can't succeed at growing a profitable blogging business if you don't use your name and picture. Because that's not true. But, keep in mind that if you choose that path, you are choosing a more complicated one.
It will be harder for you to grow. And, your journey to success will likely take longer than it would have otherwise. But, maybe you are totally fine with that and that's the route that you want to take.
Remember, this is YOUR blogging business, so the choice is yours. But, I feel that it's so important for me to tell you bluntly and honestly about all the experiences that I've seen. This way, you can make a truly educated guess and decide what path is good for you.
Do you blog anonymously? Or have you in the past? Share your personal experiences in the comments below.