Blogging can be a great way to make a living that’s much more rewarding—and significantly less demanding—than the 9-to-5 grind.
Yet many people who want to start a blog get scared off of doing so because they’re not keen on showing their faces online, and they think that there’s no way to pull it off without having to do so.
Suppose you’re one of them:
Perhaps you want to start a blog, but you don’t want your boss and colleagues to see it for one reason or another.
Or maybe you’re just a private person who has plenty to say on a topic that you’re passionate about, but you don’t want to put your identity for everyone out there to see.
Is there such a thing as blogging anonymously, especially if your blog becomes popular on social media and, over time, starts to reel in thousands of organic visitors from search engines?
You can blog anonymously by coming up with a pen name, using a stock photo for your “About” page and social media accounts, and setting up privacy protection for your blog’s domain name.
You’d be surprised by the number of bloggers who prefer to write under a pen name. And it’s not because they’re scammy or shady. There are all sorts of people on the Internet and a thousand reasons not to make your true identity—and your personal life—open to the public.
Coming Up With a Pen Name
Some bloggers and YouTubers, like Chris from Niche Safari, only reveal their first names. I’ve also come across married female bloggers who prefer to blog under their maiden name.
If you want to come up with a pen name that’s nothing like your real name, you can use tools like Fake Name Generator, which can spew out countless ideas for pen names for you with the click of a button.
Obviously, coming up with a pen name has a couple of ethical considerations you’d probably want to think about before you get started blogging:
First and foremost, do you plan to openly disclose the fact that you’re publishing under a pen name on your blog’s “About” page, or do you prefer to keep that fact to yourself?
Personally, I think that both ways are equally ethical, as long as you don’t misuse your pen name to mislead readers with false claims or come up with credentials or expertise that you don’t have in real life.
Second, will you create separate social media accounts to give your pen name social proof, or are you thinking about blogging without building any social media presence at all?
I know of many Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube accounts whose owners haven’t shared a single photo of themselves (or who have been intentionally reluctant to do so) yet have thousands of engaged and loyal followers.
Putting a Face to the Name
Whether you end up creating social accounts for your pen name or not, it’s a good idea to put some kind of face to it. Generally speaking, there are four ways you can go about this. You can either:
- Use a real photo of yourself that’s taken from a distance;
- Use an app like Facetune to “augment” a picture of yourself;
- Use a vector avatar, hand drawing, or pencil sketch of yourself;
- Use a stock photo with someone else’s face on it.
At the end of the day, which one you end up going for depends on your preference for privacy. Some of us may feel fine about sharing a picture of ourselves with sunglasses on; others would go for a stock photo on any day.
Setting Up Privacy Protection for Your Domain
Getting a top-level domain name (for example, yourblog.com) for your blog is an absolute must.
I mean, who trusts a blog on a sub-domain of Blogger or WordPress.com nowadays? Even search engines have fallen out of love with them and are deranking them from their results pages.
But unless you buy privacy protection for your domain name, anyone will be able to look up your personal name and home address (or your firm’s name and headquarters) using a so-called registration data lookup tool.
The good news is that every service provider that sells domain names (they’re called domain registrars) also sells an add-on service called privacy protection that only costs a few bucks a year.
Privacy protection lists your blog’s domain registration to your registrar’s legal entity, effectively hiding your personal details (or the details of your business) from domain ownership lookup tools.
There’s more than one reason to buy privacy protection for every domain name you own—and they go beyond not wanting to show your name, face, and home address to the public.
For example, this also protects your mail address, email inbox, and phone number from getting a ton of spam messages or unsolicited calls.
Registering a Company
If you create a company that owns your blog, all of its assets—domain name, hosting, tools—will be registered and billed to your company’s name.
Depending on where you live and what kind of company you set up, this can not only give you tax advantages, limitation of liability, and personal asset protection, but help keep your name, face, and home address private (or at least not as public).
You’ll probably need this if you want to build an email list. All email tools require you to enter a mailing address that gets shown to your subscribers (and that gets archived on the public web).
Even if you don’t have an office, which is probably the case when you’re first setting a company up, you can use a package and mail forwarding service to get a third-party address and list it as your company’s correspondence address whenever someone asks.
Don’t Confuse Privacy With Anonymity
An important shout-out to my fellow bloggers in countries that may be tracking their activity online: the tools and tactics here can give you extra privacy, but they won’t give you anonymity.
If you’re worried that what you have to say may step on a government body’s feet and may get you in trouble, consider using a VPN service that hides your IP address and consult with a security specialist to understand all of the precautions that you need to take to preserve your freedom.