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5 Reasons to Blog Anonymously (and 5 Reasons Not To)

This guest post is by Phil (not his real name) of somehighschoolblog.

It used to be impossible to run a business anonymously. Sure, some authors could pull it off, but if you worked at an office, what were you supposed to do? Go to work with a bag over your head? But today anyone can accomplish this, because anyone can author a blog (and you thought I was going to tell you to work with a mask on, or something).

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Depending on your motives, you may or may not have considered blogging anonymously. You probably didn’t contemplate blogging anonymously if:

• your only motivation is to become “famous”
• your blog connects to another part of your life
• you are blogging to build more connections with your friends or boss.

You should consider blogging anonymously if:

• you’re planning on touching on a sensitive or taboo subject
• you don’t want to be identified with your blog
• you are worried about negative real-world consequences that could arise from your blog.

If you’ve already started your blog, it is too late to change to an anonymous persona (but you can always create another blog). However, if you are thinking of blogging anonymously, you should consider these points.

Reasons to blog anonymously

The concept of anonymity has always held a special enchantment for some people, and, for others it is purely practical. Whatever your blog topic, there are a five strong reasons to blog anonymously.

No pressure

If no one knows the “real you,” then they can’t tell you, in person, any thoughts they have on your blog. This means that no one will be able to make fun of, disagree strongly with, or ask to be featured on (using peer pressure) your blog. If your blog is a total flop, you won’t be publicly embarrassed.

While I wouldn’t advise disregarding your manners and morals, you don’t have to worry about close acquaintances or family members being offended by your posts.

A fresh start

Creating an anonymous identity also allows you to create a new character, if you so choose. Let’s say you are working full-time as an auto mechanic, but you are trying to create a blog on entrepreneurship. Your readers might not think you could be an authority on this subject as an auto mechanic, but an anonymous identity removes this doubt.

Instead, you could create a back-story to fit your blog; for this case, it could be something about how your latest entrepreneurial project is to build a blog anonymously.

You’re shy or unsure

Were you one of those people who is unwilling to put yourself on a blog for all to see, you should choose to blog anonymously. This way, you can hide behind a fake identity and not worry about what others think (similar to there being no pressure). You could also use anonymity to discover how people will react to your content before associating yourself with your content.

It’s a gimmick

Blogging anonymously might fit your content. For example, if you were to start a blog involving content that you received anonymously. Also, blogging anonymously places a shroud of mystery around the author and limits your personality to how you network and write your blog.

Additionally, you could make it into a marketing scheme, such as offering to reveal your true identity after reaching a certain number of subscribers.

Reasons not to blog anonymously

As an anonymous blogger who uses a pseudonym, I’ve been able to experience many of the negative aspects of choosing to remain anonymous firsthand. However, I have not yet encountered any one thing that was impossible to work around or ignore, so I have remained an anonymous blogger.

It’s harder to build traffic

Some of the initial things that many blogs recommend new bloggers do to build traffic cannot be done anonymously, and, thus, must be ignored or adapted to anonymity. For instance, many of the tips here and around the web encourage you to put your link in your email signature.

The only thing I use my anonymous e-mail address for is my blog, so this is redundant (it would be odd to have it in my real email). Also, linking to your blog from your Facebook page or Twitter account ruins your anonymity.

And, while you can (hopefully) trust your family not to share your blog’s identity, you can’t tell your friends or acquaintances to check out your blog and to spread the word, which is a great initial traffic builder.

More pressure

This is the exact opposite of “No Pressure,” but depending on what type of person you are, blogging anonymously could actually be more stressful than blogging as yourself.

You have to constantly watch yourself to make sure your anonymous identity never reveals your true identity (even in something as simple as signing your name to an e-mail) and vice-versa. Often, extra measures must be taken to ensure anonymity, and, while I won’t delve in to all of those, you must always check when giving any real information that it is not easily accessible.

Take this into account when creating user profiles for services or when registering a domain name (but you can choose to keep your information private for an extra $10 in this case).

No real-life connection

Since you can’t tell your friends about your blog, you can’t ever reference your blog in conversation.

You will need to depend on the digital world for feedback, and there will be no “Did you like my last post?” conversations. Instead, you will have to rely entirely on comments to gain a sense of how your readers feel about your blog.

The truth always appears

In such an interconnected society, if enough people put effort into it, they will discover your true identity. If/when this happens, you need to consider whether or not your readers will feel betrayed or angry towards you. You should consider this even if you plan on going public with your identity yourself at some point.

Feeling a loss of accountability

Many people think blogging anonymously protects them from whatever they write, so they are incredibly rude, untruthful, or worse. You should always know that people can find your true identity, and it is just plain useless to write this way. After all, no one will want to read it.

Furthermore, though, (and I can attest to this) it may sometimes be easier to excuse not posting for an extra few days, or not pursuing a guest-posting opportunity, because no one holds you accountable but yourself (no inquiries from friends or family). Therefore, you must be responsible and motivated to successfully blog anonymously.

Should you blog anonymously?

While there are both pros and cons to blogging anonymously, I feel that the negatives don’t outweigh the positives in certain situations. Each blogger is different, but, in my case, it is the lessened pressure combined with the creation of a new character that led me to blog anonymously.

Also, because it is harder to build initial traffic with previous connections, I think it is more challenging to build an anonymous blog (therefore, any experienced bloggers looking for a new project should try building a blog with an anonymous persona, disregarding any previous connections they’ve accumulated).

Do you have any experience, or advice for those thinking of blogging anonymously?

Using the pseudonym of Phil, Phil is a high school freshman who writes for, markets, and manages a humor blog about all aspects of high school life. Phil is unsure of what career he wants to pursue, but a few possibilities can be found here.

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Comments

  1. stephen says:

    I’ve always figured blogging anonymously was a pointless exercise, and usually done so by people writing purely to antagonise others. So thanks for another point-of-view on why people might choose that option.

    • Phil says:

      Sure, Stephen. I’m glad that this post was informative. I don’t know about the majority of anonymous bloggers, but I can tell you that I write to do the opposite of antagonizing people-I write to make them laugh.

    • I blog anonymously because of my day job. They wouldn’t get it and I need to protect my income. Everyone Google’s everyone in my industry and I don’t need my blog popping up.

  2. Nico says:

    I blog anonymously because my topic is sensitive and I want to protect the identity of my immediate family. I have no motivation what-so-ever to antagonize anyone. My blog is strictly for my healing. For a short time, I wanted followers, so I began to follow others who were going through similar things. I did get some followers. But, now it does not matter to me. I have very few followers and this allows me to keep my blog honest with my feelings and the reason I started the blog in the first place–to vent, to help me heal through writing.
    Thank you for this post. I am so glad I read it!!

    • Phil says:

      You’re very welcome, Nico. It is always good to know that there are other anonymous bloggers who defy the expectation that one does so because one wants to be antagonistic.

  3. …I Don’t Like when people blog anonymously…

    …see what I did there?

  4. Ian Dolby says:

    Why do we hang up when we receive an anonymous phone call, yet we give some credibility to anonymous posts or blogs? Oh, that’s right. My mistake – it’s written!

    • Phil says:

      While I see your point, I think there is a difference with the phone call and the blog. With a phone call, the person can easily hang up and never be found. With a blog, the writer returns often to post new content.
      With a phone call, the caller isn’t held as accountable for their actions as a blogger, because the blogger is trying to build their blog; this means that it isn’t a one time deal.

      The blogger isn’t just going to post one article and stop returning, where as you usually won’t receive an anonymous phone call every couple days for a year.

  5. Vago Damitio says:

    This isn’t really me…oh wait, yes it is…but wait…what if it’s me pretending not to be me or someone else pretending not to be me?

  6. Leah says:

    I’m actually considering starting a new blog that would require me to be anonymous. For the reason that the subject matter is very sensitive in nature and I need to protect my family, but at the same time wanting to be of help to others with information that could be provided. So I agree with all the pro & cons. Great input. I think my main concern is that an IP address can still be found by someone who really wants to. This is what we need to figure out to make sure safety and privacy are priority.

    • Phil says:

      I wish you luck if you decide to start an anonymous blog, Leah. I didn’t really cover the technical aspects of staying anonymous, but I know that there are things like proxies and such that you can look into (and private domain registration).

  7. I’ve never considered blogging anonymously. I may get it a try if I want to play some kind of experimental game, unseriously..

    I would have said I don’t like to read an anonymous blog, but I read blogtyrant. However to build a stronger relationship, the really face just needs to be there..
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. I feel like blogging anonymously is setting yourself up for failure unless you are blogging with a pseudonym, which kind of makes you anonymous. Anonymity is what fuels the internet Trolls. It would also be hard to build a trusting community which I think is the best part of blogging. Unless you are airing dirty little secrets or allowing others to do so like Post Secrets then there are to many pit falls in anonymous blogging.

    • Phil says:

      I guess I agree with you, Lavall, in that, yes, it would be extremely difficult to blog with absolutely no face. I do blog pseudonymously, so it is not as difficult as blogging completely anonymously.

  9. I guess it is different from person to person. But I want to add some personality to my blog so that my readers get to know me as well as my blog and I build a little bit of “superstardum” once my blog grow.

    • Phil says:

      I can understand you wanting to add personality, but I think I’ve managed to do that fairly well for blogging under a pseudonym. After all, most readers won’t ever meet you in person, so all they know of you is what’s on your blog. As long as you can convey personality in writing, I don’t think that it matters as much what the name at the top says.

  10. Cody says:

    I’ve recently considered blogging anonymously so this post was great help. Although I do use my real name and even a picture of myself on my blog. I refuse to ever mention the name of a family member or friend.

    I go as far as t not even tweet at certain people I know and I use a locked personal twitter list that only I can see.

    One day when I have kids and my life is more focused around family, I will probably go the route that Darren uses and refer to them with letters such as his wife “V.”

    • Phil says:

      I’m glad that you got so much value out of this post, Cody. That would be an interesting path to take, I suppose, if you only used first letters of names.

  11. I choose not do blog anonymously. I feel that showing off who I am and what I do helps be build trust for myself and my services. It also allows you to establish connections with other bloggers in your niche, partnerships and so on.

    • Phil says:

      I do believe that it would be much more difficult to blog anonymously if you were trying to “sell” yourself, products, or services. However, I have still managed to connect with other bloggers in my niche by e-mail, and with a fair amount of success (at least for a new blogger), as you can see on my press page.

  12. Brad says:

    Blogging anonymously in high school may be all the rage these days and I’m sure it helps avoid Facebook and Twitter insults, but as an adult, cyber-bullying really doesn’t exist.

    Just keep on writing kid and when you reveal yourself, life will be a hell of a lot cooler.

    • Phil says:

      Thanks for the tip, Brad (although I’m not really blogging anonymously to avoid cyber-bullying). And although it would be cool if every high schooler started an anonymously blog, it isn’t really “the rage” (at least, not in how I would think of the word).

  13. CMcKane says:

    I don’t blog anonymously *exactly* but use two fictional characters who banter about fictionalized facts. I’m in the process of redoing the blog and one reason is because it gets a bit bogged down and confusing and have had people think I am the mutant ant (main character) or her human sidekick. I do have have an author page as well as an about page though trying to explain it.

    Thanks for sharing this post and personally don’t have a problem with bloggers with pen names. But then again I am bias.

  14. se7en says:

    I blog anonymously… Our blog name has become pretty much a brand name and even our friends call us by our blog name. Recently our kids were featured on breakfast tv and the announcer just assumed their name was our blog name!!! I have to say I am not blogging anonymously to say awful things about my friends and family – “if you can’t say it to their face just don’t blog it.” I guess it is not friends and family I am trying to avoid. I have kids, I have a house and a home and we live in it and blog about it… and no I don’t want everybody stopping by to say hi. I don’t write about things that would compromise my kids character but I don’t want them to one day have a boss or someone even someone less-well-intentioned looking them up. That being said I know nothing is truly anonymous and anyone dedicated enough could probably find enough dots to connect names and locations, though I really would consider that to be totally disrespectful…

  15. Jason Moody says:

    For me, the only issue I have with blogging anonymously is that it will be harder to build up traffic. But then again, I always had that problem. I blog anonymously because of my family. Hell, my parents don’t even want me expressing my political views online, even though I have the right to.

    On the other hand, if my real identity is exposed, then it’s not THAT of a big deal, I will most likely continue what I’m doing anyway. Besides, the name that I’ve provided for you is a pen name. The reason why I choose that name is because my real name sounds too harsh.

  16. Vladimir says:

    I believe that the true blogger should always let people know their real name and who they are, because that is how people decide to become or not to become your dedicated reader…
    You know what I mean :)

  17. David says:

    I have two blogs (well, three, but two of them are roughly the same in two different languages), one not anonymous, and the other one is.

    The advantages I see at blogging anonymously is that I have more freedom to say whatever I feel like on the topic, rants included, as well as to tell some idiot commenters what I really feel about their lame comment (the tone of the blog is voluntarily controversial at times).
    Disadvantages are that it’s harder to connect with readers. While I do to a certain extent with some, it’s always somewhat limited to the topic of the blog.

    Blogging under my real name on the other hand make me think twice about what I write (which is usually a good thing, but sometimes I tend to self-censor myself too much) but I make real connections with readers, some of them becoming “internet friends” (I have even met a couple).

    Traffic-wise, the anonymous blog deals with a much more popular topic, so I get much more traffic than my personal blog. However, there isn’t much increase in that traffic (most of it coming from google? harder to promote it?), while my personal blogs grows nicely.

  18. Wow, what an interesting article and conversation!
    The internet is a special communication tool. With it, the voiceless are given a voice and the opportunity to regulate that voice. As a fairly prolific blogger at my company, Come Recommended, and guest blogger, I blog for the sake of sharing my opinion and establishing myself as an expert in the careers industry.

  19. Patrick says:

    It sounds like blogging anonymously would require a lot of work. It makes perfect sense when writing about really sensitive content or content that requires one to hide his/her identity but even with the extra effort your true idenitiy can eventually be found if people look hard enough.

    Interesting post

  20. cb says:

    I blog anonymously because I write about my work and I don’t think my employers would appreciate it. Also as a social worker, I work in a profession that seems to attract a lot of anger. I’m very glad that I can remain anonymous because I can share my thoughts about my profession while continuing to practice as a social worker.
    I’ve built a good readership, mostly other social workers in fact, and I think I can bring enough authenticity to the table but there has to be a place for people who have stories and for various reasons, cannot give them with their ‘real’ names.

  21. Bea Fields says:

    I believe that since we are living in a world that has suffered due to a lack of transparency that we should all be upfront about the person behind each blog post (this is a personal opinion only). I understand that we live in a world with ghostwriters and anonymous bloggers, but I always wonder who is behind the blog post when I don’t see a name.

    • Maria says:

      I would like to start to blOg and I have no clue how to blOg.

      I want to be anonymous bec I want to escape from the people Know but reach out To those I don’t know.

      So what do I do? I’m not hiding – I just want a fresh start.

    • Bea, maybe it’s a generational thing, but I don’t think the world has suffered due to a lack of transparency. If anything, the world (my world, anyway) has gone off the deep end putting on display every last unsavory personal detail merely because it can—via Facebook, Twitter and reality TV.

      My About section tells my readers relevant background on me—my cultural heritage, what I used to do for a living, what motivates me to blog now, how I am reinventing myself in midlife. The only thing I choose to keep private is my real name (and the top half of my face in my avatar.) If a reader still thinks I’m withholding, and doesn’t wish to follow my blog for that reason, he or she is not my target audience. I write for astute thinkers who don’t get tangled up in surface details.

  22. As a woman, I blog anonymously to reduce the chances of ever being stalked (I read the unfortunate experience of a fellow blogger and this confirmed that my decision works for me). My anonymity is limited to those who don’t know me personally—my readers across the globe. My friends, family, former and current co-workers, and Facebook friends all know it’s my blog because I use social media to publicize each new post. I write the way I speak, which is to say, politely, with satire, no cussing, but lots of sarcastic humor. I am opinionated but would never humiliate anyone on my blog, and I’ve already been found out by one reader–without any resulting regret.

    It wasn’t difficult to build my readership because when I commented on other blogs I used my pseudonym. It’s not something I hide behind for sinister reasons. It’s just a focused brand I created over the last few years. I used to ghostwrite for CEOs so I wanted to be able to write in my own voice without my opinions reflecting on my employers.

    • Phil says:

      It’s good to know that there are other people who are successfully building an anonymous blog (although using your own social media account does help to spread the word).

  23. Ibn Omar says:

    I’ve started anonymously but later put my name still most of my regular visitors don’t know me…thanks your article direct me to some points..

  24. Blog Rehab says:

    I started a new blog and it is anonymous so far. I think it’s working out fine at this point. I’m a former editor giving writing and grammar tips for bloggers and I wanted to get several more posts under my belt before “coming out.” I’ve only told a handful of friends yet. I know that people could figure it out. I didn’t think that it might be considered more negative than positive. Phil (and any others), I’d be curious if you think it would be better to reveal myself on the blog. Nothing is sensitive, I’m just going for a funny, retro vibe (I’m going to ditch the cartoon references) and I thought of myself as “scrappy 1940s girl reporter stuck in a soccer mom’s life.” It’s not a personal blog, but I’m definitely trying to inject humor and personality. Thanks for any insight. (I discovered Problogger.net right after starting my blog. I thought to myself, “maybe I shouldn’t even bother because they cover every conceivable blog tip.”) But I do have a mission and if you read the post titled “The Intervention Begins,” you’ll see it. http://www.blogrehab.com/2011/06/intervention-begins.html?spref=tw

    • Phil says:

      If I understand your question correctly, blog rehab, I’d have to say that I think if you choose to reveal your identity you should definitely do so on the blog itself than anywhere else. If you are asking whether or not you should continue blogging anonymously, I think that you can decide that better than anyone else.

  25. WebMarketingNinja says:

    Where’s the point about me getting fired if I don’t blog anonymously :)

  26. Retaining anonymity is not always for spreading animosity online. Sometimes, blogging anonymously is a necessity. In a society devoid of free speech, or if the topic automatically provokes disdain in said-society, revealing one’s true identity could jeopardize one’s peace of mind, if not one’s life altogether.

    I, personally, have befriended a few people who read my blog. We have Skype chats and all. So, anonymity is just a shield I use until I spend enough time getting to know my interlocutor. It’s all about connecting!

  27. I blog aNONYmously. Hence the name Nony. I agree with most of your points, especially that it is more difficult because you don’t have the jumpstart of sharing your project with friends and family.

    The most difficult thing I find is not being able to share why I am so busy during a particularly busy blogging period. I’m feeling deadline pressures, and yet for all anyone in my day to day world knows, I’m just a stay-at-home-mom.

    I don’t necessarily agree with not feeling accountable. My relationships with my readers provide plenty of accountability.

    The most difficult aspect for me has happened when I have revealed my blog to real-life friends. While some have been excited for me, there are some who are inexplicably offended. I haven’t figured out exactly why this is, but I think they feel a sense of betrayal that I have been leading a double-life.

    • Nony, I wonder if those among your friends who seemed offended are worried that some of the things they’ve said or done in your presence might someday find their way into your blog. Or they might envy you the mystery and excitement of blogging anonymously, especially if they think they are incapable of doing it themselves. I’m sure you’ll find the gap of friendship bridged by online friends who are more like-minded.

  28. There’s nothing wrong with Blogging anonymously but it won’t hurt to show your authority by letting people know the real you at some point. Blogging anonymously gives you an outlet.

    Dwight Anthony
    Financially Elite Blog dot Com

  29. James Greg says:

    The article surely supports to blog anonymously but this is not professionalism. This clearly points out that the writer may quit any time or might get involved in taboo writing which is just enough to drive away readers who wish to read blogs by an author who will be available always. The anonymous blogger is not a good concept in my view. This type of blogger’s personality is uncertain and the author is also seasonal.
    His next blog might be found with a new identity and the anonymous blogger has no restrictions to maintain ethics. I strongly oppose this kind of blogging and surely as already stated in the article credit for a good piece of writing cannot be gained while negative comments can be thoroughly enjoyed with out ever feeling guilty.

    • Phil says:

      I understand your position, but I think that one must always remember that for any blog to be read it must have readers. If, as you stated, the blogger disregards ethics, or quits at any time, then they will not have many readers, nor will they be regarded as an authority. Thus, if the anonymous blogger is actually trying to build a respectable blog, they will not be unethical or infrequent.

  30. If you blog anonymously it’s hard to build a brand.

    • Phil says:

      I agree that it could be harder because of the absence of a picture, but a brand is defined by actions, not words. Words and names just refer to the brand, so it is the actions of an anonymous blogger that can become the brand.

  31. I general I believe that unveiling the real you is a way better tactic in blogging. The audience wants to know who the author is, where the content is coming from and read a bit about the authors story as well. This is very helpful to put content into context.

    I acknowledge that there might be some fields / niches where writing anonymous will not be holding you back as a blogger. A tech blog giving advice on how to edit code to make features on your website work might be such an example. I normally don’t care where that info comes from. I consume it, judge for myself if that solution might be working for me and then implement it to see the result.
    On the other hand if I’d search for health related articles and advice I’d want to know who is helping me out. I’d like to get some info on the qualifications of the author.

    So, there are niches where it might be OK to blog anonymous but in overall you will do yourself and your blog a massive favor by being the real you and showing that to the world.

    My stats show that the “About” page is one of the pages getting the most hits on my website. Readers find my articles linked to somewhere on the net or via a search engine and on a hugh percentage the first click is to the “About” page. People are interested to find out who there are dealing with…

  32. I think it is good to blog anonymously because it can help you to protect your niches from getting exposed easily. That is if you’re using your blog to attract potential buyers to check out your offer.

  33. Glynis Jolly says:

    You have hit on something I haven’t considered before. This may give me the freedom I’ve been trying to obtain in my writing of posts.