The question I receive so often from people is, “I want to set up a blog, but I don’t want to use my real name. Is it okay if I blog anonymously?”
I think it is entirely possible to have a successful blog without sharing a lot of personal details — or even your first and last name! However, I want you to think long-term when making this decision whether this is what is best for your brand.
If people don’t know your name and they don’t recognize your face, will that hurt your brand? Can you build a successful brand without a strong personality?
My completely honest belief is that, in many cases, you can build a successful brand and business without putting your name and face out there. But, in most cases, your brand and blog will be much more successful if you are willing to at least share some of yourself online.
People Follow Bloggers; Not Blogs
Why? Because people want to follow other people. They don’t follow blogs; they follow bloggers. And if they are following you — not your blog — they will go wherever you take them.
For instance, my friend, Tsh, made the decision to stop blogging and pursue podcasting instead. She’s not shutting down her blog, but she’s no longer personally updating it, except on rare occasions. She had built up a strong following and because people felt like they knew her and know her family, they were happy to follow her over to her podcast.
But I know that there is a lot that Tsh doesn’t share online. She protects her kids, she’s careful what she puts out there, and there’s a lot that goes on in their family life that she doesn’t share for privacy reasons and because that’s not what her platform is about necessarily.
Another friend of mine, Kayla Aimee, doesn’t even use her last name online. Her husband is a private person and she wants to respect this, so she’s really cautious with what she puts out online — including the decision to not share their last name. Her books are even published with just her first and middle name!
But she shares much more freely about her kids online than Tsh does. In fact, that’s a big part of what she writes about. However, she choose to do so without sharing their last name and without sharing a lot of details about her husband.
Both of these women are very successful as bloggers and business women and authors. Both of them have built up very loyal followings. And both of them have made very different choices in their own boundaries for what they share online. And it works for them!
Why I Don’t Blog Anonymously
I have taken a different approach in how I blog. I could have chosen to be be pretty incognito on MoneySavingMom.com and just share money-saving advice and great deals. But I believe I would never have built up the following that I have there if I hadn’t shared more about our home and family and life.
Many people feel like they know my kids and they feel like we are good friends — and I’ve never met them! They are loyal, faithful followers who will read pretty much whatever blog I start (well, within reason!) or book I write or course I produce because they have a strong connection to me that was built from many years of them following my pictures and posts and stories and journey online.
That said, there are many, many things I choose not to share online that other people feel comfortable doing so. You have to decide what your own blogging boundaries are.
So, with this in mind, let’s talk about your blogging boundaries…
Define Your Blogging Boundaries
I believe that an important part of really creating your brand and finding your voice is to define specific boundaries for your content. I want to challenge you from the get-go to decide what you will blog about and what you won’t blog about.
Many people make the mistake of not clearly defining their boundaries — and then they end up putting something out on the internet that they regret in a big way.
So save yourself the heartache and frustration now by asking yourself the following 3 questions:
1. What will you share about your family?
Some bloggers prefer to leave their personal family details out of their blogs for different reasons, including protecting their family’s privacy. Other bloggers like to share certain details about their family in order to connect better with their audience.
This is entirely based on preference and also might be based upon occupations or family situations. (e.g. You are a foster parent or a step-parent or work in law enforcement.)
I personally enjoy sharing certain details about my family in order to connect better with my readers and encourage them in their own personal family lives. There is, however, things on my “will not” list when it comes to my family and my content.
For instance, I will not divulge any information that has been shared with me in confidence in order to protect my family’s privacy. Also on my “will not” list is not speaking about any personal struggles or lessons my family members are going through. If it’s not my story to tell, I don’t tell it. Protecting the privacy of those I love outweighs clicks and pageviews.
When it comes to personal information involving others (including your spouse and your children!), always get their input before you share online. If I’m sharing something online that involves my husband or kids, I ask them to approve it before I share it. We also regularly talk about what they are okay with me sharing online in general.
I also think carefully about my kids and their futures. Maybe a story or photo would be funny to share now, but in ten years from now, when a potential employer is Googling them, it could hurt them.
2. Will you use your kids’ real names or give them aliases?
The internet can be a really amazing place to learn and discover new things. However, no matter how great of a tool it is for us bloggers, there are always things to consider when it comes to the safety and privacy of those you love — especially your children.
Some bloggers choose to create aliases for their children so when they share about them on the blog, no one knows their real names. Other bloggers (like myself) opt to share the names of their children with their audience. This, again, is based entirely on preference.
3. Will you share details about your everyday life?
Before you share anything online, ask yourself: “Are there details here that could give information out I don’t feel comfortable sharing publicly?” For instance, I don’t believe you should ever share pictures of the front of your house or share specific details on where you live or where your kids go to school or details so that people would know that you are always at a certain place at a certain time every week. This is just being wise.
I also think it’s important to be careful what pictures you post of your kids. Unfortunately, there are child predators out there and you don’t want to share anything that would in any way cause issues for your kids.
So make sure they are always fully clothed in pictures, don’t share things about them you aren’t good with the whole world knowing, and just be careful. Don’t live in fear, but do be thoughtful.
I hope these questions and thoughts help you decide what works for you and your family when it comes to privacy and what boundaries you need or want to have in place as a blogger.
Remember: You don’t have to share your last name or your kid’s real names, you don’t have to share where you live or where you or your spouse work, you can be very careful about what photos you share online and what personal details you give out. Not sharing those details will not hinder your success as a blogger.
However, you do want to make sure to connect with your audience in a personal way. This might be through live video or sharing some pictures or some personal details or sharing some of your home and family life. Sharing in a personal way like this will build a trust relationship between you and your reader and allow you an opportunity to speak into their lives that you wouldn’t have if they didn’t feel like they had that bond with you.
This is a snippet from my course, Branding Basics 101? Learn more about how you can create, establish, and protect your unique blog brand by enrolling now!