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Should I Use a Pen Name as a Writer? | How to Make Money Writing Online (Day 4)

Hello everyone and welcome back to day FOUR of my mini course. If you’re back here for day four, thank you for joining in on this journey with me. As always, if you’re new then you can read along with us today or start from day one here.

You should use a pen name if you have a professional reputation that you don’t want to be tied to your writing. You may also want to prevent yourself being googled by family or potential employers. Otherwise, a pen name isn’t necessary and there are benefits to using your own name, too.

Here are some of the factors to consider when deciding whether or not to use a pen name as a writer.

This is day four of my 30-day writing series on how to make money writing online. You can find the other posts in this series, plus a list of all the resources listed in this series on the How to Make Money Writing Online page.

What Reasons Do People Have for Using a Pen Name?

There are a number of reasons someone might choose to use a pen name as a writer. Here are a few of the most common.

  • They have a professional reputation in another field attached to their real name. If you’re a lawyer, for instance, you may not want your beauty blog to appear above your law firm when people Google your name.
  • They want to hide their identity in a job search. In the age of the internet, employers are likely to Google you when interviewing for potential jobs. While it’s not right that someone may judge you based on your blog content, it’s understandable if you don’t want to take that risk.
  • They want to hide their identity from their family and friends. Writing can be daunting at first and you might want to hide it from the people you know in real life. I understand that. Pen names make it less likely they’ll find you.
  • They want to write about two separate topics and don’t want the two associated with one another. Much like the first point, if you write about a serious topic and also want a “just for fun” blog, a pen name means you won’t be linked to both.

What Reasons Do People Have for Not Using a Pen Name?

There are a few reasons you might want to use your real name instead. Here are a few of those reasons.

  • They are writers by profession. If you have a writing business under your name, you probably want your portfolio to be filled with work that has your name on it. Otherwise people may be a little suspicious.
  • They want to promote their work on another platform. If you are an influencer with a big following on Social Media, you probably want to attach your name to that account. Using your real name means that people will associate your work with you.
  • They don’t really care. A good enough reason to not use a pen name is that you have no reason to. If you’re happy having your real name out in the world then there’s no reason to use one.

How Do I Choose a Pen Name?

There are a few things to consider when choosing a pen name and they mostly depend on your personal preferences. You should probably consider the following things.

Do I Want This to Have a Personal Touch?

Many authors use their real names as their pen name – just not their first names! You might choose a middle name as your pen name or incorporate your real last name while changing the first name. Another popular combination is two middle names being used as a first and second name. It’s up to you!

Do I Want to Stand Out?

If you want to stand out in your writing, then the more unusual the better. Choose something outrageous that people will remember. However, if you want to blend into the crowd, pick a fairly basic and unassuming name. Just remember, if you go too simple then nobody will find you when they search your name.

Who is My Target Audience?

If you’re a children’s writer, you might want a quirky, fun name. If you’re a serious journalist then choose a common, respectable name that people will trust. You might want to include an Easter Egg in your name to popular writers in your genre. For example, if you write mysteries, you could use the name Watson as a subtle nod to Arthur Conan Doyle.

Final Thoughts

You should consider how you want your life and career to play out before you decide on using a pen name. They can be a brilliant way to remain anonymous. However, you would have a little extra work keeping track of who you are speaking to people as. Review the reasons for choosing a pen name and then make a decision on whether it’s for you.

A Little Bit of Homework

  • Make a pros and cons list to decide whether you want to use a pen name.
  • Decide on a name you want to use.

<<< Day Three: How to Choose a Platform as a Writer

>>> Day Five: How to Build a WordPress Blog

>>> This is day four of my 30-day writing series on how to make money writing online. You can find the other posts in this series, plus a list of all the resources listed in this series on the How to Make Money Writing Online page.

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