Should You Start an Anonymous Blog? 8 Reasons to Consider It (And 8 Not To)
There’s no doubt about it: we’re living in a world of over-sharers. Bloggers, social media users, celebrity influencers… It seems like everyone wants to be a Kardashian these days; to give the world a close-up look into what’s happening behind the scenes of their lives or to share every thought that’s running through their head.
Here’s the problem with oversharing or what some may even consider speaking out of turn: if you say the wrong thing, it could negatively affect the perception others have of you or your brand. While a public figure might be able to deflect attention caused by their vocalization or support of an unpopular or controversial idea, it doesn’t necessarily work that way for the average Joe. Especially when your thoughts are immortalized on the web.
Which brings me to today’s topic: why you might want to start an anonymous blog.
As a WordPress professional, you have your strengths. Coding. Web design. Plugin and theme integration. UX strategy. Security. Performance. Probably a whole host of other skills, too. But what if you happen to be really passionate about another topic? You already have your WordPress-related content on your blog, so would it be that big of a deal to merge this other passion within it? Honestly, it depends.
Below, I’m going to cover the 8 reasons why you might want to start an anonymous blog as well as 8 reasons why you might want to skip it.
8 Reasons Why You Might Want to Start an Anonymous Blog
First of all, if you are blogging for your WordPress business, nice work. It’s tough enough managing a business and building websites for clients, so making the time to blog is a big deal.
Now, if you’re feeling inspired to tackle other topics–or ones that wouldn’t go over well with the WordPress crowd–what do you do with that? Finding inspiration for a blog post is something to get excited about, but you have to be careful about where it goes if it’s not a good fit for your usual audience.
For some of you, it might make sense to take your non-traditional or controversial content over to guest blogging opportunities. For others, you may just want to launch a new WordPress site and share your thoughts anonymously there. And there are some of you who may realize it’s okay to mix and match content on your WordPress blog.
In order to decide what’s the best option for you, consider the following:
8 Reasons You May Want to Start an Anonymous Blog
1. Keeping Your Lives Separate
You want to keep a clear divide between your personal and professional lives. This anonymous blog will allow you to talk about something you’re passionate about outside of work without having it spill over to the professional side of your life.
2. The Negative Connotations
You’re nervous that friends and family won’t approve of the subject matter. You also know your clients wouldn’t be too happy to see your name connected to it.
You want to talk about something that’s sensitive in nature. You think it’s an important subject to cover, but are nervous about how it will reflect on you. For example, you might be interested in writing about going bankrupt, getting divorced, or falling ill. The Disease Called Debt blog tackles the subject of debt anonymously.
As the blogger puts it, “I wanted a place to pour out my thoughts and feelings about the impact debt was having on my life and I didn’t want people I came into contact with ‘in real life’ to know about it.”
4. Protecting Others’ Identities
Let’s say you work for a WordPress agency or have a side job that helps you pay the bills while working on scaling your WordPress business. You want to use this anonymous blog to vent about frustrations you experience with clients that don’t know what they’re talking about, managers who don’t know a lick about web design, and coworkers who repeatedly drop the ball. But you obviously don’t want to reveal who they are or out yourself.
Take inspiration from someone like The Bitchy Waiter who uses their blog to rant about everything that bothers them in their line of work:
This is a great way to still connect with the WordPress community–since they’ll share those same frustrations–but you can all do it from a safe, anonymous place.
5. Tackling Controversy Safely
Controversial topics don’t necessarily have to be related to the work you do. Perhaps you’re interested in digging into local politics or want to discuss something related to medicine, education, terrorism, or another field you don’t necessarily want your name attached to. It may be simply to maintain a professional image, it may be to protect yourself from libel accusations, or it may be for security purposes.
Take, for example, The Secret Designer series that WebDesigner Depot just started.
This series is part of the regular WebDesigner Depot blog. However, in order to protect the identities of designers who could get into trouble for revealing the darker side of this field, every blogger receives an anonymous credit. This kind of whistleblowing can be all sorts of cathartic for designers and developers who’ve all been through experiences like these, but it keeps them safe by tackling it anonymously.
There are some clients or former employers who may ask you to include a non-compete clause in your freelance contract. While you may be barred from developing websites for the competition, there is nothing that says you can’t write for that audience and try to drum up attention as an expert that way.
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Of course, this could still get you into trouble with a former client or employer who’s looking for a fight, which is why you would want to do it anonymously. At least until your non-compete is no longer valid.
7. Avoid Distractions
When J.K. Rowling was revealed as the author behind Robert Galbraith’s work, she had this to say:
“I was yearning to go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre, to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback.”
If you’ve made a name for yourself in another field, it might be difficult trying to break into a new one as people compare your prior successes blogging on a certain subject with what you’re trying to do now. The example of J.K. Rowling and other authors who’ve had to deal with those types of distractions that keep readers from enjoying their new ventures demonstrates this point well.
8. You’re New to the Field
I’m not sure if this is something I would recommend as I believe the best writers are ones that have first-hand experience in the field they write about. However, if you can write confidently and accurately about a subject that you’re interested in, you may want to give this a shot. By blogging anonymously, you’ll take your identity out of the equation. No one will look at you as a 20-year accountant and wonder why you’re suddenly so interested in WordPress themes. Instead, they’ll read your blog strictly because it has good content.
I’ve known plenty of ghostwriters who have tackled subjects outside of their wheelhouse while they actively worked on mastering those skills behind the scenes. Once they became an actual expert–both from the doing and the writing–they started blogging about it through their own name.
8 Reasons You May NOT Want to Start an Anonymous Blog
1. Legality Issues
If you’re thinking about launching an anonymous blog so you can get away with being abusive towards someone else or to slander your company, just don’t. And if you want to write about or share content that’s illegal or offensive, skip the blog. Your identity may be protected for now, but how long will that last before someone comes for you?
2. Spreading Lies
People read blogs for a number of reasons–to be entertained, to be informed, to stay attuned to what’s happening with others. Unless they’ve actively sought out a satirical blog like The Onion where stories are not at all true, readers don’t want to encounter falsehoods.
If your intention is to spread lies (perhaps to give yourself an edge over the competition?) don’t bother with an anonymous blog. Online users are already very skeptical of who they should trust. An anonymous blogger spreading what they discover to be misinformation won’t go over well.
3. You Can’t Handle Being Outed
Even if your anonymous blog is tackling a subject that is seemingly harmless, being outed for it might not always be welcome. Whether you’re severely introverted or have some other reason for wanting to keep your identity private, launching a blog, in general, might not be the best course of action if you can’t handle people discovering who you are.
4. You Can’t Handle Criticism
One of the great things about blogs is the discussions you can have with your readers. However, if you’re not prepared to handle criticisms they might throw at you, or if you spend a lot of time defensively reacting to every comment, you probably shouldn’t be blogging in the first place.
There are a lot of people who have no issue slinging mud at others while enjoying the privileges of relative anonymity on the web. If you don’t have a thick skin, then don’t get the conversation started in the first place because someone, someday, is likely to say something that’s crude, mean, or antagonistic.
5. Lack of Time
If you’re already maxed out between running a business and blogging for yourself, why would you launch another blog? Sure, you might be passionate about the other topic, but spreading yourself thin as a freelancer and business owner can be dangerous. (Burnout, anyone?)
6. It’s Infrequent
Let’s say there’s a controversial or sensitive subject you want to tackle, but it’s something you only think about writing infrequently. Rather than launch a new WordPress blog for it, you can always just password-protect that content within your WordPress blog. Then you can share that link and login credentials with the appropriate audience.
7. The Subject Is Harmless
Depending on who your audience is, you might find that your other passion project is of interest to them. If there’s no chance of offending or isolating readers by occasionally dabbling in another subject area, you could just as well integrate it into your WordPress blog as web designer Matt Brett does:
His writing of game reviews is absolutely harmless and he even gives his readers a choice of what kind of content they want to read.
8. Making a Name for Yourself
Even if this other blog idea you have is totally unrelated to the work you do on a regular basis, it may be okay to publicly publish content on another subject. Perhaps you’re trying to break into a new niche of WordPress development or you’re expanding your business to include something like web hosting or SEO services, another blog may be justified and there’s no need to make it anonymous as it was created to bolster your new brand.
If, after all this, you’ve decided that starting an anonymous blog is the right choice for you, keep in mind the following tips when launching this new venture:
- An anonymous blog needs to reside on a secure web hosting server in order to keep the chances of a breach–and the revelation of your identity–low.
- When you purchase your domain, spring for extra domain privacy protection. That way, a simple Google search won’t reveal who you are.
- Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt. The more security and privacy you can build around your site, the better.
- Create a new alias for yourself. And if you don’t want to be totally anonymous, you don’t have to either. You can still share certain details from your life while keeping just your name and location a secret.
- Create a new email account to go with the blog.
- Create new social media accounts as well. While bots may not be acceptable or welcome users on social, anonymous bloggers who have something valid to say are.
And, of course, remember to follow web design, development, and blogging best practices. Just because no one knows who you are doesn’t mean they won’t judge you for having a slow, ugly, or poorly written website.