Tuesday, 25 November 2014

To blog anonymously……or not?

Photo by Viktor Hanacek

I’ve been blogging for just over two months now, yay! In this short space of time I have discovered so many wonderful and diverse blogs and connected with so many people through my blog and other social networking sites that it feels like I have been blogging for much longer!

Before I started blogging I wasn’t sure if I wanted to reveal my identify. I told very few people and use ‘Brighton Mama’ as my name. I set up an independent email address and social media profiles and chose not to reveal my real name. Starting out as an anonymous blogger has been pretty straightforward and I am surprised there are not more out there however as time has gone on I’ve started to question my reasons for anonymity. So why did I start blogging anonymously? Here are some of my reasons.

Reasons for blogging anonymously

1. No pressure. In certain situations I find that telling people around me that I’m doing something can create more pressure than it’s worth. I didn’t want people asking about blogging when I wasn’t sure about it myself and wanted to go with the flow without any added pressure. I didn’t have any plan so just wanted to see where writing would take me.

2. Free writing. I wanted to have the freedom to write about any topic I wanted without too many people I know reading it. I also didn’t want to be influenced to write about certain things or in a particular style. I just wanted to write how I write. I didn’t want my professional background blending in with my personal life. With being anonymous you can write about any topic without offending people close to you should you want to write about them or something they disagree with. I’ve mentioned before that I have written articles on various topics (some slightly controversial) and initially I didn’t wanted my previous work linked to my blog. 

3. Comfort zone. Writing anonymously means you do not have to go out of your comfort zone straight away. Having a blog means anyone in the world can see and read about your life and everything you get up to! If I think about that more it can actually feel quite daunting. So blogging anonymously allows me to stay in my comfort zone.

4. Privacy. In many ways I am quite a private person. I don’t mind expressing my thoughts and putting opinions out there but at the same time I’m quite guarded about my private life so am not entirely comfortable about showing photos or revealing personal details about myself. In some ways I would love to post a million photos of my little boy on here because he’s the cutest thing in the world. In another way though, I feel like I would like to keep our family private. 

5. Shyness. In ‘real life’ it takes me a while to get to know someone. I love meeting people but am not the type to reveal my life story on a first meeting, unless it involves stories about birth, baby poo, nappy rash etc. Haha, just kidding…..well nearly! So, I guess I was a little apprehensive about putting myself out there at first. 

Now that I've been blogging for a couple of months and have lots of ideas about posts I have an urge to reveal my identity. Now ironically or maybe not so ironically, the things that attracted me to blogging anonymously are actually hindering what I can write about. Here’s why:
Reasons for not blogging anonymously 
1. Writing about personal issues and interests. I’m not only a 'stay at home mum'. I’ve had so many different experiences in my life and would now like to share these on my blog. It would be difficult to write a post on one of those experiences without sharing personal information or photos for example. So for that reason revealing who I am makes sense.
2. Connecting with my career. In previous posts I’ve written about leaving my job and putting my professional life on hold to look after baby but haven’t gone into details about what my job was. This was a one of the reasons I started blogging anonymously but now I actually want to reveal more personal things and share my career and actually write articles connected to that.
3. Connecting with other bloggers/readers. I have chatted to so many readers and other bloggers online now and that interaction has been wonderful. There is a really strong community of bloggers. But because I don’t use my real name or have any photos of me anywhere I feel like I’m a bit of a fraud in some ways, hiding behind a rock when I don’t really have any reason to. Sometimes, I have had a comment from someone with the same name as me or even from the same town! I have wanted to say, ‘Oh, that’s my name!’ or ‘I was born there’ and of course I could do that but because I blog anonymously it wouldn’t make sense. I’d like people to know what I look like, to see a face behind the writing so they can perhaps relate to me better or just know I’m human! Signing off with ‘Brighton Mama’ in an email is getting a little tedious! 
4. Meeting with other bloggers in ‘real life’. I have chatted to other Brighton bloggers and joined some local facebook groups and it will only be a matter of time before I go to a meet up. Meeting bloggers in person really appeals to me. You can’t beat face to face contact. So, again, blogging anonymously goes out of the window. 
5. Networking/PR events. I’ve had contact with some brands/agencies and have been invited to a couple of PR events. I didn't go but am sure there will be other events that I would love to go to. This is one of the perks of blogging so if you blog anonymously I don’t know how you could get around this.
6. Telling people I know I’m blogging. I’ve told very few people that I blog (for the reasons mentioned above). Now though because I’m really excited about this blogging journey I want to share these things with people I know. So when someone asks what I’ve been doing apart from looking after baby I can actually tell them ‘I’ve been blogging!’
7. Blogging anonymously is restricting. Of course I can be whoever I want and write about whoever I want. But I haven’t tried to be someone else. I’ve just been me and want to continue being me but even more so! 
8. I don’t have a secret life. For me, there isn’t really a good reason to continue blogging anonymously. I can totally see why some people would choose to stay anonymous. If I were a spy or dishing out the secrets from inside the industry (think Belle du Jour) anonymous blogging would be the way to go. Alas, my life is not that exciting! 
9. The boundaries aren’t clear. I could tell everyone I know I am blogging and leave my online presence anonymous but not sure how that would work. If friends comment they might use my real name or reveal things about my identity. 
10. Keeping the reader interested. I am also wondering as a reader of a blog if you are more likely to be interested in it if you know the person behind it. I have come across various anonymous blogs and although I am just as interested in the writing I am more likely to remember the blogs with real names and personal photos.
These lists show that for me at least the reasons for ‘being me’ are stronger than remaining anonymous. Oh course the debate goes much wider than this. If you do reveal your identify how much other stuff do you reveal? Are you comfortable to share your life on your blog or are you a little more guarded about names and photos? 
So at some point I would like to say ‘this is me’ and include a photo of myself. At the same time it’s quite nice and comfortable blogging anonymously. So what do you think? I can’t sign off everything with ‘Brighton Mama’ forever ..……or can I?
Are you an anonymous blogger? Maybe you love sharing every aspect of you life on your blog? Do you relate more to a blogger if you know what they look like? Share you thoughts with me.

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  1. I really enjoyed this post - thank you for writing it. Has given me a lot of food for thought. I'm still a massive newbie and am blogging anonymously - for many of the reasons you mentioned and some of my own. I'd be really interested to hear how things have changed for you after stopping being anonymous. I'm already starting to get irritated at signing off emails and messages with a pseudonym.
    And on that note..
    Crazy stork lady | www.breakingupwithcontraception.com

  2. Hi, I'd be really interested to hear how different you find things once you are no longer anonymous. I will always remain anonymous - it is a decision I have made, but I would be interested to know how much I am missing out on. Pen x


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