Pennames, AKA's, pseudonyms, etc.

16 replies
Could someone describe some of the factors to consider in deciding whether to use pennames or different user names in doing IM activities, or to always use one's real name, or at least the same penname? On the one hand, I would think that someone working only in a broad, single market might want to use the same name (e.g,, "John McCain") for branding purposes, to establish his or her credibility, etc. while someone working in a wide variety of markets or niches might want to disguise that fact in order to not appear to be a "dabbler", and to be taken more seriously and to not have to worry so much about appearing inconsistent or even contradictory when a follower or customer thinks, "hmmm, Douglas Bittleburg says this over here, but says that over there", or "I see that Douglas Bittleburg promotes this product which I like and also that one which I think is no good. Therefore, there is something wrong with Douglas Bittleburg and I'm going to buy nothing connected with him", or they will unsubscribe, stop paying attention to you, etc. If anyone can direct me to where I might gain a good perspective in making these decisions, I would appreciate it since I want to make an informed decision and I won't be able to completely "unring the bell", especially if I decide to project only one "identity", once I get out there . Thanks!
#aka #pennames #pseudonyms
  • Profile picture of the author Liam Hamer
    I asked this question not too long ago myself, as I was confused about the whole pen name thing. I keep things pretty simple - I use my real name for my main niche, and the IM/MMO niche. Everything else, I generally use a pen name
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob Barbour
    I agree with Liam...using your real name for everything is a bad idea. You'll want to use your real name on products that build your credibility in a specific area and where you want to be known as an expert.
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  • Profile picture of the author Davioli
    I use a pen name/pseudonym for a number of my niche sites. I haven't figured out what to do about pictures though..

    Using pictures helps build more trust and is a good asset to have when networking with other bloggers in the same niche.

    I considered photoshopping a stock photo so as to create an image of a totally new person..but I seem to mess up everytime.

    Any ideas on that?
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    • Profile picture of the author Zero
      Originally Posted by Davioli View Post

      I use a pen name/pseudonym for a number of my niche sites. I haven't figured out what to do about pictures though..

      Using pictures helps build more trust and is a good asset to have when networking with other bloggers in the same niche.

      I considered photoshopping a stock photo so as to create an image of a totally new person..but I seem to mess up everytime.

      Any ideas on that?
      That seems kinda dishonest imo.
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      • Profile picture of the author IMStudentforlife
        I don't think it's dishonest, it's not like you're out to scam others.. but I've wondered this too.. if you're supposed to become this expert on the subject/niche how can you be an expert in all your niches..

        I know EZA asks very detailed questions about you, so you have one sign up name and have all these different sub-topics below that one name? Or do you use a pen name for them all???

        Actually I was thinking about this very same question today looking at writing another EZA article but pointing to my other niche..

        This saves me from posting a question too!
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        • Profile picture of the author Ram
          Here's what you do for photos, since most stock photo companies forbid their images being used to specifically endorse a product.

          Put an ad in the paper for advertising models. College newspapers are really good since you get young, good looking models in need of money. Have a lawyer draw up a release allowing you to use the photos for pretty much whatever you want. You might want to specify they will not be used for adult sites since that is a concern. Then you own those images forever.

          You can pay $10-25 an hour or so per model you select and get all the photos you will ever need in an hour, two tops. You can build a brand around those images/pen names. Get shots at various location, different clothes, at the computer, with a dog, whatever applies.

          Keep the names of those you like but don't select on file for future niches.
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      • Profile picture of the author Davioli
        Originally Posted by Zero View Post

        That seems kinda dishonest imo.
        That's the thing.. How do you expect someone to trust you if you're the same person seeling a remedy for toothaches as well as a guide to Forex..

        Its not really a choice.. You have to figure out a way to brand your websites.. I try to be professional and use my website as the "brand" most of the time.. but there are certain niches where a more personal approach is required.
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        • Profile picture of the author Adam Richards
          I definitely don't think that pen names are dishonest, nor do I think it's dishonest to use someone else's picture.

          You certainly have the right to brand yourself however you want and you also have the right to do that in many different ways, depending on what you are selling and to whom you are selling it.

          Is it dishonest to have a spokesperson for a company or to have celebrities endorse a product? Certainly not.

          In regards to your question, I would try to just make sure that whatever it is you are selling using a particular pen name is congruent with what you have sold that list in the past

          Otherwise people just get weirded out.
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        • Profile picture of the author Zero
          Originally Posted by Davioli View Post

          That's the thing.. How do you expect someone to trust you if you're the same person seeling a remedy for toothaches as well as a guide to Forex..

          Its not really a choice.. You have to figure out a way to brand your websites.. I try to be professional and use my website as the "brand" most of the time.. but there are certain niches where a more personal approach is required.
          I thought that was the point of having testimonials & as well as money back guarantees.
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          • Profile picture of the author Davioli
            Originally Posted by Zero View Post

            I thought that was the point of having testimonials & as well as money back guarantees.
            Not every website for IM is about product creation and selling. Adsense and affiliate sites are great moneymakers too you know.
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            • Profile picture of the author Davioli
              Sorry..I guess i came off wrong there. I mentioned in my earlier post about selling products only.

              While testimonials and money back guarantees go a long way.. having a "person" behind the product makes it easy to sell.. especially if that "person" has been branded properly
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  • Profile picture of the author Sleeq
    This is quite an interesting thread (sorry it's been a funnyish kind of day!)

    Personally, I only ever give out personal details when I'm buying a product (billing address, name etc..).

    The reasons for having a pen name or pseudoname can prevent an element of identity theft - we've all heard about the evil stuff that people can do with your personal details, and I'd rather remain anonomous in that sense.

    Also in case a colleague or anyone saw my name associated with anything I didnt want them to see. (i.e. I saw your name on a dating site - haha....Then we both cringe).

    I have no intention on becoming famous - but I'll take on a stage name!
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    • Profile picture of the author stevehamby
      Thanks for the inputs - I asked for some factors and some thoughts pro and con about how to approach deciding this matter and feel that I got just that. Very helpful.
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  • Profile picture of the author kswr123
    Its all about your UNIQUE SELLING POINT - you could be the "Internet techno-geek" etc.

    I am 16, that's a wicked selling point. So I have The Minisite Kid (www.theminisitekid.com), The Offline Kid etc
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    • Profile picture of the author Dean Shainin
      When selecting a pen name it's wise to do a Google search and see what comes up. You would be amazed... You don't want some really negative things to come up under a pen name you decide upon. I use my real name within the IM niche to build reputation and pen names for most all other niches to avoid people spying on every single aspect of what I'm doing in non IM related niches...
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  • Profile picture of the author Tsnyder
    The solution I settled on was offering various things
    in the name of my publishing company. I then write
    on different topics under different names but the
    sale is always made by the publishing company.

    That way, if they don't like one author they still buy
    from the "others" offered by my company.

    I can then brand both my company and one, or
    more, of my "authors." Thus, I create experts on
    several different subjects under one umbrella.

    Tsnyder
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    If you knew what I know you'd be doing what I do...
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