Pen Names

by pro31lady 63 replies
I know that most people use pen names for various niches they are in, articles they write, etc.

How do you go about picking a pen name? Do you ever check if it is actually someone else's name with a facebook acct or other online accounts - or don't you worry about that at all?

Just curious how everyone does this...
#main internet marketing discussion forum #names #pen
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  • Profile picture of the author Joseph Robinson
    Originally Posted by pro31lady View Post

    How do you go about picking a pen name?
    I'm going to disclose that it is a pen name on the site anyways, so I choose to have fun with it. Like a niche related porn name (usually without the porn).

    Originally Posted by pro31lady View Post

    Do you ever check if it is actually someone else's name with a facebook acct or other online accounts - or don't you worry about that at all?
    Nope, I don't think it matters much. I'm creating a whole new character/personality to go along with it, not copying someone else. Heck, go do a Google search and see how many Joe Robinson's there are. I should start pretending to be one of those more famous guys.
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  • Profile picture of the author TheArticlePros
    Originally Posted by pro31lady View Post

    I know that most people use pen names for various niches they are in, articles they write, etc.

    How do you go about picking a pen name? Do you ever check if it is actually someone else's name with a facebook acct or other online accounts - or don't you worry about that at all?

    Just curious how everyone does this...
    I make them up as I go. There's not a single name on this planet that isn't shared with someone else...well, except for my WF name. I've been using it for over a year and, as far as I can tell, every single link online for it points back to me. (It's a combination of my first, middle, and last name.)

    I bet your name can be found on the birth certificates of several other people as well as yours, right?

    You could always make up a name, like people do for Warcraft, that is a nonsensical name in the "real" world, but then people wouldn't relate to you. I'd also avoid names that are too common, like John Doe or Jim Smith. Try for a little originality, but not too much.

    -- j
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    • Profile picture of the author Gail_Curran
      I just try to pick something that suits the niche - something ladylike for recipes, or something macho for home repairs. I always Google any prospective pen names, just to see what comes up. I don't mind being mistaken for a dominatrix, but I'd rather not share a name with a serial killer, for instance.

      .
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  • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
    Banned
    Originally Posted by pro31lady View Post

    Do you ever check if it is actually someone else's name with a facebook acct or other online accounts
    Yes, I do.

    I know a few people with very rare surnames who try to choose very common names as pen-names. Not a problem I have myself, being called Smith.

    I want names that are easily understood, recognised and pronounced, and aren't the name of anyone else who's particularly active online, and especially not with any connection with my niche. It kind of irritates me a little when people (who may or may not really be called Alexa Smith) produce websites which get wrongly attributed to me by people who don't know me but recognise my name, and I want to try to avoid reciprocating, as it were.

    There are three different "Alexa Smiths" at Ezine Articles alone, none of whom is me (I have a very large number of articles there, but none in my real name). :p

    So I actually spend what some people would consider a disproportionate amount of time coming up with pen-names.

    One potentially useful idea is to use a double surname (with or without a hyphen), which helps to increase the "available permutations".
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    • Profile picture of the author JakeDaly
      Let's just say my real name ain't Jake Daly. And let's also say that I was beaten up when I was younger for being Greek..

      *frowny face*
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      • Profile picture of the author pro31lady
        Thanks for the replies - fun to read what everyone does. I do check the names on google just because I am curious. And I wouldn't want to be connected to a serial killer either. But I'm not going to get stressed over the names I pick either.
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        • I'm going to use William Sydney Porter for an upcoming book of short stories. Don't anybody steal it, now, I want to be the only one.

          fLufF
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          • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
            Banned
            Originally Posted by fluffythewondercat View Post

            I'm going to use William Sydney Porter for an upcoming book of short stories. Don't anybody steal it, now, I want to be the only one.
            Oh, Henry, a good idea but a little late ...
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            • Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

              Oh, Henry, a good idea but a little late ...
              Figures you'd be the only one to get it!

              I'll have to go with my backup choice instead, Currer Bell.

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              • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
                Banned
                Originally Posted by fluffythewondercat View Post

                I'll have to go with my backup choice instead, Currer Bell.
                Her house (now a museum) is about 15 miles from where I live. It's rather interesting - her clothes and shoes (and those of her sisters), on show in glass cases, are absolutely tiny!
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                • Profile picture of the author WishfulDoing
                  I like the idea of checking with the baby names for a younger generation if your niche caters to a younger crowd. Some first names will really date a person, especially women's names.
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  • Profile picture of the author The Star
    I think it does not matter, in this world there are people who possess the first and last name the same. or you can find it in the fake name generator to get the pen name there.
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    I used to use alot of pen names as i ventured into many different niches, but now that IM is my core niche, i choose to use my real name.
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    • Profile picture of the author HN
      Banned
      I would always suggest to chose unique name. I once bought a book written by Tom Harper. I bought it in bookstore. When I got home I wanted to find out more about the author and unfortunately it was a pen name and there were real people with that name that came up in google first. Now a few years later, his website is #1 and he has become pretty well known.

      Have anyone considered shooting video trailers to promote books?

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  • Profile picture of the author HN
    Banned
    BTW: I decided to choose a pen name that is totally unique. I registered a domain name for this pen name. When I googled for that name with quotes I got 0 matches. So I will be able to track the popularity of this pen name on internet. I can simply search the internet and see how many websites come up. Should be a good indicator to find out how many people are talking about me (my books).

    The only reason I can think of to choose a very common name is when you rip off people and want to get lost in the cyberworld. I 've seen some marketers says hey I am a real guy, I have nothing to hide, I can tell you my name, it's Lee something. And of course you get 1001 other people with exact same name.
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  • Profile picture of the author ImWendy
    I just Google "pen name generator". Lots of ideas there.
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  • Profile picture of the author BloggingPro
    For most of my niches I usually choose a silly name that is at least somewhat believable in that niche.

    In one niche, I chose BigMike as nickname for Mike Oswald. With the recent movie release I'm kind of happy I didn't go with MagicMike, which I admit was a top contender for a blogging pen name.

    I often find I use the names Mike and Vanessa a lot, no matter the niche actually.
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  • Profile picture of the author TomBuck
    Michael Clay, there is a pen name. Mine in school was Max Pepsi, pepsi max swapped, don't know why just was unique and weird. You can always just use a middle name.
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    • Profile picture of the author BloggingPro
      Originally Posted by TomBuck View Post

      Michael Clay, there is a pen name. Mine in school was Max Pepsi, pepsi max swapped, don't know why just was unique and weird. You can always just use a middle name.
      lol. It's funny you mention that, as in school I once turned in a paper with the name Ruth McBabe as the writer. I stayed quiet for as long as I could, but eventually had to out myself... Teacher got a laugh so I guess it turned out ok lol.
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  • Profile picture of the author prroger
    When creating a new character/personality for a blog I start with the age. If I need a 30 year old woman's name I search "baby names girls 1982" to come up with a realistic and popular name that will be instantly credible.
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    • Profile picture of the author Joseph Robinson
      Originally Posted by prroger View Post

      When creating a new character/personality for a blog I start with the age. If I need a 30 year old woman's name I search "baby names girls 1982" to come up with a realistic and popular name that will be instantly credible.
      Very smart. I never thought of that idea before. Knocks out half the battle right there, all you have to do is come up with a realistic sounding surname. But of course, you can just pick a country of origin and roll with it. See guys? Nothing to making up names.

      You don't have to be like celebrities and come up with all that weird crap.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    My pen name is Bic Papermate.
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    • Profile picture of the author Joseph Robinson
      Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

      My pen name is Bic Papermate.
      I think I've seen your work somewhere! Do you work in the education niche? No that's not it. Office supplies, maybe?

      Nope, I've got it. You work in beef sales.
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        I use the 'popular names for [year]' lists for first names.

        Surnames?

        Some are just made up. Sometimes I take different keywords and translate them to different languages until I come up with something I like the sound of.

        I do check the resulting name on Google, mainly to make sure I'm not poaching on someone else in the same niche. Or assuming their bad rep, for that matter...
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  • Profile picture of the author Viramara
    It depends. If it's a niche where I create my own product, my pen name is a variation of my real name abbreviated (Viramara is example), and I explain this in the first place. I don't want people to lose trust because they see a different name on Paypal receipt and name of person they usually see in email sender.

    If I 100% only promote other people's product as affiliate, I use a totally different pen name from my real name.
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  • Profile picture of the author phoebetabitha
    I use pen names on every new site. It can be a pain selecting names... But I now use a free service at fakenamegenerator (dot)com It comes in very handy!
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    Very new, but learning FAST

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  • Profile picture of the author JamesPenn
    In my main niche, which is very female dominated, I use a woman's name. I actually use my girlfriends name since I find it a little weird just creating names out of thin air.

    Anyway, I have a few issues/questions about using a pen name that perhaps some of you could help me with...

    1. How do you remember to sign off with your pen name in things like emails? It's just habit for me to sign off with "Thanks, James", and on a number of occasions I've nearly done this when "pretending" to be my pen.

    2. On a few occasions when I approach websites to guest post for them, they send me a "Contributor Agreement Form" which I have to sign and send back. Can you sign as your pen name and it be a legally binding document?

    3. Do you use an image for your character? If so, where do you get it from? I bought an image from istockphoto.com but I feel bad for the poor girl in the picture. I'm thinking of having a caricature developed instead to use for things like profile pictures etc.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    James <<< my real name
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    • Profile picture of the author phoebetabitha
      You open up a gmail account in the pen name. Add a signature so you don't forget who you are
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      Very new, but learning FAST

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    • Profile picture of the author Joseph Robinson
      Originally Posted by JamesPenn View Post

      1. How do you remember to sign off with your pen name in things like emails? It's just habit for me to sign off with "Thanks, James", and on a number of occasions I've nearly done this when "pretending" to be my pen.
      As the above poster said, a preset signature can help. Personally, I don't find it hard to remember, and don't find myself slipping into my real name. It would take a lot of niches and a lot of pen names to have your brain that addled I would think. Simple mental discipline.

      Originally Posted by JamesPenn View Post

      2. On a few occasions when I approach websites to guest post for them, they send me a "Contributor Agreement Form" which I have to sign and send back. Can you sign as your pen name and it be a legally binding document?
      I'd assume it is still legally binding. Legal advice and questions should be directed to your attorney.

      Originally Posted by JamesPenn View Post

      3. Do you use an image for your character? If so, where do you get it from? I bought an image from istockphoto.com but I feel bad for the poor girl in the picture. I'm thinking of having a caricature developed instead to use for things like profile pictures etc.
      I find a friend that wants to be internet famous, and use a picture of them. They love it, and I don't have to use a (sometimes obvious) stock photo.
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    • Profile picture of the author HN
      Banned
      Originally Posted by JamesPenn View Post

      3. Do you use an image for your character? If so, where do you get it from? I bought an image from istockphoto.com but I feel bad for the poor girl in the picture. I'm thinking of having a caricature developed instead to use for things like profile pictures etc.
      I assume you have never read the iStockPhoto rules. Who's got time for this anyway!?

      For greater certainty, the following are “Prohibited Uses” and you may not: use or display any Content that features a model or person in a manner (a) that would lead a reasonable person to think that such person uses or personally endorses any business, product, service, cause, association or other endeavour; or (b) except where accompanied by a statement that indicates that the Content is being used for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted in the Content is a model, that depicts such person in a potentially sensitive subject matter, including, but not limited to mental and physical health issues, social issues, sexual or implied sexual activity or preferences, substance abuse, crime, physical or mental abuse or ailments, or any other subject matter that would be reasonably likely to be offensive or unflattering to any person reflected in the Content, unless the Content itself clearly and undisputedly reflects the model or person in such potentially sensitive subject matter in which case the Content may be used or displayed in a manner that portrays the model or person in the same context and to the same degree depicted in the Content itself;

      iStockphoto License Agreement | iStock

      Obviously you can't use stock photos to create fake dating site profile or any profiles at all with someone's name (real of fictious) attached to the picture. This not exactly what we shoot those pictures for!
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      • Profile picture of the author JamesPenn
        Originally Posted by HN View Post

        I assume you have never read the iStockPhoto rules. Who's got time for this anyway!?

        For greater certainty, the following are “Prohibited Uses” and you may not: use or display any Content that features a model or person in a manner (a) that would lead a reasonable person to think that such person uses or personally endorses any business, product, service, cause, association or other endeavour; or (b) except where accompanied by a statement that indicates that the Content is being used for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted in the Content is a model, that depicts such person in a potentially sensitive subject matter, including, but not limited to mental and physical health issues, social issues, sexual or implied sexual activity or preferences, substance abuse, crime, physical or mental abuse or ailments, or any other subject matter that would be reasonably likely to be offensive or unflattering to any person reflected in the Content, unless the Content itself clearly and undisputedly reflects the model or person in such potentially sensitive subject matter in which case the Content may be used or displayed in a manner that portrays the model or person in the same context and to the same degree depicted in the Content itself;

        iStockphoto License Agreement | iStock

        Obviously you can't use stock photos to create fake dating site profile or any profiles at all with someone's name (real of fictious) attached to the picture. This not exactly what we shoot those pictures for!
        Thanks for letting me know. I'll remove it ASAP.

        James
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        • Profile picture of the author myob
          Here are some unused pen names which I have considered for some niches

          Attorney/legal: Sue Meiass, Bill Toupe, Will Wright
          Medical: Slim Bougie, Ben Dover, Russell N. Bush
          Weight loss: Les Phat, Phil Moore, Candy Barr
          Fitness: Rocky Bullwinkle, Tate R. Chips, T. Bone Pickens (oops, that one is taken)
          Male enhancement: Dick Small, Peter Long, Oral Roberts (oops, that one is also taken)
          Transgender surgery: Gayle Orman, Ben Gay, Dick Cutt
          Automotive: Mick A. Nick, Moto Wheeler, Manuel Wrench
          Astronomy (telescopes): Ican Seymour, Star Fields, Ona Hill
          2012 Catatastrophe: May B. Wright, Cal Einder, Hope Singh, Stercus Tauri
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          • Profile picture of the author lbradshaw
            I was told to pick a name that resonates with your target audience. Someone else recently suggested to use the same first letter as your real name, and the street you grew up on as your last name.

            ...or was that for your stripper name?...Geez, now I can't remember.
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          • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
            Banned
            Originally Posted by myob View Post

            Attorney/legal: Sue Meiass, Bill Toupe, Will Wright
            Digressing only slightly, these remind me of the two celebrated law-firms ...
            • Sewe, Grabbitt and Runne
            • Dewie, Cheetham and Howe
            :p
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          • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
            Originally Posted by myob View Post

            Male enhancement: Dick Small, Peter Long, Oral Roberts (oops, that one is also taken)

            More digression...

            Chinese herbal male enhancement: Long Wang
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            • Profile picture of the author TheWrightWords
              Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

              More digression...

              Chinese herbal male enhancement: Long Wang
              How can a discussion of pen names for male enhancement not include the classic "Long Duck Dong"? Am I the only child of the 80s here?
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              • Profile picture of the author Joseph Robinson
                Originally Posted by TheWrightWords View Post

                How can a discussion of pen names for male enhancement not include the classic "Long Duck Dong"? Am I the only child of the 80s here?
                16 Candles, wasn't it? The one with the redhead who was in The Breakfast Club. Too obvious a pen name. The best pen names are subtle, like Joe Robinson.
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  • Profile picture of the author prroger
    JamesPenn:

    1: I always buy the domain name for my pen names and use that for all email. Then, I redirect the domain to the blog that I'm using the pen name for.

    3: I've tried caricatures but they don't seem to be credible for me. Ask your girlfriends to pose so that her full face is not shown -- off to the side or slightly in shadow, face covered with hand like in thinking pose. Having a lot of hair helps.

    Don't know about #2. Would like to have that answer.

    Paul
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    My favorite pen name is Stanford Wong, one of the best authors on blackjack and gambling. His real name is John Ferguson...
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  • I don't like so much pen names, and I prefer to show my name when I write something or I got it written by someone else.
    Anyway, pen name must be always a short name, easy to remember, something who could be remembered easily.

    Thanks and see you soon,
    Alessandro Zamboni
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  • Profile picture of the author Devin X
    Banned
    Honestly, I've thought about using fake names...haven't yet...still consider them. I think it's a lil unethical and a bit cowardly to hide behind a different alias. I use my nickname but everyone knows me by that so it's not a mysterious pen name. However, I admit that I still consider using them with my new ventures. Haven't decided yet...not sure if it's just my pride getting in the way or if it really is unethical. Haven't decided yet.
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  • Profile picture of the author Antonio Gavrila
    Or you could search on Google for popular name in "niche" and mix some words up, something nice will come up.

    The baby names "year" is a good idea also.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Oksa
    I use a few pen names, and either make them up on my own, or use a U.S. Census-based name generator.

    I also try to get a name that "fits" with the niche.

    Stone Maxwell may work well for the bodybuilding niche, but may not fit in so well when it comes to learning piano. On the other hand, a name like Francis Trouffant would be better-suited for the latter than the former.

    All the best,
    Michael
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    • Profile picture of the author myob
      Seriously, as several others have alluded here, using pen names that have a tie-in with your niche is an excellent branding/marketing tool. It really does confer a subtle but often very effective separation from the competition, and name branding actually is quite a common marketing method among competing commodity products and professions. Especially in hotly competitive markets, the name alone (bold, clever, amusing, provocative, etc) may resonate with prospects louder than any other form of advertising.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rod Cortez
    Originally Posted by pro31lady View Post

    I know that most people use pen names for various niches they are in, articles they write, etc.

    How do you go about picking a pen name? Do you ever check if it is actually someone else's name with a facebook acct or other online accounts - or don't you worry about that at all?

    Just curious how everyone does this...
    My method for choosing a pen name is pretty simple. I just pick something that sounds "cool" to me. Then I ask a few of my friends what they think. Then I go online and do a basic search to see how many other people have that name.

    I've yet to change a pen name because too many people had it. Two of my pen names are variations of my middle name and family name (such as Cortez). Another pen name is a nickname I had from high school that stuck.

    Though you'd want to stay away from using something like "Mistress Leather Pain" for the gardening niche, that might raise a few eyebrows. Then again, who knows? You might be #1 in less than a week! LOL

    RoD
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  • Profile picture of the author TheWrightWords
    Tech stuff -- boy's pen name
    Girl stuff -- girl's pen name (usually a variation of my own)
    traditionally published books and magazine articles -- my own name
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    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
      Banned
      I see that some recent e-book offers include: The Guide To Filler Text, by Loren Ipsum and How to Win Elections and Influence Congress, by Lotta Greenstuff
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

        I see that some recent e-book offers include: The Guide To Filler Text, by Loren Ipsum and How to Win Elections and Influence Congress, by Lotta Greenstuff
        Little known fact - Loren is actually a political speechwriter of some repute. Being able to fill vast amounts of time and space without actually saying anything commands high fees, especially this year.

        Another little known fact - The foreword in Lotta's book was written by a colleague, Uri Lee Lyon.

        :p
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  • Profile picture of the author williamk
    Banned
    That is really an interesting subject. I usually use a nich name while posting on my sites. But a pen name sounds fun.
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    • Profile picture of the author myob
      Here's another little known fact. In the US, the pen name was established by William Penn (founder of Pennsylvania)followed by lesser known successors; Thomas Penn, John Penn, Hannah Penn, Margaret Penn, Richard Penn, and Dennis Penn. With the arrival of Sue Denim, however, the pen name became synonymous with pseudonym.
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      • Profile picture of the author JamesPenn
        Originally Posted by myob View Post

        Here's another little known fact. In the US, the pen name was established by William Penn (founder of Pennsylvania)followed by lesser known successors; Thomas Penn, John Penn, Hannah Penn, Margaret Penn, Richard Penn, and Dennis Penn. With the arrival of Sue Denim, however, Pen Name became synonymous with pseudonym.
        Interesting. I wonder if they are my distant relatives.

        On another note, the number of times I've received an email from a customer or website visitor who have asked if I am any relation to Sean Penn is ridiculous. Apparently I look like him. I don't see it myself.

        James
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        • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
          Originally Posted by JamesPenn View Post

          Interesting. I wonder if they are my distant relatives.

          On another note, the number of times I've received an email from a customer or website visitor who have asked if I am any relation to Sean Penn is ridiculous. Apparently I look like him. I don't see it myself.

          James
          Add some hair to your pic and take 30 years off of Sean and there is a resemblance...

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  • Profile picture of the author michaeljcheney
    Don't agree with pen names personally. I can understand people's reasons for wanting to do it but if you have to hide behind another persona you will never truly connect with your target audience. Just my opinion.

    Mickey Mouse ;-)
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  • Profile picture of the author bluejudy
    Hi,
    I am a total newbie (moving step by step through CF's website). Would someone be able to give me some advice about using a pen name and using Paypal?

    I am Canadian.
    I use two brick and mortar banks.
    My Paypal is connected to one specific account at one bank.
    I would like to remain anonymous (not to be deceitful but to avoid hassles at work if anyone happens to google me under my real name - i work in the public sector).
    I would like to be able to create a Paypal account that does not show my real name and is connected to an account set up specifically for that name.


    Is that possible?
    Is that totally legal?
    Is that ethical?
    Could this be done through ING?

    Thank you for taking the time to read my post.
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    • Profile picture of the author cfspartan
      I am in a similar situation. I have a nasty non-compete with my former employer and am going to be marketing leads from a similar list as they do. I can't have any crossover with my real name or even my likeness. If I do it's a major issue financiall and legally due to the BS agreement they made me sign. Story for another day...

      I intend to use a lot of video marketing - VSL style - so I'd want to create a complete persona. Anyone actually done this for a similar reason? I'm also getting a job with a local company and want to keep my IM life separate from my "real life". Sounds shady, but that's not where it's coming from...
      • Anonymous site through Domains by Proxy
      • Email account with that URL (preferrably with the pen name/persona name as the URL)
      • Payment gateway in name of LLC with a nominee director
      Any other things to consider? I'm looking at marketing a list of 20k people to start and if we even get 4-5 conversions, I'll be hitting up another 20k people a month.
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  • Profile picture of the author betterwtveter
    I mainly use my own name, but depends if you want to focus on a particular niche involving a business partner
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    • Profile picture of the author cfspartan
      Originally Posted by betterwtveter View Post

      I mainly use my own name, but depends if you want to focus on a particular niche involving a business partner
      No business partner is involved whose name could be used - it wouldn't help credibility. It's not the IM niche and that is my business partner's specialty and his branding is such.
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  • Profile picture of the author stefanvanray
    Do your homework but don’t over think it. Outsource the photo (if necessary) and even the article for that matter. Consider your niche, the age range, gender, etc. Baby name search works great. Test it and more than anything consider if you would trust this person your creating? If it seems credible to you, it’s a win.
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  • Profile picture of the author celente
    david deangelo or EBAN Pagen as many people know him has made millions.

    The david one was just a pen name, but in an uncanny way, he has made millions with the david name and Eban name over the years.

    Pen names mean nothing, what mean something is the info and products you are creating for your target audiences. People these days do not care who they are coming from, they just want good info.

    Those who brand, do well, however that name and brand building take years and years of hard work.
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