Fame or anonymity? Either can be appealing to a writer launching a blog.
For some writers, an open lifestyle is a big part of their brand. Take travel writers, for example. Their posts often rely on personal anecdotes, complete with photos of the blogger as they embark on a series of worldly adventures.
But that sort of exposure isn’t for everyone. Some writers prefer to keep their personal lives private, discussing topics from behind a digital veil. There’s a real sense of security that comes from writing what you feel without worrying about it affecting your day-to-day life or image.
This guide on how to blog anonymously focuses on the latter option, with specific guidance for keeping your online identity a secret. I’ll show you the step-by-step process for getting set up without revealing your true name.
Join me, and let’s get started.
Anonymous Blogging 101
A blog is a website or section of a website that’s home to a series of posts or articles.
Anonymous blogging is the practice of writing for or running a blog without revealing your real name or identity. This is easier for journal-style blogs, where you’re writing about hobbies or random topic. But you can also remain anonymous when writing blogs for businesses (obviously, the company won’t remain anonymous).
Contrary to some naysayers, you can still practice self-expression, connect with readers, and monetize your site while remaining anonymous (One Frugal Girl and Retro Gaming Boss are great examples). If those factors — rather than personal fame — are your reasons for writing, then anonymous blogging might be the way to go.
Contrary to some naysayers, you can still practice self-expression, connect with readers, and monetize your site while remaining anonymous.
Pros to Blogging Anonymously
Culture is ego-driven. Compliments, likes, and acclaim are extremely commoditized. So, who would want to put in the work to build a blog anonymously, without receiving any personal credit?
Well, here are a few potential reasons for seeking anonymity:
- Writing about a controversial topic, such as politics
- Writing about a topic that’s completely different from your primary profession, such as a school teacher writing a romance blog
- Avoiding the possibility of personal attacks and trolling
- Creating an aura of mystery around your writing
In an oversharing world, privacy is precious. Connecting one’s real identity to a digital persona is a step that many writers wisely approach with caution.
Cons to Blogging Anonymously
The downsides to learning how to blog anonymously revolves around the limits of what you can accomplish with a secret identity.
Without attaching a name and face to your work, your audience may doubt your credibility. You can’t fully leverage your education, professional background, and life experience. Readers will never know for sure how accurate your biographical info is, or how qualified you really are to discuss a topic.
It’s not just readers who might have trust issues with an anonymous blogger — Google might also give you the side-eye.
Google’s search engine results algorithms prioritize E-A-T. This stands for:
E-A-T is established over time, after your blog has demonstrated a track record of expert-written content that includes credible sources. When your site demonstrates E-A-T, Google rewards it with higher search engine results rankings.
A number of factors build E-A-T. These include the expertise, authority, and trustworthiness of not just the content (as judged by Google’s algorithms), but also of the primary content creator. So, presenting credentials and background info can help your site’s ranking potential.
How well can artificial intelligence make judgments about the identity of a website author? Nobody knows for sure. E-A-T and SEO are notoriously enigmatic concepts. However, the consensus is that anonymity is a strike against E-A-T. But, it’s by no means a deal-breaker.
Remember, you can always transition your author identity from anonymous to public down the line. But doing the opposite is not so easy.
How to Blog Anonymously: Getting Started
Starting a blog requires some hard work. But hey, an estimated 31 million Americans have created blogs — if they can do it, why can’t you?
Setting up and getting ready to blog anonymously requires all the standard moves, plus some extra measures designed to ensure your privacy.
Let’s take a look at the step-by-step process of building your anonymous blog.
1. Choose a Pseudonym
Your first step is to choose a name. Don’t take this step lightly! Pseudonym selection gets the ball rolling on all of your blogging goals.
Do you want to be memorable and amusing? Maybe your finance blog is written by “Johnny Moneybags.”
You can also pick a gender-neutral name like Sam or Jamie if you’d prefer something androgynous. The same goes for your nationality and race. Pick a name that easily connects readers to those aspects of your identity, or intentionally change things up.
Keep in mind that your audience will use your pseudonym to draw conclusions about your identity. Choose accordingly.
2. Create a Private Email
You’ll need to use an email address to sign up for services and your domain. To blog anonymously, use your pseudonym to create a brand new email account that’s only used for this purpose.
Gmail is a great go-to option.
Depending on your blogging goals, you may want to display the email to readers who wish to contact you. For that reason, I recommend choosing something relatively professional — something you don’t mind displaying to visitors.
Obviously, don’t include any identifying info in the address.
3. Pick an Anonymous Blogging Platform
The internet looks a lot sharper than it did ten years ago, right? That’s partially thanks to platforms like WordPress, which make it easy for anyone to make a professional-looking website.
WordPress is a content management system (CMS), i.e., software for creating and modifying web content without specialized technical skills. It’s so simple and powerful that WordPress powers nearly 40 percent of all websites.
When learning how to blog anonymously, you should choose between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
WordPress.com is a freemium service that hosts blogs. It’s simple for users but provides fewer design options and less monetization potential.
WordPress.org is also known as self-hosted WordPress. It’s the preferred choice for most bloggers due to its customizability. Unlike WordPress.com (owned by Automattic), WordPress.org is open-source and free to use, but you’ll have to pay for hosting.
4. Secure an Anonymous Web Host
To blog anonymously with WordPress.org, you’ll need web hosting. There are many hosting companies out there, including heavy-hitters like Bluehost and GoDaddy.
However, you want a host that syncs flawlessly with self-hosted WordPress. I recommend FlyWheel, which only deals in WordPress. It takes all of the frustration out of getting up and running and has a dedicated team to help if anything goes wrong.
As you can see, plans start at just $13/month. There’s also endless room for growth as you continue to blog anonymously and your site gains traction.
4. Pick Your Private Domain
Once you’ve signed up at WordPress.com or installed WordPress.org and chosen a host, you’ll pick a domain name. Like choosing a pseudonym, this step should be fun. It’s an opportunity to get the ball rolling with some memorable branding.
Your domain name should be easy to pronounce, spell, and understand. You can include one or two of the most important keywords for your niche, if you like.
Your domain host is required to collect some personal info from you to share with ICANN: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN is a non-profit that, among other responsibilities, makes sure that every registered web address is unique and functional.
To help you limit which personal details you must share, many domain hosts offer privacy services that mask your information. This is essential, as it establishes a buffer between your personal info and the public’s access to that info. It’s included free of charge with Google Domains.
6. Get Your Site Ready For Launch
How do you want your site to look? As an anonymous blogger, readers won’t know your name or see your face. So, creativity is key. Use your layout and content to establish an inviting corner of the internet. Connect to your audience.
An anonymous identity doesn’t mean your blog can’t be full of your personality. Photos, colors schemes, article headlines and topics, even your choice of font — these are all ways to make your site be “you” even though no one knows who “you” are.
As long as your content is top-notch, anonymity doesn’t need to get in the way of your connection with readers.
7. Be Careful With Your Words
Anonymity is fragile. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
That’s why you should be extra careful about your words and giving away any identifiable information.
De-anonymization is the process of removing anonymity. If someone wants to unmask your identity, they’ll use one of two de-anonymization techniques:
- Technical identification through available technical data such as server logs or payment info
- Social correlation, comparing content on the blog against the personal details of potential matches
You can resist technical identification by practicing good cyber safety. Follow the tips in this article and the guidance from your web host. Understand what your host can and cannot guarantee regarding privacy.
As for social correlation, remember to watch what you write. If you keep telling stories about your favorite restaurant in a tiny town in Northeast Nebraska, it won’t be tough to track you down. That’s an extreme example, but the logic applies to any amount of revealing details you provide.
If you do tell personal anecdotes, switch around names and dates to avoid leaving a clear path to your identity.
Be Transparent About Blogging Anonymously
You have a right to blog anonymously. However, your readers have their own priorities. To help them feel wanted and engaged, be transparent.
In your “about” page, describe your reasoning for remaining anonymous. Share relatable aspects of your life that don’t reveal your identity. You and your readers have so much in common, but it’s up to you to make them feel the connection.
It takes some time to kickstart a blog project, but it’s an attainable goal for any motivated writer.
You’re stronger when you’ve got great people on your team. If you could use the help of an experienced content marketer, reach out to me. I would love to chat about your blogging goals.