Anonymity and building my personal brand

A few bloggers have written posts about anonymity in blogging. I’ve decided to jump on board because it is something I’ve been thinking about for the past little while. Unlike many PF bloggers, however, blogging is very much tied to my career.

A background 

I admit I’m fairly elusive on my blog. I haven’t given you guys many details on who I really am or what I do aside from the fact that I’m in communications full time. I know you’ve all been dying to know more, so here goes. Out of university, I was an economics/accounting major (nerd alert!) and went into the field full time for 1.5 years. I knew pretty quickly that I needed a change. I decided to go into communications after finding a college postgraduate program that seemed really interesting, had a great reputation, and also seemed to have great career prospects. Since completing the program, I’ve been interning for the past year and gaining as much experience as I can.

…But something is missing. Those of us in communications know that personal branding is key. I had a go at this last summer after starting my first internship, and started a personal wellness blog. This was short lived, so I guess I really didn’t care about personal wellness. Let’s face it folks, I haven’t exercised in ages and I often eat junk food like it’s my job. I am no authority on being healthy. The thing is, that blog was public. I had decent readership only because my 400+ friends on Facebook were being blitzed with all my new posts. My personal Twitter was also linked to it. I was easy to find and I guess I had started to develop a personal brand.

Upon the death of that blog, I started this one. I knew it was a topic I had immense interest in, as I was vigourously paying off my debt and reading tons of PF blogs. I decided to remain anonymous because I didn’t want all my friends to know that I was broke. I mean after all, I was 27 and half my friends were married and saving for houses or buying their own places while I was in debt.

Personal branding

Flash forward to today. I have a super famous blog with millions of followers. Ok, not true BUT I’ve found a niche that I like and everyday I’m surprised that people actually read me. I try to write regularly and I’ve been trying to engage more on Twitter. In short, I’m building a personal brand. But what good is this brand if no one even knows who I am? Am I really building a brand if I’m simply a nameless, faceless online caricature? I mean no disrespect to all the other anonymous bloggers out there because I completely get why you (and I!) do it. In my case, however, I just think that the work I put into running my blog should be linked to my personal brand.

Anonymous me!

Career progression

Why do I care about my personal brand? Two words: career progression. Ever since switching fields, I’ve known that I have to work twice as hard. It’s a competitive field with arguably little-to-no barriers to entry. The experience I gain through internships is key, but so is my personal brand. I know this because I interviewed for a job with a PR agency that happens to be a fantastic employer. In passing, I mentioned my blog and the interviewer was intrigued and wanted to see the blog. I voluntarily divulged the information because I wanted her to see that I was actively writing about something that interested me and could effectively utilize social media to engage with readers. Unfortunately I didn’t get the job, but they were nice enough to remember me and called me in for another interview. This time I also mentioned my ‘alter ego’ and the fact that you’ll find me tweeting more through that than through my personal Twitter. Sure enough, he had looked up my personal Twitter prior to the meeting. I’m glad I mentioned it because to the unknowing eye, my ‘real life’ brand is fairly stagnant: little Twitter activity and no blog. Why hide the fact that I do in fact have an active online identity?

When I say career progression, I also mean freelance opportunities. I will soon be published on a popular blog and I recently redid the content for the entire website of the company I currently work for, including blog posts. I would love to link my blog to all this content!

Conclusions?

Sorry guys! Haven’t come to any. These are just the thoughts running through my over-active little mind. In terms of relationships with other bloggers, I know that some of us can’t take each other seriously when there is no real identity attached. And I’ll admit I do feel a more personal connection to a blogger when I know their name and face. Going back to the very reason I decided to be anonymous, I’m no longer in debt – YAY. I don’t do spending or net worth updates like some bloggers do, and I most certainly wouldn’t with everyone I know reading my blog. So do I really have anything to hide anymore?

Is personal branding important in your line of work? If you’re anonymous, have you thought of ‘coming out’?

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15 thoughts on “Anonymity and building my personal brand

  1. I think branding is important in every line of work, I’m just not sure that becoming unanonymous on WLGYL would have a point toward personal branding. If you write a finance or self improvement blog, and aren’t a life coach or financial expert, then what’s the point in using that as your personal branding? I have been considering starting a personal website – like myrealname.com – with actual, real work things on it. That would be personal branding to me.

    • I think for me, the reason I would tie this blog to my brand is twofold: Firstly, I totally agree that branding is important in any line of work – but particularly in PR/communications, engaging with people online is a huge part of the job. When they see that you can do it in your own life, it’s a huge plus. Creating a public website is a great idea, but I feel like if I’m already documenting my life and experiences on one site, why create another? In your case, you have a huge body of great work that you won’t be able to link to your public site!

      The second part is that PF specifically can work favourably for me because although I’ve made the leap into PR, I’ve still been gravitating toward roles in financial services. As such, a PF blog is a perfect fusion of the two. For instance, with the job I talked about, the role was in PR but for the financial practice. The interviewer asked me if I had an interest in finance so I had to divulge the blog. She loved it!

  2. Hmmm this got me thinking that I should probably be even more open with my name on my blog. It also ties directly into my career since it shows off my marketing and social media skills….ok I’m still learning the social media side of things. It might be smart to make sure my blog comes up when a potential boss googles my name though. I guess my only concern was having more real life friends looking over my shoulder and checking out my blog.

    Since you’ve blogged in your name before, I’d say go for it. Put your name out there and get the full benefit out of your blog and the work you’ve put into it.

    • Yeah, the concern for me is real life friends as well. I think if I went public, I would certainly want to be searchable – although I think you said your blog is listed on your resume? That’s something I would like to do as well and might be good enough. I think you’re just the right amount of public to be honest. It’s so hard to draw the line these days with all our information being so easily accessible!

      Thanks for the input! I think I am leaning towards being more public (including the pics in this post where you can see like, 90% of me haha) so we’ll see :D

  3. I think you have ever right to be cautious. Once people you KNOW start reading your blog, especially those in your profession you will have to watch every single word you say, and I do mean everything. I think there could be a way to do both-like me-I’m quasi anonymous-I use my pictures but not my last name.

    • Eeeek, good point. I already watch what I say because I know a few people I know have accidentally found me online. Actually going public = that times A MILLION. I like your idea of quasi-anonymous! I might try that as a middle ground. Thanks!

  4. Personally, I love being a public blogger just because it’s great to get feedback from friends, family, and co-workers, and I don’t have to start from scratch so to speak. Lots of people knew me pre-blog, so when I launched the blog I already sort of had a personal brand to just build on. If you want to go public, I’ll totally support you, but if you want to remain anonymous, I’ll support you too!

    • Thanks Jessica, you’re too sweet! You’re right, I did like that with my old blog I had an audience from the get-go because I made my friends read me, haha. Definitely started from scratch here! Do you feel like you have to be extra cautious about what you say because you’re public?

  5. Oh definitely, I’m a writer, so it’s all about branding. Not so much an issue now as I’m a staffer, but right now my professional branding is kind of limited to Twitter, LinkedIn, my published writing, my about.me and clippings.me pages and perhaps my Tumblr, so I may well want to ramp it up going forward – I just haven’t had a reason to yet.

    I’m careful to write so that if I want to go fully public on my blog, there wouldn’t be much to tweak. Blogging for me is about being raw and honest (within reason obviously). I’ve linked to stuff I’ve written on my blog and posted my photo, but I haven’t explicitly put my name anywhere on it.

    • I’m the same as you – I try to be careful with what I write because a) I’m paranoid that people I know have already somehow found me and b) In case I go public. I think it would definitely be beneficial for you to go public in terms of career, should you ever choose to do so!

  6. I loved this post! To me, personal branding is everything online. I started off with fashion and healthy living blogs, where you’ll come to know and recognize that certain blogger’s face, name, interests, style, etc. I don’t blog anonymously but I haven’t tied any personal accounts with my blog. I just don’t feel comfortable with my whole FB network knowing that much about my personal life, but I may want to bring it up at future interviews or something…so I’m going to give myself a year or two to become more comfortable with that idea and see what happens next.

    • I guess you fall under semi-anonymous, Erika! I totally agree that everything you do online falls under personal branding. Even if your blog has nothing to do with your line of work, I really think that employers love to see that you have hobbies outside of work and that you are committed to building your brand online. You can always bring it up in interviews even if you don’t want to go fully public – I do!

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