3 Benefits for Using a Pseudonym
For nearly a decade, I’ve been using my middle name instead of my given name for my professional and creative endeavors. This decision initially confused and amused friends and family, but with the increasing prevalence of social media, search engines and identity theft, people have become more aware of the dangers of having their personal information so readily available over the internet.
For a freelancer, your name is your brand, your name is your business. Could a pseudonym be right for you? Here are the benefits of going under an assumed name for freelancing:
A pseudonym may be simpler, more memorable or less complicated than your real name.
I stopped going by my first name for two reasons. First, people always mispronounced it on the first try, and secondly, even after I would correct it for them, they would still continue to mispronounce it. This made basic communication frustrating at times, and since my middle name is much harder to butcher and less common, I decided to start going by it in professional circles. For yourself, if your real name is overly simple (e.g. John Smith), infamous (e.g. John Gacy) or complicated (e.g. Moonbeem McJohn), using another name can make you and your business sounds unique, memorable, and respectable.
Keeping Your Personal Business off the Internet
One of my friends is a private investigator, and he regularly tells me how easy it is for him to find out financial information via the internet. A pseudonym can keep the information on your tax return completely separate from your internet persona. By no means does this mean that you should not accurately report your earnings to the IRS or anything like that. Whenever people freak out about how someone drained their bank account by figuring out their password from Twitter posts, or whenever there’s a creepy new website that lists your name, address, and salary, you won’t have to worry. Your real name—the one that goes on official documents—will have a very low presence on the internet thanks to your pseudonym.
Separating Business from Pleasure
Facebook can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you use it. If you’re wary because you can’t whine about the side effects of your new medication without turning off clients, a pseudonym will at least allow you to manage two Facebook accounts: one that’s strictly for business, and one that’s strictly for you.
Finally, your pseudonym should be chosen wisely. Do not make yourself sound like a soap opera villain, a Dungeons & Dragons character or an exotic dancer. Be realistic, don’t deviate too much from your actual name, and unless you’re Prince, avoid mononyms.