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Thread: Should I use a pen name for content writing?

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW tlbodine's Avatar
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    Should I use a pen name for content writing?

    So I'm trying to break into freelancing, starting with content writing/SEO. I've wanted to freelance for so long, but before I never really felt "qualified" because I'd always imagined freelancing = writing articles for super competitive magazine markets on topics I probably don't know. Imagine my surprise and delight when I realized I can make decent money writing web content!

    But I also write fiction, and hope one day to launch a fiction career, either instead of/in addition to any freelancing I do.

    Is it going to hurt my credibility/platform/whatever to have a bunch of web writing credits when I start publishing fiction? Should I publish them under separate pseudonyms? Will it hurt anything if I blog about both on my writing blog?

    I'm very new to the whole freelancing/copywriting/ghostwriting scene and I don't quite know how it's viewed and what the rules are. So far all of my content has been ghostwritten so I don't have to worry about a byline, but some sites will credit me. So.....thoughts?
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  2. #2
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    In my opinion use of a pen name is wise. Low-paying content doesn't mesh well with a professional writer's brand. But I am sure not everyone agrees.

  3. #3
    Onlyifyouwanttowillyoufin daway-Enya inkkognito's Avatar
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    I'm on the flipside, but not for any particularly strong reason. I wouldn't write anything, even for a content mill, that I was ashamed to put my name on. I have enough magazine credits, and even a book under my belt, to prove myself when going for new jobs/clients. I actually find the content mill stuff when applying for gigs in which speed/SEO is important.

  4. #4
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I wouldn't publish anything I was ashamed of either. But I think that when I ask for $500 for an article whilst posting others for pennies a day, it is dissonant. Also I want to ensure that if some one googles me they get my page and my publishers, not a high PR content site article about some unrelated topics.

  5. #5
    Onlyifyouwanttowillyoufin daway-Enya inkkognito's Avatar
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    I figure that if they Google me, it will be by the time I've already provided them with links geared to the specific job, so the other stuff just shows that I'm active and versatile. If teachers can paint houses in the summer and physicians can drive the monorail at Disney World part time (yes, mine actually did), then I figure I shouldn't be looked down on for writing both high end and low end. And if a potential client does look down on that, it's probably not the right fit for me (although so far, that hasn't been a problem).

  6. #6
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I publish under one name with academic presses where I expect it would be a problem. And under another name erotica which could also be and issue for content buyers of the "family values" type.
    Last edited by veinglory; 10-17-2011 at 09:52 PM.

  7. #7
    I'd go by the philosophy of when in doubt use a pen name, though some content sites do not allow the use of a pen name.

    Personally, I publish under my name with the idea that -- regardless of the quality of the site as a whole -- my work is quality work.
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  8. #8
    Onlyifyouwanttowillyoufin daway-Enya inkkognito's Avatar
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    Herdon, you made me think of another reason I use my own name. I've seen plenty of bad-mouthing of Examiner as a whole, but for my little niche, my name is a necessity. I get invites to press events, and I even have a little fan base (kinda fun to get recognized by readers at the theme parks). It's sad that Examiner is a hotbed of plagiarists and people who write like they dropped out in fifth grade, but there are some really good writers there too so I stand behind my work there.

    I get the pen-name-for-erotica thing, though. I actually did use a pen name for magazine work a few times when the content related closely to something that the person who inspired it wouldn't find too flattering.

  9. #9
    Yeah. Examiner is really a good idea with horrible execution. It was the right idea at the right time with a clueless staff. Going the content mill route wasn't a good choice.

    But there are quality writers with the site. I think if someone took over that knew what they were doing, Examiner could become relevant. But their goal is to make money, not be a quality site, and it is (or was) far easier to make money as a content mill than pushing out quality writing.
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  10. #10
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin bees's Avatar
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    I publish under a pen name when I don't have any editorial control over the final product. It's not about being ashamed of low-quality work, but more about being embarrassed by errors that did not originate with me. I work in education, and if people Google me and find incorrect articles with my byline, it would definitely hurt me professionally.

    Frequently, online publishers reorganize themselves and bylines get lost or mixed up in the restructuring. So even if you do use your real name, there's no guarantee it will stay on the piece forever, especially if you sell full rights.

    Using a pseudonym won't prevent you from including such writing experience on a resume (should you want to) since you will have records to prove you worked for the company. Clips are another matter.

    Just for fun, here are some random pseudonym generators:
    http://www.kleimo.com/random/name.cfm
    http://www.had2know.com/entertainmen...generator.html

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