Something been on my mind that I need to talk about. It’s been on my mind for awhile now. The question has been bugging me for over a year — Should I “go public” with this blog and reveal our true identities for the world to see?
Or, should I remain completely anonymous and protect our true identities?
Why Go Public At All?
The first big question is why — Why bother going public at all? There’s several reasons — the biggest might be the increased traffic the blog would receive. Increased blog traffic means more add revenue. Perhaps this blog could finally make more than $30 a month!
$60 a month would be pretty sweet! 😉
I’ve spoken with other bloggers who’ve gone public and released their real names to the world (like Tawcan). These bloggers tell me that web traffic definitely does increase once you “go public”. I guess people are more interested in blogs when the blogger is willing to share his or her full name.
Does that make the blogger seem more trustworthy? Perhaps they become more relatable to the average Joe or Jane?
I’m just speculating here, but there’s pretty good evidence to suggest that web traffic would increase if I told people my real name. After-all, nearly every single one of the “big” bloggers has their name out in public.
Another reason (and perhaps even more important than the first), is that reporters and newspapers are more willing to talk to you if you’re not anonymous. Sharing your story with the public is a big part of being a blogger, and large news outlets are a very good way to get big exposure.
Not long ago, I actually had to turn down an interview with the Wall Street Journal because I wanted to remain anonymous. They insisted that I provide my full name, but I couldn’t do it. What a bummer!
Most big personal finance websites and news publications like Yahoo Finance, The Wall Street Journal, and Marketwatch are like this. They want “sources” that are completely non-anonymous. I’m not entirely certain why this is necessary, but I suppose it gives more credibility to the newspaper if the source is verifiable. At the end of the day, if you’re not “public”, they won’t feature you on their website.
On top of those reasons there’s also the fact that I’m keeping a big secret from my friends and family. Besides my wife, none of my friends and family are aware of our financial status.
I’m not exactly living a lie here, but I am keeping a big secret!
Why Stay Anonymous?
I’ve written about stealth wealth a little in the past, but the reasons to keep wealth quiet are many and varied. First and foremost is the fact that friends and family won’t relentlessly pressure me to spend money.
“Hey, you’re pretty wealthy — why don’t you buy us dinner tonight?”
“We’d like to do some renovations on the house — could you loan us the money? We’ll pay you back of course.”
Yep, if friends and family knew we had money they might start treating us like some kind of personal piggy bank to raid (Never mind the fact that we didn’t get wealthy by spending money).
Then there’s local schools, churches, and charity groups. If our name was public, they might look to us more often for donations and fundraisers. Or maybe pressure us more. We don’t mind donating to good causes (we do so every year), but we prefer to do it without outside pressure or influence involved.
There’s also the matter of personal safety — In Washington State, it’s relatively simple to look-up where someone lives if you know their full name. If I went public, random weirdos could suddenly start showing-up at our front door asking for money, or a free lunch.
It’s possible that my personal safety, or that of my family could become an issue.
In the past I’ve always decided to keep our real name a secret… and it’s worked out OK. We haven’t been harassed into paying more than our fair share, we survived a lawsuit relatively unscathed, nobody is creeping around our property, and we’re still on good speaking terms with all of our friends and family.
If we go public, all of that could change. Money can really change personal relationships if you’re not careful.
Do we dare open pandora’s box?
Isn’t Your Family Already Non-Anonymous?
When I was writing this post, it reminded me of a recent question from a reader:
“If you want to keep your identity secret, why do you frequently post pictures of your kids? Aren’t they already recognized at school?”
It’s true, I do post pictures of my kids all the time. You’d think someone would recognize the kids at school, but they really don’t. Not one single person has recognized our kids despite me regularly posting pictures of them. Why is that?
I think part of this is because kids grow so fast and change so fast they’re never the same. Take a picture today, and they’ll look completely different next week. It makes it hard for anyone to identify them.
That, and I think adults ignore children unless they happen to be the child’s parents. We only start to remember other people’s faces when we build relationships with them. Everyone else’s face becomes a blur that’s quickly forgotten.
So my kids are safely anonymous, despite the fact that I post pictures of them all the time.
Questions And Final Thoughts
What do you guy think? Should I go public with this blog? Or, are the risks too great?
Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill here — after-all there are hundreds of other personal finance bloggers that have names in the public that no-one is harassing. Why would I be any different?
Maybe I’m creating a problem here where none exists. It’s hard to say what might happen if I actually go public. Both good things and bad are possible. I’m still contemplating the move, and would love to hear feedback from readers and other bloggers. Do you think it’s worth it?
Like the Wizard of Oz, I going to stay safely hidden behind the curtain for now…
[Image Credit: Flickr]