Are you using your own name online…

Way back in 2002 when I first started marketing online I thought it was pretty cool to use my own name as a marketer, after all it’s rather distinct and I’m pretty convinced there are no other Kim Standerline’s out there!!!

Wow if I had my time over I’d really change that because one of the biggest regrets I have since I started working IM is using my own identity online. Sometimes I really wish I had a name like Smith or Jones etc…

Over the years of working in IM I’ve come to know the value of keeping one’s online persona distinct from my offline one, especially if you work offline for the NHS or any other government/council/big business body as I did.

That really struck home for me ironically enough back in 2009 just as I was leaving IM anyway. I won’t go into the details of what happened her on this blog, but suffice to say certain members of certain areas of the IM crowd decided to try and blacken my reputation. (Unfortunately if you type my name into Google you can still see remnants of what they managed to achieve though luckily the worst of it is gone).

At the time I was relatively well placed up the NHS ladder, and I can remember living in abject horror that my colleagues and bosses would discover the rather unpleasant posts about me online, luckily they never did. (Well I presume they didn’t as nothing was ever said) and as my daughter sagely put it at the time, ‘mum stop being a pompous prat, why would anyone at work want to Google you’ (She had a point)…

Luckily I don’t have that problem now as I’m semi retired from the NHS and I couldn’t care less what anyone thinks. I’m in the lucky enough position to work when and if I want.

Back in 2002 the internet was pretty private (compared to today) and it was considered ‘the thing’ to brand yourself online, then along came web 2 with it’s social media etc and everything changed, and not necessarily for the better.

Nowadays we live in a hugely digital society with much of everything we do and say put straight online. Facebook and Twitter are wonderful tools, but I find myself shaking my head in amazement at some of the idiotic posts and photo’s some folks put out there because the problem is, once they are up they can quickly go viral and are there for ever to make your life a misery.  Think Sally Bercow and the silly stuff she’s been castigated for tweeting, I bet she wishes she’d been able to take down a few of the tweets she was prone to posting!

Obviously it’s up to you how you want to present yourself as an online marketer because the other side of the coin would be to argue you’re being honest and transparent if using your own identity. Poor old Grant Shapps a UK politician and thoroughly nice guy took a bit of a beating in the British press a couple of years ago when it was discovered he’d previously been a very successful IM entrepreneur under the name Micheal Green which was all a tad surreal as he had transferred his online stuff over to his wife anyway when he became an MP

But I digress..

If you’re just starting out online and you have a fairly distinctive name I’d really advise you to consider whether using your own name to run your business is a good idea or whether using a pseudonym to protect you online privacy  would be better, especially if you still have an offline presence to consider. 

I’d love to hear what you think


  • igor Griffiths

    Reply Reply March 14, 2014

    Well hello Kim, knowing your back story, you make this point for a lesson learned the hard way.

    I read earlier this week a post about designing your business from its hairy goal backwards, in other words you could deliver content in the name of the brand you create for your big hairy goal rather in the name of little ol’ me. Think big and become big.

  • Pauline

    Reply Reply March 14, 2014

    Well Kim you post has given me something to think about. I don’t have a name that would stand out. Although you might not have thought that today at an appointment I attended, but that’s another story.

    I really didn’t want to use my own name. Mainly because of the people that know me in my real life, and don’t always like me. I felt I would be putting myself up as a target.

    However, on joining this course we have been positively encouraged to use our own names, rightly or wrongly. I just went with the tutoring, feeling they must know best.

    Take care

  • kimstanderline

    Reply Reply March 14, 2014

    Hi Pauline you’ve really got me interested about what happened at your appointment lol.

    I’m not sure John has actually said we should use our own names as such, what he’s said (unless I’m badly wrong) is we should brand the names we are using.

    To be honest there probably isn’t a right or wrong answer to this, I’m writing from the experiences I’ve had online, most folks have probably been absolutely fine

    Thanks for responding

  • Sky Nealon

    Reply Reply March 14, 2014

    Hi Kim,

    As you have mentioned, there are certain profession that may require individuals to write under a pseudonym for privacy and security reasons and at the end of the day it really depends on the individual, and how they wish to be perceived online.

    Now, the problem with social media and the power of the internet is that nowadays most people can find any information about you easily, and the reason they can do this is because most people don’t protect their personal information or embarrassing photos from the public. Even if you have a privacy settings set to max, they are still ways to get round them, like if you friend tags you in their photo, although you have blocked your boss, they can still search for you and your details through your friends profile.

    And let’s be honest, nowadays most employers prior to your interview will have already extensively google searched and combed through finely your FB profile before you have even step through the door. Existing employers and colleagues will also do the same because they want to have information that they can leverage against you, it’s a sick world out there.

    It also amazes me to some extent that the younger generation think the internet is a very safe place to be and what they don’t actually realise is being so open with personal information also leaves one vulnerable to identity theft, and that wherever you go online, you will always leave a footprint, or a trail of some sort.

    So with reference to using our own names or a pen name… well it’s simple, no matter which name you choose to use, just remember whenever you’re posting something online, that a reputation takes a very long time to be earned, but just one single click to be destroyed, so don’t post anything silly or embarrassing that you’ll regret later, because it’ll stay on the net for a very long time, like a black mark against your name.

    Happy and safe browsing

    • kimstanderline

      Reply Reply March 14, 2014

      You’ve made some very valid points Sky, since my ‘episode back in 2009 I made sure that I don’t post piccies of my grand-kids or anything to blogs etc as I used to do, I’m obsessive with online privacy as much as I’m able, but as you say its a wide open web out there and I know there are ways and means of getting round it

      Thanks for responding

  • Darren Hudson

    Reply Reply March 14, 2014

    Hi Kim ,

    I understand what you by the post , but I think it was generally suggested we use our proper name to gain more trust and brand who we are. To show that we are real people with normal lives and not trying to hide anything to perceive more value so our subscribers or readers can relate to us more . Great that you pointed it out though it really makes you think if we’ve done the right thing or not , but I guess like anything only time will tell .

    Good luck and God bless


    • kimstanderline

      Reply Reply March 14, 2014

      Hi Darren thanks for responding

      It’s a tricky one isn’t it, trying to find a balance?

      Thanks for responding

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