This is a guest post by Sean Platt.
I used to be invisible.
Once upon a time I lived my online life behind the moniker, Writer Dad, and everything felt safe.
I decided to publish online without a name mostly because at the time my wife and I were running a business that we were strongly considering giving up in exchange for the potential of an online career. Though this dream was rapidly gathering heat, it wasn’t one I was ready to share with my clients.
Keeping my identity a secret allowed me to dip my toe in the online waters without actually getting my head wet.
From behind the mask of anonymity, I felt free to unleash my true thoughts upon the world. Though I can never know for sure, there is a part of me that believes things took off more quickly for me because of my early pen name. Because I never hedged my language based on who might read my words, I wrote fast, furious, and without a leash.
I found my voice quickly. It started to spill. Soon it was a broken faucet.
I continued to enjoy the anonymity, though I was never shy about using my real name behind the drawn curtain of email. I made friends and exchanged plenty of emails, all of them signed Sean, but for the first two months I never used my name on the site.
But I didn’t want to be Writer Dad forever.
I started to wonder when I should lift the veil. By the beginning of the third month, I knew it would have to be soon. It was time to close the doors of my brick and mortar business and I wanted to pursue the next phase of my online career. Still, I wasn’t in too much of a hurry. Who knows how long I may have continued staying invisible had the decision been made for me.
I opened an email one day from Brian Clark. “You’re at bat,” it said. I clicked over to Copyblogger and, sure enough, was staring at my first byline. “Are You a Writer?” the headline asked. The name beneath the headline was not the one I’d been using since going online. It was the one I’d been given over thirty years before.
I’d been outed but I was happy. Being anonymous, I realized, can only hold you back. Online fruit is gathered from the orchards of relationships. Yet it is difficult to nurture a true connection without a tangible identity on the other side of the broadband.
Honesty and transparency are important; names and faces too.
I still get my fair share of anonymity, as I spend much of my time as a ghost writer, writing words for other people that I will never claim. Yet it is only because of the time spent being me that I was able to fade back into comfortable anonymity.