So you want to be a gunblogger: the question of anonymity

Going back to the well of “questions up and coming bloggers ask me”, here’s one that I should have addressed a long time ago, but haven’t yet. I had a blogger ask me this question at SHOT, and then interestingly later in the day I was talking to a rep from a major manufacturer about much the same topic.

furious keyboard still

The question basically goes “I want to start a blog, but I’m worried about writing under my real name, what should I do?” The problem with the answer is that like much else in the field of gun blogger, the answer is “it depends.”

There are some general guidelines that you can rely on for guidance, with the first being fairly obvious. Namely, if you want to be taken seriously as a writer by the firearms industry, blog under your real name. While there are established gun bloggers using pen names that are taken seriously by the industry/political apparatus, that list pretty much consists of Say Uncle, Sebastian from PA Gun Blog, and the Firearm Blog. They have the advantage of having done this for some time, and the right people know who they really are, so blogging under a pen name isn’t a big deal for those guys. If you’re just starting out and want to be taken seriously; most major brands don’t want to deal with someone who isn’t willing to stand behind what they say with their real name.

That is in fact one of the biggest issues the mainstream firearms industry has with the internet at large – how to keep “some anonymous guy on some forum/blog in his mother’s basement” from trashing their product is actually a big deal. The industry takes this so seriously that if you want to go to SHOT Show on a media pass from your blog, one of the requirements is to use your real name on your badge.

Another argument for using your real name is that it’s more professional. People know me in the industry as Caleb Giddings; not as “Ahab” or any of the other pen-names I’ve used in the past. It’s a lot easier to introduce myself as “Caleb from Gun Nuts Media” than it is as “Caleb, I run this blog under the pen name Ahab.” Similarly, if your nom de plume is something silly like a character from a Stephen King novel or your favorite caliber, those introductions get even more difficult.

Of course, there is an argument for anonymity. If you’re just blogging as a hobby, and you don’t want coworkers/family members to know who you are, then I’d actually recommend using a pen name. That’s pretty much it, though. If blogging is just going to be a hobby, something that you do for giggles from time to time, then by all means use a pen name.

However, if you plan on doing this seriously, whether for money, T&E products, or industry respect – ditch the pen name. The perception of anonymous bloggers in the firearms industry is largely negative; you’re much better off just avoiding it altogether by owning your words under your real name.