How to Use Social Media with a Pen Name
I’ve previously written about using a pen name, and in the last few years, I’ve learned quite a lot more. A question I hear quite often is, “How do you use social media with a pen name?”
I’ll admit, it can seem a little daunting at first. When you start a writing account under your real name, you can invite friends and family to follow you. When you start under a pen name, you’re limited to fans only, or anyone you want to disclose your pen name to.
There are some clear drawbacks to setting up social media accounts under a pen name. Some writers end up juggling two sets of social media accounts, and have to go back and forth. This can cut into writing time.
There are also some definite benefits. Social media allows you to share your work more widely, and connect with readers and other writers.
If you set up your accounts successfully and know how to manage them, it can actually be a breeze to run. I’ve done it for a few years, and here’s what I’ve learned.
Make an email address for your pen name
This is key. If you use an email address associated with your real name, people may be able to search for it on social media and find your pen name. Privacy = gone.
Gmail lets you easily set up a new email address, so I set up one for my pen name. You can use this to open up your new accounts. This also doubles as the email address people can use to contact you under your pen name.
You might also want to avoid entering your phone number when you make new accounts on places like Twitter and Instagram. This, too, could be used to identify you. I leave it blank and haven’t had any issues yet.
Open the accounts
If you’ve selected a unique pen name, it should be easy to get usernames. For example, I’m @elliedaforge everywhere.
I’ve found it easiest to start a new account on Twitter. Instagram and Facebook are harder for me to navigate with a pen name, and I worry about privacy concerns. I have them under my real name to keep up with friends and family, and mainly use Twitter for my writing.
You can set up a pen name on Medium as well as an account under your real name, if you choose. You will have to submit your real information to get paid, but Medium keeps that information private.
Choose an avatar
I didn’t want to use a photo of myself, so I used a stock illustration for my avatar on Medium and Twitter. You could also use a photo that represents your work, or commission an artist to make a design for you, if you want to be unique.
Use the accounts regularly
Since you don’t have a built-in audience when you start a pen name, follow writers you like and start interacting with other writers and readers. Share your work, as well as the work of other writers you enjoy. It might take more time to build up a following, but it will come.
Social media does require frequent updates. If you go weeks or months without posting anything, you may lose followers. I try to log in every few days to share snippets of my life and catch up with some of followers. It doesn’t take too long, and helps keep me connected to everybody.