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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Freelance Writing 101: What's in a Pen Name?

What's in a Pen Name? Your pen name is your brand. It is your byline, your web presence. I use my real name, but many people are not comfortable doing this. If you are not comfortable using your real name in your freelance writing career you will need to choose a pen name. Just about all sites and clients will allow you to use a pen name to protect your privacy.

So, how do you choose a pen name? Choose something you like. For example, what is a name you have always wished your parents would have named you? Use that and then choose a real-sounding last name to go along with it. You can also choose a middle initial if you'd like. If you like the name Victoria your pen name could be something like "Victoria Hemming or "Victoria M. Hemming".

It is incredibly important that your pen name be a real-sounding name. Names like "partygurl216" or "yellowboy" will not be taken seriously by potential clients. Think about it. If you were looking to hire some writers to write articles for you who would you take more seriously "Victoria Hemming" or "partygurl216"? All clients are far more likely to choose Victoria Hemming regardless of partygurl216's skill and experience because partygurl 216 is not professional.

Your MySpace handle (unless it is your real name or sounds like one) is not an appropriate pen name. My MySpace handle is SpeedyTurtle. While I think that is very, very cool, I know it is not professional at all.
Single names, while not really unprofessional, are often not taken as seriously as a first name and a last name.

So, when you are creating your pen name keep all of this in mind. Ask yourself, "would I take this name seriously?" "Can I live with this pen name for a long time?" and most importantly "Is my pen name professional?"
Here are some pen name variations that are a great choice (using Victoria L. Hemming as an example):

Victoria L. Hemming
Victoria Hemming
V.L. Hemming
V. Hemming
V. Leigh Hemming (assuming the "L" stands for "Leigh")

When you are choosing a pen name, be sure to choose wisely. Your pen name can greatly impact your freelance writing career. You have to decide what's more important: a catchy name or being taken seriously. I say this because many people do not realize how important their pen name is to their freelance writing career. So if you do not want to use your real name feel free to be creative, but be sure to keep it real-sounding and professional.

If you ever need any help choosing a professional pen name please feel free to contact me anytime.

Happy Writing!

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