Pros and cons of using your real name for affiliate marketing

My previous article was an opinionated post about the reasons why you should use a pen name for affiliate marketing, as well as providing pros and cons to the concept of using a pen name. This post aims to do the opposite. If you aren’t scared of the possibility of public shaming, arent worried about people knowing that you have money, and want to brag about your success to your friends and family, then as obvious as it sounds, you should use your real name for affiliate marketing!

While using a pen name has clear advantages in terms of more creative freedom, the ability to remain anonymous from your chain of command at work(how awkward would it be if your boss found out you have a blog that makes you more money than his salary) and it helps you stay sane if you don’t want to become famous, using your real name helps your affiliate marketing business appear to be more legitimate and authentic.

One of the biggest factors to having success in the affiliate marketing industry is trust. You might argue that getting traffic is the most important, but I would suggest to you that you should focus on trust and gaining traffic equally.

Having your name and as a result, the ability to use YouTube to show your face, as well as your voice to demonstrate will go a long way toward establishing trust in your brand!

The pros of using your real name:

#1- It is the easiest way to create content and you have unlimited mediums for promoting your brand! When you aren’t concerned with protecting your identity and you have the confidence to throw yourself and your brand out there without fear of consequence, you can use any medium to cover a topic!

Now let’s say you are using a pen name and you need to protect your identity while creating YouTube videos! You have a lot of work to commit to, such as using voice changing software to change the pitch of your voice, and if you don’t want your video to be expressionless, you also have to consider either picking up some design skills to create a little avatar for yourself or hire someone to design an avatar with emoticons for you.

If you use your real name and don’t try to hide anything about yourself, however, your workflow is much easier. If you want to cover a topic, you can simply use your phone and record yourself discussing an opinion, or promoting a product, and then you won’t have to deal with all that extra editing that I guarantee will be very time-consuming!

#2- You can incorporate real-life accomplishments within your niche to help establish that you are an expert in the field! 

When it comes to specific topics, the audiences will trust people who can prove that they are experts in these topics compared to people who cant. For example, let’s say you wanted to create a website, YouTube channel, and overall brand on the topic of basketball.

Your goal with this brand is to help new kids, middle schoolers learn better basketball skills, so you are targeting these kids, or you are targeting their caring and thoughtful parents who want to help their children excel in sports.

And back in the day, you went to state for basketball back in high school, and you have several trophies to prove you went to state. You can use these trophies to help establish trust with your viewers, and use it as a way to tell your audience, “Hey, I’ve been to state, I’ve done it all in basketball, I know what I’m talking about.”

Basketball ball is being used as an example, the point is, using your real name also allows you to find real-life experiences that you can use to support why you should be considered a trustworthy source of information based on the topics your brand is covering.

#3- Using your real name and picture makes you easier to trust. As humans, when we seek guidance, we like to feel like we can relate to the person on the other side of the screen. Now it is entirely possible to be a successful affiliate marketer while using a pen name, but not everyone is comfortable trusting information from a blog that doesn’t provide information about the author or shows the author’s face.

People crave the ability to be able to relate to other people, so for some, reading and taking advice from a mysterious person can be a bit off-putting. Using your real name and providing details about who you are, what you like to do with your free time, and letting people take a small peek into your personal life can go a long way in getting the traffic to your blog to stick around and bookmark your blog so that they can come back later to see your latest posts, and see what you’ve been up to!

Having traffic that trusts you is going to have a huge effect on getting your audience to click on your affiliate links because they will trust your reviews and believe in you and your ability to recommend the best products that will solve your audience’s problems!

#4- Your blog can potentially be used as a resume builder within specific job markets.

This will especially be the case if the job market is anything inside the marketing field, SEO field, affiliate manager, sales, and other fields that tend to have an appreciation for business-minded folks and self-starters.

Having a business is cool and will always start up a conversation in an interview. While some jobs may see a blog to be considered as a conflict of interest, the jobs that appreciate these kinds of things are always the jobs that you’ll want to work at!

The cons of using your real name:

Since the purpose of this article is about using your real name, we are going to assume you don’t have any anxiety, or perhaps only minimal anxiety to the point that fear of being discovered by friends and family is not a factor, and therefore will not be listing these out as cons. That being said, these are some things you should prepare yourself to deal with that may or may not happen through using your real name.

#1- Possibility that your job could discover your blog and see it as a conflict of interest. While this was listed as a pro, it can also be a con depending on the field of work you are in. The jobs that don’t exactly want you making money outside of the company, generally factories, construction, etc, the jobs that want your loyalty, and the jobs you work because you need a job now may not look too kindly at your side business.

#2- If you become well-known, people will know that you have money. This is personally something I haven’t figured out how I would deal with yet. I mean hey, look at me talk right? This blog is like 2 months old and only gets about 300 visitors a month, but the point is…

If you create something and it blows up in popularity, and it is attached to your real name, your friends will know you have a lot of money, your family will know you have a lot of money. People in your city might know you have a lot of money.

If you are single and you’re looking for love, this might change the dynamic of your relationships, you might lose a sense of self-confidence in your relationships because you’ll be asking yourself, does this person want to be with me, or is this just because I have a lot of money? This is something you should prepare yourself to deal with if you see yourself using affiliate marketing as a platform to boost your income to the next level

#3- If you are blogging about controversial opinions that you hide from friends and family, your blog could really mess up your relationships. Examples of highly controversial niches in affiliate marketing are religion, politics, sexuality, the pandemic. When it comes to these kinds of opinions, people are dead set in their beliefs to the point that they are willing to go to war for them. I don’t mean to sound insulting in regards to these people, but if they are ride or die for their stance, and you happen to make an opinionated blog post that perhaps disagrees with their stance, things can get quite uncomfortable for you.

Especially if you factor in that you may have offended a co-worker because of your blog post, imagine going into the office every day with a disgruntled co-worker whos always giving you the eye!

It’s all about context:

Now, I’m not too worried about being exposed to my job as a blogger, or about stirring up controversy. I’m a retail sales consultant and I blog about how to blog. My blog posts consist of opinionated ways to tackle blogging such as this post, I also review various programs that help you make money, and let you know if its a product worth pursuing or not, and last but not least, I also push my #1 recommendation for giving you the tools you need for affiliate marketing, as well as the best training for beginners to get started online! (this is not an affiliate link, just a product review)

The promotions I do use affiliate links for are products that are highly respected and have good reviews everywhere, and I also use and vouch for these products. I highly doubt that I am going to be called out, become famous, get canceled by cancel culture for teaching people some blogging tips.

But if you do want to move into heavy controversial topics as I have mentioned in the cons above, that’s when you are going to have a come to Jesus with yourself.

You not only need to figure out how to monetize your blog if that is your goal but if you are going to blog/create a brand under your real name and tackle these controversial subjects, you need to ask yourself how your content is going to affect your loved ones should they happen to discover it.

If you want to become as big of a brand as possible, and perhaps make as much money as possible, you need to ask yourself how you would handle fame. How are you prepared to handle the awkward situations that would occur if the public knew you were behind content that may not align with their personal beliefs?

Personally, I would never even try to tackle controversial topics to begin with. I have a laidback look at the world, I think people should just believe whatever they want to believe, but if I ever did try to tackle something controversial, I would use a pen name no questions asked! I value my personal privacy.

But when it comes to hobbyist niches, such as kayaking, video games, promoting say…the best desks for your PC setup, that type of thing, I’d recommend using a real name as it will be easier to relate to your audience by showing your true authentic self, and if promoting through YouTube, showing your face so that people can connect to the fact that you are a real person.

I do hope that this article has given you something to think about when it comes to using a pen name vs using your real identity! What are your opinions on this topic? Feel free to state your stance on the topic in the comments down below!

-David Nelly

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