From the moment you start a blog, you’re faced with a decision that you can’t undo… do you put your name and smiling face on your “About” page, or do you leave your identity a mystery? While you can always reveal yourself down the line, the Internet never forgets and that initial “Hello World” post will be out there forever.

So, what’s the right move? It’s usually a pretty personal decision. Often anonymity allows bloggers to share more than they’d normally feel comfortable disclosing.

“The reason I remain an anonymous blogger on the whole though is because in doing so, I feel like I can be totally honest with you in the posts I write. From how much debt we were in, to how we paid off our debt, to how much money I make online – I can share my thoughts with you openly,” says Hayley of Disease Called Debt.  “There are things I’ve shared here which I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about even with the people who are closest to me. I’ve worn my heart on my sleeve here on this blog.”

Of course, blogging anonymously also means you have to keep your blog a secret in “real life,” which is disappointing when you put so much of yourself into it. For the author of The Single Swan, she’s blogging about her divorce and doesn’t want her child to someday read it an be biased toward either parent, but it also means there’s yet another secret in here life.

“My blog is a real achievement for me.  I never thought that I would own a domain name, be able to set up a website, figure out html code (okay I admit that I only have basic knowledge).  I like the way it looks.  I enjoy writing,” says Pen.I want to talk about it, but I can’t.”

Blogging anonymously is also a lot of work. Just like Clark Kent has to keep wearing those glasses and making sure people don’t see him slipping into a phone booth to change into his Superman outfit, you’ve got to constantly be wary of revealing your true identity. Managing two distinct social profiles, not using any photos that give away your location, making sure no personal details slip out, curtailing topics and skimping on details that you’d love to include but can’t in an anonymous environment are all a lot of extra work.

Also, if you have designs of using your blog as a springboard into writing professionally, blogging anonymously might not help your career.

“When you blog anonymously, it’s difficult to show that the thousands of words you’re so proud of were written by you,” says Gwen Boyle of Be a Freelance Blogger. “All I had was my anonymous blog. I tried to use it as proof of my ability to write, playing a game where I only revealed my identity to potential clients. Predictably, no-one took the bait. I soon realised that I would have to start getting pieces published online from scratch.”

If you do go the anonymous route, it’s critical to still have a personality.

“Tell stories. Lots and lots of them. They are the most personal thing you can share, and if you get in the habit of telling them, we’ll all get to know you even if we have no idea what your name is or what you look like. Stories tell us about the lens through which you view life, what your assumptions are, how you make decisions, and all those other wonderfully messy and complicated things that make us human,” says Mr. & Mrs. ONL of Our Next Life. Bring all of that forward, show us your vulnerability, admit when you were wrong or changed your mind. That’s the best stuff there is.”

Of course, there’s always a third option. Blogging under a name… just not your own.

“Authors have long used pseudonyms to avoid stalkers, or because they write about sensitive subjects, or because they have a day job and don’t feel their employers would get it,” says the author of Blog A Living. “Bloggers should absolutely feel free to do the same. If your brand needs the personal touch, but you don’t want to expose your off-line life or family details to trolls, potential stalkers or criminals, using a pseudonym adds an extra layer of security.”

What’s you approach to blogging identity? Tell us about it in the comments below.