OurNextLife.com // Everything I've learned about blogging anonymously // early retirement, financial independence, adventure, happinesscommunity

How to Blog Anonymously Like a Secret Agent

One of the most common questions I get by email these days is how to write a blog while staying completely anonymous, given that I did it successfully for nearly three years. (And maybe also because there was that whole thing about a CIA-trained military intelligence officer not being able to figure out who I was. Because I’m super stealth, y’all.)

A few years ago, I wrote about the topic, but I’ve learned even more since then, and have included all those tips here. Whether you’re interested in blogging anonymously yourself, or are just curious what goes on behind the scenes, read on!

OurNextLife.com // Hot to blog anonymously like a secret agent // early retirement, financial independence, adventure, happiness

The Obvious Stuff

There are some incredibly basic rules of anonymous blogging that almost don’t warrant mentioning. But let’s go over them anyway, because if you’re serious about not getting found out, you’ll take nothing for granted.

Don’t share your picture.

Don’t share your name.

Don’t share the names or pictures of anyone you’re ever talking about.

Don’t share the names or pictures of your pets.

Don’t share where you live, even approximately.

Some people may choose to blog semi-anonymously, using first names or photos but no names, and of course that’s your choice. But if your goal is to stay anonymous, stay vigilant about sharing identifying details. It’s pretty interesting what people can put together if motivated to do so, and if you’re determined not to get found out, you must be careful not to leave any breadcrumbs for someone to follow.

Keep the Backend Anonymous

A decent number of anonymous bloggers who’ve been outed across the internet have been found out by being sloppy on the technical side of things. So don’t repeat their mistakes!

URL DNS registration — When you register your blog URL, select private registration. It’s still possible to get found out, but anyone looking for info on who you are will have to work quite a bit harder to find you. If you can use a P.O. box address and a company name to register your URL, and then do private registration on top of that, even better.

Email — Never, ever, ever use your personal email, or any email address that can be tracked back to you. It’s free to get a Gmail account, so get one for your blog that you’ll use for everything blog-related, including registering your URL.

Linkable accounts — Rumor has it that the most common way of all that anonymous bloggers online get found out is by using a Google Analytics account for their blog that they also use for a personal website. Don’t do it! Get a separate Google Analytics account for your blog using your blog email, and with any other service online that requires a sign-in, never use the same sign-in for personal and blog purposes.

Mr and Ms ONL in deep snow

Keep Photos Anonymous

Photos are another huge potential giveaway, but there are steps you can take to protect your privacy.

Disable or remove location tags — When you take photos with a smartphone or GPS-enabled camera, a GPS location tag gets stored in the photo’s metadata, in what’s known as the EXIF tag. These tags can give you away quickly to those who know to look at the photos’ properties, especially if you take photos at or near your house. (To be honest, I was not careful with these when I was anonymous, and some alert readers figured out that we live in Tahoe.) You can prevent this location info from being logged on your photos by turning locations services off entirely on your phone, and for photos already tagged, you can take these steps to remove the metadata.

Images you’ve used elsewhere — Another dead giveaway is to use photos you also have up on your personal Facebook profile, a personal website or pretty much anywhere else on the internet. A reverse image search of your pics will quickly give you away. If you don’t want to get found out, only use new photos you’ve never used anywhere else online, EXIF tags stripped out of course.

Recognizable locations or objects — On the low-tech side of things, be careful with what you depict in your images. Many places are more recognizable than you might imagine. I was careful to never show Lake Tahoe, and to show white Sierra granite only every once in a while (mixed in with lots of photos of volcanic rock and Utah red sandstone), but I still got an email every now and then telling me that the tree bark of our Jeffrey pines was a dead giveaway that we live in California.

Recognizable people — Facial recognition technology is moving along quickly, so showing your face but no name will shortly be little protection. But beyond shielding yourself, make sure you don’t show anyone in your pictures who could be in any way tied back to you, because facial recognition doesn’t have to be on only your own face.


Keep Your Writing Anonymous

If you’ve done everything up to this point, you’re in pretty good shape and run a good chance of never being found out. But a little sloppiness can still unmask you unintentionally.

Personal details — Sharing personal details is where it’s incredibly easy to slip up. Anything you do to shrink the universe of people who might be you makes it that much easier for someone to find you out. So think hard before sharing where you went to college, what your profession is and even what breed of dog you might have. Your experiences are what readers are interested in anyway, so you don’t need that level of specificity to make the story interesting. Focus on the emotions and stay broad with the details.

Off-hand remarks — Getting a freak hailstorm and mention that on Twitter? Heading out to vote in your primary and feel like saying so on your blog? At a work conference and share info about that? All of these give those who feel like digging things up about you data to go on, sometimes much more specific than you’d imagine. I once tweeted something about loving our mortgage escrow account because it did the savings for us, and because we earned interest on that money. But then I quickly realized my potential mistake and looked up whether escrow accounts earn interest in all states. Lo and behold, they do not! Only a few states require lenders to pay interest on escrow accounts, and the states we wanted readers to think we lived in were not on that list. I deleted the tweet and hoped no one had noticed. Be careful about sharing anything that might give away where you live, what you do and anything else you don’t want to seep out.

Keep Numbers Anonymous

Never doubt readers’ ability to extrapolate things based on a spare breadcrumb here, an off-hand comment there. If you care about keeping your numbers anonymous — and you might not — then follow these suggestions:

No real numbers, ever — Sharing numbers or not is an entirely personal choice, and often has to do with whether you plan to stop being anonymous one day. But if you don’t want your numbers out there, don’t share any numbers. You took algebra, right? So you recall that if you know the value of one variable, you can determine the value of a whole bunch of other variables. Don’t give away any of your variables if you don’t want to give away all of them.

Be Wary of Social Media

There’s something about social media that doesn’t feel like the “real” internet. Maybe it’s the ephemeral-feeling nature of tweets, but they don’t feel quite as carved in stone as blog posts do. But don’t fool yourself. Social posts are there forever, too, and sharing too much can come back to bite you.

Don’t connect blog accounts to your personal email — The backend on social media is pretty mysterious, so to be safe, use your anonymous blog email address if you sign up for blog Twitter, Instagram or Facebook accounts. Facebook is tricky and requires you to either make up a convincing fake name, or to set up a page that’s tied to your real life personal profile. Decide how comfortable you are doing this. When I was still anonymous, I used Facebook very little, because I was so freaked out about accidentally liking something as me and having it show up in people’s feed, and I still think that was the right call.

Don’t follow yourself or like your content — Another way some bloggers have been outed to friends and family is by following their own accounts or clicking like on their own content. And when you’re just starting and have no followers, it’s tempting to want to follow your blog Instagram or Twitter with your personal account. But don’t do it! Instagram will suggest to your personal account followers that they follow your blog account because real life you follows it, and Twitter shares who you follow and what you like in your followers’ timelines and recommendations.

Don’t break any of the other rules — If you aren’t using a photo on both your personal Facebook and on your anonymous blog, don’t use the same photo on a personal and an anonymous social account. There’s one anonymous blogger who was found out by some because he or she posted pics of an incredibly cute dog that also featured in a personal social account. Don’t show your pets, no matter how cute they are, if they also appear on your personal accounts in any form.

Keep Them Guessing

So far we’ve talked about all the precautions to take, but you can also have a little fun as an anonymous blogger. Keeping readers guessing is absolutely part of the fun of it.

Use misdirection with photos — I loved using photos from anywhere but where we live, and felt proud when a large percentage of readers — including those in California! — guessed that we live in Colorado or Utah when it was reveal time. Much of that was because I deliberately chose photos that gave that impression, along with describing where we live as a “ski town,” which isn’t a term widely associated with California. If we actually did live in Colorado, I probably would have used a lot more pictures of the ocean and described our town as a “resort community” instead of as a ski town.

Make the vagueness funny — When people would tweet at me that we must be spies, I never denied it. (Just as I never denied it when people assumed “consultant” meant management consultant for a big five firm, which it didn’t.) I leaned into those jokes hard, which made it funny, and kept readers’ focus on the joke instead of trying to figure out our real details.

But Share Your Real Story Anyway

If your takeaway from all of this so far is that you can’t share anything about yourself and still blog anonymously, keep reading! Because that’s not the case at all.

No one reads someone’s blog because of that person’s demographic facts, unless you happen to have a connection to that person’s profession, or they live close to you. The blogs that keep you coming back do so by sharing their thought processes, their emotions and their perspective on the world, none of which requires sharing anything we’ve discussed so far. I could share that I was motivated to hurry up and retire early because of my dad’s disability without giving anything away (and for those who’ve asked, I don’t share what his disability is in part because it’s rare and could be traced back, but more importantly because that’s his story to share, not mine). Just as I could share why we’re generally more conservative financially than the general FIRE party line without giving anything away. There’s still so much you can do to give your readers a rich sense of who you are as a person on the inside, and how you process information and see the world, without giving away the bits of info that might compromise you.

More tips on sharing your story without giving away who you are: The Non-Science of Blogging Anonymously // Sharing Your Real Story Without Sharing Your Identity

Your Turn!

Do you blog anonymously? What other tips would you offer folks who want to join the anonymous bloggers club? Have you thought about blogging anonymously? What other questions do you have? For those who read anonymous blogs, have you noticed bloggers slip up in any ways you suspect they don’t intend? Let’s discuss it all in the comments!

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77 replies »

  1. Oh wow! As a new anonymous blogger this is super helpful! I’ve already made some mistakes – and learned a lot of new, random technical skills as a result! So far I’ve taken comfort in the fact that the only person I don’t want to find this blog is my boss. I don’t care if anyone else sees it – and I suspect he’s too busy to investigate if he does find it. Still, I’ll look into how to incorporate the tips above. Thank you!

  2. At one point you made a comment about what percentage of your spending could be derived from your real estate. That combined with some other comments about withdrawal rates and fraction of net worth in early vs traditional retirement accounts made me confident that I could estimate your net worth to within 10% or so. That was a while ago and I didn’t make a record of my reasoning, but I remember the number and would be happy to compare notes ;-)

    Also, if as a blogger you’re in the process of buying or selling a house, be circumspect about what details you share. Just state, square footage, and a couple other innocuous details can narrow a two-minute Zillow search down to your address. Especially if you use photos of the house on your blog. Several of the biggest FIRE blogs out there have made that mistake.

    • And maybe your estimation is correct. Or maybe I’ve thrown some misdirection in there. ;-) But either way, YOU are a good example of why people who don’t want numbers known shouldn’t share any numbers. Hahaha. And on real estate, definitely true. Plus, if you use your name, there’s no keeping your address secret, even if you don’t own. That’s just the world we live in, and a totally valid reason for people to want to stay anonymous.

  3. Bookmark! Time to get serious about this. I’ve got less than a year to survive my anonymity and I’m about as sloppy as all get out. Maybe a part of me wants to be discovered? Better to play it safe, at least until March.
    Thanks for a very useful post, Tanja!

  4. Cool article Tanja – and right up my street as a anonymous blogger!

    I’m a bit more of a risk taker than you – I admit to living in London (albeit so do ~9 million others) and do share cat photos – as I aspire to be a crazy cat lady one day.

    If you knew me in real life you’d easily confirm the blog was me; but truth be told the intersection of people in my real life and people who read FIRE blogs is null so far! Not to mention that my real name is actually quite common – there are hundreds of people in London with my name.

    I also share numbers as I think women should not be ashamed of money – both making money and investing money. There’s a lot to do breaking down these barriers and I’m happy to share.

    As an overly analytical type who plans for every scenario I understand the impact of being outed – and the main impact would be new contract time at jobs. The rest would be minor embarrassment on my side and a new found interest in finances on the other side. Or most probably more you are kinda of weird type comments and people move on.

  5. I’m seriously impressed by how intensely you did this and for so long (I also thought you lived in Colorado, along with just about everyone else). I tried to be anonymous for oh, maybe the first month on my blog, and then I gave up on that, though not planning an early retirement out any time in the near future makes it a lot easier to do so.

  6. I’m vocally anti-anonymity on the internet. I’ve been very very public about who I am and what I do through more than twenty years of blogging. I’ve never had an issue (aside from one persistent troll who lives in Florida). For a time, I even published my actual physical address in my email newsletter, although I have changed that to a PO Box. All this is to say: Most folks who feel like they have to be anonymous when blogging don’t actually have to be anonymous. I think it hurts them rather than helps them.

    Too, I used to make it a game to patiently figure out who anonymous bloggers actually were. Back in the olden days — 2006, 2008 — there weren’t so many anonymous bloggers, so it was just a fun sideline. Flexo at Consumerism Commentary mentioned something personal? Let’s see if we can google it! Ha. There’s who he really is. Trent from The Simple Dollar has a different last name on the blog and on other sites? What gives? Oh look, he’s been clever and is semi-anonymous but in a way that nobody would ever suspect.

    So, yes. If you want to be anonymous, you have to guard the details. Even small details are enough to search on sometimes. But I’d encourage most bloggers to NOT be anonymous. There’s no real value in it. For a very small handful, okay it makes sense. If you have to guard your identity in order to protect against job loss or legal liability, I get it. Otherwise, it’s just paranoia.

    Not that I have an opinion on this or anything. ;)

    Tanja, I’d actually be interested to hear YOUR thoughts on the differences between anonymous and non-anonymous blogging. Has anything changed for you since you revealed your identity? If so, what?

    • JD – Have you considered perhaps given you are a white male who sold his site for millions, that maybe you have an easier time being public than others? Many women get harassed online to endless degrees. Many minorities get harassed as well. And if you are a female minority, it’s probably even tougher.

      I hope the early retirement community and this site become more diverse, because it really seems like the same old demographic over and over again.

      I’ll keep this comment anonymous thank you very much!

    • Hi J.D. — I respect your stance, and absolutely think that anonymity across the internet, especially on social media sites, is a leading cause of the erosion of discourse. When you can say anything to anyone with no blowback… well, it doesn’t bring out the best in some people.

      That said, I absolutely respect people’s right to blog anonymously, particularly if they’re sharing private or sensitive details like their wealth. Like it or not, that makes one a target. I’m glad you haven’t had (many) issues with that, but I can’t say the same for myself. And that’s perhaps been the biggest difference between being anonymous and not — the number of creepy things happening. Some of it is annoying but innocuous, like people commenting on my body or appearance (I don’t think most men have had this experience, so don’t appreciate how toxic this stuff is, especially when it’s constant — even when it’s “positive,” it still makes you feel like an object). But enough of it has been significantly serious for me to feel strongly that people writing about money should have every right to be anonymous.

      To answer your question, other than the much higher creepiness factor now, unmasking myself has been positive. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have the book deal, and that’s obviously huge in terms of my life goals. But we wouldn’t have been able to blog about our journey to FI without being anonymous (that is not just paranoia. That is for sure true in our case, and you’ll just have to trust me on that), and without the blog, no book. So no regrets. :-)

  7. Love how you made a game of the anonymity, that had to be fun keeping people guessing for all those years!

    I blog anonymously but really I’m only anonymous so that people I know from real life (family, friends, work, etc) don’t find me out. I’m pretty good on most of these rules but lax on others (not shy about numbers of location). I don’t think I’ll end anonymity anytime soon, but if I got outed I don’t think it’d be a huge deal to me. Maybe I should try to make a game of it too 🙂

  8. Holy crap, this sounds tedious and like waaaaay too much work. I find paranoia exhausting, though, and agree with JD that most people are afraid of stuff that will never actually happen.

    I think your biggest fear was your job would find out? But they’d have to be reading your blog in the first place, so wouldn’t that mean they also planned to retire early? They aren’t going to fire you because you want to retire in a few years. I assume you worried that they would think you weren’t fully committed and might not give you great projects?

    Anyway, I doubt I’m ever going to blog, so it’s not going to be an issue for me. :-)

    • In my industry, you don’t give two weeks notice. You tell your employer that you’re leaving and your manager will often walk you out immediately. That really isn’t a good situation in which for your employer to know that you plan on retiring in a few years, especially when your retirement plan hinges on the income from that employer!

      • Absolutely. I know of several industries like this. It might seem ridiculous to someone with no direct experience to think the precautions are over the top, but with such high risk involved, staying anonymous is a valid choice.

  9. You know I used to blog anonymously but certainly didn’t go as far as you did. Besides I’ve been using tre name Tawcan since I started using the internet so it didn’t too long for my friends to figure out.

    Kudos to you for going so long with it.

  10. 2 years into anonymous blogging . I’ve relaxed my procedures quite a bit in the last year as I care less and less about a handful of people figuring it out so much as not wanting to be mass known. A few people in my work circle even know.

    Anyway one point to add. Be careful with gmail. Go to login to gmail and type email. It will show you the account owners first and last name before password entry.

    The numbers are where I draw the line.

    • For gmail, that’s only true if your name on it is your real name and not your blog name. So be smart with the name you enter for your email address! And if you’re cool potentially getting found out, then yeah, no need to do all this work!

  11. I love the insightful suggestions and tips. Being a recently new anonymous blogger, this is a very informative post. I have so far been able to check off most of your suggestions, but there are several that I have missed! Thanks to your blog, I can hopefully keep my identify concealed. After-all who doesn’t like being be kept in suspense.

  12. “Dr. Mo” shared some higher level stuff he’s learned to do, using VPNs to mask your IP address, paying for hosting with cryptocurrency or Visa gift cards, and having a dedicated laptop you use for nothing but the blogging persona.


    I haven’t gone to such lengths and have more recently been looser with the details and pictures I share. I’m letting my anonymity fade away slowly.


    • I think if you were a whistleblower trying to take down a big company or political leader or something like that, going to those tech lengths would be important. That’s beyond what most casual trolls, Googlers and doxxers will take on. But obviously it’s up to each blogger to decide what lengths they should go to!

  13. Heh so I’m failing on a few fronts. Oh well, if I get outed, I’ll deal with it then haha. Love that you made a game of it, because otherwise it would be so much work that I’m sure it would’ve felt not worth it!

  14. Haha, this one should go on the “goes without saying” list… but if you’re collaborating on a blog with somebody, make sure you’re on the same page about it. I was all cloak and daggers, while my hubs was sending the links to everyone we know. Oops :)

  15. I am currently blogging anonymously but it’s a bit of an effort to take these precautions. Especially not posting photos I’ve posted elsewhere. I guess my motivation is also low because I’m not really sure if the backlash of people finding out actually matters. I don’t think my employer would care. The only thing would be the potentially awkward situation where if I share my networth since people get weird about that. I would be really interested in hearing from bloggers on how sharing/not sharing their networth affected relationships.

    • You can always post stock photos if that’s easier. Tons of bloggers who aren’t anonymous do that. But it’s good to ask the question of whether you really need to be anonymous. I know Carl (Mr. 1500 Days) was worried about people finding out, and in reality, it’s been a non-issue.

      • Thanks for your thoughts on this. I especially appreciated your post where you go into detail about what type of authenticity is important to a blogger’s story and what is less so (or could potentially be harmful, like others comparing themselves to you and becoming discouraged, though I kind of think that’s on them.) Actually, the stories on the comments about doxxing are what give me more pause.

      • So glad it’s all helpful. And yeah, you have to decide what feels right to you in terms of sharing your story vs. sharing things that could result in something unpleasant happening. Obviously odds are low, but if the risk is high, then that’s your answer.

  16. I am semi-anonymous like a few people who have commented here. My challenge is I’m not sure of possible ramifications of being non-anonymous. I like to publish numbers because actual numbers is how I best understand money issues. Like financialmechanic, I’d love to hear from bloggers how sharing/not sharing net worth, numbers, personal details, etc. has affected their relationships.

    • It’s good to ask that question, but it’s also totally valid to stay anonymous or semi-anonymous if that feels better to you. With all the doxxing happening especially to women on social media, I don’t blame anyone for wanting some safeguards in place.

  17. When I started blogging, I honestly had no idea that doing it anonymously was an option. I don’t hide who I am, but I don’t advertise my blog to friends and family. For the majority of my family, that means they’ll never find it (they aren’t a tech savvy bunch).

    One thing that has been annoying is that Facebook recommends my blog IG to my personal friends. I’m probably going to switch the management of that account with a generic FB account, so FB can’t link it back to me anymore.

    You guys did such a good job of hiding your identities! Super sleuths for sure!

    • You can have an unlinked Insta account, or link it only to a page, not a profile, and that should fix your problem. And thanks re: our anonymity! It’s much better being “out,” though… so much less work. ;-)

  18. This post is great and is super actionable. Online anonymity/privacy has been a long-term interest of mine, along with FI, so I’ve naturally rooted for all of the FI bloggers who want to maintain their privacy and who practice good opsec. I’ve also occasionally had to cringe at the incredibly minor missteps I’ve noticed that could totally undermine someone’s efforts in that regard. It is, unfortunately, way too easy to screw up and most people do at some point…

    I agree with the comment above re: VPN use, although that would address a different sort of adversary than your average blog reader.

    I do have a few additions from some real-life mistakes I’ve seen over the years:

    1) In addition to hiding surroundings, hide numbers — even partially visible numbers — from photos. Marathon race jersey numbers, for instance, are usually searchable online years after the race (I ran a half marathon over 15 years ago, and you can *still* find that online.)

    2) As mentioned in the post, don’t share where you live even approximately, but if you do, definitely don’t mention your company and/or industry. There aren’t very many people who worked at the Red Cross in Chicago and Atlanta, for instance. (You don’t need a name to search LinkedIn — you can literally search for “Red Cross Chicago Atlanta” and get a list of people.)

    3) Don’t link to family members.
    3a) Especially celebrities. Even minor celebrities. They may use a stage name, but I guarantee you can find out the family member’s real name in about 30 seconds.
    3b) Don’t forget about podcasts. For some reason, people have a tendency to say or do things during podcast interviews that, combined with what they post on their blogs, can be used to identify them (real life examples: appearing with a spouse that works publicly for a company or industry related to FI, slipping up and using your spouse’s name, getting too specific about your occupation or your partner’s occupation.)

    4) Public records are public. For most of the US, real estate and business ownership records are easily searchable online. If someone casually mentions they live in Seattle, used to work in software sales, and now own a coffee shop, I might be able to narrow the list of potential candidates down to a dozen people. If they then mention they own three properties in the greater Seattle area, well, there’s probably only one person that fits that description. You might not be able to search by someone’s first name on some random county assessor’s website, but there’s a decent chance you can download a full copy of the county’s property data, including ownership details, and then something like a first name becomes a lot more useful as a search tool.

    5) In general, it is the combination of seemingly innocuous information that has the potential to out someone. I’ve rarely seen anyone in the FI community who is trying to stay anonymous leak a single, big piece of info that instantly outs them. But lots of people dribble out little details that, taken together, would make it easy for someone motivated to find out who they are.

    If you don’t care about privacy, great (it would be pretty easy for Tanja and Mark to figure out who I am based on my name and email address I include with my comment, for instance,) but if you do care, be super cautious. If you’re really paranoid, read up on Threat Modeling (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threat_model.) It is a tool used mainly in the cyber security world to identify risks in a formal way so they can be mitigated more effectively. In the case of staying anonymous while running a blog, I would suggest it as a useful tool to evaluate the question ‘why do I want to stay anonymous?’ Then, a person can figure out what sort of person might want to discover their identity, how those adversaries might go about doing that, and then develop a plan to mitigate the risks identified (assuming at the end of the process you actually identify any real risks.)

    • All excellent suggestions! Thank you, Marcus! And it’s true — those little dripped details absolutely add up. I for sure figured out who a few bloggers were in my early days based on off-hand remarks, and it was through one or two simple Google searches, not any creepy investigations. So yeah, if your anonymity is important, these steps are all worth taking!

  19. I’ve been blogging for around 12 years as an anonymous blogger. I’m a teacher, so I didn’t want my students reading my blog, but when I started my personal blog I REALLY didn’t want my ex-husband to find my blog by googling the boys’ names.
    I use photos though, and my pets’ names are theirs.
    And naturally, Frogdancer Jones is my real name.

  20. I’ve been anonymous for a long time and can always use a refresher look at what I should be doing better to stay secret! At the beginning, the reasons were simple: I talk about a ton of personal decisions in my blog, both family and career related, so I simultaneously didn’t want to hurt my family or my career. One previous boss was a creepy internet stalker before we knew that was a thing.

    But now, and bigger than that, it’s just not that safe to have your personal information easily accessible in this day and age. SWATing is a serious problem and just like I never walk down a dark street at night alone or without some way to defend myself, it’s just basic safety that keeps me anonymous as a woman on the internet. Spammers and trolls are annoying but generally harmless. It just takes one over zealous person deciding to make it their mission to out you to make your life really tough. I had a run in with someone snooping in my private phone lead to my shutting down my blog for a while, I don’t want to do that again.

  21. I’ve shared zero pictures of people on my blog. I recently started using travel photos occasionally, but only of well-known non-US places, e.g. Banff and Milford Sound. No names of anyone else and I generally try to refer to parents/siblings in non-gendered ways for extra obfuscation. I’ve shared my (former?) industry, to explain where my high income came from, but I don’t talk about where I live other than that it’s Expensive. There are a lot of stories I simply don’t talk about because they would be too identifying. Back when I reported expenses, I labeled my fitness activities Sport #1, Sport #2, Sport #3, etc. My car is a subcompact, but there are so many of those these days that it’s not a big deal. Someone asked me recently what type of ring we bought me which I thought was a super weird question???

    I’ve seen so many people mess up the email one. I think a fair number of bloggers care more about not being able to find their blog by googling their name than by actually staying anonymous. I see so many people following their blog twitter accounts, which seems not good. I’m careful to not log into both at the same time on a twitter application too. I’ve asked my husband to not follow me on Twitter either, though he does read my twitter sometimes.

    I remember when you tweeted about the escrow accounts!! I agree with Marcus to be careful about any data that is public record. I try to not talk about any part of our finances on my blog that I’m willing to talk about with a friend in real life or that you can discover with public records, like how much I paid for the condo or what it’s worth.

    It’s super funny to me when I realized that the pseudonym I picked is less common than my real name *shrug*

    I see some of J.D.’s points about there being value in not being anonymous, but I really don’t see the benefits outweighing it. I prefer some value of stealth wealth. Even the idea of early retirement is showing wealth and privilege at our ages (early 30s) and I really don’t want to broadcast that. Someone recently was discussing housing prices in our area with my in-laws right there and it was so awkward because we just don’t talk about that stuff with them. (They spend enough time talking about how terrible rich people are. We hope they wouldn’t talk about us like that, but we’d rather not find out.) Like you guys, any plans to retire early are dependent on the ability to continue to earn a high income.

    • I think wanting to stay stealth wealth is a totally legit reason to be anonymous on your blog. I think talking about “sport 1” and “sport 2” makes it harder for your readers to feel like they know you, but if you can tell a rich story in other ways, then I don’t think the anonymity has to be a hindrance to blogging.

  22. Great advice!

    We’re mostly anonymous, sharing “greater Boston area” and Fluffster photos (but never the same photos we’ve ever posted elsewhere). There’s more we could do to stay more anonymous like VPNs and whatnot, but it’s not a huge deal to me. I’m very careful about what I write regardless, as to not burn any bridges.

  23. As a queer lady on the internet with an abusive family, I value privacy. As a person who has worked with DV victims, I value privacy. As someone who wants to become wealthy, but stealth, I value privacy. Seeing what Famous Feminists on twitter have been through via doxxing and death threats for years, I value privacy. One tweet can go viral and suddenly folks are interested in ruining your life.

    I definitely have failed in some regards on being stealth, but hopefully have left few enough breadcrumbs that folks don’t figure me out.

  24. I’ve been blogging anonymously for about 1.5 years. Given that some of my content ruffles feathers, I prefer to remain unknown. I suspect that some of my patients and my bosses would be less than thrilled to know that I am HD, the blogger. The major downside of anonymity is that I’ve had to turn down a few intriguing offers for collaboration, from entities that would require me to reveal my identity.

    I do lend my voice to other people’s podcasts, however, which is a calculated risk. My “podcast posts” garner the least views on my site, of all my posts. I think that the chance of being outed from a podcast is quite low, so I continue to do them because I enjoy it.

  25. Great tips here. I’ve just started my website/blog and have been debating in my head this very thing. I’m don’t feel like I want to do full stealth mode, but also don’t know if I want to do a full reveal right away.

  26. Thank you for this! Based on your inspiration (and earlier anecdotes) I have gone for full-stealth mode in my blog. Many good points here too!

  27. Great advice as always. I recently started my anonymous blog, so this gives me a good checklist to get in place before I get more traffic.

  28. Thanks for this post! We are relatively new to blogging and your your blog was what my husband directed me to in order to bring me over to the ‘dark side’ of FIRE as well as to inspire me to blog.

    Sometimes I read some comments about our blog on social media (thankfully just twice) and the assumptions made by others and I’m thankful to be shrouded in the anonymity the blog currently offers. On the flip side, I wonder if people would be nicer if they see us as a real person as well versus our anonymous persona?

    • That’s so cool to know the blog helped inspire you on both levels! :-D In the early days, nearly everyone assumed I was a guy, and they definitely leaned toward tech in their career assumptions (see today’s post for more on this bias! ha!). So just know that all of that isn’t about you — it’s about them. ;-)

  29. Thanks for this post! We are relatively new to blogging and your your blog was what my husband directed me to in order to bring me over to the ‘dark side’ of FIRE as well as to inspire me to blog.

    Sometimes I read some comments about our blog on social media (thankfully just twice) and the assumptions made by others and I’m thankful to be shrouded in the anonymity the blog currently offers. On the flip side, I wonder if people would be nicer if they see us as a real person as well versus our anonymous persona?

  30. Interesting and funny! I don’t use my name, and won’t, until I am published in print, on paper. I feel I have more freedom to “write as if my mother won’t see it”. When I finally do receive the validation of my work in my own book, I might feel braver then. Anxiety I guess is also a factor. No one I know reads my blog anyway.