October 21, 2019

Is it better to use one's own name, or an established nickname for blogging/freelance/consultancy?

Jonathan Hall @flimzy

I have always used the online nickname 'flimzy'. My domain is flimzy.com. Should I stick to this branding, or should I use my name for professional blogging/vlogging, with the intention of driving freelance and consulting business? For context, my areas of interest/expertise are software development and DevOps/Agile transformations.

My real name is Jonathan Hall, which can present some spelling challenges (there are many ways to spell "Jonathan"). I've already registered jhall.io, so I could use that, without a lot of spelling confusion. Further, "flimzy" is already a bit of a spelling challenge, since it's a non-standard name.

My first instinct is to use my real name, but then there are examples of people who successfully use their online personas, too (Patrick McKinzie @patio11 is an obvious example), and I've had a few people advise me to stick with the nick name, because it stands out.

What are your thoughts?

  1. 2

    tbh "flimzy.com" sounds more like the name of a product rather than a consultancy. Great domain tho if you do plan on developing a product.

  2. 2

    I've been pondering the same recently and have decided on using my real name for a couple of reasons.

    I have a background in security, where handles are huge, and I also consider digital privacy pretty strongly so my initial thought was to use a handle. On the other hand, it just seemed easier to distribute a single identity when communicating with new people/companies and made the assumption that my handle would eventually end up being tightly coupled to my identity anyway.

    When analyzing how someone would search/find me I decided that the same persona across different domains made things the most clear. E.g. Linkedin, Twitter, Domain name, etc. My name is unique enough where I am generally able to grab the accounts with my own name. I also suspect no one is going to be cold searching for me, so there will be context around the search, and these platforms usually assist with suggestions.

    Coincidentally, I'm right in the same area of interest as you, so I'd love to hear what you end up doing!

  3. 2

    I wouldn't worry too much about it either way - it's you that counts, not your name, and if what you're doing is worth remembering, you'll have a following.

    I use my real name, but it has the benefit of being a bit unique. I honestly think Flimzy is pretty cool and recognizable, and in this day and age any concern about being "professional" is most likely only held by some old school MBA type still wearing khakis.

  4. 2

    Assuming you stay solo I think either nickname or name works fine.

    I've seen some freelancers use a company name and refer to their business as "we" or "us". That never seems to end well.

    I go by an alias myself justalever. It's short for Just Andy Leverenz but most don't quite get that right away. I find it is more memorable despite the confusion though.

  5. 2

    Good question.

    In my opinion it's fine to start with a nickname but if grows to something serious I'd probably switch to a real name or at least attach it to the name of the Blog/Podcast ...

  6. 1

    Thanks for all the comments. I have decided to go with a variation of my name (specifically, https://jhall.io/).