Business Cards: Pen Name or Not?

If you write under a pen name, go ahead and use it on your business cards - but there are a couple caveats to that.

My latest business card
Here's my story.  When I started writing on the Internet, I didn't even know what freelancing was.  I put a few things at a couple of content mills before I got the idea that I should start finding private clients. 

Once I did start marketing my services and found some private clients, I went back to those content mills and changed my name - I wasn't using them as part of my portfolio anyway, because some of the pieces I wrote were amateurish and stupid.  The thing with most content mills is that they'll never take your stuff down - even if you disfellowship yourself - so that's another reason I advise using a pen name at content mills.

When I write for private clients, I use my real name.  Well, kind-of; I use my maiden name, too, because I have bylines attached to it - so although it's not legally my name, I use it because those old bylines still count.

However, not everybody uses their real name, even with private clients.  And that's absolutely fine - it's all up to you whether you use a pen name or not.

Here are a couple things to consider about using pen names on business cards:

  • Will you introduce yourself to new people as if your pen name is your real name?
  • Is your business registered under your pen name?
  • Is most of your previously published work written under your pen name?

These things aren't really a big deal - what matters is that you're comfortable.  If you use a realistic pen name (NightStalker1981 isn't a pen name, it's a handle), then there's nothing wrong with using your pen name on business cards.

The most important thing about business cards isn't whether it's your real name or not; it's that you're actively handing them out to everyone you meet.  As long as people know how to contact you, you're fine.

As a side note, I always order mine from VistaPrint - I've never had a problem with them or their service.  However, if you're trying to save even more money, consider printing them yourself with Avery's paper: 250-cards 2x3.5 White Inkjet Business Cards. It's cheap and pretty sturdy, but the cards won't have perfect edges like they will if you order them from a printer - they'll have those litle perforated edges.

Do you use a pen name to write?  Is it on your business cards?  What advice do you have for new freelance writers who are about to purchase business cards?

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© Angie Papple Johnston, 2010; if you are reading this anywhere but on, it's stolen.

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Freelance Writing Tips by Angie Papple Johnston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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