How to Come Up with the Best Twitter Name for You

Not on Twitter yet? Great! I’ll get you before you make a huge mistake. Okay, you can’t really make a huge mistake. I just want to give you some tips for coming up with your Twitter handle (or username). Then you can sign up (it’s free!) and join us as we read de Kooning: An American Master in our summer Twitter book club for artists.

I got to thinking about this subject when I was helping a friend get on Twitter last week for the first time. As might be expected, the names she thought she wanted to use on Twitter had already been taken. So, we started from scratch. Here’s how the process should go.

Your first choice should be your real name. If you use your real name for your art business (as I think you should), start with it. First name, last name. Add a middle initial if you need to. Always keep in mind: How do you want to be known and remembered?

Of course we can’t all be as lucky as @lisacall and have only 8 letters in our full name. That would be a dream! Why? Because Twitter is a microblog. It only allows you 140 characters per tweet. If you have to use someone’s Twitter handle within the tweet, it takes up those precious characters.

Shorter is better, but it should also make sense. I get frustrated on Twitter when I think I should know someone, but their Twitter handle doesn’t give me a clue to their real name. It’s not an egregious error, but I’d like to personalize my social networking as much as possible. Real names are easier to keep straight.

If versions of your real name are taken, don’t spend too long crying about it. Go with something else that’s memorable. Something about your art or perhaps your location. For instance, there is @emilyoftexas. Her Twitter handle doesn’t say “art,” but it is memorable and helps place her. Emily of Texas is also the name of her blog. Great branding, right! Here’s another example: @annesart is the same name of Anne Leuck Feldhaus‘s website.

Specialize in portraits? Use the word “portraits” with your name.

See how this works?

One last note: It’s kind of nice to use the capital letters with your name (like @WilliamRMoore) so that people can tell where one word ends and the next one begins.

Wanna hear the story of my friend and how we decided on her Twitter name?

The friend that I was helping with Twitter was Kelly Krueger, who is an animal communicator and owns Articulate Animals.

We decided that @ArticulateAnimals was too long and could have belonged to any animal communicator.

@KellyCommunicates or @KellyArticulates were OKAY, but with those names she could have been a professional speaker. “What,” exactly does she articulate? We decided “animals” was more important than “articulates.”

We talked about KKAnimals, using her two initials, but it didn’t seem personal enough. Kelly’s line of work is very personal. People need to trust her with their beloved pets. She needed to have “Kelly” in her Twitter name.

Final result: @KellyAnimals

There’s a whole chapter on Facebook and Twitter in the updated and expanded version of I’d Rather Be in the Studio!
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26 comments to How to Come Up with the Best Twitter Name for You

  • I saw this post and thought, uh oh, did I blow it? But I think I’m ok. I ended up with s_fox. I now see that I could have probably done better with the info. you’ve so kindly provided, but at least it’s my name. Great post!

  • You can change your Twitter handle, keeping everything else the same. The process is outlined in the Twitter help section at http://help.twitter.com/forums/10711/entries/14609

    And, you can have more than one handle. You need to give Twitter a different email address for each added handle, but most hosting providers give you several email addresses in their packages, so it’s not a problem. I’m WalterHawn and TheRealSpacecat.

  • Thanks for the post and the artwork/link Alyson! I have been thinking lately that I should do an AnneLeuckFeldhaus handle and thanks to your post and Walter’s comment, it looks like I can just add it. An added bonus, now I can also follow Kelly who I did not know was twittering!

  • Another big thanks to you, Alyson, for your help last week in brainstorming my Twitter presence. I really did panic when my first couple of choices were too long or taken so your calm, insightful encouragement was what I needed. Since Twitter was so new to me (still is!) I had no concept of what would be affected with my Twitter handle. Thanks for the post, and I’ll be forwarding to others who are about to join Twitter!
    P.S. Hi Anne!

  • Should have mentioned earlier: It’s a fabulous idea to register any name you might want to use, now, before the whole universe is signed on. Twitter will close any account that sits idle for six months, so you need to use each account at least that often. I lost WesternLight that way. H’ever, for now, Twitter has stopped releasing the names on closed accounts back into the pool, but I expect them to do so in the future, perhaps for a fee.

  • This is kinda funny – I used to wish my name were longer – thought just 8 letters was way too short and dreamed of a longer cooler name.

    For the first time ever, with twitter, I’m thrilled to have a short name.

    Finally!

  • Jeanne Guerin-Daley

    Lucky Lisa! I have the opposite situation. Once known as “Jeanne Guerin,” when I married Tom Daley, I hyphenated my name. I kept my maiden name and added his. After all, I felt the act of marrying was an addition to who I was, not a substitution. The “Guerin” part of my life, (my parents, my siblings, my family life) was not going away, so why I lose the name “Guerin?”

    So having the long name of “Jeanne Guerin-Daley” has made it more unusual. Although hard to spell, it IS pretty unique. But now that I’m venturing into TwitterLand, I found that my name was two letters too long. So I decided to make my twitter name, JeannePaints. One of my names, and something I do! (At least it’s much easier to spell.)

    BTW, Alyson, thank you for always being there with great info when I need it! You’re so on top of things!

  • oops- a little typo above. I skipped a word. I meant to say “…so why should I lose the name Guerin?”
    (When blogging, although I try to always check my self, typos still slip through occasionally.) I imagine with “tweeting” it may happen even more due to the immediate, quick nature of it?

  • I am going to change my name immediately. Thanks for all your great advice. Happy days to you!

  • Alyce T

    I completely disagree with the idea of using your own name. If you use a handle like Clay_artist or NYC_artist, you will immediately get hundreds of global followers, as Tweeters do a search for anyone named artist. Your friends/customers will already know your handle, as you will be sending out an announcement to them in email/newsletters.

  • […] earlier posts about Twitter, I gave you guidelines for your Twitter username and told you about the @ and # […]

  • […] The right Twitter username for you @ and # symbols Find your way around Twitter, part 1: Profiles and Home tweetmeme_url = 'http://www.artbizblog.com/2009/07/find-your-way-around-twitter-part-2-replies-direct-messages-and-favorites.html'; SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Find your way around Twitter, part 2: @Replies, Direct Messages, and Favorites", url: "http://www.artbizblog.com/2009/07/find-your-way-around-twitter-part-2-replies-direct-messages-and-favorites.html" }); […]

  • me

    please iwant some one help me to choose twitter name
    i am destiny and i am cool
    i sing
    dance
    draw good things
    i am beautiful
    smart
    love blake and purple
    what that user name will have all this things?????
    help
    please…

  • Jan

    Thanks, Alyson…this is a last-year post, but it is new to me. I love your blog…SO much great info…thank you for your generosity.

    I, too, have been suffering from Twitter-name-confusion. Currently I use @JanSmallPaints, which is also my website URL with a dot com at the end. I will ponder all your terrific suggestions and implement them where I can.

  • Tiffani Smith

    I saw this article and thought I may have made a mistake with my Twitter name, but soon after I made it, I received several compliments on it. I came up with @idfollowme just because it bleeds condfidence. I was very surprised when I was the first one to come up with it too. now i see a few people up there who have used a form of it. I made at least some kind of an impression.

  • Anonymous123

    My name is taken & my full name is too long. I’m stuck between putting PR in front of my name “example: PRKatherine” OR using my name and the first 3 letters of my last name “example: KatherineElt”…My name ends with the same letter my last name begins with; an E…I think this may cause confusion (though the Capital letters show up once you type in the username/handle). However, PR before my name may also be confusing as some may think “Puerto Rico” instead of Public Relations…Plus, I want to do other things besides PR and I don’t know if PR before my name will set some sort of “limit”. What do you guys/gals think?!

  • Anonymous123

    Thanks, Alyson. Katherine isn’t my name though…It’s actually Geraldine. I cannot do PR after my name because that’s already taken. It’s either “@PRGeraldine” or “@GeraldineEst”

    Hmm…I’m still undecided between the two…does one sound more memorable than the other?

  • Anonymous123

    Alyson, you’ve been such great help! Last question and I won’t bug you any more! What do you think of “@HolaGeraldine”? (I wanted something shorter, like @HolaGera, but that’s taken)

  • Emily

    what would be a good nickname for emily? because i am having a lot of trouble figuring that out.

  • What about Mily ? or Millie

    /Jonas

  • […] Jan, 5 of my top 10 keyword searches were related to Twitter – esp “twitter names” […]

  • Kimberly Henson

    My twitter name is Niall ate my name. I chose my name because Niall likes to eat and I couldn’t think of a name. :)

  • I need a new twitter name!