So you’ve finally decided that it’s time to give this YouTube thing a try!
You’ve seen all the challenge vlogs, you know all the best beauty tips, and you’ve got a shiny new ukulele to show off your music skills. Now all you need is a channel with a memorable name to send your YouTube career flying.
Only… Coming up with a name is harder than you thought. Do you use your real name? Or come up with a cool alias? Or just use your email address? What happens if you pick something rubbish that you’ll hate five years later?
Not to worry. Through a mixture of first-hand experience, personal preference and slightly judgemental opinions, we’re here to make your channel name reflect the fabulous unicorn that you are. STRAP IN.
First thing’s first: you need to forget all your old usernames.
Look, we’ve had the internets for a while now; chances are you came up with your current accounts and email address at a pretty young age. Now it’s been a few years, and that empty YouTube account with the same name as your old Hotmail address just makes you cringe. Trust us, this is NOT the channel to start making videos on.
Obviously not all of us go into YouTube (or any website) with the prediction that our channel or its videos will ever grow beyond our control. But take it from somebody who, at 25 years old, is still stuck with the name “littleradge”in some circles because of decisions they made 14 years earlier: Change your dang usernames.
Which brings us onto a followup point: pick a name you’ll want to keep later.
Our personalities, tastes, and opinions all change over time; but in many cases, a username is forever: and if you suddenly hate a band like Fall Out Boy three years down the line, you don’t want to get stuck being known as F4ll0utB0yL0v3r to thousands of people.
The best method to escape this trap is to pick a name that isn’t obviously attached to something (or someone) else: especially something you’re a fan of (looking at you, all of the thousands of Phan accounts on Twitter).
Starting to feel a bit stuck? Use your name.
Incorporating your actual name can make the process sooo much easier, and can make you (and your channel) even easier to recognise. Look at AmazingPhil, or Danisnotonfire, or KickThePJ… I’m seeing a pattern here.
Still having a hard time? Use your full name.
What do Joey Graceffa, Anna Akana, and Emma Blackery have in common? All have names that don’t ever have to be interchanged with a funny nickname.
You may have grown up with the scary notion that using your real name makes you an instant target for all the ~evil people~ of the internet; but thanks to the rise of social media, we actually live in an era where true anonymity is harder to come by, and hiding behind a username will only get you so far.
Besides, as long as you can handle your online privacy like a smart person, there are actually a lot of benefits to starting out with a name that people will eventually know you by anyway – especially if your channel gets big enough!
And another thing you want to do if “getting big” is the goal: Avoid useless numbers.
It’s not 2006 anymore. We don’t have to keep settling for adding numbers to the end of our identities. There are alternatives to not getting that dream username you wanted – like picking literally anything else.
True story: we don’t actually live in a bad YA novel about the internet, and adding a “1” or the last two digits of your birth year to “StephanieRocks” only serves to make your name less memorable to people the more numbers you add (Sorry, Stephanie).
Need we remind you of the horrible reality that Zoella’s channel name is actually “zoella280390”?! Imagine how many newspaper columns she would fill if she was still going by that! (although it would look great on the cover of Girl Online)…
Lastly, and most importantly before you settle on a new name… Google it.
You’ve finally picked a username. It’s the best name you can possibly come up with: it sums you up perfectly, it’s catchy, and it doesn’t have any numbers. BUT: It’s also the name of an up-and-coming indie band. And now they’re mad at you.
There’s no shame in realising that somebody beat you to your amazing idea. But it’s much better to do your research and find out earlier, instead of running into trouble and having to start over later.
And you’re done!
You’ve got your name! It’s time to get out there and let the whole world learn it. Now all you need to do is make entertaining, engaging videos that break the mould of everything else on YouTube. No pressure. 😉