I hate going to conferences or speaking to classes and getting the question, "So, is 'Michell' your maiden name?" No, actually. It's my middle name (pronounced 'Michelle') and I was stupid to start using that for my global username from the start. So I just changed my Twitter handle to @laurenrabaino. Yes, it's a few characters longer, but it's something I've needed to do. The quick back story: I started using "laurenmichell" as a username for various accounts in high school, back when it wasn't quite cool to use your first + last name. It was a middle ground between anonymity and true identity, and the spelling of my middle name is unique enough that I was able to grab that handle (mostly) everywhere. After using it for a few years, I've been scared to change it.
Reasons I've been to afraid to change it up to this point:
- "What about SEO?!" I always asked myself. Yeah, well, if you search for "Lauren Michelle," you get photos/websites of porn stars anyway (do it -- I dare you). After speaking to a journalism class at Pacific Luther University today about Twitter/blogging, then a separate conversation later in the evening with The Seattle Times' business systems admin about the death of SEO, it just kind of clicked that it was time to finally kill off the old handle. I'm well-known enough at this point (at least to the people I care to be known by) that it's not going to dilute my "online brand" (I know, I sound like a tool). In the long run, it'll be better. People will find good, valuable content no matter which domain name its hosted at.
- I thought I'd have to create a whole new Twitter account and start from scratch, thus losing all my @-replies. But Twitter actually makes it super-easy these days to swap out your handle while retaining all other information associated with your account -- from followers, to tweets, to DMs, the whole shabang. More sites should make it that easy to change out your username.
- I thought some day I'd get married and change my last name. By using "laurenmichell," I wouldn't have to worry about confusing people if I someday changed my name to Lauren McDreamy (I kid, I kid). I thought I'd be able to change my name as many times as I wanted in the future, and "laurenmichell" would always be the constant. But I've thought a lot more about it and if I ever do marry, I'm probably keeping my last name. So there.
Next step: Change out my primary site domain to laurenrabaino.com (currently just redirects to laurenmichell.com). I'll get around to it. Also grabbed the Facebook vanity URL: facebook.com/laurenrabaino. After that, I'll have to slowly start changing out my bajillions of accounts... or maybe just start using the new username from here on out for new accounts. I'm not going to overthink it.