|Just wanted to offer some advice about choosing a YouTube username, as I see people making this mistake a lot. Read closely because naming your account is where you can really hurt your channel forever… or help it forever. NOTE: If you’ve already done this, please don’t panic and abandon your account! I’ll talk about that scenario further down.
If you want to create a popular YouTube channel, it’s important that you create a strong and memorable “brand” of your own. A huge part of that is picking a good username. Unfortunately, most people spend about two minutes deciding this, when they should take two days, weeks, or more. Seriously. If you’re going to give YouTube a lot of time and effort, it’s a huge decision that should be made carefully.
Here’s what most people do…
Let’s say a girl named Jennifer Jones tries to get “JenniferJones” as an account name. Not surprisingly, it’s taken. She tries something else like “JenniferJones1”. Wouldn’t you know it, that’s taken too. She then goes for “JenniferJones123”.
In something of a panic, she starts throwing in random letters and numbers and comes up with “x1JenniferJones924x“. Yay! That’s not taken!
Jennifer then happily starts promoting her YouTube channel, and over the next year, wonders why it’s such an uphill battle.
One big problem here of course is that “x1JenniferJones924x” is downright impossible to remember. Jennifer might make amazing videos – but her channel will always be handicapped by a username that is too clunky and cumbersome.
Getting a YouTube account off the ground is hard enough, so why make it harder?
You probably won’t be able to hit all of these, but cover as many as you can:
1. Keep it as short as possible. This has become increasingly difficult as the number of YouTube accounts has grown into the hundreds of millions. Even so, you should still make an attempt to nab a short username. Some of my favorite account/brand names are just a made-up words: Nalts, Onision, and Smosh. They’re short, fun, and easy to remember. Can you come up with a shortie of your own? Good. It’s probably taken, but give it a try anyway.
2. Make it catchy and memorable. “x1JenniferJones924x” obviously doesn’t fall into this category. If she had spent more time thinking about it, she might have come up with something more creative and cute, like Jonezie, MissJonzie, or JonezieJ.
A catchy username will literally catch you. It recently happened to me with a channel called iCrazyBitchTV. I saw that name and just had to click. It’s an example of how a catchy name will work for you, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
When I mention my friend HappySlip to people, the first thing they think of is something sexual. That’s the bad news. But when I tell the story of why she chose the username, they not only laugh, but they never forget it. That’s the good news – her brand name is very memorable and catchy.
3. Consider your schtick. Are you doing a cooking show? Make-up tutorials? Sketch comedy? You obviously want to consider that when choosing a name. Make it relevant.
I don’t care how many times you smack face-first into that UNAVAILABLE wall — you should never resort to jamming random numbers into your account name. Again, just think about all the massive amounts of time you’re going to put into this endeavor. The last thing you want something constantly slowing you down.
“But Matt, there’s nothing available! I looked up everything!”
Time to dig deeper. Try this as an exercise:
Take a piece of paper and write a column of 50 words on the left side. These words should describe you, your videos, or your brand (smart folks call them adjectives). On the right side, write your first name, then your name last below it. Start drawing lines to connect them. Connect different combinations of words, and flip them around until you find something catchy and memorable. Add more words. Really dig deep. It may take days or weeks, but when you find a name that crackles and is available, I promise you’ll be glad you put in the effort.
DON’T GET DOWN.
If you’ve been building your channel for months or years and your account name isn’t to be desired, don’t trash it. You’ve worked too hard for those subscribers. You might as well continue on.
However, if you do want to switch, what I suggest you do is make a new account, and simply upload a video to the old one, letting your subscribers know that you’re “moving”. You won’t get everyone to switch over, but you’ll definitely get some. It’s better than starting from scratch anyway.
Two more suggestions.
When creating an account name, type in your chosen capital letters. YouTube often displays them accordingly. This helps because “bretttheintern” is much harder to read then “BrettTheIntern” – “ijustine” harder than “iJustine“. See what I’m sayin’?
Still can’t find anything available? Take your favorite idea and try adding “TV” at the end, in all caps. After all, your channel is like your own TV show. Or perhaps add something fun, like “Get” at the beginning, like “GetMattKoval”.
UPDATE, 2014: Good news! YouTube now allows you to update your publicly displayed channel name. You can change it by changing the associated Google+ name. Note this does not change the URL, unfortunately, but it should help a lot, as the new name will appear everywhere. Even huge YouTube creators have changed their channel name using this method, like Freddie Wong, whose channel YouTube.com/Freddiew is now called Rocket Jump. For more on this and step by step instructions, visit this article from Google.
Anyway, I hope this helps you get started on YouTube. Feel free to check out my videos, and leave me a comment that you read this article. And of course, while you’re there, SUBSCRIBE!