Some advice on social media names

Love it or hate it, the name we are given at birth usually sticks with us forever. The process of choosing children’s names is taken seriously and is often full of meaning. My kids all got parent or grandparent middle names, a tradition my daughter has continued. Pregnant Mums either knit, or get books from of the library that list all the options, with meanings (eg Adolf, not popular since the second world war, etc). A name can often indicate the sex and age of the person, class, their nationality, ethnic group, even which part of the country they come from. Pet names often presage children’s names by a few years as young couples try out Beau, or Riley, on their Pugs first.

Sometimes it is left to chance. You may have seen how a submarine, named by public poll, got its name: Boaty Mcboatface.

Boaty McBoatface
Boaty McBoatface

Some people name their homes. Nick and I decided to name our house after my father’s childhood home (although to do so in the age of Amazon deliveries is probably an affectation).

If you have been following Sewvember on Instagram (#bpsewvember), organised by Amanda Adams of @BimpleandPimble, you may have noticed (Day One) she asked everyone to explain their Instagram name. It was fascinating to read the stories – especially the really weird and unusual ones. But most of us chose a somewhat obvious name like Susan1962, TwirlyShirley or rely on corny puns like Sewshattered.

I prefer it when someone includes their actual name, as it is easier to comment if you know they are called Susan or Shirley. Sometimes the person becomes the name, especially when the name is chosen to cloak the real identity. I always think of Elaine as Demented Fairy, and Mrs Mole is a complete mystery.

The discussion made me think about how we name and describe ourselves, so here are my two pennies worth of wisdom on the topic. It’s a bore when you change your name as people have only just got used to it. Remember when Marathon bars became Snickers (in 1990)? I am still not that happy about that. We are all creatures of habit and can be easily confused. Do it once and do it right. 

Marathon became Snickers

Tip no 1:

When choosing a name for yourself on Twitter, Instagram etc, give it sufficient time and thought – these names can stick.

Originally I called this blog “Fit and Flare”  – it was a pun too – a blog about fit (one of the main reasons why I sew) but also about flare/flair – style. (And Fit and Flare is a style of dress too). I chose my own identity at the same time – Fabrickated. This name is a portmanteau word combining Fabric with my name Kate D(avies). In fact, at one point,  my email name was Kated so that felt comfortable. As well as encapsulating what I was doing – fabricating things – it had my name on it! Ha ha. I was pleased with the formulation, and it has proved to be memorable, and good fun. I wanted Fabrickate actually but that was taken.

A year into the blog my son Gus suggested I remove the confusion that two different names might cause – was I Fabrickated or was I Fit&Flare? Good question. Although few of us are professional bloggers we do, sort of, become a brand, and you don’t want to confuse people, especially in the fast paced digital world. So, taking his advice I dumped Fit and Flare and now the blog is simply Fabrickated. It is really silly and unbelievable but on three occasions  I have had the embarrassing but delightful experience of someone shouting out, across a shop, or on a bus “It’s Fabrickated!”.

So here comes Tip no 2:

If you have an online presence across more than one platform stick to one name.

 

The internet world is chockablock. Keep it simple or you will just drown. I know people running micro businesses with more names and handles than large conglomerates. Bear your reader in mind.

Finally a point on the sub-title. This is idea from the world of book publishing. You give your book a name, and then follow on with a short summary of what it is all about.

Monty Don, Down to Earth: Gardening Wisdom

Mary Berry, Mary’s Household Tips and Tricks: Your Guide to Happiness in the Home

Tim Peake, Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space

These “strap lines” are also found in the world of branding. I always liked (the now defunct)

Thames Water: Running Water for You.

The blogging sites, like WordPress, encourage you to choose a sub-title. This allows classification but more importantly it tells readers right away what sort of things you be will covering. Have a look at what your favourite blogs say at the top of the front page, right after the title. It is very revealing, and helps readers decide if they will like the blog or not.

When I started Fit and Flare I gave it a sub-title – fit and fashion, style and stitching – I like a bit of alliteration! Actually having a four-part approach gave me lots of leeway in terms of content. This was never just a dressmaking blog covering fit and stitching – I wanted to write about fashion and style too. And the formulae more or less worked until I started knitting. And jewellery making, and crochet, and now boots. So I toyed with adding the words knitting, or crafting. But as I haven’t been doing much stitching or fitting recently, I have been feeling that the subtitle might be a bit misleading.

Tip no 3 is:

Use your subtitle to make your blog stand out, and  make sure it reflects the content.

On reflection now is the time for me to update my strap line, or my sub-title.

Today I have refreshed it to… (tiny drum roll)…

 

Making Life more Beautiful

How did you choose your Instagram or Twitter handle? Or the name of your blog?

42 Responses

  1. AnnieB

    ‘Making’ is so good (also quite “now”?). ‘Beautiful’ a nice philosophical tease to we over-thinkers 😘

  2. eimear

    I like the tagline – I would nearly add constantly at the front as you are so industrious!

    I am not good at names at all – if ever at a table quiz – the part of ‘name your team’ is the worst for me! my blog was originally ‘rudai deanta’ as it just means things made in irish and everyone told me it was a not so good name (some went so far as to say it was awful), but I left it for a year as the idea was to let the blog develop. At this point, James (husband) suggested upsew (as it sounded akin to upcycle) and I liked it as the tag ‘make it better’ worked well with it…and it seemed to describe things…. make it mine was another tag but didnt use it in the end…. it did end up being theupsew for a while and is still not right on wordpress but that will get fixed in time.

    • fabrickated

      What an interesting comment. I think Upsew is perfect and, as you say, it is quite easy to work out what you are about. I think Make it Mine works great too.

      However while I love the sentiment behind Rudai Deanta I would struggle to pronounce it, and wouldn’t know its meaning. I can usually have a good guess with Latin names but many younger people could not. I have a Croatian assistant who finds Irish names baffling, but I guess we all do. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcLOKQOpj7U

      • eimear

        Love that youtube clip – its perfect and he imitates irish girls accent so so well! frightening well – your mention of marathon to snickers reminded me of the running joke at the time of mars becoming snunderpants….

  3. Tim

    I’ve always liked a good pun, in fact I like bad puns. So imagine my delight when Doncaster Council social media team announce a public competition to name their new gritters!
    😱*Puts on tin hat* 😱

    We would like your name suggestions for two of our new gritting vehicles, please.

    Keep em clean and be original – we’d prefer not to spend the next few days trawling through responses of Gritty McGritface and Gary Gritter. 🙄

    They gathered loads of names from the public, selected several and then ran a World Cup knockout poll – you can see the whole thread here https://twitter.com/MyDoncaster/status/928300450100711426

    And the winner referenced an item of swimwear!

  4. Elaine Sabin-Simpson

    Cool! I don’t think of my little blog as being anywhere near the league status of yours, or Ruth’s, or Mrs Mole’s…[let alone some of the REALLY big ones] but i do get the ‘hello Demented Fairy’ greeting several times a year, which is very cool I have to admit!
    I’m now thinking about my strapline, and wondering if it needs a brush up. Nice one Kate, always thought provoking

    • SJ Kurtz

      I love you, Demented Fairy! I’m ErnieK because a thousand years ago, I took that “one name to rule them all” advice, and used my Ebay name (Ernie Kocats)(my love for Ernie Kovacs runs deep and derpy) and it turned into ErnieK. Regrets? Yes, but now and then, being an Ernie has been very useful.

  5. Janine

    It took a while to come up with my blog name. I am a GP and interrupted sutures refers to the name of the stitches we insert stitching up wounds etc. It seemed appropriate as my sewing is interrupted but also alludes to my profession .

    • fabrickated

      I have always love Interrupted Sutures as your blog name. I knew the meaning of sutures but thought maybe interrupted ones were a special type for certain kinds of wound – but I am guessing not, now I see it is merely how life is for most women….

  6. Su

    Yes, my blog name is a pun – the name lets you know it’s about sewing. It’s been a long time since I started my blog so I don’t recall what other ideas were in my head before I decided on sewstyled. When I stopped lurking and joined various sewing related social media sites it was the norm to disguise your real name; when possible my screen name alluded to my real first name.

  7. KS Sews

    I have not been able to shake Sew Crafty Chemist 🙂 I’m no longer a “practicing” chemist; I traded in my lab coat for an office when I went into management.

    I love ‘Dressmaking Debacles’ and wish I’d thought of it way back when I started. It’s been Super hard to shake Sew Crafty Chemist so I’ve stopped trying. Lol! And try as I might I can’t disconnect my real name from my online presence even though I don’t use my full name.

    I’m always interested in “not Obvious” blog names. I JUST figured out yours the other day! Lol!

    • fabrickated

      Guilty as charged! I always think of you as a Crafty Chemist! In my mind you wear a white lab coat, then throw it away to reveal some marvellous outfit you have just run up. Although I love Dressmaking Debacles, which is funny and self effacing, I slightly struggle to pronounce it in my head (strangely).

  8. Paola

    I am first generation Australian, and my blog name La Sartora, is a tribute to my mother, aunts and grandmother who came from the Friuli region in north-east Italy, who all are and were amazing dressmakers. La Sartora is Friulano
    for The Dressmaker. The name acknowledges my family heritage, and the influences these women undoubtedly had on me becoming a dressmaker myself.
    Aside – Friulano is the language spoken in Friuli, more related to Romansch than Italian.

    • fabrickated

      I really like this as has a strong sentimental story associated with it. And while Sartora is a foreign word to many of us its meaning is clear and similar to Sartorial, so it works perfectly for me. And thank you for the interesting information on Friulano! I saw a family at a wedding on Friday and it was hard for me to tell if they were speaking Italian or Romanian. Perhaps it was Friulano!!

      • Paola

        Very possibly. – I have friends whose families come from other parts of Italy who tell me that hearing our family speak sounds familiar but foreign at the same time.

  9. Mary

    Growing up and still to this day my best friend is also named Mary. In school we were known as ‘Mary squared’ and since for a long stretch of our girlhood I was mostly the one who had my and our act together she started calling me Square. Fast forward 40 years and I am still called Square by her, her husband, her son, and everyone in her extended family. When her son was a little guy he called me ‘Auntie Shapes’ because he just couldn’t remember which geometric object I was named for. When I started my business and needed a name and an email I landed on combining my city airport code: PDX and Square to be pdxsquared because pdxsquare didn’t sound as finished to my ear. I moved that email to IG with me and am very comfortable with it. The people who love me most and longest call me Square and I treasure the nickname. I know people who abhor their nicknames but I love mine.

    • Elaine Sabin-Simpson

      Nice one! My daughter, Sarah. once worked in an office with another Sarah. MY Sarah had many nicknames [we’re that sort of family, one name is never enough] and was sometimes called ‘Sarah-Square-a’ for no real reason other than wordplay fun. So she became ‘Squares’ and the other girl got ‘Circles’. Silly, and we no longer know about Miss Circles, but ‘Squares’ is still going strong 15 years later.

  10. fabrickated

    Thank you for explaining this Mary. Mary squared also has such a nice slightly rhyming feel too. I also think squared and fabrickated have that nice finish.

    Back to Irish names as discussed with Eimear there is a funny story about a Gaellic hockey team shouting “Pass me to Mary, Mary!” “Mary, over here, pass to Mary!” “Pass to Bernadette!”

    I

  11. Cedi Frederick

    What an interesting blog Kate! I have lived with an alliterative name for 60 years, brought about primarily by my parent’s culture and, having just arrived in the UK, their lack of understanding of how the UK naming system works! For many years, I thought my father’s first name was Cecil and my mother’s Ermin, when actually on their birth certificates these are their second names! So, being new to this country, they expected me to be called Anthony! No such luck huh!! So, soon after realising their ‘mistake’, I became Cedi!! Then work kicked in, and on application form after application form, I dutifully filled in ‘Cedric’, so that stuck at work, while everywhere else it was and remains Cedi! So, when I finally stepped out off the corporate hamster wheel, I decided that it will forever more be Cedi! Some folk get it, and others don’t! Not changing now!

    • fabrickated

      Thanks for you lovely comment Cedi. My daughter’s in-laws came here from Caribbean too and all of them appear to have a name by which they are known that has nothing to do with their first name, eg MIL Olivia is always called Fay. And they always spelled brother’s name as Harris for years, before they realised it was actually Horace.

      • Elaine Sabin-Simpson

        I love some of those Caribbean names- and the additional layer added by patois and accent! Especially the missed [or added] aitches. Hantony and ‘Ermin are very typical lol. My mother in law, Noriel, has so many variations on the way people pronounce her name, she answers to almost anything. My FIL’s mum was called ‘Miz Elder’. No idea if it was Elder, Elda, or maybe even Hilda originally!

        • fabrickated

          I am LOL on this one. Yes, calling the old ladies Miss and then their first name. At my Grandpa’s company he was Mr Ashworth, and his two sons Mr Raymond and Mr Stuart!

  12. mrsmole

    My nickname was born when I married my British husband 23 years ago before blogging. We lived in a basement suite and it was the first time I ever lived underground. When it rained, the entrance flooded and sunlight rarely made it inside. It was cold and damp but very quiet. It made me feel like a mole. Being a mole you can pile leaves up against the entrance to your tunnel to keep other critters out and lead a reclusive quiet life. This all felt right as I am an extreme introvert and my husband though talkative for his job, settled into a reclusive lifestyle when at home. We learned more about real moles and we can appreciate their serene ways keeping people at bay. Moles also enjoy just being together without interruptions and hold hands without the need for words. They keep their tunnels clean and enjoy the same tasty treats albeit worms. When I started my blog back in 2010, it was easy to just use that name to remain anonymous since I was writing about local clients in a small rural town. So online I am Mrs. Mole who fits for a queen but to everyone else I am Mrs. ___. When Mr. Mole and I are out and we see older couples still holding hands and looking lovingly at each other, we label them “old Moles” as well. So glad you brought up this topic, Kate, with all the sadness of my father’s passing, it has broken me out of my shell.I follow the previous bloggers above and it is fascinating to discover how they also picked their names. Thanks! Oh…snickers bars have always been snickers in the US…sorry you lost your marathons!

    • fabrickated

      What a lovely story and I am so sorry that your grief is overwhelming you. I remember losing my father – it felt like a huge tree had fallen.

      We live in a basement flat – not that bad but it Is dark and a bit damp. How glorious it is to be in the country where I can breathe, experience strong sunshine and light. Sending love to you at this challenging time dear Mrs Mole.

  13. Linda (ACraftyScrivener)

    So interesting! I love reading everyone’s responses. My maiden name is ‘Scrivener’ from English one who scribes. Though I do not write, I feel like that skill has evolved in me as one who crafts – mainly sewing but knitting and other crafts occasionally!

  14. Janet

    Hi Kate – I really enjoyed this post – I’m a copywriter by day so I love decoding people’s blog names and Insta-handles, and speculating about how they chose their names. When I started my blog my first choice was The Iron, the Stitch and the Wardrobe, which was doubly apt because I was a massive fan of the Narnia stories as a child. But someone else had got there first, so I ended up choosing something more straightforward.

    • fabrickated

      DIY Wardrobe is pretty good Janet, but The Iron, The Stitch and The Wardrobe is brilliant. As Bunny shows great minds really do think alike. At work we are in the process of thinking up a strap line for our new merged entity and it has taken so much time to think it through. But when we got it we felt elated.

  15. Bunny

    Great post, Kate. My “real” nickname is Bunny and has been since birth as my mom and I had the exact same name. My grandmother was the one who decided that would be confusing and dubbed me her ‘little bunny” and it stuck for all eternity. I only use my given name for signing documents. I am Bunny to all who know me.

    “La Sewista” started differently than some might think. Today, many choose to add “ista” to English words and to get a “cute” response that might appeal to some sort of imagined Spanglish audience or to just appear on trend with their slang. I never even thought of that when I chose my blog name. I started blogging back in 2008 with no connection prior to the blogging world. I was not following bloggers and just wanted to put my love of sewing out there. I lived in Puerto Rico for several years as a child and have great grandparents with Hispanic birthplaces. I am fluent in Spanish although years of not needing to use the language have taken a toll on my skills. I had, in 2008, not heard anyone at that time adding “ista” to anything and wanted a catchy name that said something about myself. How could I get across my passion and my heritage at the same time? I had never heard the term “Sewista” used in 2008, in blogs or anywhere. I thought it up myself and it seemed to be catchy enough and worked. I had to add “La” to make it grammatically correct. Several years later the term “sewista’ seemed to be popping up in many places of our sewing community. When I chose my name it was simply to express a teensy bit of who I am and not a term copied from any other writings, blogs or discussion. Who knew?

    • Fabrickated

      Bunny – this is such a nice response. Thank you for taking the trouble to comment. I wondered why you were Bunny – and now we know!

      And great to hear the story of La Sewista. As you say “Ista” has caught on recently, but it is good to know you got there first, and the family history behind your choice. I expect the currency of the name, whether you knew it or not, helped to attract readers. But it is your amazing range of sewing skills, great style and kind generosity that have kept you up there as one of the great bloggers.

  16. Jenny

    Like many I approached social media with caution but recognised that to engage would give me so much inspiration and insight to what I do on the craft side. Once I realised I needed a name then because all my life I’ve lived in compartments for work, family etc using my real name was not going to be realistic and anyway it was fun to carve out a new name and image.

    Coinciding with me taking up sewing again we had acquired a new kitten, a lilac pointed Siamese cross. Indeed the first quilt I made was for her and still gets used everyday. So I chose The Lilac Cat and after checking that no one else had the name on Flickr and IG went for it. Also I nabbed the name for yahoo and gmail email addresses so my sewing compartment was secure!

    PS Someone at Doncaster Council is having way too much fun ( what a great link) perhaps the woes of Brexit could be similarly sorted!

    • Fabrickated

      I must say I found the concept of The Lilac Cat oblique, as I had never heard of such a thing! But these beautiful and unique creatures are obviously such an important part of your life they deserve to be strongly associated with you in every way. I love your blog, your sharp sense of humour and your incredibly kind sewathons to produce quilts for people who need some extra love. Also I hope the felines appreciate having their very own patchwork quilts (ultimate luxury).

  17. jay

    I like the new tag line, very appropriate, and enjoyed reading about how others arrived at their blog titles and names. It’s good advice to stick to one name if you want to establish an identity. I pick different names across media for a different reason. Pattern Pandemonium came about because most of the blog titles I thought of had already been taken, I make patterns, and pandemonium is what it feels like to always have more plans than time carry them out. For my handle I usually use something which relates to my real name or to that of one of my ancestors, so that I can remember it (in theory).

    • Fabrickated

      Ha ha. Good point about remembering your names. I am constantly forgetting my google password which I need in order to comment on Blog spot blogs..

      Pandemonium is such a great word. I remember eating a dish in Ghana called Palaver which is in the same category for me.

      • jay

        Interesting what appeal words have as sound, (outside of their meaning). A former flatmate loved ‘scumble’ and ‘scuffle’. Did Palaver get its name from what went into making it I wonder, or was it just a nice sounding word?

  18. Brenda

    I love your new tag line! I’ve had internal debates about whether to be public or private in my Internet presence. Also, I’ve not had any nicknames that stuck. My mom chose Brenda specifically because it isn’t easily shortened (a response to being a confused child, Elizabeth/Betty).

    I picked my IG acccount name while at happy hour with friends, which I don’t recommend! I picked my blog name to identify the purpose – flatter patter is talking about sewing for a flat chest.

    Thanks for starting this interesting discussion.

  19. Fabrickated

    It’s funny that you were a little drunk when you picked your IG name – I thought you were a major corporation as a result. But your new blog is brilliantly named – although for the first few readings I thought it said Flatter Patterns which is appropriate – but Patter is even better. And it rhymes. Brilliant.

  20. Sue

    I loved this blog post, it made me think. My infrequently posted to blog, instagram, website etc are all called “thelimegate”, and I refer to myself as Sue at thelimegate. But I’m now wondering if, along with everything else I’m meant to be doing next year, I need to step up my social media interaction and review my name!

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