Twitter Identity Change: Do You Rip or Do You Peel?

Yesterday I switched Twitter identities and avatars. A mistake? You be the judge.

A few months ago I posted here and on Twitter under the name “hope101/Tartitude.” I wasn’t truly anonymous; I had a link to my blog on Facebook; many of the people who followed me here are writing friends, and were already privy to my real life name. But I left it that way for a few reasons: 

  1. Inertia: it takes a lot of effort to evoke change, then follow its ripples through all the venues I frequent these days.
  2. Sentimental attachment to the name “hope.”
  3. When I pretended I was anonymous, I gave myself permission to experiment and be playful — two things I embrace and want to do more of in my life. 
  4. I was subconsciously hedging my bets so that if I “failed” to make it as a writer, the fallout wouldn’t contaminate my personal life.

Then a few things happened in the Tartiverse


  1. I hit a new point in my commitment to writing. More and more, I’ve found myself muttering, “Oh, just get over yourself already and do it.” And I have — “it” being both large and small behavior changes.
  2. Therese and Kathleen paid me the huge compliment of picking me for Writer Unboxed, necessitating my…defruiting.  I obtained a decent picture of myself and decided on my writing name. 
  3. To my surprise, the changes in #2 were quite easy and felt liberating.
  4. There is so much change in my life at present, one more tiny one ain’t gonna break me. 
  5. I seem to goof off just fine as Jan O’Hara, thank you very much.  

That’s the context. Then yesterday, through a series of virtual breadcrumbs, I landed at Kristen Lamb’s blog. The rest, as they say, is all her fault. 😉 

Seriously, if you plan for a career in writing, read this article. Not only did she eliminate the excuses I held onto, she made the point that consumers do not enter the bookstore looking for their purchases under a witty Twitter handle or blog name. Yeah, I know I’m thinking years ahead in my career path, but why not? 

And the clincher? When I did as she suggested, and looked at the Twitter profiles of published authors, they pretty much all use their business names and publicity photos. 

So, rip the band-aid off or peel? I decided to go for the former, mostly because I’m ready for some consistency on this, and I suspect so are you. Accordingly, yesterday I went from @Tartitude to @jan_ohara, and I switched avatars, as in the photo embedded above.  

Now, I’m about 98% sure the decision on the name change was correct. The avatar…? To be honest, I’m still working on feeling good about that aspect. Preliminary feedback is that most people, while sentimental about the name and orange-goggle girl, see the necessity for change and will adapt. Also, many of my tweeps have visited my biography page and are somewhat familiar with my face. 

Should you decide to switch Twitter names yourself, keep your account with its followers and designated e-mail address intact, this is the procedure I followed. Many thanks to Medeia Sharif, who helped me understand the sequence. I do NOT guarantee this will work for you and I do not recommend you attempt this while impaired from cough syrup. *ahem*:  

  1. You will require two active e-mail accounts. If you are going to have to choose between Yahoo and Google, go with the latter. You can forward G-Mail to another e-mail address, if you wish to collect your mail in one location. Not so with Yahoo, unless you pay their yearly $20 fee.
  2. Pick a time when Twitter isn’t acting wonky, because you’re going to do some fancy finger-work to retain rights to your old Twitter name.
  3. Using the less important or new e-mail address, ensure the Twitter Name and Username you seek are available. The latter is critical as it will form the url for all the links you have to change. (eg. Write them down exactly as you will use them.
  4. Open a new Twitter account using a third name altogether. Activate it per instructions. You may quit now, if you wish, but if you proceed, the next two steps must be executed swiftly
  5. Go to your old Twitter account and change your Name and Username to those you desire. (Written down in step #3.)
  6. Immediately go to the new account set up in #4 and change the Username to that of your old Twitter account. (You want to hold rights to this for a while to divert people to stray to your new account.)
  7. Leave the url of your new Twitter name as the website name in the account which now carries your old Username.
  8. Leave a tweet in the account which carries your old Username to direct your old tweeps to your new Username.
  9. Using your new Username, send out tweets periodically to let people know who you are now.
  10. Don’t forget to change your links on your blog, Facebook profile, website, etc.
  11. When you’re ready, change your avatar.

So, comments? Questions? Is it too much to change both a name and avatar on Twitter all at once, do you think? (Some folks say to do the name first, then the avatar.) How would you folks feel if I change my avatar here, too?


19 thoughts on “Twitter Identity Change: Do You Rip or Do You Peel?

  1. Great advice, but I am really lazy and just left the texaswriterchik as my MySpace URL (example used in my blog). At the time, I had 500 friends and was NOT going to start over. If you take into account how search engines work, then just use your name…a lot. It will still dominate a search.

    For instance…

    I changed my user name to Kristen Lamb and left the texaswriterchik in the URL (because I am lazy). But, because I update all the time, the Internet picks up the “Kristen Lamb” “Kristen Lamb” “Kristen Lamb” and so, very often, my MySpace will actually rank ahead of my web page even though Kristen Lamb is not in the URL.

    So if it is a massive pain in the tush to change over, then I say just keep using your name and you will overcome most of the problem. Athough, admittedly, it would be nice if all my domains matched.

    But I joke and always say that the title of my book should be “I Made All the Dumb Mistakes So You Don’t Have To.” 😀

    You are very fun and inspiring and I think you will go a long way. Thanks for being such a blessing to me as well. Let me know if I can help in any way.



    1. You’ve already been a great help. If you aren’t already, you should consider becoming a personal coach. Or a trainer for the Navy Seals. 😉

      Seriously, thanks for these comments. My brain cannot wrap around anything more at present, but phase 20.2 will begin soon with this information.

  2. Let ‘er rip Jan!

    It sucks to be afraid of anything. As you and I have discussed before, fear stunts your growth, and I always suspected you hid behind your avatar and your pseudonym because you are shy and value your privacy. Remember when I was so afraid of facebook?

  3. I’m so relieved to have kept my name in everything. I will have my own layer of problems with the required pen name, but most of my stuff will have my name and it’s what I use for FB, Twitter, etc, and it is ON by blog, even though it isn’t the blog NAME–it’s at least not a secret. Though I suppose I should change what shows up when I comment, eh? WordPress has it, but the blogger shows up as Watery Tart.

    1. Yup, you definitely saved yourself a ****load of work there, young missy. Smart. And changing over on Blogger is easy.

      I could even have kept some of Tartitude’s ID on Twitter if they allowed a teensy bit more room for a username, but they don’t. Oh well.

  4. I’m known as sharifwrites on everything because I think it’s easier for people to spell and remember–I get a lot of misspellings on both my first and last names–but my real name has always been on my profiles. I went to a conference recently and there were a few Twitter and blogging people who recognized me.

    After what you went through yesterday, I took medeiasharif as a Twitter handle. I won’t be using it, but I don’t want anyone to take it. One guy I was following linked to a Twitter account that was imitating him. There are some real weirdos out there.

    At first I only owned the domain name sharifwrites, but last month I also bought medeiasharif. One goes to my author site and the other’s for my blog. I do want to take ownership of my name online.

  5. I started out as “kathowls” – because I didn’t know what twitter was, then I proceeded to abandon it, only going in once in a blue moon, until I began to see how it was all done and etc. so I changed to my real name 🙂

  6. I say let ‘er rip! But I do like the fruit ‘mystique’ as well… but if you are ready for consistency and the new avatar works for you, then go for it. By the way, I love your metaphoric pledge “the land of pith and zest, and the Tart..”

  7. *waves hello to Garnet* Keep the fruit even in the avatar, you think? Or just the theme for the blog. The latter remains intact for sure!

    …Something to learn…, “fruit mystique”. Heh. Thank you for noticing and commenting on my pledge. 🙂 It’s the little things that amuse me, but it’s nice to know someone else noticed and enjoyed it.

    Hart! Dude! Heading over there now.

  8. I also have a love for the “fruit mystique.” Could you wear one of those big, (Latin?) “fruit hats” in the picture? (Wondering what these are actually called?) Also, I enjoyed Kristen’s blog (thanks for the link), and will forever add “wonky” to my list of readily available vocabulary. Best to you~

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