Thoughts on a name

On Monday I changed my Twitter name to @SusannahConway. This might not sound like a big deal but, strangely, it felt like one. But it’s less about this happening on Twitter and more about me stepping into my name. I’ve been easing into this since I started blogging under my own domain last year. That felt huge. When I first started blogging in 2006 I only ever used my first name and was always worried that “someone” would find my blog. I couldn’t tell you who that someone actually was — it certainly wasn’t a real person — but for some reason i wanted to retain a smidge of anonymity in my online dealings.

Obviously that didn’t last long :)

I bought my own domain name back in 2005 — a friend had suggested I make a website to showcase my journalism and it’s thanks to her foresight that I snapped up when I did. I was still swimming in grief back then, but putting together that site was my first step on the internet highway and gave me something to focus on when my days were aimless, tearstained and, more worryingly, unemployed. A few months later I stumbled upon my first blog and the rest, as they say, is history.

So now here I am, more visible on the internets than i ever thought possible.

When I first joined Twitter it was just for fun– i had no idea that i would ever actually a) understand why anyone would bother with the site and b) come to enjoy it myself. @photobird was my user name and an alter ego of sorts. I tweeted as myself, of course, but i quite liked having a nickname i could use in different ways.

When I’d finished writing the book I figured it was time to tweet under my own name, being an author and all… but the name was taken. The account wasn’t being used, and I could tell the ‘other’ Susannah had it — the one who lives elsewhere in the UK and is also a photographer (what are the odds?). It took me a while to build up the ovaries to contact her. But I am so glad I did because she was LOVELY and was happy to let me take over our name (thank you, hon!)

So now I’m out on Twitter. And it feels good.

Do you guys feel comfortable using your name on the internet?

* * * * *

Tomorrow I’m going to show you something else that bears my name… the cover of my book!

37 responses
  1. Ellen

    I quite like using my name on the internet. I’ve got my blog, where I’m not anonymous at all – obviously, I can decide what to put online and what to connect with my name, which is so unique that it is kind of a brand. (And I’m gonna be a teacher, so I have to be a little careful what I put “out there”)

  2. Kes Cardoso

    I very much sympathise with your ‘name’ issue. I started blogging and tweeting for one of my university projects, and the last thing I would want to happen was ‘to be known’ on the internet… Afraid of being recognised, judged and all the silly things that pass through my mind. So I created a name – Miss UMA – and started to share photos and posts. I haven’t been a blogger for a long time yet, but blogging has definitely changed my life. It was in the beginning of 2011 that I produced a video called I am Miss UMA ( as a self-representation project and with that I reveled my name on my blog – Kes Cardoso. lately I have realised how being ‘Miss UMA’ has made me more like ‘Kes’, and I am so glad for this! The name has become sort of my online brand :-) and this past week I registered a domain for the first time in my life: xxx

  3. Barbara

    Well, I don’t even know where to start! I guess that because of my job I really can’t afford to be “found out”, but then again my online alter ego name is so unique that there are pages of my stuff that come up if you google it as I have been online for the last 10 years.. So here is hoping that noone too important will find out about it!

  4. Steven Andrew

    I definitely struggle with the whole name issue. I think for awhile before posting something on my blog about my family or about a business I deal with around my town, just because I’m self-conscious about my blog. I shouldn’t really care because I don’t post personal things. It’s tough but I’m learning not to really care. :)

  5. Meg Manion Silliker

    i have been thinking for a very long time that i want to go back to using my own name for my photography business. while i adore bluelime it has sort of painted me in a corner – including colors that i don’t necessarily identify with any longer. and i’m married. but i still want to use my maiden name because regardless of a piece of paper it is who i am and like you it’s time i step into that name – be proud of you and all you’ve accomplished – you are so wonderful in so many ways. i can’t wait to see the cover of your book which will be as brilliant as you are. my shining star across the pond. xoxo

  6. Meg Roper

    Susannah, this resonates so much!

    I started blogging to find myself again amidst the rubble left by a corporate life that was sucking the blood and marrow out of me. My expectation of what was expected of me at work was so warped that any time to indulge in normal pleasures like cooking or digging the garden, let alone writing, felt like dirty secrets. Hence the name of the blog. It even took me four months before I told anybody about my blogging…

    Things are starting to change though. There is now a photo on my blog – thanks to the self-portraiture breakthrough due to Unravelling!!! – and I can sense that some day soon I shall actually add my name too.

  7. Casey

    Congratulations on coming out under your own name Susannah!

    My blog is in its infancy, so I’m very much wrestling with the ‘what if someone finds this? what if they read it? whatdoIdowhatdoIdo?…and breathe’ conundrum every time I’ve hit publish. And anyone from reality (..because this is imagined? ha) who’s been linked has been sworn to a certain secrecy. I’m still not sure if this attributed to discomfort of a) mixing lives or b) sharing my nonsenses at all.

    As for twitter, I signed up under my own name but it didn’t quite ‘fit’… so later changed it to create my alter ego @SirFlamingo. Maybe I’ll revert back later down the track, who knows? For now though I am thoroughly enjoying the sneaky costume change.

  8. Helen

    You have the advantage of a lovely, straightforward kind of a name! No-one can pronounce my surname and no-one can remember how to spell it. So, for those reasons, I tend to avoid using it. I do have the domain name, though….just in case….

  9. Mariella

    I changed my twitter name also recently but I haven’t been using twitter for very long time so I guess I was at the beginning anyway. I still feel shy about blogging or tweeting especially with people that know me personally (how odd is that) but I saw it as a further step towards building more confidence and not being ashamed of what I write or share online. Because, really there is nothing to be ashamed of in exposing ourselves, weaknesses included. Congratulations Susannah!

  10. Alicia Bock

    I have always used my name for business, but as the years go on, and I type it for work so many times a day, it feels less like my real name. As the person I feel removed from “alicia bock the brand”. It makes me appreciate the nicknames my family gives me.

  11. Helen Watson-Jones

    ok I’m beginning to feel like your stalker with all the comments i’m sending to you – i’ve been home poorly, it will stop once normal life is resumed i promise!
    I wonder if its an instinct thing, to be worried about ‘being out there’ on the internet. If someone were to decide to stalk i would imagine it wouldn’t be too difficult to come face to face with us on our doorstep at home, given all the clues we leave on the internet without even realising it.
    Then of course, we expose far more emotionally on a blog than we would in person. Mine isn’t my name and I have found myself holding back from telling friends or even family about my blog as i feel if they followed i would hold back. My website is ‘me’ but its very impersonal although it does have contact details. I had someone come into my Gallery who knew all about me, he had researched and it was quite unearving, so I understand your caution. Our name does become a Brand though, which sells our creative offerings so we don’t really have any choice in the matter!

  12. Aggie Armstrong

    This is why I’ve been waiting for Blogging From the Heart!!! Stuff like this — I tweet under cablearms which is a meshed up version of my maiden and married name. But I haven’t put up a link to my personal blog (only to my photoblog). I’m not really that hard to find. But I haven’t really fully promoted it. Maybe it’s because I do have a day job, but perhaps I need to own up to it too. I just can’t bear my dodgy boss knowing about my personal rants and musings, it gives me the heebie geebies. I have this “I don’t really give me sh*t attitude” in real life but there seems to be some pussy-footing when it comes to what is really going on in my head that I don’t want work acquaintances to know. Apologies for the rambling…

  13. Catherine Denton

    It took me awhile, but yes, I use my name. It was growth for me to get to that point.
    My Blog

  14. Aggie Armstrong

    oy vey, I meant “I don’t really give a sh*t attitude…”

  15. Debi

    i am slowly moving into using my name, and in truth, i use it everywhere except as my blog name. i find it’s hard to let go of the name that started it all for me, but i know the time is coming. i love that you are all the way out there.

  16. Susan

    Congrats on the new Twitter name! I have a hard time giving out my name, but really don’t have a valid reason why.

    BTW, I love that HUGE leaf in your picture.

  17. Tracey

    “… was always worried that “someone” would find my blog. I couldn’t tell you who that someone actually was…” I could of written this myself!

    10 years + blogging, and I still don’t talk about my blog to family & friends, lol. I’m scared but I have no idea why. I never post anything I wouldn’t tell them anyway so there’s nothing scandulous – but I guess it’s still the fear of being accepted and ‘cool’.

    I think it’s cool to be proud about your online identity and adventures – especially when you inspire so many people!

  18. Nina

    For now I’m sticking with first name only. I have an unusual surname and it’s very likely I’m the only Nina ___ in the world. Maybe if I was Nina Smith or something I wouldn’t mind using my whole name?? It would still seem anonymous-ish.

  19. kerin rose

    yes I do use my real name…and really am proud of it…there are other aspects of who I am that I have to keep somewhat private, as there are some worlds that I fear, should not collide….I was lucky enough to have secured it for my domain, which makes me so happy, but someone who has the same name as a first and middle ( different last name) has been using it as HER handle on twitter and facebook, even though her business has a DIFFERENT name….I have actually trademarked ‘kerin rose’ which cost me much heartache and not to mention dollars…

  20. Meghan @ Life Refocused

    Love that you said had the “ovaries” to contact her! I am using my real name–somehow that seems right to me, although in the beginning I wasn’t so sure.

  21. stacy

    i just came out too. my new site is my name. a tiny, yet giant step.

    sooo excited for your book! weeee!

  22. Catherine

    I think using your own name on the internet depends on what you are blogging about. I started off with just my first name, but as I was posting my own poetry, in the end I had to admit to my last name as well.
    But for more political bloggers, using there own name carries huge risks – see this post
    On Blogging Threats and Silence. I have to admit it shocked me.

  23. Gayle L..

    Damn… this whole extroverted introvert thing is so confusing. I have multiple personalities on the internet and it doesn’t take a Mark Zuckerberg to figure out who the hell I am… the problem is I’m still trying to figure out who I am! So for now I’ve got more domain name than I know what to do with and I don’t use my last name on my heart and soul blog… but really its just a matter time before I get my shrinking ovaries to woman up and come out of the closet!

  24. Melissa Jaine

    Like others, I don’t use my *full* name because at this stage I don’t want colleagues knowing! I’m sure they’d be fine about it, but if I post something personal on my blog, I don’t want the office reading it. Strange how it’s okay for the rest of the world to read it though!! I’ve been feeling lately that I will be ‘coming out’ of the creative closet some time soonish – why or when I don’t know but it scares me. A little.
    PS My boss googled my name while I was chatting with him in his office the other day, aaarrghh!!!

  25. Laura Fragiacomo

    Oh wonderful! I’ve only started blogging recently about different things, and since it’s not just one area, I’m a bit reluctant for my professional network to know what I’m tweeting about… nothing major that I’m hiding but, I guess this might be a common feeling for beginning bloggers etc!

  26. Angeliki

    I do understand your name issue and it’s something I struggle with myself. It took me 6 months to start using my first name only and there is always a fear as you put it that “someone” will discover me. I try to keep my online and real life separate but as the time passes this division feels more and more unjustified because I’m actually the exact same person online and off line.

  27. Rhianne

    I did notice that actually and I thought it was a pretty big deal too :) so congratulations!!

    I actually have two twitter accounts, one for colleagues to ‘find’ on there which I never use anymore and one for my blog… it seems silly really but I feel much safer, I guess, for it.

  28. Rachel

    This is so spooky, I blogged about this the other day. I started blogging a few years ago under my own name, it was supposed to be an artist’s blog where i just posted about what I was working on at the time, a sort of creative diary. It didn’t really occur to me that it might turn out to be anything else. I guess over the last 6 months I have been finding my voice and i’m thinking I wish i’d started out with a more anonymous blog instead. I work in an arts centre and there is a link to my blog from our wesbite and it’s listed in our brochure too. It means I hold back quite a lot and i don’t want to do that as i’m a very truthful person who likes to overshare and i think this is where connections and friendships are made. It doesn’t really matter as no one reads it anyway but the thought of an unwitting work colleague stumbling across it is very inhibiting.

  29. michelle gd

    i’m not sure i’m 100% comfortable, but i’m doing it. like helen of dixon hill, i’ve got a doozy of a name (both maiden and married are not your run-of-the-mill names…odd spellings/pronunciations). but starting my blog just a few weeks ago, i decided that my name was important. mostly it’s my first name that’s important to me (i have issues with having taken a married name…i did it for symbolic reasons/starting a family…but the feminist in me still rears). so i use my first name and the initials of my maiden and last names.

    it’s funny to me how something like the internet, where you are totally and completely putting yourself out there, still begs this question of anonymity. i would love for people all over the world to discover my blog eventually…but my mother-in-law? or my sisters-in-law? hmmm…i’m not so sure! i feel shy ;)
    it’s just a funny thing for me to put into words…wanting to share myself with anyone but still feeling so vulnerable when i do it.

    but i am pushing through this fear…!

  30. Fiona

    Sneaky you, slipping in book news at the end like that! I find it hard yet to use my real name, I’m afraid of the “someone” too, but it will come in time. Well done you for making the leap :)

  31. Roxanne Galpin

    When I started blogging six years ago I was sort of paranoid about anyone finding my name, I felt protected by the anonymity that I believed an alias provided me. But then I started getting serious about my writing, my photography and my story in general. I went from being afraid that others would know me, to wanting others to know me. I still use the moniker “tinkerbell the bipolar faerie” because people like it and it suits me, but my name is there, too, in my profile, everyone knows it, and I’m okay with that.

    I’m super excited to see the cover ….


  32. lisa

    Congrats on the name change Susannah. I feel pretty comfortable using my name online, but I think in part it is because it is such a common name! :-)

  33. tea_austen

    Oh, how I relate to this!

    I started my blog anonymously, and loved being able to write without worry that I would be found. It was a breath of fresh air. I had spent my life trying to be what I thought the world wanted of me. Now, unnamed, I was just me.

    There were also practical concerns. I was a published writer, an editor as well, I didn’t want my site to be found by clients or etc. I liked being ungoogleable.

    But then I wrote more, developed a following on the blog, wrote a book. I had to come out, as it were. But still, it took five years before I put my name on my site.

    Nowadays my site it out, though I still don’t use my name as my twitter name. I still cling to some vestige of distance, which is silly as my full name is on the account. I know I ought to change it, for branding and recognition, and because it is awkward at conferences having to introduce myself twice. And yet, there is comfort in that distance still.

    But I am happy for you to have come out completely. There is something satisfying in the unity, no?


  34. susannah

    yes, it feels quite.. whole and complete :)

  35. Michele Fischer

    I completely understand and feel the same with sharing my photograph. I feel that “someone” may find me and then my worlds shall meet and perhaps emplode ;) My challenge for next year is to add a real life photo and start sharing unabashadely-but we shall see-loved the post!

  36. VSC

    Reading this post and all these amazing comments makes me feel warm… I’m by no means the only one to feel like this! You can see how I do still struggle with the issue by taking a look at my signature : ) Thank you…

  37. Kathryn

    I know how you feel, although I didn’t think about it much. In the beginning I would never reveal my last name and sometimes still feel odd about it (especially since I know many will mispronounce it) but in the end it doesn’t really tell ‘them’ how to found you or whatnot. Is part of the whole you, though.
    -Kathryn Simons :)

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