Maggie Enterrios: What's in a name (change)?
Maggie Enterrios: What's in a name (change)?
Ah, a wedding. Such a happy day. Mine is coming up in just three weeks (ah!). And while I’m knee-deep in planning timelines, vows, and making sure the caterers have gluten-free, vegetarian and halal options available for all of my lovely guests, I am also in the final days of being a Sichter. I’ve chosen to change my last name*, and with that comes a whole slew of projects. For me, on top of the usual list (DMV, credit cards, my beloved Southwest Airlines account), I’m also dealing with changing my name for my social audience.
I’ve been fortunate enough to amass a solid follower-base on a few social platforms. So, how do I transition smoothly? What about when I get Googled? Will I show up? Lucky for you, I’ve been having nightmares about this scenario. So, as I follow all the steps, I’m condensing them here along with the results (whether they were a good or bad idea) and any affiliated research I find along the way. Feel free to comment below if you have any tips or tricks of your own!
I will update as I learn, but let’s get started now:
1. Start Early
A lot of my projects take a long time to reach mainstream production. For example, in February of this year, I signed on for a couple projects that print in “Spring 2018”. Obviously I want those things to have my new last name, and not my old one! I decided that any project debuting after my wedding date would be published with Maggie Enterrios as my name. I reached out to any already in-the-works projects, and let all my new clients know that would be the case. Luckily, people like love. They seem to get it.
2. The Soft Transition
I’ve got a good thing going with Sichter and I know it will take a while for my new name to catch on. So, for about six months, I’ve decided to change anything associated with Sichter to Sichter Enterrios. My new work will be published with just Enterrios, but I don’t want to lose those old projects, posts or features. Decide if this is right for you!
3. Research the Old, and Reach Out
SEO is a real burner. Currently, Google tells me that I have around 16,000 results for “Maggie Sichter”, most of them due heavily in part to my social media Strategy on Pinterest, where I make sure the alt text for every image I share has my full name in it.
That’s a lot of Sichter mentions! The first several pages of results are a pretty good indicator of where I need to focus my efforts. They reveal to me that my own personal sites, like this one, as well as connected social accounts (Linkedin, Twitter, Behance and Dribbble) are top of the list. We’ll get to changing those later.
A few articles also pop up: Interviews and blog posts that mention my name. I care a lot about these and I want to make sure they still point to me once the name change is complete. I sent out a few emails to the owners of those pages with a little plea for help. Here’s an example:
Hellos, how are yous, etc.
“I do have a big favor to ask. I'm changing my name soon to my new married name, and I want to make sure I don't lose any visibility on the features I care most about. My new last name will be Enterrios, and I'm wondering if there's anyway you can change or add that name into the post you did about me (link post there)? If you could just add my new name, to say Maggie Sichter Enterrios, since "Sichter" could drive old traffic to your post, and "Enterrios" will drive new traffic. It's a bit of a mouthful but would probably be the best bet. Are you able to make that adjustment?
4. Research the New!
If you are lucky (unlucky?) like me, you are changing from one barely-known surname to another barely-known surname. Sichter has about 100 owners in the world. Enterrios has about 150. It was fairly easy to lock down “Sichter” on social media. Googling the name alone gets you to me immediately. So, I typed Enterrios into the search engine and crossed my fingers. Guess who showed up? My partner, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law. Well, that was easy.
If you have a well-known name, this won’t be as easy. Identify whether anyone has your exact new name, and if they do, pray they aren’t in your same line of work. Tagging your new name on social media (think Pinterest descriptions, social media posts, etc) with your name + city + line of work will be a great start. So I am Maggie Sichter, Chicago Botanical illustrator and part-time heartthrob. Also, quick SEO note for those new to it: hyperlinks are stronger than text alone. For me, hyperlinking Chicago Botanical Illustrator Maggie Enterrios to littlepatterns.com is the single best thing I can do right now to get my new name searchable.
Social Media, one by one.
Change your name, pin like hell. My Pinterest account for Maggie Enterrios, Chicago Botanical Illustrator (see what I did there?), features largely only my own work. Like I said above, I spent a long time pinning those pins and adding my name into the alt text. It’s largely agreed that re-pinning gives new life and viral potential to old Pins. So, guess who is repinning her oldies? This gal.
My followers are awesome, and they love love. They also only know me as @littlepatterns, for the most part. Maggie Enterrios, Chicago Botanical Illustrator will be new to them. (Not the last time I’ll be doing that). But, I do want to introduce them to my new name. Big tip: Don’t change your photo at the same time you change your name! If your social media handle has your old name in it, you’ll want to make sure your followers still visually recognize you - even with your new handle. Consider making an announcement post or two to unveil your new name. I’ll be doing a drawing about marriage as well as an “Enterrios” drawing to kick things off on my page.
Facebook has a great name changing tool that allows you to put your surname in grayed-out parentheses as you transition over. I don’t have a major following there, so I’ll switch straight to Enterrios.
You will use your original url if you change your handle. Consider signing up the old url again and pointing towards your new account. That way, any old mentions that hyperlinked you in the past will still see an account with your photo and details of the new url.
That’s it for now! Wish me luck on my quest, and I’ll update this post soon with SEO tips and further insight into the name-changing realm.
*Name changes are a personal decision and I am in no way urging anyone to take their partner’s name. My own wonderful, perfect mother chose to keep her maiden name for forever. For me, it was an exciting personal decision that felt very right to me. You do you!