Guide to Instagram handles:
How to find the perfect handle

Aug 22, 2021

Choosing your Instagram username (also referred to as a handle) is a very important, yet, difficult choice! It is one of the first impressions people get when they find you on Instagram, and it’s what defines your account. As it’s the first touchpoint between you and your audience and sets the tone for your identity - it should be well thought-through!

Your handle identifies and differentiates you in the social media landscape. With around a billion active users on Instagram, it’s crucial to stand out. But it's much more than that. An Instagram handle also gives you a key tool for building a memorable identity for your audience. Think of it like a catchy business name. The better your handle, the more likely people are to remember you. At the end of the day, a good username can make all the difference to the growth of your account, so I suggest you really put some effort into it.

But finding the perfect name for your account is often easier said than done. With so many users on Instagram, a lot of great usernames have already been taken! But don’t worry, you’ll find the perfect username for your account and we're here to help!

In this blog post I want to give you a few tips on how you can find the perfect Instagram handle for yourself or your brand!

Disclaimer: We are not a great example for the perfect Instagram handle, at least not when it comes to our main accounts (@explorerssaurus_ & @mariefeandjakesnow) but by now we have learned a lot so I am confident that these tips will help you out.

Ideally, your Instagram handle should be able to inform others of who you are and what you do. It should represent your brand story and leave a lasting impression, but how do you do that?

Personal Name vs. Brand Name

Firstly, you need to decide if you want to go with your personal name or with a brand name - or a mix of both. If you’re unsure, think about how you’ll be running your Instagram account on a daily basis.

If you plan to create and build a brand that will stay within a certain niche, a good option for you is to choose a brand name handle. You should ideally relate your handle to your niche, while trying to avoid closing off all other possibilities. You can use words to fit your field which make it easier for people to understand what you are doing. Choosing a brand name can help you establish authority quicker. By associating your brand with an industry, it automatically helps you be seen as an “expert”. It took us about 2-3 weeks to find and agree on @clublifedesign, we originally wanted @lifedesignclub but it was already taken. The right name seems obvious in hindsight but it is so hard to think about in the moment, give yourself time and don't put too much pressure on yourself.

If the focus of your content is primarily on your activities and your personal point of view, then it could be a good idea to use your name as your Instagram handle. This will indicate to your profile visitors they are following someone they can get to know, and build a connection with. People will know you by your name and that will make it easier for them to bond with you. By doing this, you will not be limiting yourself to a particular niche and have the freedom to add new specialties at any time. Though keep in mind that a personal name may make it harder for you to establish authority and will take more time for people to recognize what niche you’re in.

The last handle option is a combination of a personal name and a brand name to make a kind of pseudonym. If you’re worried your name could be too broad, try combining your name with your industry (or something that defines your account). This way people can relate and connect with you on a personal basis but also know what industry you are in. That way you will have the personal connection as well as the discoverability and credibility.

If you have a handle in mind, there are a few more things to consider. So, ask yourself the following questions:

Is your handle memorable?

Memorable usernames are more likely to be searched for; this directly impacts your engagement levels and follower count. Something clever and catchy will stay on people's mind, especially if they hear your name for the first time. I also suggest keeping your handle short, preferably under 15 characters. The shorter it is, the easier it will be for people to learn and remember (this is where we messed up a bit 🙈).

Is your handle easy to read and spell?

Instagram usernames can contain letters, numbers, periods, and underscores; but you might not want to include all of them. The easier your username is to read and spell, the easier it is to search. @explorerssaurus_ is definitely not easy to spell, or pronounce! (wish we had thought about that earlier…) Also, avoid using too many underscores and numbers. It can look messy and create confusion, and it may even look unprofessional.

Is your handle still available on other social platforms?

I suggest staying consistent across all other social platforms. Before deciding on your Instagram username, it’s a good idea to check if it’s also available on other platforms. Keeping your username consistent not only looks more professional, but it’s a great way to cross-promote your social channels. Even if you are not planning on using the other channels right, it’s always a good idea to secure them first. To make sure your handle is available across different social media channels you can use Knowem, or Namecheck, or Checkusernames, or simply type in “username availability checker” and you’ll see loads of tools to help you.

Does your handle align with your long term goals?

Can your handle evolve over time? Maybe it’s a good name now, but what about 4-5 years? It’s important to have a timeless handle that doesn’t exclude other niches. Just because you don’t do anything else right now, doesn’t mean you never will. Thinking ahead can save you from a rebrand further down the line, this could damage your discoverability and impact your engagement levels.

And that completes this blog post on finding the right Instagram handle! I know it can be tricky and at times a hopeless task, but trust me - you will find the right name eventually!  Just get a bit creative and play around a bit - but remember, your handle is what you will be known as at the end.

One last tip that I want to give you: once you have selected a username and built a following, you should stick with that name. Choosing the right username requires thought and strategy to achieve the best option that aligns with your brand. Even though Instagram makes it very easy for you to change your username, we really don’t advise you to do it unless there is a really good reason. That’s simply because as your brand grows and you want to stay in people’s minds, changing your name is basically like starting over.


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