The time has finally come. Someone else has set up a company called Editorial Girl – providing copywriting and editing services, albeit from a base in the US – with the corresponding .com website address.
Obviously I feel a bit strange about this – but the fact it’s happened is not very surprising. The .com domain had been available when I first started using the name editorialgirl but, at that time, I didn’t identify with it as strongly as I do now. Had I known six years ago that I would one day answer to the name ‘editorialgirl’ in public (yes, sometimes people recognise me from Twitter or Flickr but don’t know my real name), then perhaps I would have registered it then.
I have already written about how and why I came up with the name editorialgirl to use online. What I wrote then still stands:
These days, I identify with the name editorialgirl (all one word, please, and all lower case) as much as my given name. I might even prefer it a little, since it’s virtually unique. I feel complete ownership over it. It’s my name on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Identi.ca and b3ta (to name a few*) and if ever I find someone else using it – and there have been a couple – I feel absolutely indignant. I love editorialgirl.
So, we’ve established I have an emotional connection to the name, but does it really matter?
Objectively, I suppose the answer is “probably not”. Despite the fact that it refers to my work as an editor and writer, I don’t use the name editorialgirl (or Editorial Girl, or any combination of the above) as an official business name – so I can’t really begrudge someone else taking it up.
Or can I? When does an online name become a “personal brand”? Should I even think of it in those terms? Do I have any right at all to feel as though editorialgirl is my intellectual property?
I feel… discombobulated.
Partly, of course, I’m a bit embarrassed that I didn’t register the .com domain years ago. Then there’s a little bit of … well, I don’t know what the word is, but it involves not appreciating what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, or wanting the best of both worlds… or kicking yourself for resting on your laurels, or… something. I had the choice of using editorialgirl as my company name when I registered with the HMRC as a sole trader / freelancer… but I didn’t. I chose to just stick with my ‘real’ name – now Emma Wright. I saw the name editorialgirl as a bit too frivolous. But now I’m thinking… well, you know; “Google” is hardly a sensible, serious, businessy word.
Now I’m trying to think about it professionally. Although I don’t use the name for work, I do find it odd that someone planning a start-up would just go ahead and use a name that is already taken on pretty much every social media tool. Even if you weren’t planning to ply your trade online, you’d surely check Facebook and Twitter, just to make sure your search rankings weren’t going to be too diluted… wouldn’t you? Just in case you wanted to branch out and do some web PR at some point in the future? I wonder if the woman behind Editorial Girl googled it and decided that it would be fine, as none of the results pointed to a company name?
Perhaps Editorial Girl (US) already has a large offline following. After all, I doubt that not having the Twitter name will matter to them when the .com name starts to come first for every Google search – as it inevitably will if the business takes off. And they already have a Facebook page, with fans,
even if they don’t have the “http://www.facebook.com/editorialgirl” URL. [EDIT: They do now! See update, below]
Completely co-incidentally, someone retweeted this blog post from ‘Shoeperwoman’ just after I found out about the Editorial Girl website. Although it’s not a retail site, Amber makes money from “Shoeperwoman” – she refers to the blog as her livelihood – but had never trademarked the name. Now someone else has applied to use “Shoeper-woman” as a trademark for their retail blog. I bristled as I read her post. How dare they? I’ll be very interested to find out how that goes. It seems absurd that years of use and a large blog following may not protect a name.
As for Editorial Girl and editorialgirl – well, I guess I’ll just have to see how this goes, too. Perhaps it’s the start of a silly battle, where our weapons are SEO and useful blog content (er… dammit. They’ll win). Or perhaps we’ll live peacefully – side by side online and on opposite sides of the Atlantic in real life – for the foreseeable future.
And perhaps this is the kick up the arse I needed to finally get serious about my freelancing work. Well, you never know. Keep your eyes peeled for a page about my editing and copywriting work appearing here on this blog over the next few weeks…!
* I had a bit of fun this afternoon trying to remember every site on which I use the name editorialgirl – and when I signed up to each one. If I was using editorialgirl as a business name, would I have a case?
http://www.flickr.com/people/editorialgirl/ (June 2005)
http://editorialgirl.blogspot.com/ (July 2005)
http://www.last.fm/user/editorialgirl (January 2007)
http://www.editorialgirl.co.uk/ (October 2007)
http://twitter.com/#!/editorialgirl (April 2008)
http://identi.ca/editorialgirl (July 2008)
http://www.facebook.com/editorialgirl (June 2009, when username URLs became available) [EDIT: Not any more. See update, below]
skype name “editorialgirl” (April 2011)
http://editorialgirl.tumblr.com (April 2011)
(Well, OK. I have to admit that I only signed up to those last two after talking to someone about online profiles last week and realising they were still available. Petty, moi?)
Oh and on YouTube I’m editorialgirlUK – editorialgirl is taken by someone else (but not, surprisingly, by the ‘new’ Editorial Girl).
UPDATE 26.09.2011: Just got back from a week’s holiday to find that I couldn’t log into Facebook. Why? Because my username – editorialgirl – “violated username policy”. Huh? After changing it to “emma.editorialgirl” I was able to log in again and find out more: apparently one of the ways a violation might occur is when a username conflicts with a (Facebook) page of the same name. So, despite the fact that I’d been using editorialgirl on Facebook before ‘pages’, or this new company, even existed – they get the username, just like that. Thanks a bunch!