Setting up a Twitter account for the first time is not as simple as it seems. You’ve got to brainstorm a killer username, a label that people will know you by, one they’ll want to retweet, and something with that X factor of cool. Despite what you might think, you’re not stuck with “@iluvbkstrtboys7.” Here’s how to get your ideal Twitter username.

If you have yet to sign up for Twitter, you’re in luck. You’re in the best position to start strong, creating a username that you’ll be happy with for years to come. However, don’t sweat it if you’ve had your account for some time now and you want to make a change – we’ll tell you how in a minute.

First, here are the basic rules of Twitter username:

  • It can’t be longer than 15 characters
  • It must not contain the words “admin” or “Twitter” to avoid confusion
  • You cannot “squat” on someone’s username, such as a celebrity or politician

Other than that, you’ve got free reign to brainstorm the best username you can think of – as long as it’s not taken.

The sad fact is, your first one, two, or even dozen attempts to sign up for Twitter might be thwarted because your ideal username is already in use. This means you’ve got to get a little creative. Instead of “@Susanne” try “@MissSue”, “@SuzieQ”, “@Sussie”, or “@SusanneSmith”.

Your ideal Twitter username should be as short as possible. People are more inclined to retweet things from people with short usernames. And try to avoid numbers at the end, unless they have some significance to you or your brand. If you’re really stuck, remember that you can use underscores as well.

For those of you who created a username that you’re not that fond of anymore, there’s still hope! Twitter lets you change your username at any time, as often as you want. Be careful when doing this though, and always inform your followers of a name change before you do it so they can mentally update their @replies.

To change your username, you must log in to Twitter.com and navigate to “Settings” in the upper-right-hand dropdown menu. From there, you’ll see the “Username” field within the “Account” tab – just change this to your desired new username and click “Save” at the bottom of the page. That’s all there is to it!

It’s important that your Twitter username reflects you and your brand, so choose it wisely.

Note: You may have once heard that Twitter would allow users to claim “unused” Twitter accounts if they have been dormant for several months. They aren’t doing this anymore. They may release dormant Twitter account one day in the future, but there’s no word on when, or if, this will happen.