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What Does Your Gravatar Say About You?

Your Gravatar represents you on the web. Learn how to make the best possible impression.

We’ve talked a lot in the last week about personalizing your blog so that it reflects your personality and unique style as part of our Blogging Challenges (Blogging 101: Zero to Hero and Blogging 201: Branding and Growth).

Did you know that your Gravatar — the image that resides next to every comment you make — influences how other people perceive you and your comments on the web? Today, we’ll take a look at some Gravatar dos and don’ts, to help you make the best possible Gravatar impression.

What’s a Gravatar?

Your Gravatar is the small image that appears next to the comments you make across WordPress.com. You can see what your Gravatar looks like and/or upload a new Gravatar image to represent you by going to Users → My Profile in your dashboard. As an example, here’s my Gravatar. It’s a cartoon likeness of me:

mygrav

Your Gravatar is talking: what is it saying?

(Note: Mo and Ben gave me permission to use their Gravatars in this discussion.)

Consider this: your Gravatar appears next to every comment you make and — like it or not — colors others’ impressions of you and how they perceive your comments. Sometimes, a Gravatar may appear intimidating — how might you feel if you read a comment by this guy?

angrymo

Mo’s dark sunglasses and serious expression figure into how readers interpret or maybe even misinterpret his words. The facial expression might even look a bit judgemental, don’t you think? It lends a certain questioning, “Oh, really?” air that might cause readers to think he’s stirring the pot. This Gravatar doesn’t represent the real Mo, who is down-to-earth, and very nice in real life — but if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him, how would you know?

Let’s consider Ben’s Gravatar. He’s smiling, though he’s looking down, and so the overall impression is ambiguous. What we don’t know is that Ben is smiling fondly down on some gelato you can’t see in the Gravatar. If he left you a comment, how might this Gravatar color your interpretation of his words?

ben

Don’t be that guy, get a Gravatar

Choosing your Gravatar is an important decision — one that you’re going to want to do right away, when you start blogging. If you don’t choose a Gravatar, you’ll be assigned the default used by the site you comment on — which could be the Mystery Man or the random-looking Identicon and Retro patterns that scream “spammer” — so don’t be that guy or that gal. Eastablish your presence on WordPress.com with a carefully chosen Gravatar that represents your unique style and personality. Remember, your Gravatar is an extension of your brand, online.

defaultgravs 2

To Gravatar with love

What goes into a good Gravatar? A smile almost always helps. We especially loved thatfinancechic‘s smiley over-the-shoulder shot. The photograph focuses closely on her face and is large enough so that it never looks pixelated:

thatfinancechic

We thought that annabelmcquade‘s Gravatar was colorful, lively, and makes a positive impression with the cartoon representation’s big smile. Her Gravatar is distinctive — scroll down a page of comments and hers catches your eye, every time.

annabelmcquade

Other important tips for great Gravatars:

  • Teeny tiny you taken from 30 feet away will be unrecognizable. A close-up shot of your smiling face is an excellent choice.
  • Be original. Does the world really need another Gravatar of a sunset? Be sure your Gravatar reflects you.
  • Match your brand. Do you have a logo? Using your logo as your Gravatar can help reinforce brand recognition.
  • Don’t have Photoshop? Never fear! PicMonkey is a free online photo editor you can use to crop and edit your Gravatar to perfection.

If you’ve decided that it’s time for a Gravatar makeover, head over to Users → My Profile, in your dashboard to upload the new you.

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  1. Fascinating. I picked my gravatar before I really understood what they were. I realized that a piece of my own artwork said something about me; a baby’s dress seemed to fit “mama art” pretty well. And I can scroll right down and pick out my comments remarkably quickly. In art, it’s not unusual to have an object be a stand-in for a person. But sometimes I get to wondering, is it too obscure? For someone with a blog that’s all about getting up close and personal, is it too cold? Hard to say. Feedback welcome…

    1. I picked my gavatar just to match my blog. I think the idea came quite naturally to me. I wanted something which represents my brand. Luckily to start with wordpress had the yoko theme. I changed the header but used the yoko theme as a gavatar, as nature provides us with fresh foods. Thought it could relate.

      Regards,

      Nakul

    2. I am reading this post by Krista, for an obvious reason…
      Jgroeber, as a fellow crafter I understand the importance of displaying your craft and subject! If you could consider putting a cute little baby in that beautiful outfit(maybe holding a moms hand?…baby close up), I think it would be irresistible to your intended audience and more! You could find a model/parent combo to help you out, maybe for a trade situation, if not paid? Take some photos yourself in a nice setting, pay a friend or professional photographer? It is amazing what a photo hobbyist or student can do with a camera!! :)
      My blog is about my crafting, [cobblering (the shoe kind) being an entrepreneur, past jobs,and more] other peoples crafts and passions, and the color in life.
      Good luck,
      Hanna Lee Ni

    1. Yes its very important to get the right gavatar.. Maybe it doesnt have to be about your topics, it can be who you are in terms of your writing.. If you are very analytical writer, show that.. If you always put a lot of fun stuff in your writing find a gavatar that relates to it.. If its advisory- a gavatar with a suite would do.. hope you can get the idea.. :)

  2. As much as I’d like to think I don’t prejudge on appearance, I have to admit I’m more likely to visit someone’s page based on their Gravatar if it’s compelling, friendly or creative. Or if their name is “Free Money.”

    Seriously, good insights for people getting started and wanting to make an true impression of themselves.

  3. I chose my Gravatar to express my writing style and the fantasy genre which appeals to me. It’s less personal but I want my followers to be into my writing, not into me. Thank you for this post!

    1. Hi I agree with you.. You can keep it to whatever you want, which helps you to get the best out of you…. on the contrary the post is only saying this cause many people click on the bloggers profile seeing their gavatar.. Images are more attractive.. Its just a tool to get more traffic and so right people can get to the right blog.. Wish you good luck :)

    1. The last smiling picture of me is years ago, I now have become UN-photogenic since reaching the 1/2 century mark! I choose this tree, its so unique and I found it in of all places the middle of a parking lot! I’ve always thought, such an unique tree , such a unique person “Me”!

    1. It sticks with you. I’ll go through the rest of my day wondering “How the heck is he going to move a chess piece with those big clumsy hulk hands???”

  4. To me, the Gravatar is a blogger’s face. If I recognize someone in the comment stream, I will often stop to read over their comments carefully, especially if or posts with a lot of comments.

  5. Mine’s me at a masquerade ball. I want to look genuine, but I don’t want to be regonisable to people who know me professionally if they happen to stumble across online me. I’m still not sure whether I’ve got the balance right or not.

    1. Your gravatar shows a mysterious yet fun character of you. I chose to add some arty filter for my gravatar with the same reason not to show myself all out in the cyberworld. You never know who might be reading your blog underneath the anonymity

  6. I’d love to just have a “normal” Gravatar… but because I’m in my teens, I try to keep my face hidden in profile photos. It never occurred to me that a Gravatar like that might turn people off, but safety is number one. :)

      1. I don’t think a Gravatar with cut corners will turn people off. Yours look pretty! Totally agreed with you on safety is number one. That’s why with my photoshopped sketchy style Gravatar.

  7. Good points. It’s like a first impression when meeting someone and can totally change our perceptions of what the person says. If the first guy commented on a post I might think “hey, he’s being sarcastic!” haha. But, eventually we get to know our WP family and their intentions regardless of their Gravatar.

    1. You’re so right. Eventually, after you interact with people, you learn how they communicate and Gravatars become less important within an established community.

  8. Did some changes on my Gravatar Profile a few weeks ago and I totally buy your tips. Thanks for sharing (Ps: hope my Gravatar will fit in the good examples lol)

  9. Good read. I think you should find a gravatar that you feel accurately represents you. When I see someones gravatar it shows me who they are and what they will be writing.

  10. A very good topic, and one that I think I commented on at the start of the Blogging 201 session. I read a lot into gravatars, so I think they’re very important. I’m sure mine could be improved, but I think it definitely conveys the happy side of me… which is ME basically all the time.

    I also really enjoy the cartoons like Krista and Steve below :)

  11. I think you are exactly on point, but I feel like such a tool because I can’t get mine updated. I’ve added a multitude of pictures, but every time I refresh it, it comes back with the same stupid blue G. ARGH!

    1. My answer is, “Whatever floats your boat.” I personally use my own artwork. Currenly, it’s a pencil drawing of a close-up view of a manual typewriter that I did ages ago.

      1. Many use their own, others use cartoon. I personally prefer artwork or cartoon as it is easy to remember, and can be more unique. I don’t mind faces but I am sure by the end of next month would have forgotten few, cartoons and art is a bit easy to remember.. So if your work is good and gavatar is unique, people who read your post in the reader previously just by seeing your gavatar can click.. You can choose whichever unless you understand the whole idea of a gavatar :)

  12. well, I write a lot about the sea and my blogname is “Seegogga”, which means “small sea creature” in Afrikaans. What do you think of my gravatar? I drew it myself

  13. The sub-title of my blog is “Relationship advice from your Best Girlfriend.” I chose gravatar because I think it fits the title perfectly :-)

  14. I started blogging about the time our family TV retired. We bought it in 1977. Australia went digital a couple of years ago and the set top box wouldn’t work on it – it was too old. I selected it for my Gravatar as a kind of memorial. Perhaps I should add a page to my blog just for it and pick a better Gravatar?

  15. Since I’m a teenager and there’s a lot of internet safety stuff going around I try to keep my face out of my profile photos except for google and facebook. I hadn’t thought about how that might change people’s perception of me. Maybe I’ll reevaluate this.

    1. Nah. I’d leave it like it is. I think your current gravatar is rather interesting. I’m well past my teenage years, and I still don’t put my face to much outside of Facebook.

      Besides, a photo lets us know what a person looks like, but something like what you have can be just as if not more insightful to that person. Based on your current gravatar, I would say that you are one who believes that a person is not bound to one particular fate, but rather hold the power to forge who they will become. It’s a fairly literal deduction, based on what your gravatar reads, but it is something that just looking at your picture would not necessarily reveal. It’s also something that I consider vastly more intriguing than what your hair looks like, or whether your nose is the right size for your face.

      Also, with a photo, you are condemned to being judged through the filter of your readers’ prejudices and preconceived notions. This way, you are a little more free to allow your words to speak for themselves. At least that’s my 2¢.

      1. facebook is probably the worst place you could put your picture on a privacy point of view. Your Gravatar is quite interesting although I had to click on it to determine exactly what it was.

    1. Hi sweetspassion,

      Yes you are right. Because its millions of us on wordpress and most of it is open work, its really hard to remember who is who.. A unique gavatar can help people recognise you, if you keep changing, people who may have admired your work in the past, may not be sure whether its you or someone else :)

  16. It may sound a bit silly but here gooes..

    My hair was one of my most noted qualities. It was long, beautiful, healthy, and always received compliments. I have been going through a very rough patch in my life and slowly I’ve been crawling out of it. I needed to do something symbolic to show that I’ve overcome huge leaps. I had to do something impulsive. I already have a tattoo that I regret so I talked myself about getting another. The next thing was to chop off my long mane. And so I did. And in my gravatar, it isn’t as short as it is now (I went back for round 2, my hair is now shoulder length) but that’s the shortest it has ever been since 3rd grade. I am going on 24 now and the new me that I see in the mirror is frightening yet inspiring. My gravatar represents me entering a new phase in my life after so long staying in the comforts of an old one.

    1. Try keeping it unique, all people will not read your story and why you have changed your gavatar. People who may have admired your work in the past, after changing your gavatar won’t know if its your work .. Good Luck :)

  17. Thank you, this is all so true. But when everybody smiles on his/her avatar, it looks fake. So pls. let them coming as well, those gravatars that do not look like they are always happy. Life has more sides than smiling like a monkey.

  18. Great article, and totally on point! It’s important for readers to get an idea of who’s speaking to them. Having an appropriate Gravatar image is an important part of your digital toolbox.

    1. Exactly, it also gives you recognition and help people remember who you are.. Its not advised to change it as well, unless you go on complete relaunch and rebranding. But once found the right one going with your blog, sticking with it is a good idea :)

      Love your blog by the way and what you are doing.. :)

  19. My blog is honeymadeit so I thought a jar of honey was appropriate. I think it says homey and down to earth and that reflexes who I am. What do you think?

  20. Krista, your gravatar tells me exactly what you are, an Editor with WP so each and every post of yours is a must to visit. :)
    My blog is about friendship and I aim that one day, it will be a meeting place for everyone looking for friendship or a place where one can read all about relationships amongst friends, parents, children, siblings and all sorts, just an interactive friendly place to be. I called myself a friendsoulmate and my blog is friendshipworldwide and I have chosen this gravatar. I hope it reflects to readers what my blog is all about.

  21. My gravatar is the matching picture to the one I use on my profile. They were both pictures I took while studying in France. I sometimes think of using the my Facebook profile picture because it would make a gravatar and personalize my blog. I do think my current one has a cool feel and is original. What do you guys think of using real life photos?

  22. Totally agreed Krista, with your views on gravatar. My blog is my autobiography and random thoughts of all sorts. My gravatar is a picture of me and my four legged friend (my shadow) who is often with me when I blog.

  23. For about a year, I had one of those nondescript Gravatars. When I finally decided to come out of the witness protection program – or so it must have seemed – I chose a close up. Readers said they were finally glad to “see” me. Great tips, Krista.

  24. My Gravatar represents me in all my coffee-drinking glory, and pretty much, my face is hidden behind a mug of coffee anyway. I like that my face is hidden and not out there, but that’s me and my comfort level.

    1. I kind of like the mysterious air behind your Gravatar. Make people want to click on it. By the way, I like your profile description – I write, I game, I knit, I watch, I mainline coffee!

  25. I always have thought the same, but never had a single idea that someone can explain the psychological impact gravatar makes as good as you did here :)
    Thank’s alot… Can’t help not to share it

  26. Hi Krista – for some reason my phone won’t let me reply to your message – so I’m doing so here (regarding The Commons, the error message and the fact that you can’t locate my site). Yes, of course I have a WordPress site, I don’t know why it’s not attached to the Gravatar. Can you do that? The site is: wendykarasin.com/Musings of a Boomer. As far as the error message I see, I’m using a desktop and Google.

    1. Huzzah — I was able to find you via a Google search!

      I’m afraid I’m not able to update your Gravatar profile, though if you log in here, with your WordPress.com username and password, you can associate your website, http://wendykarasin.wordpress.com, with your Gravatar.

      I see that you’re a member of 201 Commons. The is the link to the 201 Commons:

      https://201april2014.wordpress.com/

      You’ll be asked to log in. Use the same username and password that you use to access your blog.

  27. Great post! I tried over & over to replace my gravatar for these very reasons. Crossing my fingers I have one that represents ME well now. Love your views and love the cartoon of you!!