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:
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?
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.