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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 โ†’ 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! PicMonkeyย and Pixlr are online photo editors 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 โ†’ My Profile, in your dashboard to upload the new you.

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  1. I used to use my logo (a coffee cup with a star of David on it – “Coffee Shop Rabbi”) but switched to this head shot because I thought perhaps a face would be better. Now after reading your article, I’m tempted to go back to the logo. Opinions, anyone?

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  2. Hi!
    This post is so interesting and very true. I’ve always known it is important to chose a picture which captures your personality the most, however, it is the first time I hear about the “gravatar”. That was helpful.

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  3. I don’t really notice gravatars. I didn’t even know they’re called gravatars. I just focus on the comments. I chose my most friendly looking picture, I do hope it looks friendly… cheers!

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  4. I find gravatars interesting, especially when I am looking for someone new to read, I am more drawn to something interesting rather than peoples faces, although If the picture in it is interesting (ie angle, colouring etc) ill delve in the take a look, I normally bypass the generic ones, it is like no effort has been made. Although there are exceptions to that rule on occasion.

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  5. One thing that I have noticed as I started reading the comments is that some gravatars you cannot really work out what the picture is of. I am sure if I looked at the large photo it would all become clear but the gravatar is a very small representation of that so something that looks great as a full size photo, may actually not look that great as an gravatar.

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  6. I always have to make things difficult. What in the world are all my subscribers thinking? Perhaps, “Those feet can sure write and take pictures well!” I do show my “pretty” face from time to time but you have to click the blog to get that, make ’em work for it ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  7. I like to know who visits my blogs and am always disappointed when I look at people’s gravatar profiles and see they don’t have a link to their blog there. Not sure if people don’t know that’s possible, but you can’t find their blogs if they just leave a “like” and clicking their gravatar profile shows nothing but their picture. It’s such a great way to advertise your blogs if you have more than one.

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  8. This is very informative information. I wasn’t going to put a Gravatar up, but I see how important it is now. Time for a new picture! Thank you!

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  9. I think mine is a little too serious sometimes, but I do change it every once in a while, but I like to keep it me, so people know it’s me when I blog or comment.

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  10. Hi there, I’ve attempted to change my gravatar but when I click the ‘change gravatar icon’ I just get a blank tab appearing with gravatar.com at the top and nothing happens. Any suggestions?

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  11. My gravatar is a little mouse. It says I’m persistent, intelligent and will use my resources wisely. I have wild house mice as pets. I don’t cage them. Freedom is very important to me.

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  12. It’s interesting to read about how showing your face invites readership. Yet a number of “faces” are, in fact, cartoons, including your own, Krista. I’d like to think that my Gravatar expresses the real me: someone who doesn’t like to make a showy display, but with an interest in photography, among other things, yet still recognisable to those who know me.

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  13. Oh gosh! What does my Gravatar say about me?? I used my picture but tried to make it like a cartoon!! Didn’t know so much work went into a blog ๐Ÿ™‚ so happy I am here though!

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  14. I’m pretty sure my gravatar says that I melt in warm weather. My crabby snowman has been with me since the beginning, a surprise snapshot that connects me to a beloved family member. I am rather attached to the frosty little guy, though I may phase him out eventually. He’s way better looking than I am, though, so don’t expect a head shot of me!

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  15. This is me 45-50(?)years ago, I had toyed with a couple of “Mother Bear’s” and such, but the person in the photo is the person I am now. I also like the way it works, and looks with different media’s. I really like the way it looks on my Twitter account. I may “refine’ it later down the road, but for now when I see that picture, it reminds me of where I came from and a time when all was “right with the world”.

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  16. Thank you for making me feel better that my huge concern about what image to use wasn’t vain but necessary to convey the right feeling about who I am. I want to feel approachable to others. I hope that comes across. Let me know what you think.

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  17. i really hope netflix does not raise their prices. Netflix is how many people watch old tv shows and movies in the palm of their laptops. If netflix were to raise their prices i feel like they would lose a lot of busniess because people are not willing to pay more.

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