In this post Jack Gamble from Babeled sheds some light on a handy service – Gravatars which is a tool that many people are adding to their blogs (I’ve got it operating in the comments section of both TwiTip and Digital Photography School at present).
An important thing to remember as you develop your blog is to build an identity that distinguishes you and your site from the rest of the blogosphere. One tool that can help to accomplish this is the use of Gravatars.
Gravatar is the abbreviation of the phrase “Globally Recognized Avatar.” In short, it is a small image, normally a head shot, of the author or commenter. The Gravatar you chose will be tied to your email address; therefore any enabled site will automatically feature your image next to your comment.
The sense of sight is relied on more so than any other. In a text dominated world, it is difficult to quickly establish an identity with readers in the short time most people will spend on any page of your blog. Think of a newspaper in the editorial column where popular columnists will feature a small photo of themselves next to their articles. This allows the readers to quickly put a face on the writer.
Choose your Gravatar carefully. Don’t pick just any picture. Make use of an image that lends itself to your blog’s identity.
Let’s look at two writers over at Babeled.
The first is yours truly. I write under the pen name “Man Overboard.” This name was derived from my former job as a commercial fisherman and it is also a play on words that hints at my tendency to overreact to certain issues.
As you can see, the Gravatar I have chosen shows my ugly mug through a port hole on my old boat making a face that says “don’t take me too seriously.” This small image next to a comment or blog post immediately tells the reader more about me than a full page of text ever could. Above all, it does this while occupying only a very small amount of valuable space.
Next is our very own Cartoonist who goes by the name Keeks. Take one look at his Gravatar, a cartoon self-portrait, and you know everything you need to know about this guy and his obvious sense of humor.
Another reoccurring piece of advice you will commonly receive at ProBlogger is to frequently comment on other blogs. Most sites require you to enter your email and URL to comment. The Gravatar you chose will be tied to your email address, so any enabled site will recognize you and hence your Gravatar image will automatically appear next to your comment. Again, the Gravatar will help to identify you as a face with a personality (and more importantly a blog) of your own. As you make your way throughout the internet, the chances that your Gravatar becomes noticed increases with each comment.
Also, by placing the same picture on your profile at various social media outlets you will increase its visibility and effectiveness. Be sure to use the same profile image for Mixx, Stumble Upon, Reddit, Facebook, and any other social networking tool you employ. Each time you display the image it becomes product placement for your blogging identity.
Gravatars become even more important for multi-author blogs. At Babeled, I am one of many regular writers. My Gravatar, and that of my coauthors, is a useful tool that allows our readers to quickly distinguish between the many personalities that contribute to our various topics. As the comments develop, the Gravatars create the impression of watching a dialogue between two easily identified writers with different points of view.
If you don’t already, I encourage you to enable Gravatars on your site and start using them immediately. You will find this practice very helpful as you strive to separate yourself and your site from the endless sea of bloggers on the internet today.