Branding Yourself With Gravatars
By: Sean Hodge
On: January 22nd, 2008
Its well known that one method for gaining more readers for your blog is to comment on blogs in your niche. Its a way to establish your credibility. You can further enhance your branding and recognizability when commenting on others blogs by using Gravatars.
What are Gravatars?
To quote directly from http://site.gravatar.com “A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an 80×80 pixel avatar image that follows you from weblog to weblog appearing beside your name when you comment on gravatar enabled sites. Avatars help identify your posts on web forums, so why not on weblogs?”
Some influencial blogs have Gravatars enabled. Take a look at the comment section in a popular blog like Freelance Switch. Here is a link to an article on Evil Knievel that has some Gravatars in use in the comments.
It is really simple to set up a Gravatar. You create an account at http://site.gravatar.com. The site walks you through a really simple process of uploading an image that you can use as your Gravatar. You associate your Gravatar with an email address. So when you go to enter a comment on sites like Freelance Switch the form asks you for your email address. The Gravatar you have associated with that email will then show up when you enter the comment.
Benefits to Using a Gravatar
You could use your logo or anything really as your Gravatar. By setting up your Gravatars you will have a consistent brand image next to your comments. This helps to give you quick and professional recognition on these websites. Its a technique that allows your comments to stand out. It will get your brand scene by many new potential readers. Combine that with your excellent tips in the meat of your comment and you've got a winning combination. This will help to pull more readers back to your website.
Using a Self Portrait as Your Gravatar and On Your Blog
Why do author's always have a photo of themselves on their book jackets? As an author their photo is their brand identity. As a blogger you are a writer and you can utilzie this same kind of personal brandability.
As a blog author you are a big part of your brand. Especially, if you are a single blogger on your site and not running a multi-blogger site like Freelance Switch. You can use an image of yourself on your blog and for your Gravatar. Its also possible to further brand this self portrait with design elements from your website or your blog's logo. You could wear a t-shirt with your logo on it for example.
Whether its at the small Gravatar size or if its a larger size. Your individual blog will benefit by placing a portrait or photo of yourself on your blog. Some obvious places to put an image of yourself would be on your website's about page or in your sidebar. If you opt to put the photo in your sidebar then your personal branding will be persistent throughout your site. You could also get creative with your placement and find some space for it in your header or in a unique area in your blog's theme.
Look at skelliewag.org. This is a blogger that is an excellent writer. Skellie's brand identity would benefit from some personal branding. Especially, with such sparse branding currently. Now look at Problogger.net. What jumps out at you on the home page. Yup, its a video of the author Darren Rowse. The videos are persistently shots of Darren and serves as a great brandable image on the website. He's also got a nice portrait shot of himself on his about page
Furthering the Use of Your Self Portrait
As a guest writer on other blogs you may be given the opportunity to place your photo next to your profile. You can use the same image in social media networks like facebook or technorati. You could use your portrait as an Avatar on forumns, which is another great place to gain new readers for your blog. Ultimately, you can use the same image to brand yourself all over the web. As we move into the future a persistent personal identity will help you to be recognizable.
What if You Have More Than One Website to Promote?
This is the position I'm in. I resolved this by creating an illustration of a photo of myself. Then I added branding elements from the different websites and blogs I want to promote. When I use the image on social networking sites I use the plain unbranded version. When I leave comments on blogs I choose which site I want to promote next to my comment. So, I have a flexible system that can expand for different brands, but they are all held together by the common element of my self portrait.
Its also really easy to set up multiple images at http://site.gravatar.com. You just create a different email and then associate that Gravatar with that email address. See the image below When you comment on blogs you can choose which email address to leave. Depending on which email you choose to use for the comment you'll get the associated Gravatar.
For full design instruction on the self portrait visit the AiBURN article. Let me know if you have any questions and your thoughts on Gravatars and Branding yourself.