Did you know the average human being can remember up to 5,000 faces but only about 150 names? But even 150 sounds like a lot to some people. That’s because our brains are naturally better at recording visual data than words.
If you’re a blogger or someone who is trying to promote a business online, we have good news. You don’t have to just rely on your name. There’s a better and easier way and it’s called Gravatar.
In this article, we’re going to show you why you should create an avatar, how to use it, and how to set one up so you can put all of this into use right way.
Everything You Need to Know About Gravatar
What is a “Gravatar” exactly? Well, depending on who you ask, it can be two things.
As a noun, it’s a play on words for “Globally Recognized Avatar” and it’s a tiny image that represents who we are online. They appear as little squares, usually next to comments on blogs bit in other places as well.
As a pronoun, it’s is a California-based company that serves photos for millions of Internet users on the web. And it does this by allowing people to store photos on their website for free and letting us display them on various websites.
In short, Gravatars are virtual I.D photos that can be used by people, businesses, brands, nonprofits, NGOs, and companies to represent who they are online.
But to truly appreciate the significance of digital avatars and how they became so popular, we must dive a little bit into the history of it first.
The Beginnings of Digital Avatars
Before Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, the only way for professionals to publish pictures of themselves on the internet was through blogs or their own self-hosted websites.
And if you looked at the comments section of any blog, the only thing you would see would be words signed off with “Joe N, Wisconsin” or “Sally D, Washington,” which sounds nice but we have no idea if they’re real human beings or robots.
The Person Behind All This
Inspired to do something different for the blogging community, software developer and inventor, Tom Preston-Werner created the first version of Gravatar.
By 2007, the company was acquired by Automattic, a giant software company that also owns WordPress. Today, the company works with WordPress together to serve over millions of users worldwide.
But How Did It Become So Popular?
Before digital avatars came along, you could upload your picture on the internet but there were no standards or regulations on how it should look or appear on the web.
Everyone’s pictures on the web looked a bit different. They were different sizes, different pixels, and placed all over the web.
Furthermore, if you wanted your picture to appear in a precise location, you would need a bit of web coding knowledge to fix it but not everyone had this. And for professional writers and bloggers who simply wanted a picture of themselves next to their biographies or comments, this was sometimes an unnecessarily difficult thing to do.
However, with Gravatar, people were able to easily and freely create their own photo icons and display them wherever they could be used.
How Did Gravatar Usage Affect the Blogging Community?
To the blogging community, having faces next to comments was a big deal because all of sudden, they were no longer by “anonymous” or strangers on the internet.
Sally D. from Washington was no longer just a question mark but a woman with brunette hair and blue eyes. In short, this nifty tool brought the comments section of blogs into life and made it a much more interesting place for all.
In addition to giving commenters faces on the internet, photo avatars also made people take comments more seriously.
Whenever someone spotted a comment left behind by someone famous or someone who’s an expert on a specific subject, their words would mean much more. Also, this person would get more replies to their comments. Whereas, if they didn’t have a picture, people might’ve just skipped over their comments
Gravatar literally changed the way Internet users viewed and engaged with each other. And for bloggers or anyone who was trying to establish an online presence, it was a free resource to market and promote themselves. It’s no wonder so many took advantage of them.
Now, if you’re ready to create one for yourself, read on.
How to Set Up Your Own Gravatar and Rock it
As we’ve mentioned before, in 2007, Gravatar was integrated with WordPress. So all users who wish to create one today must have a WordPress account first. But don’t worry, the process to create accounts on both these websites are very simple.
If You Don’t Have a WordPress Account
All you’ll need is an email address and follow these instructions.
- Go to the WordPress.com and click “Log In” on the top right corner.
- On the next page, click the “Sign Up” button on the top right corner.
- Fill out the required fields and follow the instructions to activate your account through your email.
One great thing about having a WordPress account is that it also gives you access to many other websites as well. Some of these are Akismet, Polldaddy, VaultPress, and IntenseDebate. These are all services that can help you enhance your blog.
If You Already Have a WordPress Account
- Visit Gravatar’s homepage.
- Click on the blue “Sign In” button at the top right corner next to the WordPress logo.
- Click on “Need an account?” next to the “Sign In” button.
- Fill out the necessary information
- Follow the instructions to activate your account through your email address.
Log Into Gravatar
Once you’ve done both of the steps above successfully, you can now log onto your account and create your first avatar.
If you’re visiting the website straight from the confirmation email, it’ll prompt you shortly to upload a picture to use as your avatar picture.
If you are not prompted for some reason, you can click on the “Add an Image link” at the top of the page and you’ll be presented with three options:
- “My computer’s hard drive” means to select a picture that is saved on your computer.
- “An image on the Internet” means a picture you have stored on another website (if you have a WordPress account, you can store pictures there for free).
- “A previously uploaded image” will show you pictures that you’ve previously uploaded onto the website.
Uploading and Changing Your Gravatar Image
The image you choose to use for your avatar can be any size. If it’s too big, the software will automatically resize it for you.
Once the picture has been uploaded, you’ll be asked if you would like to crop it. Remember that your picture won’t be very big, so make sure the part of the picture that you’d like to be visible to others is in the center of the icon.
Once you’ve successfully uploaded the image, you can crop or modify it even more on the website. And if you’re using a photo of yourself, make sure your face is clearly visible and showing.
Choosing an Avatar Rating
Finally, you’ll be asked to choose a rating for your image. The reason for this is because if your picture is rated “R” or “X,” it will be not be displayed on certain websites such as those for children.
The ratings are similar to the rating system for American movies. As a reminder, here are their definitions according to the MPAA:
- G: nothing that would offend parents for viewing by children.
- PG: parents urged to give “parental guidance.” May contain some material parents might not like for their young children
- R: contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.
- X (now called NC-17): clearly adult. Children are not admitted.
Changing Your Image
If you decide to change your avatar image or change it to a different email address, you can. Simply log into your account, click on the icon with the three stripes on the left, and select “My Gravatars”
Once you’re there, click on “Remove Image” and upload a new one. If you’d like to add another e-mail address, you may do so here as well. Simply click on “Add email address.”
Congratulations! You now have your own globally recognized avatar. It should appear automatically on any websites that use it. Some websites may require your consent to use it first but other than that, you’re all set.
But wait! Don’t just let your avatar sit there. Below are some benefits you can expect from using one.
7 Ways Gravatar Will Help Boost Your Online Presence
At the risk of sounding cliché, a picture really is worth a thousand words.
If you take a look at some of the most popular bloggers or commentators online like Neil Patel, Gary V., or Pat Flynn, they all have their own avatars. This is because they all know how important it is to have some kind of visual representation of themselves.
Here’s how having an avatar will help you no matter what your blog niche is:
1. Help People Remember You Better
Human beings are visual creatures and if there’s a picture to accompany your name and your words, people will remember it better. If you’re a blogger, creating a professional and sharp looking avatar will increase your chances of people remembering you even more. Just remember to be consistent with your comments.
2. Establish Credibility
Every blogger knows how important it is to build trust with their readers. If you spend a lot of time interacting with your readers or other bloggers, people will start recognizing you by your avatar. And if people like what they see, your words will weigh much more.
3. Stand Out
Many people, including other bloggers, surprisingly do not have globally recognized avatars. Try visiting a popular blog right now and see for yourself. Chances are, most people do not have a picture next to their comments. Or they have a blank one with the “Mystery Man.”
Don’t let the precious space next to your comments go to waste. If you have a picture next to them, it’ll set you apart from all the other commenters.
4. Increase Site Traffic
If you have an amazing avatar image, people will be intrigued. They’ll want to click on your picture and find out more about you. And once they do, they’ll also be tempted to click on your blog or website. Essentially, it’s a free way for you to promote your blog or business.
5. Present Yourself Professionally
Professional looking Gravatars tell people one thing: you care about your work. It shows people you care about the way you present yourself and that you pay attention to details. It also shows you are a real human being!
6. Promote Your Brand
Many people often think of people’s faces when they think of online avatars but many companies and brands use them too. Instead of people’s faces, they’ll upload a picture of their company brand or logo. You can do the same and every time you leave a comment on a blog as your company, you’ll be promoting your brand for free.
7. Maintain Brand Consistency
Websites are always changing but your avatar can be the one that remains the same. As long as it’s compatible with the website, you can use the same picture on all of them. And the longer you use the same one, the more recognizable it’ll become so try not to change them too often.
More Than A Visual Representation
You’re a busy entrepreneur and you’ve got many things to do, we get it. But by simply taking 10 minutes out of your day to create a Gravatar, you will set yourself apart from thousands of other entrepreneurs who don’t have one.
Just think about your own favorite bloggers and how you feel when you see their comments in public spaces. You probably get a little excited and want to read their comments first. This can be you with your readers too!
If you liked this article, come on over to our blog to see hundreds of more articles on how to build an amazing blogging business! You don’t have to do this alone.