gravatarYour Gravatar is the image (or avatar…) that appears next to your name when you leave a comment on blog that have that particular feature enabled.

It’s linked to your email address such that, whenever you leave a comment with that email, you get the same picture showing up all over the web.

This can have some big advantages if you are commenting as part of a strategy to get more traffic or perhaps even build a brand name.

This article has a few little tips that I hope will help you make the most of this small but significant marketing opportunity.

Why is a Gravatar important?

So why is this silly little image so important? Well there are a few reasons.

  • It is part of your branding
    Branding is not just your logo. It is everything you do. And something a lot of bloggers do is leave comments. So, every time you leave a comment you are doing something to enhance or detract from your brand. If you are someone who likes to leave wonderful, helpful and long comments (I’m looking at you Rachelle, Dorothy, Jen, et. al.) then you want to make sure you let people know that it is you and your site adding that value. If you don’t have a Gravatar people have no idea it is you.
  • It increases your traffic
    One of the main reasons people leave comments is because it helps to get traffic. For example, if you leave are the first to comment on a Blog Tyrant post you are likely to get an initial burst of visitors followed by hundreds over the years as the posts get indexed and ranked on Google. The same goes for Problogger, Copyblogger, etc. Using a “baited” Gravatar, one that gets people’s attention, is very important.
  • It develops relationships
    When I constantly see the same faces commenting on my blogs I get to know these people. I recognize their names when they email me asking for advice and am usually more inclined to help. This is a part of the branding – show people your face in the comments so they get to know the person behind the comment.
  • It develops authority
    If people see these excellent comments left by you at a bunch of sites they will start to see you as an expert in the niche. This is especially bolstered if the owner of the site jumps on to have a chat to you. Credibility goes sky high.

As with all things online, there is a good way to do it and a better way to do it.

Gravatar tips to get your comments clicked

So what are some things you can do with your Gravatar to make it memorable, branded and click worthy? Here are a few tips. As always, please leave a comment if you think I have missed anything.

1. Use the right colors and pay attention to the background

Pat Smart Passive Income

Pat from Smart Passive Income uses a nice black background for his Gravatar. What I have noticed about this is that, as most blogs have a white background, his photo stands out. It might also be because he has some amazing white teeth to contrast!

It is important to use the right colors when it comes to your comment photo because you want it to look enticing even at a super small size. Sometimes darker backgrounds don’t work at all, but if you can get a good clear photo with light whites or grays on top then it might work.

Be careful when using black though because you don’t want to come across and goth or emo. It is really important that you appear friendly so rather than copying Pats, experiment with different colors and contrasts to see what stands out well against a white background.

2. Get professional and get high def

Darren Rowse Problogger Gravatar

One of the worst things you can do for your brand is have a super amateur image that is blurry as hell representing your great content every time you leave a comment. Take a look at Darren Rowse’s: crisp, quirky, professional.

I highly recommend everyone gets a professional to take some candid head shots of you and your business. If you can’t afford this then at least spend some time getting some good point and shoot shots and then pay someone $10 to tweak it a little bit in Photoshop so it looks nice.

Then, for the love of blog, save it in high quality. Not a gif. Use a PNG or a high quality JPEG. And make sure it looks good when it shrinks down to Gravatar size.

3. Keep it consistent throughout your material

Johhny B Truant Gravatar

Once you have a good Gravatar you want to make sure it is used all over the place. That means Facebook, Twitter and on your blog’s about page. Johnny B Truant does this really well with his apple eating fetish. Oh, and anyone else think he looks like Johnny Knoxville?

The reason for this is simple; you want to make sure people click your comments and then know that they are in the right place. For example, if I click your comment on a blog and then land on a website I want to know if it is your website or just a website that you write for.

One of the best ways to do this is to have the picture somewhere on your About Us Page or have a little “bio” at the end of each post like Darren does above.

4. Don’t be afraid to use your logo

Viper Chill logo gravatar

Glen from Viper Chill does this to great effect. He has a strong and genuine “face” behind his brand but still uses his logo in most places to represent the site, and you know it when you see it.

There are many situation where it might be better to use a logo as opposed to a head shot, and it’s totally fine as long as it is consistent and paints your brand in a good way.

How does your Gravatar hold up?

I’d like to open up the comments now and hear from you all about your own Gravatar. Does it hold up to the above standards? Do you think it is representing your brand well? I’d also like to know whether you have ever seen a Gravatar and clicked it just because of the image it contained as opposed to the quality of the comment. Please leave me a comment.


Join in. The comments are closed after 30 days.

Add a Comment

We're glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our privacy policy, and all links are nofollow. Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Srinivas Rao on April 6, 2011

    I think the importance of the gravatar is highly underrated. I didn’t realize the impact of it until I started using the same one. While mine isn’t the professional studio pic, it’s one of me with a surfboard and it’s consistent across all my social platforms. People know me as the blogger who surfs. I think gravatars play an important role in personal branding.

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Yours definitely always stands out to me. At first I thought you were kissing a banana!

      1. Salvatore Greco on April 6, 2011

        HAHA, kissing a banana, that just had me laugh at loud…

        This is excellent timing for this post. I just recently made sure all my gravatars where consistent. I had a different image on my site, and my old gravatar was an image of me too far away to tell what it was.

        Now I got this bright ass cartoon image of me, I feel it is pretty eye catching.

        @Srini, am I just another blogger that surfs then now? ugh “MY BRAND”

  2. My old Sharp OX-730 has been quite effective.

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011


  3. Hi Tyrant,
    How you doing man, it’s been a while:)

    Gravatars make a huge difference in people seeing who you are and in you building your brand around the web.

    Interesting gravatars, professional shots or crazy colors combined with interesting comments make me want to click on them.

    Oh, and if you’re a pretty girl you should definitely get a gravatar, you’ll get a crazy amount of clicks from male readers.


    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Hey Dig.

      The sexy ladies thing only goes so far I reckon. So many people on Stumble, for example, just identify you as a spammer if you have your boobs out.


  4. simply scott on April 6, 2011

    My “gravatar” is consistent across all sites, including my blog. Definitely good advice.

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Thanks Scott!

  5. I waffle back and forth on what I should use – this one gets a lot of clicks but it can also bring some weird attention too.

    1. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper on April 6, 2011

      I worry about that sometimes too. If I were single or lived alone, I’d probably be using a stock photo instead of my own. And it’s not even that I think I’m *that* attractive…I just think some people on the Internet are *that* creepy. :s

      1. Yep – so true Jen! People see what they want to see.

        Where one person sees as a friendly smile another sees a come-on…

        1. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper on April 6, 2011

          Yep. Never can tell how the crazies will react. I wonder if I should take down the pic of me blowing a kiss at the camera with the caption “Are you ready for a happy ending, boys?” ๐Ÿ˜‰

          1. See Jen, I think that’s funny!

          2. Brandon Yanofsky on April 6, 2011

            That’ll certainly get a few clicks Jen.

          3. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper on April 6, 2011

            Just to be clear…I was kidding. I’m all for being outrageous or a bit controversial (I’m about to tell people they’ll never be happy), but I’d prefer not to fill the Internet sex kitten role.

          4. Brandon Yanofsky on April 6, 2011

            Lol. I know it’s a joke. The sad truth is, sex sells. And if you did use a picture like that, you’d definitely get clicks. I see a lot of spammers use pictures of models. As a guy, my natural instinct is to click. My brain needs to kick in and tell me, “yo, dumb dumb, it’s spam.”

  6. Marion Ryan on April 6, 2011

    Good point you make about getting a professional pic and using a dark background. My gravatar fails sadly on both points but am just experimenting with a darker background to see if I can improve it.

    Using a logo is a good idea too because lots of people use a picture that’s years old. If they update their pic every year maybe their fans won’t recognise them? At least a logo is longer term, doesn’t get wrinkles etc.

    Though I don’t consciously take a great deal of notice of gravatars, a blog comment without one is one I’m much more likely to skip over.


    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Good luck with the new one Marion. Can’t wait to see it.

  7. Heather@Family Friendly Frugality on April 6, 2011

    I’ve definitely clicked just because of the gravatar. Mine works very well in my niche actually. My little girl is simply too cute to pass up! I’ve been told by MANY people that the only reason they clicked through was because of the little upside down girl. I’ve even been told that people love seeing my button on their own blog because she makes them smile every day (which has been GREAT for building backlinks!) Because my audience is mainly moms, it has worked great. Now, if I was in the tech world, I’m sure it would not bring me much traffic. It’s not flashy, it’s obviously made by a novice (me).

    Sadly (or maybe not that sadly), I should be receiving the very first mock up of my brand new professional re-design (complete with a new button) later today. Which means no more upside down cutie pie. I hope my new “branding” is just as infectious!

    1. love your gravatar Heather. it’ll be interesting to see how your core readers respond to the new branding.

      1. Heather@Family Friendly Frugality on April 6, 2011

        Thanks, I’m interested as well. Unfortunately, I still don’t know what it looks like. Still no email. ๐Ÿ™

  8. Cristina on April 6, 2011

    I agree with you and Srini. The gravatar is really important because it helps to create a brand.
    I use a cartoon of myself because everybody tells me it really looks like me. I would say I am in the middle of the two options: Personal picture and logo.
    Anyone who visits my blog can see the same picture at the end of each post. Same on my Twitter account.
    However, the About page of my blog shows a real picture of me to make it a little bit more personal.

    Btw, I also think Johnny B Truant looks like Johnny Knoxville.

    1. Dorothy Ray on April 6, 2011

      Christina, I like your idea of putting the real you in the about space. Thanks, maybe I’ll do that, too.

      1. Cristina on April 6, 2011

        I think a blog needs always a face.It’s okay not to show it everywhere around the blog but people like seeing a face behind.

        Of course you can find exceptions to the rule (i.e. Tyrant).

  9. Hi BT
    Haven’t been online for a few weeks … bad flu and worse cough. I like this article as it is very specific and highlights one of the many many many details we all need to focus on if we want our blogs, sites and other social media to look professional and all linked up.

    I’m super lucky as my brother and business partner is a genius brand designer and all round IT fab geek … he designed our Life Dreaming logo and I love it so much I’m going to eventually get it printed on a leather bag. developed Hovercards for Gravatars … essentially when someone hovers over your gravatar a card comes up with cool info about you and links to your FB and Linked in and Twitter.

    There’s a plugin that’s just been developed for self hosted WP sites [][]. Haven’t tried it yet but will get it sorted in the next week or so and let you know.

    Always a pleasure reading your writing BT. Great job mate.


    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Welcome back Liz!

      Great share. I read about that thing but forgot to check it out. Cheers.

  10. I’ve been thinking about changing my Gravatar for so long, but it’s so far down on the priority list that it hasn’t been done. C’est la vie

    Another vote for JBT looking like Knoxville. Could be worse… he could look like Steve-O!

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Ha ha!

  11. i agree that all commenters should try to use a gravatar. it’s simple to setup and can be so beneficial.

    you’ve inspired me to tweak mine a bit.

    @liz thanks for the plugin.


    1. you’re welcome Mike. This is one of the few blogs I spend any time commenting on and I find the community of commenters very practical and helpful.

      i really liked the hovercard concept as it adds huge additional value to the gravatar. I’ll be trying it on my site.

      1. let me know if you get it to work. i just installed it on my site, but doesnt seem to be working.

        1. Liz @ lifedreaming on April 6, 2011

          i’ll get my genius brother to see how it goes and let you know Mike.

          1. Liz @ lifedreaming on April 7, 2011

            Hey Mike
            Marc installed the plug in and it works for me. I went into my Gravatar profile and just rewrote some of the content and made sure I had links to my FB & Twitter. When I scroll over my gravatar on my site the hovercard comes up.

            Hope that is useful.


  12. It look like there… =D

  13. I’ve been wondering why I’m a hexagon on your site BT! On the other WordPress sites I tend to turn into a quilting patch.

    If I comment on a Typepad blog while signed into Typepad then my typepad head comes up. When I’m on a Blogger blog my Studio Mailbox paintbrush hand comes up because it’s my Google look. But this is because I have accounts at those places and uploaded little images to them.

    How and where am I supposed to get an avatar for WP commenting purposes then…?? I’m still confused. Like I’m missing a big chunk of the puzzle.

    I should probably be embarrassed but my skills are too tragic to even laugh at! Help your fan in germany please? tj

      1. Leigh, thank you! I just went and did it. Now I’m wondering if I’ll still be a hexagon here…
        (DRUM ROLL)……………..

        1. AND the crowd boos…!

          Hmm. Gravatar said their sign-in was also good for WordPress. I must’ve missed something…

          1. Heather@Family Friendly Frugality on April 6, 2011

            TJ, make sure that you are using all the same information to comment on BT that you used to make your gravatar. For the longest time, my gravatar wouldn’t show up when I commented on my own blog. It turned out I log in to wordpress using a different account then what I signed up under for my gravatar! Once I fixed that, my gravatar started showing up.

          2. And the crowd goes WILD — Rahhhhhhhh—!! Thanks for helping you guys!! I can’t tell you how hard it’s been being a hexagon all this time… LOL!

            So what do y’all think of my avatar? Should I change it to my face from Facebook instead? I sort of like the Painting Power Salute…

            Thanks again peeps. This made my day!

          3. TJ, I thought you were stabbing something with a stake. If you want honesty. ๐Ÿ™‚

          4. OMG that’s funny Jamie! Thank you for telling me. Now I totally see how it could look like a stabbing psycho arm.

            I was doing a parody on the Charlton Heston and his “cold dead hand” quote.


            I hadn’t realized it could actually look violent. Yikes! I totally appreciate the honesty. I’ve got some re-thinking to do!

          5. Thanks again gals for the help… there’s so many comments in here. Sorry to come back but further down I think one of the other readers seemed to imply she thought I was a male.

            Did my avatar + TJ = guy to you?

            I’m actually female! This is super interesting. I hate to think I’ve got to go pink or something.

  14. My gravatar is the main character of my comic strip. I’ve been thinking towards updating it to match the design he has this year, mullet and all, and adding color, even though the strip is b/w. I think my logo would be too small.
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    I also have some guest bloggers on my site and need to get them dialed in on having gravatars.

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      I like yours Rob. Looks very interesting.

    2. scott kindred on April 8, 2011

      Great point. You not only serve the purposes mentioned here by BT by having your own distinctive Gravatar, but getting guest writers to have something your readers consistently recognize has got to be good business.

      I, too, am inspired by the original post here and have re-awakened the need to get something a little more substantial in place for my own Gravatar. Know any good artists?

      Great to see you ’round these parts, Rob! “It’s a small world and a really big Kingdom.”

  15. “Shown you my face YET.”

    We’re going to get to see it at some point??

    1. BT is secretly Dogbert.

      1. Dorothy Ray on April 6, 2011

        No, he’s cuter than Dogbert.
        -Great Aunt Dorothy

        1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

          What is a Dogbert?

          1. Come Tyrant. You can’t play cat and mouse forever.

  16. Jeannette Paladino on April 6, 2011

    It always astounds me, too, when I see that blank head where someone’s image or logo should be. I think a photo is a better choice. The gravatar is so small that it is often difficult to see what the logo or other image represents.

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Good point Jeanette. You have to be so careful with the sizing.

  17. Rachelle on April 6, 2011

    I just can’t help being this gorgeous…

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011


  18. mario monk on April 6, 2011

    hmmm.. never payed so much attention of this issue. My own avatar looks nice on my site which uses 64×64 avatar size.

    However, I’m kinda sure it will say nothing as it has more than one detail to focus on. Probably will be hard to see. Might try something new if I’m true. Will find out soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. mario monk on April 6, 2011

      yes.. that is what I thought. It is hard to understand what’s in picture.. so it’s a great example of bad gravatr! ๐Ÿ™‚ I was trying to show me in action in my blog niche… while it delivers it’s purpose on 64×64 gravatar size, it fails big time in 32.

      1. Dorothy Ray on April 6, 2011

        The problem with tiny gravatars is unless very little is shown, it’s impossible to see what’s going on. For example, how do we know Rachelle really isn’t gorgeous?

  19. Janis Meredith on April 6, 2011

    Forgive me if this is a rather amateur question, but how do you get your gravatar to show up when you make a comment?

    1. Use the e-mail address associated with the gravatar when commenting.

  20. Rob Still on April 6, 2011

    This is a new gravatar, I’d be interested in feedback

    1. I like it, Rob. The yellow really stands out. But I love yellow, so that might be part of it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. Rob Still on April 6, 2011

        OK, Cool, thanks for the input.

    2. Dorothy Ray on April 6, 2011

      To much in too small a space, to me.

      1. Rob Still on April 6, 2011

        Thanks I wondered about that. Yours is a little faint, btw

        1. Dorothy Ray on April 6, 2011

          Yes, it is. Not so much when larger.
          Same with your’s, I’m sure.

    3. Hey Rob, I too like the rock-star square. It was interesting because when I clicked over to your site I found you’re a gospel star!

      There’s a blogger I know who’s extremely religious and I have a hard time connecting with her (and returning her blog love) because I don’t share her extreme views.

      Your site didn’t feel this way at all to me. I hope I’m explaining this in a caring manner. What I mean to say is that I didn’t get “scared off” at your site!!

      PS – The only religious music I have in my iTunes library is Krishna Das. Rama Bolo is my FAVE!!
      Best wishes from germany, tj

    4. Ugbe Shulamite Anyin on July 18, 2020

      Awesome gravatar Rob!

  21. This is just a test! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. Dorothy Ray on April 6, 2011

    Hi Ty,

    No way I can compete for first place in answers. I don’t get your post ’til the next day. So, anyway–

    My self portrait is my Gravatar. But like Ann Landers, it’s not going to look like me forever and I’m not getting any more glamorous, as opposed to Rachelle, lucky girl.

    Here is a problem I’m dealing with. I’ve been advised by the Shoemoney course I paid my life savings to (without knowing it was a bunch of stuff I’ve already been told by a million bloggers–my fault for being so gullible/greedy–another story) –I’ve been advised to use a logo picture and a logo name rather than Dorothy.

    Why? Because when I write comments under Dorothy, it won’t matter if I rank first for Dorothy because she doesn’t have anything to sell. On the other hand, I should use something like ebaby decor and a happy logo picture like the baby hugging a teddy bear I’ve chosen.

    My take is when I comment, the farthest thing from my mind is getting credit of any kind for it. Instead, I want to talk to those people I connect with and I think they deserve to see who they’re talking to, not some cute little baby hugging his teddy bear.

    I guess the other problem I’m running into is I’m more interested in reading blogs about money than I am those from decorators. BUT, I don’t know enough to write a blog dealing with making money and it’s easy to design a baby nursery. What a conundrum.

    Do you, Ty, or anyone else have any suggestions for me? I don’t want to start the baby w/bear thing and then get so caught up in it I can’t change back. Thank yew. This is a great group.

    1. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper on April 6, 2011

      I feel your pain, girl. I’d really prefer not to read other blogs about positive living or happiness or whatever because I’ve come out on my site as saying I’m NOT a guru, just a real person, and *that* is why I’m capable of helping people change their outlooks…because I’ve been in both places – happiness and despair. I always thought it would be a bit disingenuous to go comment on someone’s happiness blog just for the sake of commenting.

      When I visited several of the top ones, I spent hours reading and only managed to find 2 posts I could comment on in some kind of real way. Everything else seemed like the affirmation fluff everyone likes to spout off. :/

      1. Dorothy Ray on April 6, 2011

        Amen, Sister!

    2. Dorothy, I really like your sketch portrait. Maybe you could put it on a solid background though so it pops out more…? My friend Hanna has a great one that’s a B/W image of herself against a hot pink square.

      I’m not a fan of cutesy stuff (but then again I was just told that my avatar looks like I might be stabbing something!)

      If you want to do something more “decorator like” you could just put your initials “DR”on top of some stripes. Something crisp and classy. People might think you’re an actual doctor though…

      1. Dorothy Ray on April 6, 2011

        TJ, thanks for the advice. Might have to cut out my head and paste it to colored background to see what happens.

        I was reading your the initial idea on stripes and burst out laughing when I got to the Dr. bit. Don’t want that, do I?

        I can imagine that for men who go about wielding spears, a cute avatar would be rather nauseating, but young pregnant mothers? I don’t know, but I think they’re pretty much looking for Cute.

        Really do appreciate your input.

        1. Holy crap! Dorothy did you assume I was male because of my avatar? I am learning so much from this little exercise.

          I am female even though I’m a TJ!
          This is what I look like:

          I don’t like my face profile so much because the profi shots are almost too good and anything casual would show the bags under my eyes and last night’s spaghetti stuck in my hair!
          Oh dear. I hadn’t realized folks were thinking I was a guy…

          1. Dorothy Ray on April 7, 2011

            TJ, sorry. You are most definitely a girl. And I don’t see any bags under your eyes. What is that you’re holding aloft, a paintbrush? It is rather defiant, but your art is avant garde, so I guess the two go together. Continue on.

    3. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Hi Dorothy.

      I have heard you say a few bad things about that course. Why don’t you ask for a refund?

      The comment name/brand/keyword issue is an interesting one. Please read the post about my comments strategy (first link of the post).

      Generally if you are value adding you don’t want to do what Shoemoney suggests. Why? Because it is so impersonal and doesn’t help your brand when you add keywords instead of your name.

      That being said, keyword based comments are used a lot (by me too) and they work well. You just have to pick your battles.

      1. Dorothy Ray on April 6, 2011

        They refuse to even consider any kind of refund. I signed a contract and don’t have money to hire a lawyer to break it.

        Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out. I’m just royally p.o’d at those “people.”

        1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

          How much did the Shoemoney thing cost?

          1. Dorothy Ray on April 6, 2011

            Had written a bunch and ready to click send when whole comment disappeared and Ctrl/Z wouldn’t bring it back. Tell you later, but it starts with 5.

  23. In a pinch, a simple self-portrait does the trick. Great post!

  24. Kevin J Railsback on April 6, 2011

    My Gravatar comes from my nature and wildlife stock footage business Silver Phoenix
    So I did a lot of things with shades of grey and just a splash of color.

    Even though I’m starting up another business I’m keeping the lion Gravatar for consistency.

    Sometimes I worry that all that grey will just kind of fade into the background. I’m using a purple coneflower Gravatar for my Twitter account right now

    I know I should consolidate them to be consistent across the board but trying to decide which way I want to go.

    1. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper on April 6, 2011

      Is there any way you can take the picture you have and lighten it u a bit? I had to squint and really concentrate to see that your pic was a lion because of the grey.

      1. Kevin J Railsback on April 6, 2011

        It looks good with a larger Gravatar but when I saw it here I noticed that it was just a grey blob of an image. Might have to rethink this one!
        Thanks for the feedback!

        1. I’d agree on the darkness problem. Pop it into photoshop and play with the levels. You’ve got too many mid-tones/ not enough contrast going on… Lions are cool though. ROAR!

          1. Kevin J Railsback on April 6, 2011

            Ok, I changed to the bloody wolf. We’ll see how that goes for now.

    2. I agree with Jen. I’m on a super-bright monitor here at work and it’s mostly just a dark grey box. On my calibrated monitor at home, I’m sure it would hold very little detail for me.

      1. Kevin J Railsback on April 6, 2011

        You’re absolutely right. Most sites I’ve seen it on use a bigger sized Gravatar. So yeah, I’m going to have to rethink all this. The purple coneflower is nice and bright but I want something a little more dynamic. I have an awesome clip of a wolf that got bit on the tongue by another wolf and has blood all over it but not sure how that would go over either. ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. Now it looks a bit like a pink wolf at this size. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          1. Kevin J Railsback on April 7, 2011

            Well, at least you can tell it’s a wolf. ๐Ÿ™‚

    3. Dorothy Ray on April 6, 2011

      Kevin, the tiny gravatar here is gray and I have no idea what’s happening. Please use just a flower or part of a flower, or pick some other tiny piece of nature.

      1. Kevin J Railsback on April 6, 2011

        Does the wolf work better?

        1. Dorothy Ray on April 7, 2011

          Kevin, I happen to love wolves, so yes, I think it’s super. I like his eyes. But, what do I know? Just so people can see what it is.

  25. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper on April 6, 2011

    This is actually a topic I’ve been thinking about lately. My picture is a professional headshot I had taken in December when it was Christmas card time. The sole purpose for it was to be the book jacket photo for my novels, but it ended up being the photo I use for all my sites – both in my name and my fiction pseudonym.

    Lately, I’ve been wondering if I should create a separate Gravatar for my Positive Piper persona, using the cartoon piper character someone created for me. It’s still my picture, just as a cartoon. (It’s on my Facebook page currently at

    What do y’all think? Should Positive Piper Jen be different from Paranormal Jen and Writer Jen and Author Sydney? The only person I’ve been able to get feedback from is my husband, but he just gives the “I dunno…you’re all hot” answer that I think husbands are required to give as part of their vows. Help?

    1. Jen I totally love your Piper Cartoon! (Just liked your FB page BTW). I think it would be cool to use it when you’re commenting professionally. But maybe just the head & hat so we can still see your pretty face!

      1. Dorothy Ray on April 6, 2011

        I just looked at FB, too, Jen. I totally agree with TJ about showing only the upper part of the darling figure. But, the whole figure is too great to discard. I don’t know how you can use both.

        The head shot is good. Use it for your straight work like book flaps and whatever. Put it in your about page, as suggested above.

        I like the idea of having the two in use for different purposes, but then, I’m having a little of the same problem.

        1. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper on April 6, 2011

          Even if I don’t use the whole thing for my gravatar, it won’t go to waste. The whole figure is staying on the Facebook page and will eventually be part of the header on the site itself…when I get around to playing with it. She’ll probably also find her way onto ebook covers in the near future…

      2. Jen Whitten @ The Positive Piper on April 6, 2011

        Hmm…But when are my comments ever professional? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  26. I’m surprised that you didn’t also talk about creating a custom default avatar for your site for people who comment without one (gasp!) It’s really easy to do (you can see mine on the site linked on my name) and it helps to create consistent branding without crazy cartoon monsters or colorful geometric shapes on your site that don’t match.

    I don’t remember exactly where I found the info on how to do it, but if you google “custom wordpress gravatar” or “default wordpress gravatar” you’ll find lots of tutorials. It’s pretty handy.

    I’ve been thinking about using a .png image instead of a .jpg to use transparency a bit to set it apart. Maybe make my photo into a circle or something like that and make the edges transparent so that it better blends in with the background of the website. It won’t be as effective on a site like this that has a border around the gravatar, but I think it’d still stick out a bit more on most sites.

    I’m fairly new to the gravatar club but I definitely see its value. Wish I had realized how easy it was to get one sooner.

    1. Liz @ lifedreaming on April 6, 2011

      Went and had a look at your site/blog [and that’s a whole other discussion … are our sites really blogsites or sites that have blogs/] and immediately found a very useful post that I’m going to put into place on my site.

      BT … hope you don’t mind but I wanted to post the url to Jamies post. The plug in sounds really useful and I’ll be interested to see how it moves my traffic.

      Thanks Jamie … very practical and if I was a photographer I’d love your site. Must send the link to my brother.


      1. Liz, you are the sweetest. ๐Ÿ™‚ I actually think my site will have relevance to any small business owner with a blog, but I write it for photographers because that’s what I know and it’s a small but growing niche.

        The key to really getting traffic is to get people using the facebook comments. I offer my photography clients a free print if they get 45 people to comment using the facebook comments. It’s my way of buying marketing for really cheap. I’m still trying to figure out how to get more people to use them on that site, though.

        But enough on that for now. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t want to hijack the comments completely. Thanks for being such a sweetheart and sharing. It’s always appreciated!

        1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

          Jamie, are you sure that is within Facebook’s TOS?

          1. I don’t require that they post to their wall or post it on facebook at all (they can select to not post it when commenting), so I think so, but it’s possible that it isn’t. I should look into it more closely again, though, as it’s been quite awhile since I implemented it. Good thought, and thank you for the ethical challenge on it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. Dorothy Ray on April 6, 2011

      Nice blog, Jamie. Also like your gravatar. Should have known you were a photographer.

      1. Thanks Dorothy!

    3. And the circle has been implemented. I like it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. I use my logo when posting comments on my site but this one everywhere else. Hmmm.

    1. Dorothy Ray on April 6, 2011

      What is that, Chris? It seems to be marshmallows ready for an open fire.

      1. LOL – never looked at it that way. My site is about pro audio – the site name is “behind the mixer.” Sound boards have controls that are slider that moves up and down. Thus, the white is the slider piece and the black is the space which it moves.

        1. Dorothy Ray on April 7, 2011

          Chris, I see it clearly now, but I didn’t get it even when I looked at your site. I still think it might be less confusing (to people who don’t know, but they probably don’t read your blog, anyway, do they?) to have one slider a little down from the other one, rather both right at the tips of the black lines.

  28. David Bennett on April 6, 2011

    And it helps to choose an avatar that is also simple enough to be recognisable in a favicon.

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Yes, that can be true for sure.

  29. Hi Tyrant!

    This is my first time to comment here, but I’ve been following your blog since I discovered it. You’re one of my favorite bloggers because you give great advice and I can tell that you really want to help people.

    Thanks for posting this. I didn’t realize that using a gravatar is very important. I thought I only need it so I won’t look like someone who wants to spam. =)

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Thanks Kamille. Really appreciate the kind words.

      1. By the way, I’m the one who asked in Facebook how to put a gravatar. I just recently signed up and I want to check if I’ll be able to see my image when I comment. I hope you don’t mind.

  30. leon Noone on April 6, 2011

    G’Day BT,
    I couldn’t agree more. Years ago, in another life, I worked in university administration in two major Australian universities. When recruiting academic staff they always asked for a photograph to be included with a written application.

    Apart from all the good reasons you mention, a gravatar, especially if its your face, makes you a real person.

    Best Wishes

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Asking for a photo with an application seems a little unethical to me. Thoughts?

      1. Rachelle on April 6, 2011

        In Canada the Human Rights Commission would be all over that… they don’t allow credit checks, criminal record checks or pee tests.

        Any employer that made that request here would be at risk of a significant discrimination lawsuit.

        Who wants to move here?

        1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

          Photos and credit checks I can understand – pee tests and criminal records tests, however, seems a little strange. For example, you wouldn’t want convicted kiddy fiddlers applying for a child care position.

        2. James Chartrand - Men with Pens on April 7, 2011

          I’m not quite sure that’s accurate, though it’s 7am and this particular Canadian wants coffee more than HRC research.

          Criminal record checks during the employment process happen and legally as well – try applying to be a Girl Guides of Canada Leader. Pee tests are also legal and accepted… explosives plants use them regularly during employment screening.

          I could be wrong, mind you, but out here in QC… seems fine.

          (Pics with applications aren’t illegal either…)

          1. Cristina on April 7, 2011

            Pics with applications are totally legal in Denmark, Sweden and Spain. Actually it is the usual practice.
            Also in Denmark 90% of the companies request a clean criminal record. It doesn’t matter the job you are applying for, any criminal record means you don’t have any chance.

  31. Iโ€™ve been thinking that sometimes a self portrait could work against you – depending on the image you want to project. As someone mentioned earlier, an attractive woman can get some creepy responses, or maybe a young handsome college professor might not be taken as seriously as an older, bearded type with glasses. What would you think of someone who adopts an on line image in keeping with whatever theyโ€™re promoting, even though itโ€™s not the real person behind it? An example would be a woman presenting herself as a man to get around the sexism that still exists. Would that be dishonest or a good business tactic? The quality of the product behind the image wouldnโ€™t change, and ultimately, isnโ€™t that what itโ€™s all about?

    1. Dorothy Ray on April 6, 2011

      Beautiful work, Carole. I looked at your blog.

    2. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Carole that is a really interesting point.

      I know James from Men with Pens is actually a woman who did that very thing: used a male name to attract better and higher paying content jobs.

      I wonder whether it is acceptable for a man to do the same thing? For example, a lot of internet marketers use pictures of women with nice big breasts and short skirts to get more followers and Stumbles. Is that ethical?

      Interesting question. I might see if I can get James to come on and have a chat.

      1. James Chartrand - Men with Pens on April 6, 2011

        There’s a lot of discussion out there lately about online personas, and not just about my own gender switch online.

        It’s tricky. If your name is Yasser Sayd, should you change it to Scott Smith to get work? If you’re a nurse and your name is Taylor, do people assume you’re a man or a woman? If you’re gay and want to write romance, should you use Susan instead of John as a pen name?

        Those are good questions to ask.

        That said, image is important, even when you’re showing exactly who you are to everyone. If your picture is too “cute”, will you attract the wrong client? If your expression is too serious, will you turn people away? What about an outdoor casual picture versus an indoor professional shoot?

        Even simple things like these can affect marketing and image… so you see that the question you posed can be as simple or as complex to answer as desired!

        @Tyrant – I know a man who wanted to write for a mom blog. He had to change his name and take on a woman’s picture to be accepted as a writer. The publishers didn’t know… and hired him, after they’d turned him down earlier when he presented himself as a man.

        Kind of sad, no?

      2. James Chartrand is where I got the idea in the first place! That would be great if you could get her to come on and talk about it. I keep reading (and seeing)that male artists are valued more than female artists. Totally unfair, of course, but if I can break that barrier, one way or another, why not? Thatโ€™s what James did.

        Iโ€™m sure if itโ€™s OK for a woman, itโ€™s OK for a man too, though in the long run, I donโ€™t think big breasts and short skirts would sell, unless the guy was running a porn site:-)!

        1. Rachelle on April 6, 2011

          A while back I went to a major industry event and was utterly struck by the lack of diversity. 95% white men, all wearing the same black jacket.

          Not the first time I’ve worked in a misogynistic environment. I worked in the construction industry for a while.

          It’s unfortunate because that lack of diversity is a weakness, surrounding yourself with yes men that echo all your thoughts and ideas is a route to stagnation and eventual failure.

          1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

            Australia is talking about quotas for women in the top companies. A study was done showing that if you increase the % of women on a board to 50% the profits of the company increase every single time.

            Its not just a sexism issue; its an economic one.

  32. Brandon Yanofsky on April 6, 2011

    I actually rarely even notice the gravatars.

    However, I do notice when they aren’t consistent. If I see your gravatar on a comment, I expect the same on on twitter. Or else I think I got the wrong twitter user.

    So consistency is a huge plus.

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Totally agree. It just feels better.

  33. Just changed it to my logo – have to see if it works.

  34. Ryan T Malone on April 6, 2011

    Nice post man. I think you hit the nail on the head. Branding in general is just so important, and when it comes to your gravatar, its gotta be catchy.

    In regards to how professional Darren Rowse’s gravatar, lets put it into perspective. I went a similar approach with mine, but didn’t even need to get a professional shot done. All mine is, is a self shot on an iPhone, with a filter in Hipstamatic.

    Shows even more that anyone can do this. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Yeah those iPhone cameras are pretty amazing. Especially if you have Photoshop!

  35. GraphicDesignBoss on April 6, 2011

    Great article, I’ve seen so many clicks through since I created a Gravatar.

    Like you Blog Tyrant I blog as an undercover brother as I’m pretty candid at times about my industry and being undercover helps me!

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Yeah for sure. Yours definitely conveys a sense of mystery. Nice work.

  36. Allan Ward on April 6, 2011

    Hey BT,

    A good, educational post. I hadn’t realised you could connect multiple email addresses to your gravatar account until I just logged in to see which address mine was linking to.

    I agree that different photos are suitable for different situations, and in some cases a log is a better choice. The important thing is to be consistent in the choice of gravatar, and make sure it conveys the image / brand that you want to it.

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      Yeah Gravatar is pretty cool. You also have a lot of people using Disqus now as well.

  37. Joe Hage on April 6, 2011

    I’ve had good feedback with this avatar. When I saw the image that accompanied this post, I thought you might suggest we should get outrageous images!

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 6, 2011

      I just thought that guy would have the best Gravatar.

  38. BT, this is my favorite post you’ve written yet.

    When you look at classic portraiture in art, you can start identifying the iconography in the work. The icons are the symbols surrounding the subject that visually communicate ideas to the viewer.

    For instance a great academic was normally posed in front of a bookshelf. Or a mighty warrior is normally surrounded by weaponry or dressed in a suit of armor.

    I’m thinking that avatars are just a modern day digital form of iconography.

    I’ve learned a ton from this post because I went from a hexagon to a “male” looking icon. The smartest thing I can do now is change this into something more “female” and if I want to go further I have to somehow choose an icon that implies my “german cultural” work. (Maybe a dirndl).

    Thanks again BT, you’re doing great stuff. Can’t wait to see what comes next. Your fan, tj

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 7, 2011

      Thanks TJ. Glad you liked it.

      You’re so beautiful – you gotta have your face on there.

      1. BT, that’s really nice of you. But I’ve thought about it and decided that I want people to check me out because they like what I actually have to say or that they’re interested in my paintbrush salute & artwork. Hey if they find out what I look like after they get to know me, then it’s just bonus chips.

        Lots of your readers know you’re beautiful and we’ve never seen you. I think that’s a good order in which to do things. Whatever. Looks are just that, looks!

        1. the Blog Tyrant on April 10, 2011

          True. It could also work in reverse. Small number of people might click your link because they think you are pretty and then discover how talented you are?

  39. Juuso Palander on April 7, 2011

    Gravatar is so important piece of community building that every blogger should educate their readers about it.

    As you mentioned, consistency is really essential. I use the same image in every possible occasion, and it seems to be working very well for my brand. People are starting to reckognize me which makes trust building a lot easier.

    I think it’s also crucial that you have either smiley face or something memorable like “the apple eating” kind of thing that Johnny uses in his gravatar. You should avoid having a repulsive gravatar with frowning face, that only makes an impassable barrier between you and your potential readers.

    Thanks for _another_ great insight BT! You’re my favorite blogging blogger ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 7, 2011

      Great points Juuso. I notice one or two on Twitter who have a big ole frown!

      Thanks for the kind words.

  40. Dipesh Patel on April 7, 2011

    something which I was searching for since long. How do I add my image on the comments that I post on good articles? Can you help?

    1. Dipesh Patel on April 7, 2011

      Just figured out how. ๐Ÿ™‚

  41. Lindy Mint on April 7, 2011

    There’s a person I follow on Twitter whose Tweets came off as really annoying at first. In her picture she had a smirk and looked really young. Then she changed her Gravatar to a professional shot, had a more “mom” haircut, a nice smile, generally looked more approachable and warm. I found that I liked her more! It’s funny how much the Gravatar matters in that regard.

    I worked for a long time to get mine legible at such a small size. It goes with my branding, but I’ve been wanting to inject a bigger dose of quirk to it.

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 7, 2011

      Interesting how that works.

      Any ideas on the quirk?

  42. Carol McIntyre on April 7, 2011

    I had not thought about how my Gravatar is part of my brand. Thanks for the info.

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 7, 2011

      No probs Carol.

  43. John Hoff on April 7, 2011

    Hey Tyrant, been reading your blog for some time now (and on the newsletter) but have been one of those read and leave kind… you know those type, don’t you? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’ve been blogging for a number of years now and I’ve gone through a number of gravatars. The one I’m using now I’m not thrilled with but does the job for the moment.

    In my experience, the biggest issue right up front when choosing your gravatar is how you want to brand yourself.

    Are you thinking of branding your company, business, or services? Or are you thinking of branding yourself (the person).

    I’ve gone through a phase where I was branding a business I have online and using a picture of an image for the business, but it was John Hoff behind that image. But then after awhile I began to develop other websites with different services and I had to decide who am I going to be online?

    So now there’s John Hoff, the WordPress / Internet Marketer guy, and then there’s that other business, which is its own brand now (still has the business gravatar but I don’t brand myself behind it). Not sure if I’m explaining this well inside this little tiny comment box.

    Basically what I’m saying is, picking a gravatar is not something someone should do quickly and without much thought. Take a day or more to really think about how you want to brand yourself.

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 7, 2011

      Good thoughts John. Although, I would argue that the person and the company shouldn’t be separate when it comes to social media. You are the brand in many instances.

      1. John Hoff on April 8, 2011

        Agreed… as long as your personal name isn’t associated with too many different kinds of businesses, which could be an issue for some Internet marketers.

  44. Harriet Faith on April 7, 2011

    Ok, I signed up for a gravatar….and I’m commenting here to see if it shows up. If not, could someone let me in on what I need to know? Thanks!

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 7, 2011

      Make sure you are using the same email that you did for Gravatar.

      1. Harriet Faith on April 7, 2011

        I am using the same email :<

        1. Harriet Faith on April 7, 2011

          oh look! there it is! uh…. there I am! yippee!

          1. Harriet Faith on April 7, 2011

            I do believe it was not showing up because I had at first, erroneously, rated it “PG” instead of “G.”

  45. Rachelle on April 7, 2011

    I just scrolled though here to catch up on my reading and found that bright color had a huge impact.

    Because the images are quite small it makes a big difference. Try it you’ll see.

    My image is not consistent through everything, mostly because the image I use on my site kept turning sideways when I was trying to get it to work on Gravatar. This is a problem I have had with the iPhone. I’m pretty sure there’s a solution that already exists but I just lose patience after a while.

  46. I have used this picture for everything for a few years now, I try to include in in my header design but need to re-ad it now that I redesigned the site, but on every forum, comment, social media, etc, this is the picture people see… I probably need to change it though, it is kind of boring- what do you think?

    1. Your statement of “it’s kind of boring” got my attention because it reminded me of the benefit of having a “unique” gravatar logo. For example, I can easily scan a comment thread and find my logo. If I was another “face in the crowd” then it would be harder.

      When I look at others that stand out, it’s the use of a color or color dominance that I notice. For example, the red in Rachelle’s post just above this one or the unique design of TJ’s icon.

      Something to consider…

  47. Danny Cooper on April 8, 2011

    Awesome info Tyrant, it’s not often I find a blogging topic that hasn’t been beaned to death, but you seem to find original things to talk about. Awesome!

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 8, 2011

      Thanks Danny.

  48. Harriet Faith on April 8, 2011

    I keep coming back to read this article and the comments. So informative! I’m glad I came across this site. The photos you use are a hoot! The charming lad above(or are they a lass?) in need of a serious grey eyebrow hair plucking ;] and the kid jumping in the air on a sunny sidewalk on your thank you page…..are just great:) So entertaining! *And* ……you got me to finally get a gravatar! (Clever you…..) and many thanks!:D

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 8, 2011

      Thanks Harriet. Glad you’re enjoying it.

  49. Kate Takes 5 on April 9, 2011

    I have just created a (very amateurish) gravatar and ashamed that it was so easy. Don’t know why I didn’t look into it before now.Thanks for the push. Now to get it perfect..

    1. the Blog Tyrant on April 10, 2011

      Good work Kate!

  50. I have noticed how much this makes a difference. A professional Gravatar builds trust from the beginning and then they can click through to your site and start building on that. Great post.

  51. Your post info is great but… wow! The comments that others have posted on this page are amazingly smart and instructive, as well. My only complaint with Gravatar (and Akismet) is that I’ve never been able to find a listing of all comments I’ve posted to other blogs. (I am very new to blogging so that ability may be there… but I just can’t find it. Disqus makes it so easy to find comments I’ve posted around the web.)

    1. Thanks, Joe, unfortunately it’s not possible to track all your WordPress blog comments.

BlogTyrant on Tablet and Mobile
Free Ebook Guide
Ultimate Blogging Toolkit + Bonuses

Join our 30,000+ email subscribers for blog updates and get instant access to a 10,000-word guide on how to start a blog and build a sustainable business using keyword research, Google traffic, and a lot of tested strategies. Let us help you build a blog to support your family's income and help the community while you're at it!