My blogging tips posts continue with my mini-series of blogging tips in quick, easy steps. Branding for your blog is up first, and after the super-quick-and-easy #1: Get a favicon, the next logical step is to make your public image consistent. This is what represents you, i.e. your BRAND (like Apple's bitten apple logo - always such a great example) - so it needs to be the same wherever you pop up on the internet.
Consistency is KEY to branding your blog. As I mentioned in the post about the importance of getting a favicon it constantly reinforces your identity to your audience.
This is another tip I've talked about before in other posts and on social media, but it's an important one to discuss again in a bit more detail:
#2 USE JUST ONE AVATAR.
What's an avatar...?An avatar is your profile picture. Having a consistent avatar across all your platforms where a profile picture is required (blog, social media, profiles on blogger outreach programmes, etc.) is the number one way to make yourself instantly recognisable. Using different avatars on different platforms confuses your readers - it makes you harder to remember as you will look like two, three or more different people.
Most people are "visual learners". Apparently the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text - so even if your [blog] name is consistent across all your platforms, if your image is not, you'll have a tougher job getting people to recognise you. If they come across you on Instagram for the first time, they might scroll by before they realise you're the same person they've seen in your blog's sidebar.
How do I get a great avatar/profile picture?If you're already using an avatar on one platform that fits the bill, update all the others, not forgetting the sidebar image on your blog and any other profiles you have. Otherwise get someone to take a few good quality head shots (don't crop from a full-length photo) in various set ups and lighting, and different hairstyles or outfits. Choose the picture that you think is the most recognisable as you. It has to work when it's very small - especially if you want to use it as your favicon in your blog's browser tab - and ideally needs to be a clear head shot where your face stands out from the background.
I chose a photo for my new avatar from a photo shoot where I wore the colours I knew I was going to use for my new colour palette - I changed it to this new one on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google Plus, Pinterest, Bloglovin, LinkedIn... everywhere.
L-R: The Fairy Blog Mother | Sed Bona | Lily Pebbles
The avatars above are great examples of bloggers who have consistently used the same avatar across all their platforms, making them instantly recognisable. What the pictures have in common is that they're all face-on to the camera and well-lit, they're all very strong graphically and they all have character.
To prove how effective a great avatar can be, I easily picked out Alice of The Fairy Blog Mother at the UK Blog Awards ceremony in a crowd of hundreds of people because her avatar was so clear (and it looked like her). She and I are now firm blogging friends. And although Lily Pebbles is a very well-known vlogger, I don't think I was following her on YouTube when I saw her at a blogging workshop a couple of years ago, but I still recognised her straight away. Finally Ashley of Sed Bona: I've never met her as she's in Chicago and I'm in the UK, but her avatar is so distinctive and full of character I'm sure I'd recognise her immediately should we get the chance to meet (which I'd love to do).
If you go to a blogger meet or conference and you've used a consistent avatar that looks like you, you're more likely to have people come and say hi because they've recognised you. That's the power of branding.
How do I add character to my avatar?Don't be afraid to add character to your avatar. For mine I chose a shot where my hair is blowing in the wind, and as I'm known for my red hair it made sense to choose a hair-fabulous photo. Avatars are invariably seen small so they need distinctive shapes and colours as well as some personality. Are you known for a great smile? Then use a photo of your cheesy grin. Do you have distinctive hair or trademark red lips (like Ashley and Lily, above)? Make sure you're wearing it and that it stands out. If you have blonde, silver or white hair, choose a dark background. If you have dark hair, choose a light background - or hot pink, or bright blue, or whatever colour is very "you" - just make sure you don't blend into the background.
Experiment, and view the image really small. If you squint at it you can assess whether it's distinctive enough. If it still looks like you and has bold colours and/or strong shapes, that's the one you should be using.
Where should I update my avatar?Here's a check list of all the places you should change your avatar (depending on which ones you use):
- Your blogging platform profile (Blogger/Wordpress/Squarespace, etc.)
- Sidebar profile picture
- Google Plus
- Your blog's email address profile
- LinkedIn (unless you wish to keep your professional life completely separate from your blog)
- Flickr/Photobucket (your image storing site)
- Gravatar (check out why you should register on Gravatar)
- All the blogger outreach programmes you've registered with, e.g. Fohrcard
If you think of any more (of the main ones) let me know in the comments, I'll add them to the list.
What if no one recognises my new avatar?If you don't already have a strong avatar, don't be afraid to change it. It's fine to start again. Just let everyone know on all your social media platforms that you've got a new avatar, so post about it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.; write a quick blog post with it as your lead photo to say it's changed. If you're using it as your avatar everywhere you'll soon be recognised wherever you pop up.
Have you been using a different avatar on all your platforms? Good luck if you get them sorted - let me know how you get on, and what effect it has!
Linking up to: Let It Shine, Brilliant Blog Posts, Friday's Fab Favourites, Sunday Funday