Profile Images – how much do they matter?by Dave Cottrell
Profile images are the avatars people use to visually identify themselves on blogs, social networks, forums, communities and other member sites, where many people come to visit.
How important IS your avatar?
A while ago, I wrote an article title, “Image Power,” about how important it is to include images in your advertising campaigns. The article received a lot of comments and good reviews, both on the blog and off, yet it stuns me when I see the attitude a lot of people seem to have toward the most important image of all, the one that represents YOU to the world!
From what I have seen, many people don’t think it matters. They will leave a placeholder in place of their own, personal avatar, which very clearly says to the whole world, “I am not at all serious about my online presence.”
Still others use an object or caricature that really looks nothing like them.
Hint: Unless the profile is for a business in the name of the business, use a good photograph of yourself, one that is recent and that is as flattering as possible to you, while still being true.
There are many simple ways to get your photo online. The simplest way, if have a digital camera, smartphone, modern laptop or a webcam, is simply to take a new photo of yourself and upload it. More about that in a moment…
If you truly do not have a way to take a digital picture of yourself to upload, in other words, if you don’t have a digital camera, smartphone, modern laptop or a webcam, my first question has to be, “How serious are you about your business?” If you don’t have at least one of these tools, you very likely are not serious enough about your business to succeed.
With that said, if you really are in a situation where you have a true passion to succeed, but do not have any of the aforementioned tools, someone around you does. Get that person to take a quality photo of you and upload it.
Finally, if you do not have the tools, nor any friends with the tools, go to a store that makes passport photos and get a digital photo on disc that you can upload.
Seriously, dear reader, if you are convinced that it is impossible or unimportant for you to put a good photo of yourself online, you should not be in business online.
How important is the quality of the photo?
The quality of the photo says a lot about you. If your face is clear and easy to see, people will have a lot more confidence in buying from you. If it is partially hidden in shadows, poorly focused and fuzzy, people will be turned off.
How important is the composition of the photo?
Composition is incredibly important! I see so many photos that look like a bad mug shot taken with dirty cellphone in a prison cell! No one will ever take such a photo seriously.
Before you take your picture, take a look at the background. What are people going to see behind you when you? If you don’t have a good background to work with, take a sheet from your bed and pin it up on the wall behind you or even hang it from the ceiling.
What are you going to wear for the photo? Make sure it looks professional (don’t wear an old sweat shirt or pajamas!!) Make sure the colour is the right colour for your skin tone. Generally, a very dark or very light colour looks good on dark skin, while softer colours look better on light skin. I recommend a book called, “Color Me Beautiful,” by Carole Jackson, available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Guys, if, for some reason, you feel funny about using a book by such a name, Ms. Jackson has also written a book called, “Color for Men.”
These books are great investments, if you want to fine tune your presentation to the world for best results. Trust the experts; it pays to use every advantage you can.
Once you have your background and shirt or blouse decided upon, check the lighting. Make sure that no part of your face will be in the shadows. One of the very worst things is back light, as it will put your whole face in a shadow. Do not sit with your back to a brightly lit window or lamp.
Make sure that the light you have is directed evenly right across your face. If you have a webcam or smartphone, you can move around while watching your image on your screen to get the best possible lighting.
Smile! Don’t grin or grimace, but smile pleasantly. Again, look at your screen. Are you seeing a friendly looking face, or are you seeing someone who looks like they’re about to con you? Be critical of yourself!
Get the angle correct. There is one photo I see from time to time of a person who is on several social sites I am also on that is just SCARY! This person took the photo, likely with a smartphone, in fairly decent light, with an ok background, and with clothing that was basically neutral, but it was at a terrible angle! The photo must have been a “selfy,” taken by himself, which is not a terrible thing in itself, but the camera or phone was held at waist level, with him peering down into it. It makes him look like s child molester or something!
Is that prejudice? You bet it is, but guess what? You can be sure a LOT of people will have the same or similar prejudice, making the photo not only a bad photo, but a photo that is literally driving business away. Don’t let that happen to you!
Your photo, the one you use as your avatar everywhere you have a presence online, could be the number one thing hindering your success. You could be doing everything else properly, including SEO, social media, website design, blogging, and all the things you should be doing for success. But if your photo is missing, poor quality, or maybe even SCARY, as in, it looks like a prison photo, you could actually be driving business away.
Remember, profile images are the avatars people use to visually identify themselves on blogs, social networks, forums, communities and other member sites, where many people come to visit. Make sure you’re getting yours right!