If you own a website or ever comment on one, you’re probably familiar with some of the symbols associated with a “default” account. Sometimes you’ll see a blank space where a picture should be and other times you’ll see the “mystery man” or even the “blue gravatar” default image. If you’ve ever commented on a blog post, and seen one of these symbols next to your comment, you might have wondered how others were able to get a picture next to their name and comment. Depending on the blog, user images are generated in different ways, but there is one setup that will probably feed your image to most of your favorite blogs — Gravatar.
What Is Gravatar?
Gravatar stands for globally recognized avatar – an avatar being an image that is used to represent you. Gravatar’s are “globally recognized” because millions of sites and blogs around the globe use this to populate the image associated with a user profile. And Gravatar works seamlessly with all WordPress sites, and according to WordPress there are over 72.5 million WordPress blogs! Add to those impressive stats that Gravatar also services other sites such as HootSuite, Disqus, Github, American Idol… and chances are pretty good if you use Gravatar your profile image will show up the next time you leave a comment.
The great thing about Gravatar is it allows you to set up your user profile image (or images if you have more than one account associated with your name) in one place. Once it’s setup, you don’t have to do anything else, your image will show up next to your comments.
Why You Should Have a Gravatar Account
If you want to remain anonymous, then you probably don’t want to use Gravatar. If you want to start branding yourself, business, mission, etc. you’ll want a visual image to go with all of those comments you’re probably leaving around the web. When you leave a comment on another site, you leave a little mark of yourself. Why not let people see who you are – or see what represents you? Remember, you don’t have to put a picture of yourself. You can add a piece of artwork you’ve created, your company logo, your dog, your cat, or even your car. Use whatever you think represents who you are.
Your gravatar represents you across many platforms and people can make a visual connection between comments you make on various blogs. Also, I think Gravatar gives users credibility. I’m much more likely to quickly approve comments left by people with a Gravatar, whereas I carefully read through comments left by a faceless user to see if it is appropriate.
Oh, and the best part of Gravatar is that it’s totally free.
How Do You Get Your Gravatar?
Here’s the easy part. Go to the Gravatar website and sign up. If you already have a WordPress account, you can now login with that – no need to create a new account. If you aren’t logging in with your WordPress account, make sure you sign up with the email account you use to comment most often (you can add more email addresses later). Now, just pick an image that you want to use with your account. You can select an image on your computer, or pick an existing image from the internet (just enter the URL and Gravatar will pull up available images from the site). Once you’ve done that, do some cropping to make it just right and you are all set! Your image will appear everywhere you make comments that Gravatar is used.
The neat thing is if you’ve previously left comments on blogs where you were just a “blue gravatar” or “mystery man” – Gravatar will update your profile here as well as any new sites you visit and comment on. Also, if you decide you want to update your image later, you just login to Gravatar and change your image. It will automatically update your profile on all of the blogs you are associated with or commented on with your new look!
If you use different email addresses to comment, you can set up Gravatars for multiple email addresses each with its own image if you would like. This is great on many levels. Perhaps you work for a company that you like to blog and comment for, then you can use your business email and associate a professional business picture or logo with this account. But maybe you are also an aspiring artist and you comment on art related blogs representing yourself, then you could use your personal email and use an artwork as your Gravatar to showcase your latest masterpiece in your comments on those sites. The possibilities are endless and you aren’t limited to just one or two email addresses – you can manage multiple personae here. The great thing is you only have to go to one spot to make changes for literally millions of sites. Pretty cool, right?
Want to show off your Gravatar? Just leave a comment below and it will automatically show up!