Your Avatar represents you and your blog.
What does your image say about you and your blog? What does it say about your business? Do you even have one (a photo that is)?
Believe it or not an avatar is important for your business.
You should have a photo of yourself on your website or blog. There is a reason that realtors all started having their photo on business cards long before it became common in the rest of the business world. Even if you decide to use a logo for an avatar you still need back it up on your site with a photo.
A personal photo brings recognition to your name and trust.
When people can relate a name to a face, it helps create a relationship. On the internet, taking advice or purchasing something from someone you have not seen can be intimidating. Your photo on the site will help the reader feel that they know you. It builds trust. If you are afraid to show who you are, why should I trust you?
What kind of photo should you use?
As a former photographer, I would recommend getting a professional portrait taken. I see a lot of photos on websites that are almost as bad as no photo at all. The top of the head is chopped off. The color is way off (shot with a webcam with the glow from the screen as a light). Some look like an audition for a horror movie.
You can get away with a good photo by a friend. Make sure the background is not distracting if it is not related to your blog or business. Make sure it is a close up. Most avatars are fairly small so it will need to be close to be much use. If your friend can’t get a good photo of you, then find a good professional that will help make sure the photo will work for the online use you need it for. Tell the photographer up front what you need and be prepared to pay for it.
You want to look professional, but not artificial.
No need for a suit if you don’t wear one usually. At the same time, don’t be too cute. Let us see the real you, but don’t be too real. Professional is the word. On the other hand, if you are the SEO of a Fortune 500 company, a photo in a suit is a requirement for most purposes.
Once you have a good photograph make sure you have it sized and cropped right.
Some uses require a square crop, otherwise the top of your head is always cut off. Others need a normal vertical photo. Some need a smaller resolution (like 100×100 pixels) others need a higher resolution or the image looks bad. You’ll need several resolutions of both vertical and square formats. It’s always a pain when you find you need to resize the photo yet again for some new site or social network, but take the time to present yourself right.
After you get a good image, use it.
Add it to Gravitar, MyBlogLog, and Blog Catalog. Use it in your Google profile and Yahoo profile. Make sure it is on your Facebook page. Make yourself famous by using your image as a press release. Use it for your Twitter avatar. Have it ready to use and add to any site you join that takes an image.
In my own case, I misplaced my portrait for a while.
Yeah, I know, you would expect more from a photographer. I thought I had it handy, but it ended up I only had a low resolution image and it took me a while to find the full image. In the meantime, I used a photo of my wife and I. While my wife is the most important part of my life, she really does not have much to do with the marketing of my blogs or my online presence. I needed to find that portrait (or I would have needed to get another one taken). I am glad I took the time.
Your online business is not the place to be anonymous.
Let people see that you are someone to be trusted. Let them see that you are someone to be taken seriously. Let your social networks see that you are social. In the end, a good photo for an avatar and on your website will pay off.