What is a Gravatar?

Do you know what a Gravatar is? If you don’t and you are either a blogger or a commenter, it is time to find out.

A Gravatar is a ‘globally recognised avatar’ and we all know about Avatars after seeing the film with the blue people in, I’m sure. Anyway, Gravatars can represent whatever you want, a photo of yourself, your logo, a product shot or even a cartoon – in fact, anything that you would like to draw attention to.
The process of creating a Gravatar is unbelievably easy compared to the benefits it can bring you. Better still, it is free to use. If you already use WordPress go to http://en.gravatar.com and you can log in immediately using your existing WordPress signing-in details.
Everything on the Gravatar website is very straightforward and in minutes you can complete your profile, upload your chosen image, edit it and rate it (according to the content). If you wish you can also personalise your profile and add a bit about yourself and your business.
Now for the important part. Gravatar.com offers the option for you to add links to your blogs and/or websites as well as the opportunity to verify your participation in a drop-down list of social networking sites. It is well worth taking the few extra minutes to do this, as it will serve to increase your online presence even more.
All profiles are public and Gravatar also gives you a link to your profile http://gravatar.com/yourname, which you can use in whatever way you wish. For developers, there are a range of useful tools and code snippets (which are beyond my comprehension but are said to be good), enabling the addition of plug-ins and apps etc.
If you do not use WordPress, you can still link the e-mail you would normally associate with your blog or that you use when you comment, to a Gravatar. Simply follow the instructions on the Gravatar website after clicking ‘Get Your Gravatar Today!’ on their Home page.
So now it is time to explain the benefits of creating a Gravatar. Once your profile is complete, your Gravatar will begin to ‘follow’ you wherever you post content, blogs, comments, forums and so on. If you interact regularly on several blogs, other users will begin to recognise you by your Gravatar, so it makes it much easier for you to build a community around yourself – it’s a good way to blog efficiently.
One small point to bear in mind, you are aiming for a professional online portrayal of yourself, your business or your products, so choose your Gravatar image with care. Avoid generic pictures plucked from Google images or ClipArt, as they can have the effect of making you look like a spammer. Whatever you choose as your Gravatar, ensure that it is of good quality and unique to you.
Creating a Gravatar is probably the quickest and easiest piece of self-marketing you can do in 2012. It will increase your online credibility and generate trust and loyalty amongst your communities. There are absolutely NO disadvantages to creating one, or even several, one for each e-mail address. Do it now!