Usually, in January of each new year, I reprint this post you're about to read for new readers. This describes how to design your own personal Gravatar.
I forgot to do this and last week, a civilian (non-writer) whom I had contacted via my phone asked how I got that "little JR picture" to appear next to my name.
The answer: It's easy! Here's how you brand your name with your own logo, like the one I created years ago that appears here, or your profile pic or whatever you choose. That little JR picture is called a Gravatar.
(This article previously appeared on Writing Hacks, my subscription newsletter for writers. Subscribe today if you'd like articles like this as soon as they are published.)
A Gravatar is an acronym for Globally Recognized Avatar. It is the image that follows you all over the Internet.
You've seen it as the little picture that shows up next to your name if you make a comment on a blog site or forum. In too many cases, the image that appears next to your name when you hop around the Internet is some generic graphic. You can change that gray block or weird little pic to an image that personally identifies you, and only you.
Above you see the gravatar that I created. You also see it as my favicon in the address bar of my blog (Favicon is for another day.). You also see it any time I make a comment on a blog. It's always the graphic image you'll see next to my name in the online world. It's the image that is linked to my identity.
Follow me as I tell you how to create your own gravatar so you can use it to help you in your branding effort.
Get Your Own Gravatar
1. Visit Gravatar and sign up for a free account. All you need is your email address.
2. Read the image size requirements.
3. Create the image you want to use--either a logo as I have done or a picture of you or whatever--based on those parameters.
4. Upload the image.
In mere moments, you have your Globally Recognized Avatar or Gravatar--your personal avatar.
5. Register any email address you use so it will be linked to the Gravatar you created.
6. Click the email confirmations sent for each email account.
That's all there is to the process.
You can link any number of email accounts to your gravatar. If you want to set up your sites to display gravatars when someone comments on your site, it's easy because there are plugins available for the leading blog softwares and content management systems.
You can view the tutorials on Gravatar.com if you need some help along with more information about the subject.
By the way, all gravatars are rated with an MPAA style rating so you can restrict your site to show only the gravatars whose content you are comfortable with. That way you won't have any naked body parts or anything else popping up on your site that your other visitors might find offensive.
Creating and displaying your own gravatar is just another way to brand your identity and Internet presence.