One the interesting facets of marketing ourselves on the internet is that someone can meet us online first before they ever see us in person. Having a blog is a way for us to share our expertise and help a person come to know and trust us. Letting them SEE who we are helps fill a hole in the whole virtual meeting process. Our profile photo then is a key element to introducing ourselves properly.
First let’s look at some common mistakes to avoid. Then we’ll go into the process of how to prepare your photo and upload it to ActiveRain.
Craig’s List -
What You Should AVOID in a Profile Photo
These are just suggestions that I would give you as you ponder your next profile photo. They are based on my observations of what some people do and, in my OPINION, are not the best practices.
AVOID Far Away Shots
You have a photo in some great location and you think it will make a great profile photo. You have to realize that these images get scaled down to thumbnail size of 122 pixels. Here in the 122 pixel thumbnail my face is only 16 pixels high! These days we have come to know social distancing, but in our virtual world, let's NOT be social distancing! Get close to the lens!
AVOID a Company Logo “Profile Photo”
I want to see YOU. Seeing you makes your presentation more personable. It rounds out my knowledge of you. You wrote this excellent post of and I really enjoyed it but are you the invisible man/invisible woman? I feel there is a big piece missing of my getting to know you. Go ahead and brand by using your logo – just do it in other places like blog footer, sidebar, cover photo and profile page.
AVOID the Arm Around You Cropped Out Person
Yeah I get it… you really love the smile that you have in that one particular photo. But when you crop out the person whose arm it is, it leaves a dangling hand! :) This just doesn't work well for your profile photo.
AVOID the Poor Lighting Photos
Poor lighting just shouts out "amateur hour." (and the purpose of your blog is to show your professionalism!) Frequently I see the problem where a photo is backlit or just not lit enough! In some cases these photos may be salvageable in a photo editing app. You don't need an expensive app like photoshop to do editing. There are some great free web based editing apps that you can try and correct the lighting in your photo. But sometimes you have to also recognize that you might just have to take some more photos having now learned from previous experience of what to avoid for lighting!
AVOID Using the Way Younger Version of Yourself
"Younger you" is not what you look like any more. Aging isn’t fun, I agree! But honestly, if you are meeting your new client in a coffee shop (or a zoom call) for the first time after them only having talked to you on the phone and only them having seen your 25 year ago profile photo, are they going to recognize you? The right hand photo below is the 26 year old me photo and is absolutely the body I’d dial back to if I could. I was running several times a week and in really great shape. I’d love to keep that my profile photo forever but it’s not the me “now”. (haha, and besides can you imagine your “tech guy” using that outdated technology in the background :)
The one I used when I first started blogging (below, on the left) is too many years ago now! The one on the right now is the more experienced me that you'll meet when we do a zoom call :)
AVOID the Phone to Your Ear Photo
The phone to ear photo pose has been used often. We know you talk on the phone as part of doing business. Does this mean that you are ALWAYS on the phone and that you’ll be taking calls the whole time that you are meeting with me? That's not the personable impression you want to leave.
AVOID the Rectangular Peg in a Square Hole
Our profile photos need to be cropped as an EXACT SQUARE. If you crop before you upload, you will have control of what gets chopped off. If you let the system crop for you, it will take the center of your image. As you can see in the example below, this could mean the top of your head getting removed.
Your Next Steps
Perhaps it is time your next profile photo! Professional photography is an excellent decision if within your budget. However with a little effort and a little knowledge, your new DIY profile photo can be just around the corner. If you have someone to assist you, this is a big help. Also, putting your phone on a tripod and setting the timer is another way to prep a great shot. Set aside a little block of time for a mini photo shoot. Try some different locations. Try indoor vs. outdoor. “Digital film” is cheap folks. Take lots of shots and pick one that you like.
If you are looking for some helpful DIY portrait tips, be sure and search the web. You'll find articles like this with good suggestions. Also, don't forget to give YouTube a search for tips on taking your own portrait. This is one example of a youtube video.
Here are some great examples of profile photos of others here in ActiveRain. This should give you some inspiration to take a look at your own photo and see if it is perhaps time for an update!
How To Upload Your Profile Photo to ActiveRain
At the top right of the ActiveRain window, you'll see your avatar photo. Click that and you'll get a pull down menu. The first choice there is "My Home." This is where you have control of all your various blog settings. Look for the Edit Link next to "My Profile" on the sidebar. Once you have enabled editing on your profile page, notice the pencil button next to your profile photo. Click that in order to upload a new photo. You will review the upload and approve it.
Tips For Prepping Your Photo: Post Production Tuning
Sometimes a otherwise good shot is just lacking a tiny bit to make it so much better. One typical problem with photographs happens when you have a bright back light. The camera auto exposure sets for the background leaving the foreground (your subject) darkly lit. Sometimes this is a salvageable photo and it is worth looking into a post-production edit. Google Photos has a great set of editing tools and I also like the free web based photo editing tools. In this arena, iPiccy.com is my favorite choice. You will upload your photo to the web, make your edits, and then download the edited version.
The snapshots below were taken from iPiccy. Notice some of the controls that you have in order to help enhance your photo. There are tool palettes to sharpen, add vibrance or dab of saturation. Darker photos are aided by the Exposure panel. Mix a combination of Exposure and Highlights so your photo can look its best.
Tips For Prepping Your Photo: Cropping and Sizing
We need to get a square image ready for the upload. Again, if you need a suggestion, iPiccy is one very easy way to get this accomplished. After you upload your photo to iPiccy, look for the Crop Picture editing panel. Once you are there, notice the drop down list for choosing various constraining shapes. Choose “Square.” Once you do that, you can adjust the cropping square by dragging on the various corners to get it the size you want. Click in the middle of the square and drag and drop the square more precisely where you want it. Click “Apply” and the extra stuff around the perimeter will be chopped off.
After you have cropped your photo to a square, the final edit to consider is making sure you are in the target size for uploading. ActiveRain suggests that you are somewhere between 170 and 600 pixels. This is easy to check and update in iPiccy. Go to the “Resize Image” panel and check the dimensions of your photo. If it is larger than 600, simply type 600 as the target (along with the “constrain proportions” setting) to create a more web optimized image for uploading. Apply the update.
Finally, notice the save icon on the top toolbar. This is where you go to download your edited image.
Having a professional presentation on the web is very important. Thanks for hanging out with me today as we went through some do’s and don’ts of creating a great profile photo. Now it is time to check out your profile photo and consider if it is time to renew and refresh! Or if you are just starting to blog on ActiveRain, you now have a reference sheet of what you need to do ASAP! No more blue anonymous placeholder icons! :)