Profile pictures can have a significant impact on web traffic and earnings potential. Think of it this way, your profile picture is your brand logo, and your profile name is your brand name. Companies pay millions of dollars to come up with a brand name and logo. Then, they pay many millions more to market that brand name, and logo.
While you may not have millions to sink into the creation of a profile picture, you do have the time to carefully consider which profile picture would be most effective for marketing your online writing and products.
Profile Picture Idea 1 – Hot Celebrity
Using a hot celebrity as your profile picture has many advantages.
First of all, hotness always wins you many popularity points. Second of all, celebrities have their own multi-million dollar marketing machine, so you get to ride on the coat tails of their money and success.
If you choose to use a celebrity picture as your profile, pick a popular, well-liked, character rather than just a generic photograph of a celebrity. For example, instead of being plain-old Johnny Depp, be Jack Sparrow!
Unlike Johnny Depp, the reality; Jack Sparrow, the fantasy, is just as famous, has funky eye-makeup, is roguishly charming, can sword-fight inside and on top of a very large wheel, and occasionally, even cheats death. Truly, there is no reason to be “just Johnny Depp”, when you can be Captain Jack Sparrow.
While picking a character, choose one that you can effectivelyrole-play online. If your profile picture says Jack Sparrow but your articles and online postings say Hannibal Lecter or Lois Lane, then there is a real problem.
There are many compelling, memorable, and lovable, television and movie characters; so pick one that is not overly used (e.g. all versions of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) and that helps to enhance the products and articles that you are marketing. However, be aware that you always run the risk of someone else coming along and using the same celebrity profile picture.
Another alternative is to morph your own picture with the picture of a celebrity. Social psychology studies show that people are more likely to trust faces that they are familiar with. By combining your own face with a well-known and trustworthy face; you get to stay original, and still tap into the trust and positive personality already established by somebody else.
However, this may risk your readers’ trust. Using a not-well-known or morphed celebrity profile picture may be seen as trying to pass yourself off as something which you are not. When that gets revealed, all that you say, and all that you do, may become suspect. Whether that was your original intent or not, does not matter, as long as your audience perceives it to be true.
Therefore, make all this clear in your profile page. Better yet, write an article about the origins of your profile picture and profile name. I always enjoy such articles because it reveals the writer in a very personal way and establishes a special bond.
Profile Picture Idea 2 – My Pet
After talking about hot celebrities, cats and dogs seem to be somewhat of a let down.
But wait a minute, shibashake the self-proclaimed expert on profile pictures uses a dog profile picture, so perhaps there is something more to this cats and dogs business?
Well, I must confess that I did not put much thought into my profile picture when I first joined the HubPages community. I was a young and foolish pup then, and did not know a lot about writing online, seo, affiliate programs, Google AdSense, or web traffic analysis.
I just wanted to shock and awe everyone on HubPages with my brilliant dog articles on Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer. In my haste, I slapped on a goofy picture of my dog, and put down the first name that came to mind; which was thankfully, the name of my website.
Even though there was a lot less shock and awe than I expected; I was very lucky in two respects.
First of all, I used my website name as my profile name.
In this way, there is greater continuity of experience, for my readers, across my own website, HubPages, eZine, Squidoo, and other online writing and social networking sites. Although not by design, shibashake, became my brand name, and my goofy dog became my brand logo.
Second of all, the goofy dog picture worked out pretty well for promoting my many dog related articles.
The dog profile picture appeals to many of my readers who are dog lovers themselves. The picture also integrates well with my dog website which has many other related pictures, of my four-legged brand logo.
There are, however, also some rather large disadvantages. A dog picture will not appeal much to non-dog people. In fact, it may even turn away some readers who dislike or fear dogs.
In addition, the picture may not showcase my non-animal related articles well. After all, why would you want to learn about online communities, social networking, and positive communication from a dog?!
Before using a picture of your pet as your profile picture, make sure that it does not overly limit your target content or readers.
Profile Picture Idea 3 – My Hobbies
A variation on using the picture of your dog or cat, is to create a composite profile picture of your hobbies, interests, or writing topics. In this way, you can explore your creative side and make something that is truly stunning, unique, and encapsulates your online persona.
However, creating such a profile picture will be very challenging and may require several iterations. Make sure to get input from trusted friends and family members who are not afraid to give you an honest opinion. You can also solicit online opinions, but be prepared to grow a thick skin before doing this.
Profile Picture Idea 4 – Abstract Pictures
By abstract pictures, I pretty much mean everything else. An abstract profile picture could depict scenery, objects, or more complex scenes with multiple people and animals.
Unlike pictures of you, or your pet; abstract pictures are less personal. Because of this. there is less risk of alienating anyone. It would be pretty unusual for someone to get angry over a picture of a flight of stairs.
An abstract profile picture is also less topic specific. As a result, you could use the same profile to promote a wider variety of subject matter.
However, the strength of abstract profile pictures, is also its weakness. It is difficult to become friends with scenery or a flight of stairs. Because abstract pictures are less personal, it is more difficult to establish trust with your readers. An abstract picture encourages identification with larger things such as the environment, patriotism, or peace; rather than with the individual. Therefore, more work may be needed to establish your personality and individuality, while promoting your brand.
When choosing an abstract profile picture, find one that has many positive associations, and few or no negative online connections. For example, choose something that represents positive qualities, that will help in your self-promotion campaign, such as vision, endurance, or trust.
Best Profile Picture Idea
Which is the best profile picture for me to use to get the most web traffic?
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. Each class of profile pictures have their own strengths and weaknesses. Carefully consider your content, target audience, and online goals, before choosing a profile picture.
Once you have picked something, it is best to stick to it so that you are always accumulating goodwill on that same brand name, and brand logo. If you find that to be too tedious, some picture tweaking is acceptable, but always keep the visual subject (e.g. you, your dog, Jack Sparrow, the abstract representation of vision) constant.