It seems as though we're all connected to some form of social networking – whether it be through Facebook, Twitter, blogging, or having an online shop. Almost all of these platforms give members the option to include a picture/avatar on their profiles so that others can put a face to a name.
Using a photo always helps personalize a profile. More importantly, as professionals, we can use our profile photo as a form of self-expression, to give clients some insight into our personality. So I spoke to two creative businesswomen to find out their thoughts on what types of profile images to use for online shops, websites and blogs.
Regina Cummings, who sells jewelry and greeting cards through her Etsy store VivatRegina, has established a blog with a growing following. When it comes to profile pictures, Regina says that in most cases a photo that just includes the seller is best. Group shots that include your mother, neighbor and best friend could confuse customers – you want them to remember your face.
While it might be interesting to show customers a slice of your everyday life, group photos are better suited to personal profile pages than professional ones. As Regina points out, the only thing that customers know about you is what they see on your site – so using an image that reflects who you are is imperative.
Another great suggestion from Regina is to remember that you aren’t selling to yourself. "If you love your photo, but it doesn’t show you as the professional you want to be, chances are, other people aren’t going to think that you’re professional." Her advice is to think twice about picking a photo purely based on how good you look in it. A random photo from a fun night may conflict with the tone you're trying to convey in your brand/store/blog.
So, when it comes to setting up your profile picture, you should aim for a good quality image that lets your personality shine through. Having a unique and interesting shot will help make you more memorable, says Kelly Lewis, who specializes in wedding, lifestyle and portrait photography at Kelly Is Nice Photography and sells jewelry at Kelly Is Nice.
"Natural lighting is your best friend," Kelly says, and I have to agree. It's great to take your profile picture on an overcast day or in the shade. That is when lighting is at its best – if it’s a bright and sunny day, you might get dark shadows in your photos. If you're taking the shot indoors, Kelly recommends standing near a window to avoid having to use a flash.
Another point that Kelly made was to use an image that is close up. A lot of profile images and avatars are represented at a small size, so Kelly advises using an image that still shows you clearly at smaller scale. Once you’ve chosen your image, Kelly suggests using a photo-editing program like Picnik to enhance the color and to remove any imperfections in the photo (and best of all – Picnik is free!).
Both vendors advise against using a product photo as your profile image. You want to keep your site up-to-date, so if you use product photos, you will constantly need to update your profile image as products sell – so using an image of yourself is your best bet!
For more tips on getting great profile shots, check out the following links:
- Here's a short video from Art Palaver that talks about how to get the best light in your shots, both outside and inside.
- This article focuses on how to adjust your camera and pose to get a good profile shot.
- This article suggests various ways of editing your profile picture.
Main image courtesy of Dionne Christiansen.