Should You Use a Real Picture of Yourself on Your Online Profile?
Should your profile photo be of yourself?
Ideally, perhaps, your profile picture should be of none other than you, the author, the writer of your wonderful pieces of work. My gut feeling is that an actual photo of the writer probably projects a more professional image than does other options. While some post a profile photo of themselves with family members, such as a spouse or child, still others post a profile picture of their pet or pets. Some use cartoon characters, some use drawings, while others just allow the hubman with the hat to stay in the photo box that represents them.
Having said all that, I will concede that there are other reasons that writers might want to use another photo besides themselves.
What about a blank avatar?
Often, the blank avatar where no photo is added is seen with new hubbers who are just beginning. When that's the case, I assume that the hubber will soon upload a photo to replace the shadowy, mysterious avatar. Sometimes, though, the anonymity of the blank face is a great cover for spammers who come to HubPages solely for the purpose of posting their own brand of infomercials. I shy away from these folks.
The lack of a photo has turned me away before. Even if the faceless shadow isn't a spammer, there is just no personality there. I want to know that there's a real, breathing person writing that article. The hubman guy in the hat scares me away, I must admit.
What about a child or a pet?
What about using a child or pet as your profile picture? Hey, I'm all about cute kids and pets. Look at my Facebook profile photo of my dog and me. He's a cute little bugger, no doubt! HubPages is different to me, though. My personal aspirations are to become a full-fledged freelance writer, and I think that seeing a photo of the author is imiportant. I want people to recognize my photo as me, that particular writer, when they see it all over the internet. (Hopefully, they will see it all over the internet!)
What about a cartoon character?
Again, I'll reiterate that I have nothing against children or pets, nor am I averse to cartoon characters. I adore Bugs Bunny, but I don't know how much credence I'd give to seeing a hub that he wrote recommending solid financial investments. Spiderman is cool, but I don't know about reading his recipe for pot roast. And Batman's poetry? Hmmm...not so much.
As a professional, I want to project a professional image, and a cartoon character doesn't do that for me. As much fun as I would have being recognized as Betty Boop, I just don't think it's a good idea. At least not for me.
Is your own photo more professional?
While debatable, using your own photo as your profile photo may be more professional. Do what you feel is right for you, though. I'm not trying to change anyone's hub profile picture. I follow some wonderful hubbers who choose not to use their own photos. I don't respect them any less as I know the incredible work that they produce. This hub is actually the result of a response to a question asked by another hubber regarding whether or not she should upload a photo of herself. So I got to thinking about it more.
To be honest, I love the pictures I see of babies and tots, of couples together, too . . . and anybody who knows me knows that I love dogs and cats. If you're more comfortable with a photo that shows something or someone important to you, I totally respect that. Having that kind of photo may say more about the person you are inside than would having your own photo. Am I sounding wishy-washy now? I'm just exploring, raising the question, which I think is an important one to consider, as your profile picture becomes a part of your online identity.
To each his or her own . . . .
Perhaps, also, there is a valid reason for the author having more of a sense of anonymity. For example, a hubber who focuses solely on pet hubs may choose a dog as his or her profile picture. Those who specialize in recipes might use an apron or spatula in their photos. It would make sense for someone who writes a lot of parenting articles to include pictures of children in the profile picture. Or perhaps a writer just enjoys flowers or music, and images that reflect those interests become the profile picture. Instead of your face being what is recognizable on your hubs, your photo choice--whatever you choose--perhaps becomes just as recognizable and just as effective. Perhaps my initial gut feeling was a bit off.
While having a photo of yourself that is recognized in the broader freelance world might be seen as more professional than a photo of someone or something else, I admit that there are other reasons that a writer might want to use something besides his or her own face. I might change my mind, too, and just embrace Betty Boop! My only firm recommendation is that you just please stay away from the gray hubman with the hat!
I've explored the question, looking from different angles. I'd love to get your opinions on this subject in the comment section below.