Show your face and increase your credibility


Are you happy to show your face online? Or would you rather show a photo of yourself with a baby, or a pet, or obliquely, so people can’t really see your face? Or do you prefer a lovely view of your garden or a default avatar?

anonymous avatars versus faces on twitter

Who would you trust?

Sometimes resistance to showing your face is a privacy thing – why is my face relevant? Sometimes it’s a security thing: you don’t want the wrong sort of attention for your children, or something like that. Or maybe you’re just a bit shy. Nothing strange or wrong with that.

The thing about the social web is that being honest and open carries enormous weight. Anyone who appears particularly reluctant to show their real face can seem suspect. At the very least, you might suffer a loss of credibility if you present yourself in a homely way. By that I mean that unless babies, pets or gardens are relevant to what you write about professionally then you may not be creating a great impression.

Taking a photo is not a big deal these days – you (or someone you know) must own a smart phone with a camera. Take a ‘selfie’ headshot. Send it to your computer with Bluetooth or whatever means you use. If you don’t have any good image editing software, no worries – go to Pixlr  free online editing software and you can crop, edit and save your image when you’re happy with it. Save several sizes of your headshot (different sites will want different sizes) and use the same image across your social profiles. That way you’ll start to be instantly recognisable wherever you go, including when you comment on blogs.

Showing your face is one of the quickest ways to gain credibility and recognisability on the social web.

Your (social media) hub is where the heart is


Everyone needs a home on the social web. Maybe you already have a website, or an author page on Amazon or Goodreads, or a LinkedIn profile. Any of those might be your home base, or hub.

But I’d like to talk you into thinking of your blog as your hub. A blog is different from a plain ol’ website, which is why you see so many authors having a blog alongside, or even a part of, their main promotional website. And that’s not a bad thing, because it kind of separates out the purely promotional stuff from the behind-the-scenes conversation.

An author website can be static – updated only when there’s a new book, a launch or other news. It can be out-and-out promo – find out more about my books and buy them, here’s my media page, tour details, publisher and agent contacts etc. It’s your shop window. It’s where you wear a clean suit and your brightest smile.

Your blog, on the other hand, is far from static. And it might even be a bit scruffy around the edges. You can wear your jim-jams, no-one will mind. It’s the place where you can be as much yourself as you want to be – which doesn’t mean baring all – please!

But it’s a place for conversations (rather than press releases), for confidences (rather than hype) and for giving (rather than selling). Honesty, generosity, listening and sharing – isn’t that the way we make friends in real life? So why would it be different online?

A blog is your own space, for you to define by whatever criteria feel right for you. It’s where you have a genuine voice, unmediated. Over time it grows into an amazing trove of your writing, your thoughts and anything else you want to add to it – whereas a profile page on a social or commercial platform has much less flexibility for expression, plus it could change or even disappear without you being consulted.

Create a blog and make it your home and your hub – it’s where the heart is.