Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What Does Your Profile Picture Say About You?

Find Lisa on Facebook here.
A picture is worth a thousand words - at least that's what they say. If you're working to promote your writing or build platform using social media sites like Google+ or Facebook, then learning how to represent your brand visually is very important.

Your profile picture is the first thing people are going to notice. What does your profile picture say about you? Can people see at a glance what kind of writing you do? Does your profile picture scream non-fiction, paranormal/urban fantasy, suspense? It should at least hint at the kind of writing you do AND look professional.

You don't have to pay big bucks for a professional photographer, save that for when you're making the big bucks. I just had a coworker with a good eye and a nice camera take a few shots on a lunch break. Voila. You'd never know I didn't pay a cent for my profile picture.

It's important to use the same profile picture on all your social media accounts so you're easily recognized. And use a current photo. I go to conferences and people seem surprised. "You look just like your picture on Facebook." Isn't that the point?

So, let's lose all the sofas growing out of the backs of our heads, stop hiding behind books or pets. You want to appear approachable and friendly -- someone a reader would like to get to know. All it takes is a bit of fore-thought, and a friend or a camera with a timer feature to pull this off. 

Here's a fun exercise. I've compiled a collection of Facebook profile pictures from bestselling authors. I think all these authors have done a really fabulous job of portraying what kind of writing they do (their brand) visually. Only one writes for the Christian market - hope it's not hard to guess which one.

 No cheating - take a minute and see if you can guess what kind of books these writers publish. How do they tip you off? Are you only looking at their clothes? What about their stance? Their facial expression? 

Here's the answers - see if you got it right.
Ted Dekker writes dark fantasy and thrillers/suspense for the Christian market.
Laurell Hamilton writes urban fantasy -- best known for her Anita The Vampire Slayer series.
Jayne Ann Krentz writes womens fiction/suspense, and previously romance.
Ryan Winfield writes womens fiction/erotica.
Lee Child writes suspense/police thrillers - best known for his Jack Reacher series.
Seth Godin often writes about marketing, but is known as a forward thinker and ideas guy.

What does your profile picture say about your writing/brand? Think I'm way off? Do you agree that a profile picture should do all of this?

Lisa Hall-Wilson is an award-winning freelance writer and syndicated columnist in the Canadian faith-based market. She writes dark fantasy novels and blogs at Lisa's teaching a class on January 25, 2014 on How to Interview Like A Journalist. Use code Lisa20 for 20% off registration price.


Glynis said...

As the Mom of a professional photographer, I have learned a lot about creating the moment and the truth behind the old adage 'a picture is worth a thousand words.' Pictures, photos really do speak a thousand words. You are right, Lisa. We want at least some of those words to be linked to who we are as writers when we are talking head shots that make us recognizable in our genre. Good direction here as we market.

Peter Black said...

Helpful, enlightening tips, Lisa.
And also an interesting exercise. I didn't bomb on it, but did have a couple of surprises. :) ~~+~~

Lisa Hall-Wilson said...

Thanks, Glynis! I think writers overlook this aspect of their marketing for sure!
Peter - glad to help. Definitely something to keep in mind.

Tracy Krauss said...

I totally agree with your points, Lisa. A professional (looking ) picture is so important. if we want the world to take us seriously, we need to look the part.

Bobbi Junior said...

Interesting how this is something we don't necessarily consciously think of, but when we look at our won profile pics, we've obviously made that choice for a reason. I will look at pics more closely now, and consider what message they're sending.

Great food for thought, Lisa.

Janet Sketchley said...

Interesting exercise, Lisa! Very good points in this post, and I suspect for many of us it will be a work in progress as we define who we are and what we want to say.

It would probably be a good idea once we've chosen a photo or narrowed them down, to ask some friends and perhaps strangers what they think the image projects.

Lisa Hall-Wilson said...

It's definitely a question of being more aware of what image you're putting out there.
Janet - I think it's wise to have several shots, in different outfits, etc. Gives us a lot more flexibility. Ryan Winfield is a great example of this. If you go to his page and look through his various profile pics you'll see how he completely changes his 'look' depending on what book he's marketing at the time because he also writes YA fiction, and women's lit.

Kimberley Payne said...

Well said, Lisa! I know that I'm guilty of having different photos of myself on different social networks. I'll have to streamline.

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