Icon Hall of Fame: Use Your Blog’s Avatar to Grab New Readers

Icon Hall of FameHere we go again with the “a picture’s worth a thousand words” cliché. This time it’s in reference to your blog’s avatar, or as I prefer to call it, your icon. And once again, the cliché is true.

But before I wow you with my opinions about the anatomy of a good icon, I have several questions for you:

If you visit social media sites, have you thought about how your icon stacks up against the icons of other blogs? Also, did you put any thought into your icon or did you just grab whatever image you had handy and use that?

If you didn’t think about your icon’s design, you’re probably in the majority. With so many other things to think about — producing valuable content, marketing, monetizing, networking and who-knows-what-else — your icon was probably way down on the list of concerns, if it was on the list at all.

Since I was a graphic artist long before I was a blogger, I couldn’t help but notice that some icons stood out. As a newbie blogger, I didn’t know anyone, so all I had to go on at first were looks when I was stumbling around in MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, etc., trying to find my way around. In many cases, the only reason I clicked on some of the blogs were the icons. And if a compelling icon image was combined with a username that made it clear what a blog was about, I was even more likely to click on it. I might be wrong, but I don’t think this just applies to newbies. Whether we know it or not, images affect us all.

Unfortunately there’s no formula for the perfect icon, except maybe that it should come as close as possible to expressing both your personality and your blog’s content. The best way I can explain what a good icon looks like is to show you some that did an admirable job of drawing me in. Below are some of those. (My apologies to anyone not featured below. There are a lot of great icons out there, but I had to cut the list off somewhere.)

Here’s my Icon Hall of Fame:

Blogstruk avatarBlogstruk
I love this icon because I have no idea what it means, yet it makes me want to know. Did this disembodied eye come from Shrek or just a regular human with an unfortunate complexion? I still don’t know, but when I clicked on it, I found its owner dispenses quality advice for newbie bloggers.

VicVic from BloggingZoom and BloggerUnleashed
If it’s possible to project the image of a bad boy and a nice guy at the same time, this icon does it. Not only that, ladies, wouldn’t you agree he looks awfully cute? But this icon appeals to more than just hormones. It’s well-drawn, unique and the combo of the white background and color makes it almost pop off the screen.

Court TuttleCourt Tuttle and BloggingZoom
This is straight-up branding. Not only is Court’s name the focus, but the background is white, which stands out among the many icons that use photos. Using a name is a bold move and one that works because of the authority Court projects in the blogging community.

GrizzlyHow to Make Money Online for Beginners (Grizzly)
If you know Grizzly, you’ll know his icon depicts him perfectly. Notice that the bear has a curious but friendly look. This fits Grizzly because he’s always questioning the status quo, and he’s ever-willing to teach newbies about making money online. This icon is so effective that if I ever met Grizzly in person, I’d be shocked if he wasn’t a big hairy — but kind — bear.

Anybody unsure about what Markk does? I like this one because it’s clear, while also having a welcoming feeling. It makes me want to sit down and have a cup of Joe with him.

I never would have become aware of the LordLikely blog had I not seen this icon on BloggingZoom. For some reason, the juxtaposition of a Victorian man in a top-hat in the high-tech world of blogs struck me funny, so I just had to see what that image represented. When I went to the blog, I wasn’t disappointed; it’s as funny and ironic as its icon.

This is another one that made me want to click on it when I saw it on BloggingZoom. Anyone with the guts to brand herself as a big-mouth deserves a click.

Alex FrisonAlex Frison
Now that’s just silly, and I mean that as a compliment. Alex obviously doesn’t take himself too seriously. In addition to the icon being cute and funny, we again see another good use of a white background.

This one comes under the obvious category, and that’s a good thing. Since I’m interested in movies, I had to click on this. Not only does the image convey the blog’s content, but so does the username.

Mommy CrackedMommy Cracked
This one is funny and gets the message across. Although I found out she’s a freelance writer and former teacher only after visiting her blog, all I had to do was look at her icon to know she has a humorous take on motherhood.

I clicked on this because it looked like someone (maybe CardioGirl herself?) painted this just for the blog. It made this list because it conveys her theme nicely, plus the colors are easy on the eyes.

So, there you have it, my Icon Hall of Fame. As I said before, it’s nowhere near all-inclusive. It’s just meant to show you some examples of what I think works. But your icon doesn’t have to be like any of these. If you’re satisfied that yours gives a good impression of who you are and what your blog is about, then you’re more than halfway home. If you ask others and they feel the same, then you probably already have an icon that’s drawing readers to you.

If you ask around and find that your icon does need some work, however, WordPlay has plenty of free resources to find just the right image:

You might also be interested in Avatar Central, WordPlay’s home for free online image software and information about avatars.Copyright 2007 WordPlayBlog.com

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12 Responses to “Icon Hall of Fame: Use Your Blog’s Avatar to Grab New Readers”

  1. I love icons/avatars, and I agree that a good one can pull you in. I chose mine long before I realized it would become my ‘signature’ wherever I went on the web, and I think I was lucky. It still suits me.

  2. Your icon is a a good one! Sometimes the best plan is to have a little luck. 😉

  3. You are so right! This article is speaking to me. I’m a programmer and designer and I have such a hard time selecting avatars for me that I end up using the default. 🙁 I’ve been very bad! I’m going to stop being such a baby and create something right now! Great article!

  4. Cool post Carla…

    You could add your icon to the list as well.


  5. (Jumps up and down and starts to hyperventilate) Hi. Yes, I did that! Yes! I painted that icon. Oh you don’t know how happy you have made me by simply acknowledging that fact.

    I have a long brown ponytail and I like to listen to my mp3 player on the elliptical. That is me (or how my mind’s eye sees me).

    Thank you for your kind words, I appreciate them!

  6. Hi Cardiogirl! That article has been up for months; I’m so glad you finally discovered it. I’m also happy to learn that you painted your icon. (Isn’t that funny? I had a feeling you did.) It’s nice to see so much visual creativity being implemented on a blog.

  7. I’m a little late to the party as well 🙂 Great article! Glad to see that my avatar is effective! Thanks for the mention!

  8. Hi Steven! You’re quite welcome. I was glad to include your icon in the article.

  9. Thanks for the avatar advice, I have been looking around for information like this for a while. One question, with all of this talk about avatars, why don’t you have gravatars for your site comments?

  10. Hi, Park City. You caught me! 😉

    Actually, I just migrated three blogs to WordPress (whew!), including this one. Between that and running my own business, it’s taking some time to get caught up with all the bells and whistles on each blog. Gravatars are definitely on the implementation list though.

  11. If you are looking for a custom avatar like these, then contact us.

    Yes, avatars can create a huge difference in how people perceive you.

  12. I never really thought of my icon before and how it could brand my business. I think I am going to have to go back and check out my icons. You gave me some great ideas, thanks!!