Avatar-Making for your Online Profile

avatar makingAn avatar gives you a face when you fill out a profile online. There are endless places you can use an avatar on the web: email signatures, blog comments, forum profiles, HubPages or any other site you create an account on.

For this post I am focusing on sites which let you create the avatar online, from start to finish. You may need a screen capture software to save your finished avatar in an image file on your own computer. Go to the home site for your web browser and look up the add-ons. I use Chrome and Firefox (at different times) both of those have simple add-ons which let you use screen capture right from your web browser.

Many online game sites will give you an avatar when you sign up to play their game. This is another way to create an avatar, but it requires you to register for the site and have an account first. If you are not interested in playing the game you can still create an avatar and save it on your own computer, but you will have to take the time to register for the site, first.

Creating an Avatar with Your Own Art

The avatar can be an image of your own choosing. Use a photo you have taken. Your own art/ drawings in an image file (png, jpg or gif files) are great as avatars too.

Modify the image to fit the size you need. Most profiles will have a size limit. Some will have a limit for the pixels/ bandwidth of the image as well. There are web graphic programs which can resize an image. Some have features which let you add text, change colours and change the shape of the image, give it a different background and so on. You can use software such as Gimp, for image editing.

Globally Recognized Avatar

Once you have your avatar go to Gravatar and set up an account. This is a free online service which gives you a globally recognized avatar which will automatically show up when you comment on WordPress blogs or use various comment services and forums online.

Try Making Your Own Web Avatar (last updated on March 18, 2012).

How to Get Started (and Enjoy) Using Twitter

TwitterNote: Originally published on HubPages, July 2012.

What’s keeping you from using Twitter?

Twitter is easy to use. Basically you type in text and hit send. You can do more, but you can get started with the basics and even skip a lot of the extras and not miss them.

I’ve been using Twitter from the beginning. I like to try new things like Twitter and see how they work. I’m an explorer at heart.

I’m assuming you have already joined and created an account at Twitter. If not, go ahead and do so. You can sign up for an account, free, with your email address and have it link to your Facebook login as a back up login.

You’re going to need a user name on Twitter. Pick something you already use on social media accounts like Flickr, Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Pick a descriptive user name but don’t let it get long winded. Keep it all one word, this just makes it easier for you to type. Once you get started with social media you will be typing your user name pretty often in order to pass it around and let people know who you are.

Compose New Tweet

newtweet newtweet2


Go Ahead – Start Using your Twitter Account

Login to the Twitter site. Click in the box and type something. You don’t need to add anything fancy. You don’t need to add your user name (Twitter adds it automatically once you send the post). Stick to 140 characters, this includes spaces and punctuation as well as each letter or number you type. Twitter lets you know how close you are getting to the 140 limit.

Don’t worry about the limited characters. Type in one sentence, Most sentences will fit into the 140 character limit easily. Twitter is meant to be quick, lively posts so one sentence is all you usually need. If you do need more to make your point clear think of words you can take out, words you can shorten with characters like &, for instance. Pretty simple so far, right?

Now that you have typed in your sentence, send it out there. All you need to do is click “Tweet”. Your post will be sent out to everyone on your Twitter list.

Click Expand to Retweet, Delete, Reply or Favourite a Tweet



So Now You’ve Posted But….

So you posted but noticed a typo/ typing error or spelling mistake. Just go to your tweet, click on “expand” and click on “delete” from the list of options. You just need to confirm that you want to delete that post and then it will be gone.

You can also retweet the post from someone else this way. Or reply to anyone who has sent you a tweet.

If you want to save or savour the tweet from a friend you can mark it as a favourite here. This will save the post on your Twitter account. The tweet is saved in a file on your Twitter account.

I have an extra option on my Twitter account. It shows up in the image I cut and pasted above. It’s called ClassicRT (Classic ReTweet). You can add this option to your web browser if you like. It’s an extra – but not essential.

ClassicRT for Google Chrome

ClassicRT Addon for Firefox

Find Replies to Your Tweets and People who have Mentioned You

connecttwitter connecttwitter1


Venture Out a Bit…

Wander off the Home section. Click ‘Connect’ at the top left. Now you can see who has mentioned you. Who has retweeted your posts.

I like to use this side of Twitter to reply to anyone who sent me a note. It is much easier to find replies here. (Especially once your Twitter account gets busy).

Block or Report Twitter Spammers

mentions1 mentions2


How to Report Spam Accounts on Twitter

On the Connect section you will eventually get Twitter spam. This is much like comment spam in a blog or on your posts on HubPages. You can (and should) block or report Twitter spam. Blocking the spamming accounts will keep them from posting to you again. So this is enough if you aren’t sure they are spamming. Otherwise, report the account to Twitter staff. Let them deal with it.

Click on the name/ user name on the spam account. This brings up a second window which lets you choose the options to block or report the account. Just click and be done with it.

If this were a friend you could send them a tweet this way as well or go to their Twitter profile. You can also choose to follow or unfollow the user account.

Never send a spam Twitter account a message. NEVER. You may think you are teaching them a lesson, giving them a piece of your mind, or giving them a chance to change their ways. But, all you are actually doing is confirming that you are an active Twitter user. They will put your account on a list which they sell to people looking for active Twitter accounts to send spam to. They will also dig for more information from your Twitter account, like your web address, blog or email address. So, NEVER reply to a spam account on email, your blog, Twitter or anywhere else online. Don’t do them any favours.

View your Profile, Change your Settings or Get Help

profile1 profile2


How to Change your Settings and your Profile on Twitter

Click the icon/ image of the person on the top right of the screen. This gives you options which can lead you to Twitter settings and let you edit your Twitter profile.

You can leave the settings as they are until you have an idea of how and why you want to change any of them. The basic settings will be fine for almost every beginner on Twitter. I’ve left mine pretty untouched.

I do like to play with the profile settings. I add my own image as face to the Twitter account. I created a background which has my links and whatever else I care to add. (You do need software for this, some kind of image software like Gimp). You can also write a blurb for your profile and add links.

Fun with #Hashtags

The last thing you need to know are hashtags. You may have heard about them already.

Hashtags are just a quick referral tag. Anything at all can be typed as a hashtag. You just add the # in front of it and keep it all one word.

Add a fun hashtag to your Twitter post to illustrate your point, catch someone’s attention or see if you can turn a clever phrase viral. (Viral being something that catches on in social media and spreads around in a huge way). Seldom will anything grow to viral proportions but it’s kind of fun to try now and then.

Don’t go crazy with a lot of hashtags. Consider how much you would want sent to your account before you go on a hashtag binge.


A few last things to keep in mind…

This really is enough to get you started on Twitter. There’s a bit more about Twitter etiquette and just being a smart Twitter user (tweeter) in general.

Don’t follow a lot of people you don’t know or care to know. Having a lot of followers does not make you rich and famous. It does make you look like a possible Twitter spammer. Real Twitter users will have a balance of people they follow themselves and those who follow them back. You don’t want to have people following you from some Twitter follower service either. Those are all spammers who want to bloat their numbers so they can spam and look important. They may have you on account but they won’t be reading your posts, following your links or really care about anything you have to say.

Don’t post a lot of links or stale quotations. People want to know they are following a real person. They want to follow people who are using their Twitter account as READERS and WRITERS. They want people who will read their post, follow their links and give them feedback now and then. Isn’t that what you want from people on Twitter too? So make personal posts which don’t include links to be followed and do include some personal chatter. Nothing too dull. Come up with something interesting, something surprising that happened to you, something funny you noticed today… and so on.

Ask questions, send a note to someone using their Twitter name (@thatgrrl is my Twitter user name for instance) try to get a two-way flow of conversation. Don’t be afraid to jump into a conversation if you have something useful to add. Watch Twitter hashtags to find Twitter groups who have scheduled online meetings to talk on Twitter.

If you would like someone to follow you back let them know. Busy Twitter accounts have a hard time keeping up with new followers. Many of them are not sincerely following them but just want to get followed back and will likely remove them from their own list once they get followed back. Lost you there? Don’t worry about it. Just know that people you would like to notice and follow you back on Twitter will respond if you send them a post on Twitter. Let them know you followed them and tell them WHY you chose to follow them. Do they share your interests, do they write on the same site you do, etc.?

Don’t ignore posts on Twitter from other people. Follow an interesting link, leave comments when the links go to blog posts and let people know you followed a link posted to Twitter. Give people feedback on Twitter when they make a witty comment, shared an interesting link, or have a typo in their post. People almost always like a chance to fix a mistake if someone notices and lets them know about it. Not so different from the spinach in your teeth thing. (A friend will always let you know about the spinach stuck in your teeth).

Use your Twitter profile – write something about yourself. Tell people who you are, what you are interested in and what you are doing. Include at least one link they can click on to find you outside of Twitter. If someone thinks about following you, that profile will be a big deciding factor.

Other Places to Find Twitter Help

Creating a Great Online Dating Profile

coupleasciiOne thing no one fantasizes about is writing that online dating profile, over and over again. Your name, age, looks aren’t too stressful to write about. It’s trying to come up with a pleasant, attractive and informative way of saying everything else that makes profile writing a troublesome aspect of online dating.

Consider the profile worth doing, rather than an aggravation. If you change your outlook the job is easier and can actually be fun. Think of this as an investment in your future. It’s a chance to market yourself to the people you want to meet.

When choosing a user name or login for the site take the time to come up with something you won’t dislike in another month. Don’t go for something cutesy or slutty you will be sick of and stuck with. Be creative too and not another Jenny29583 or Mark4Yu.

Write your profile in complete sentences. Check your spelling, grammar, punctuation and proofread for typos. Sloppy profiles are a turn off. This is your chance to make a first impression. If you don’t proofread and fix mistakes you give the impression of being sloppy, careless or not really interested in making a good impression (not really interested in who you meet). Who would be impressed by someone who doesn’t seem interested in meeting someone special? We each like to think we are special, in some way.

Be honest. Remember, the idea is that you will eventually meet these people. You can’t hide those extra pounds or the birthdays you’ve had forever. Just admit them upfront and be done with it. People reading profiles do look at them like a catalogue: sorting them by age, weight, non-smoking, kids, etc. because those are important to them in searching for someone. Hiding things can work against you because someone looking for you, as you really are, could pass right by because everyone is not looking for perfection. Whatever you try to hide or ignore, just be honest and it becomes a non-issue rather than a road block. None of us are perfect, we all have flaws, issues and things we aren’t real proud of. We are all imperfect.

Never include your phone number or address. Those are vulnerable to being picked up by spammers or someone looking for an ID to borrow. No one should need that much detail about you in an online profile. This should be social, not business. Exchange addresses and phone numbers when you find someone you really do want to meet face to face.

Read the ads others have written, what are they looking for and what parts of their ads appeal to you? Likely, you are looking for someone like yourself with the same general background. So, what appeals and attracts you to a profile? Use that information in making your own profile. Get a friend to give you some help with a self description. Make some notes. Take time to really think about how your profile will present you to the people you want reading it. Turn your quirks and flaws into positives. Show your good attitude.

Talk about who you are, not just how you look. What are your interests, hobbies, plans for the future? What places have you seen and hope to see later? What’s great about your life, your job/ career? When you read an ad how important are the little things like eye colour, hair colour and height? Put more effort into writing about more than your physical looks. Let people get to know you, your sense of humour, your geeky, brainy side, or your passions. Tell us about your life and the life stage you are at: kids, career, retirement, college, etc. Those are the things people will remember.

Choose a few favourite things and/or hobbies and write about why you enjoy them. Don’t try to list everything. That may make you seem too busy or scattered. Pick a few that sound good, that represent you well and may perk the interest of like minded people.

Write about yourself and then write an equal amount about who you are looking for. Try to write it with a positive spin. Don’t go on about negative things, think positive. Don’t write about what you don’t want – write about what you do want. Write proactively and avoid over used phrases like “looking for…” Or the routine list “cute, funny, smart…” Write something along the lines of “On a mission to find a partner for the upcoming ballroom dancing event in town at the end of summer.” This tells about you and who you are looking for and it’s a lot more interesting to read about something real in your life than just a list of attributes. Let the facts speak for themselves.

Also, what do you want from online dating? Something temporary, a friendship or a lifetime romance? However, don’t babble about being on a quest to find true love. Maybe that is your goal but you won’t find it reading dating profiles. It takes time to find someone you really know well enough to want something that lasts.

Don’t get too wordy and long. If you can stick to one or two paragraphs, do it! Your first sentence or two have the best chance of being read so focus there. Put your personality and the most essential information up front. A long profile looks intimidating on the page, it’s just too much information to get through and it gives the impression that you are trying too hard. You can write more about yourself once you have made the initial connection with someone.

Prepare in advance and then keep a copy of your final profile handy for posting. You can even save it as a file on your desktop so you always know just where it is. Plus, it’s handy if you have a spur of the moment blast of inspiration and want to make a change. If you have a picture available keep that on your desktop too. Post it to a free website like Flickr so you can quickly add the URL link (not every site will let you upload a file) when the opportunity arises to add a picture with your profile. Use a current photo that shows you looking relaxed and happy. Ads with photos get a lot more attention.

Good luck!

Which Online Personality Quiz are you Most Like?

Why do people like those online personality quizzes? What is the fascination?

Maybe it’s just curiousity. Seeing the road not taken or finding out what your answers to random questions say about you. Or at least what some stranger (who is possibly pretty odd themself) says about you.

Whatever the draw, online quizzes are leaping and growing in popularity. Quizilla was one of the biggest quiz sites. It’s just a mess now. But, I can remember when it was starting out and then later how fun it was before it was bought out and neglected. Blogthings seems to be the one that has kept going the longest. It’s not the site it once was either.

Many quizzes are geared to online dating. “What’s your flirting style?” “What movie sex goddess are you most like?” “What kind of cocktail would you be?” “What type of Beauty are you?”

Almost another half are geared to discovering your personality. “What’s your Inner Eye Color?” “Could you be depressed?” “Are you a geek or a freak?” “Are you a Woman or still a Girl?” “Which century are you most suited to?” “Do you really like your job?”

The rest I bunch into a random category of oddness. Like a junk drawer full of movie star posters, old birthday candles and other weird things only a very select group of people could ever really understand and appreciate. Have you ever seen a quiz like: “Which of my Friends are you Most Like?” Now you get the idea. What meaning does something like that really have for you? But, do you take that quiz anyway? Are you so hooked on online quizzes that you can’t pass up any of them?

Maybe you should branch out and try writing a quiz of your own. Plan a topic that suits you. Think of questions that are interesting yet will help to narrow down a focus to the category answers you plan. I think creating a quiz is quite a bit of work, planning and thought. Make the first one something flip that doesn’t matter. Keep it simple and make sure anyone taking the quiz understands this isn’t meant to change their life. Mainly, have fun with it yourself.

Try something along the lines of “Which lip gloss are you most like?” Pick flavours and make the questions pretty leading. What would you prefer to eat? lemons, chocolate, bubble gum… etc. At the end of the quiz your flavours would be lemon, chocolate, bubble gum and so on. Give a personality profile for each flavour. Lemon lovers are tart and active. Chocolate lovers are sweet and sensual. You get the idea… give it a try, just for fun.

Online Personality Quiz Sites for Fun

  • Queendom
    Free without registration but if you want to save results you need a login.
  • Quiz Stop
    Free but quite a lot of ads.
  • All the Tests
    Free and fun. Geared to young people.
  • OkCupid: Tests
    Free dating site, lots of quizzes but you need to register to use the site.
  • Personality Lab
    More interesting than just fun.
  • Quibblo
    Quizzes for fun, created by site users. Does not require a login unless you want to save your results.
  • Similiar Minds: Personality Tests
    Interesting, but not meant to be just for fun.
  • Your Personality
    A few of them, more on the serious side.
  • ColorQuiz.com
    One quiz about personality by colour.
  • Blog Things
    Free to use, no login required.
  • Quiz Rocket
    You can take the quiz but at the end you get nothing without registering for the site and giving personal information.


Forever Caught in the Machine

caught in the machineI haven’t had obvious spam from another Twitter account in awhile. But, no big deal. I did not click the link. Instead, I always go look at the profile. There she was, her name unknown but her photo forever caught in the machine. Things like this are far spookier to me than ghosts in abandoned houses.

Do you ever think about these photographs of people taken and put up instead of another face. The face covering the anonymous face. Yet, there it is. Bright and fresh looking and unable to ever escape or speak up for her/ itself. Caught in the machine, forever.

If your hand gets caught in a machine you pull it out, get it fixed up. You can’t do that when it’s your face in a photograph, an image. It’s like a part of you.

Native peoples in various cultures were deathly afraid of having their photograph taken. They were sure the camera was stealing their soul. Who are we to say they were wrong, fully and completely? You may scoff but we are far from having all the answers when it comes to things beyond the machines of our own making.

Look at her face, caught like a pretty little bug in a web. Stuck in the tangled threads, being wound up in the machine where there is no escape.

What do you think? The eyes are the window to your soul. What happens when your soul is taken in a photograph and left without you on the big, world-wide web?

Writing Roles According to Skyword

Writer roles defined as per Skyword.com

Regularly contributes to an online discussion or information site

Reports on trends rather than news; writes on the same topic regularly

Journalist – Feature Writing
Writes for newspapers and magazines and creates in-depth, human-interest articles that go into detail about a particular subject that may or may not be closely tied to a current event.

Journalist – News Writing
Writes for newspapers and magazines and creates short, to-the-point pieces that report on a particular current event or issue.

Catalog or Product Description Writer
Specializes in creating succinct, accurate descriptions of products based on research of product attributes, features and benefits.

Academic Writer
Writes to inform and to further their reputation in their field, in scientific journals, university magazines, research, and other professional journals.

Copy Writer
Specializes in promotional copy, such as brochures, press releases, web copy, and advertisements.

Technical Writer
Produces instruction manuals and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily

Editorial Writer
Writes with purpose to influence public opinion on a specific issue in categories such as politics, religion, economics, etc.

Business Writer
Experience writing memorandums, reports, proposals, contracts, and other forms of writing used in organizations to communicate with internal or external audiences.

Creative Writer
Experience writing short stories, novels, novellas, and poetry.

via Writing Experience – My Writer Profile | Writer.

I Fixed My Yahoo! Account

Yahoo! Contributor NetworkI think… I finally got my Yahoo! account problem sorted out. By myself, with the additional help of the automatic bots. Yahoo! support was no help. Thanks for the all the form mails. NOT!

Anyway, the problem has been that I could not login to Yahoo! Contributor and I would like to be writing there. But, each time I tried to login I was told I already have an account on another Yahoo! account/ profile. This was frustrating because I could not merge the two accounts.

Yes, it would have been simple to just use the new account which was linked to Contributor BUT I use my Flickr account a lot and that was on the older Yahoo! account. So each time I would go to Flickr I would have to login again and then lose the other account which was kind of dorky and had a password too complicated for a human brain to remember.

So, this morning I decided to try again. First, I found the Yahoo! account look up. You just type in your email address and it will send you any account associated with that email address. Great. It sent me back 3 things, 2 were accounts and one was an email address at YMail. A bit confusing but I’m not a web newbie so I figured it out.

So, I went to Flickr and read the options with my account there. Very near the bottom it has an option to change the Yahoo! account associated with your Flickr account. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought to do this before. I also don’t know why any of the support people at Yahoo! didn’t suggest this – likely none of them actually bothered to read my email because the replies they sent all came out of the same can.

Anyway, it is all working beautifully now. The one thing I did have to do was make sure I had closed all the web browser windows which I still had open using the old Yahoo! account. That was mucking things up until I realized I had missed one.

I also reactivated the Yahoo! email account which I had set up for that newer account. So, a bit complicated but situation resolved! Finally!

Power Up your About Page or Profile

Some time over the holidays, while you’re thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, talking with family and trying not to snack on too many goodies… think about updating your online profiles, your bio pages on web sites (dating sites included) and your about page on any blogs you keep. Information changes. If you haven’t updated the information about yourself in a year or longer, some things you wrote last time will be out of date.
If you are online as a professional you should be updating profiles and about pages at least once a year. Even if you don’t change so much as one word, change the date to show the information is recent rather than stagnating.

Post Internal Links

Use internal links on your posts. It’s good for getting more of your posts read, keeping people reading your site, it’s good as a way to fight content scrapers who take your content and copy it on their own sites (all your links included) and it’s something the search engines will like too.

  • Link to other content relevant to the post you are making. Maybe you have already written about the same thing a year ago and this is an update post. Or, you may have written something similar with a different slant. Or, you may be arguing the other side of an issue. There are all kinds of reasons you can have a reason to link to one of your older posts. (If you are new and have few posts, write a series of posts for the same topic and link them all together).
  • Create the link using a keyword in your post. Pick one word or a short phrase. Don’t use a whole sentence. It ends up looking sloppy in your finished post.
  • Shorten a long post by creating a “Read More” anchor link. This will work as an internal link too.  WordPress has an “Excerpt” feature which will do this for you.
  • Make it easy for people to use your social links to share and connect your post. Don’t forget to add links to your own account/ profile on Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, whichever of the social media sites you actively use. If you are not active, don’t promote the link. Mention it on your About page, but don’t send people there from your posts. Don’t promote and show off a slow, inactive account.
  • Exchange links with other bloggers.  Join groups and be active. Don’t join more than you can participate in regularly. Just join one busy group if that’s all you can handle.
  • Blend your own links in with links to other sites which offer good information and points you didn’t think of yourself. Instead of including their points in your own post, link to them as a resource instead. You could make a list of resources, adding your own older post on the same topic, to the list.
  • You can use a WordPress plugin which will add links to related posts at the end of each new post you make. But, you can also get a plugin which stays in the sidebar and brings up links to your old posts, or related posts.
  • Don’t go with a quantity of links, use quality links instead. Don’t load on links just to have internal links. One good, relevant, informative link is great. Don’t add more links if they really aren’t adding something of real worth to your post.
  • Use an author resource box at the end of each of your posts. This puts your name and social links right at the end of each post you write. You can even add a link back to bring people to the top of your site again, an anchor link to the top of your blog/ page.
  • Use links when you add images. Make sure they have a full link back to your blog (if they are your own images, created by yourself).
  • You can add a meta description and keywords to each post. Use this feature sparingly. Don’t go overboard on the amount of text you add.

Amy Lynn Andrews: How to Use Anchor Text to Boost SEO
SEOMoz: How to Improve your Rankings with Semantic Keyword Search

A Simple Thing I Learned Today from BrandYourself

Have you put your name on your site? Simple, right?

I have my name on my About page. I don’t have it on the main, landing, front page. Not anywhere. I hadn’t even thought about adding it in there. Now it is. Stuck at the bottom, but it exists.

I will work on adding it elsewhere.

Part of the problem is my use of ThatGrrl instead of my name, Laura Brown. When I started online (doing the early form of social media which was more like a dating zoo than anything social) women did not want to broadcast their name, age or location. Men were forever posting “asl?” Well, lets not label all men, it was the horny net geeks who were disguised as men, trolling for women desperately lonely enough to grab their worm… I mean bait. (Yes, that kind of humour was popular then – and it was kind of fun).

Anyway, that is how my name never became my Internet profile name. Instead I used ThatGrrl, most recently. I’ve started using my name, Laura Brown. But, I admit I still feel funny about having it out there.

I do see the sense of it now that I’ve had it pointed out to me. What about you?