How to select a great Twitter profile picture

When using Twitter as part of your author’s platform, perhaps the element to pay most attention, at least initially, isn’t your tweets but your profile picture.

The profile picture is the thumbnail that accompanies each one of your tweets. On both your home and profile pages, it is the prominent square photo that appears on the upper left of the screen.

This picture is important because it typically is the first visual one has of you as an author. The human eye almost always is drawn to an image before text. Because of this, with a simple glance at your profile picture potential readers of your tweets and the links they lead to gather quick, often subconscious impressions about you.

Due to this, there are three items you probably don’t want to use for your profile picture. The first is cute animals and your children. Of course, a cat, dog and baby, no matter how adorable, doesn’t say “professional writer.” Another picture to stay away from are those of objects that suggest writing, such as a pile of books, a bookcase full of books, a typewriter, a computer keyboard, a quill, etc. None of these say you are a writer (You could be a librarian or simply a bibliophile, after all), either, and all are better used in your header photo. A third picture to avoid is that of your published book’s cover. The thumbnail that accompanies your tweets is simply too small for the cover to be readable and hence recognizable.

Instead, use a professional-looking picture of yourself. It should be a close-up of your face, as the whole body will get lost in the tiny thumbnail. Ideally, the picture will in some way be memorable, not just another mug shot, so if you have a signature killer smile or way of locking on someone with your eyes, go for it. In addition, a thumbnail should be of high resolution with a bright, high contrast so that the foreground (your face) stands out from the background.

Once you have a profile picture, stick with it for some time, perhaps a couple of years. This allows readers to become familiar with your photo and to instantly associate your tweets with you.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.