How To Create A Cover Photo For Your Facebook Timeline

Setting up Facebook

Facebook has done it again.

Right as you got comfortable on the social media site, they changed things up by switching public, professional, and personal profiles (try saying that quickly!) to Timeline.

Take heart authors, this is good news. While it might seem like Facebook has thrown you a curve ball, what they’ve really thrown you is a perfect pitch. Timeline was created with the concept of story in mind. And who tells stories better than authors?

When you create your Timeline cover photo, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Ignore them at your own peril.

1. Play By Facebook’s Rules –

You can read the full set of page guidelines but what you need to know about cover photos is this:

All covers are public. This means that anyone who visits your Page will be able to see your cover. Covers can’t be deceptive, misleading, or infringe on anyone else’s copyright. You may not encourage people to upload your cover to their personal timelines.
Covers may not include:
i.    price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on”;
ii.    contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section;
iii.    references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or
iv.    calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”

That means uploading a cover photo of all your books with “FEED A STARVING WRITER – ALL BOOKS 30% OFF IF YOU PURCHASE A BOOK TODAY AND LIKE MY PAGE!!!!!!!! PLEASE BUY AND SHARE THIS WITH ALL YOUR AMAZING FRIENDS!!!!” stamped across the photo will not fly with Facebook. Your friends and fans probably won’t like it either.

You are an author. Not an infomercial host or an used car salesperson. Your Facebook Timeline needs to reflect that.  – Click to tweet

2. Be Serious About Branding

The easiest way to create a cover photo is to use an existing photo that you like. Be aware that  while it is easy, it can also be dangerous. It looks sloppy when the proportions are off or part of the image is cropped. You need to make sure that your image is optimized for the Timeline both in size and in content.

Before you create your cover photo, you need to answer these questions:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Am I trying to sell a book or build my fan base?
  • Am I really the best one to do this job?

You need to know what the message is you are trying to create. Dig deep. What is your author persona? You may say it’s your personality but do you know what that looks like online? Have you asked your readers how they view you? You might be surprised at the answer!

Here are some authors with great Timeline Cover Photos that sell their brand:

Feeling overwhelmed? We have graphic designers that can help you pull together your Timeline. Ask us about our new Timeline package. 

3. Size Your Image

Once you have your cover photo designed, make sure that you have the proportions correct. If you are doing an author portrait, hire a professional photographer. Do not instagram yourself or ask your spouse to take your picture (unless they happen to be a professional photographer). Here’s why you should avoid the ugly author picture trend.

Facebook recently changed the image size for Timeline covers. If you want your cover to look professional, you need to know the dimensions.

Width : 851px

Height : 315px

Let your photographer know the dimensions you need. If you are adding other elements in the image, make sure you let them know. They will work with you to create an aesthetic image that will help brand you as a professional author.

Your profile picture dimensions are:

Width : 180px

Height : 180px

You can crop your photo with any photo editing software. Just make sure that the dimensions are correct!

How To Change Timeline Cover

The final step is uploading the image. Once you are logged onto your public/professional page, click “Change Cover.”  You can find this by hovering over the lower right corner of your existing Timeline photo.

Upload the photo you just finished creating. Make sure you save the changes!


What’s the most inspirational Facebook Timeline cover photo that you’ve seen?

8 Responses to How To Create A Cover Photo For Your Facebook Timeline

  1. Adam Blumer May 1, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    How’s my cover? Thanks.

    • Heather May 1, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

      Wow, Adam! Your cover is GREAT!

    • Caitlin Muir May 25, 2012 at 9:52 am #

      Adam – it’s stellar. The one thing I would add is your web address in either your photo or your “about” section.

    • John Cote August 15, 2012 at 11:20 am #

      Hey Adam, just stumbled across your post. Your cover photo is great, but nobody is seeing it since you only have 200 fans. As an author, you have to promote all of your social media pages to get more fans and more book sales!

  2. Heather May 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    My cover is still a work in progress, I have something up there, but I’m planning on changing it. Thanks for sharing the author’s pages. That was super helpful!

    • Caitlin Muir May 25, 2012 at 10:44 am #

      Glad to hear it helped, Heather!

  3. Dia May 21, 2012 at 2:52 am #

    Update: I like the idea of the coverphoto for the buseinss pages, but the more I managed the page the less I liked the new format. Im not sure if timeline works for buseinss pages as it does for personal Facebook profiles

    • Caitlin Muir May 25, 2012 at 10:45 am #

      It takes some time to shift your business mindset into the story concept. One thing you can do is start thinking like a photojournalist. What stories are happening in the business world around you? How can you share those stories with your fans?