A blog without pictures is like dessert without taste. An effective approach to images can do so much more for your blog posts than just make them look pretty. Here are 12 ways to improve your blog posts with images.
If you still think of blogging as a writer’s job, you have been daydreaming while the Internet marches on. Blogging is now a three person job:
You might be all three people at once (most bloggers are), or you might be part of a blogging team. Either way, all three people are needed. The writer comes up with the topic and the words to express it. Of course, the writer is still the core person on your team. The artist comes up with visuals that make the post more appealing and transmit your message visually. The marketer makes sure there are people there to read the post.
Today, let’s look at the artist. The artist’s job is to add images to the post. Sounds simple enough. But there is a lot more to it than that. Here are 12 tips to super-charge your blog with visuals.
Any image is a good image
If you don’t have images yet, put up an image on your very next post. Even if you don’t read a word more of this post, the most boring stock photography image in the world is better than no image. Stock photos might not be the most pinnable (likely to be shared on Pinterest and other visual social media), but at least they are technically pinnable.
Yes, I might slap your hand for putting up a boring image, but at least you’ll be breaking up the text with a visual, which is the most basic function an image does.
Images can serve as a headline. The headline or title is what people read first. As important as it is to have a clear headline that arouses curiosity, a good looking headline makes readers more interested in giving your content their attention. And a headline image can sometimes be more pinnable or sharable on social media than a stock photo.
Just remember that there is a trade-off, since search engines can’t read images, so you might also want a text headline. Here is a sample headline image from our site:
It’s not just for Pinterest
In case you had not noticed, some of the most shared items on Facebook and Google Plus are images. And links to blog posts that have good images get clicked a lot more than links with no images. If this does not appeal to the artist in you, it should appeal to the marketer in you. See how a this pic appears on Google Plus:
Add to that the number of smaller social sharing sites that now require images, from various Pinterest clones to new Pligg-based websites. You really cannot afford to post without an image.
Images that arouse curiosity are better for social sharing. Why, do they get shared more often? Perhaps they do, but more importantly, the share is more likely to lead to traffic. And isn’t that the goal of getting your post and its images shared? This image from WonderOfTech.com is a great example of arousing curiosity:
Here is the oxymoron of our age. People will look at images rather than read through reams of text. But images that are basically text, tend to get viewed and arouse interest best. Why? Because they carry a message. If people like the message or want to learn more, they will read your post. Careful, though – don’t throw too much text on the image and make sure the lettering is easy to read. Here is a good example from SupportForStepDads.com that really is just an excuse for making text into an image to deliver a message:
Here is an example from BoulderLocavore.com of a photo that simply had text added to describe the picture:
Images that are original are generally better than stock photos. There are a number of reasons for this. One of those reasons is the previous point about text. You can turn a stock photograph into something original by adding text. Or you can add other images to stock photography, such as the logos that Bill Gassett created for his article at Virante.org:
Images that stand on their own
This might seem obvious from the past few points, but the most shareable images are usually those that stand on their own. People will share those images (with your link) just for the sake of the image, even if they don’t care about your post and haven’t read it. By sharing it, they extend your reach to people who might even click through and read your post. An image that is just a title or an introduction to your post will be shared mostly by those who have clicked through to read it, like it and bother to back up and share the image. Here is an example of an image that stands on its own from TheHappyGuy.com, and serves to entice clicks from people who would be interested:
Images that are closely aligned with your message, perhaps even summing up your post or pulling a snappy quote from the post, will be most effective, as they will intrigue the very people most likely to enjoy your post. Here is another example from TheHappyGuy.com, showing how an entire blog post can be summarized in a single mini-poster:
So an original image that stands on its own with text that relates closely to the message in your blog post, arousing curiosity for interested people to click through – that is your ideal image.
One type of image people love to share are inspirational messages of hope, of being kind, of believing in yourself. If there is a message related to your post that you can give an inspirational twist, you can make your post more sharable through the image. Here is a good example from MartinaMcgowan.com:
People also love to share humor. A funny message or a cartoon can get your post more widely shared. I wrote about the value of adding a cartoon to your blog not long ago. Can you think of a funny angle to your topic? Sometimes it’s hard, but perhaps you have a braintrust who can help out. Here is a good example of simple humor from HomeOnDeranged.com.
You know that people are a lot more likely to share and click through for a pretty and alluring young lady. But be very careful that your image is safe for work, or you will lose a lot of potential traffic. Even just a really pretty smile can increase click-throughs to the post and keep people feeling good about reading it once they are there. Here is an example from HotTubCoversCanada.ca:
Can you work in both sexy and humorous, or humorous and inspirational, all the while getting some of your point across. The more elements mentioned above, the more likely you are to get people clicking through to your blog posts, and the more likely they will keep reading. Here is an example from MadLemmings.com of how humor and inspiration can work with your message:
But trying to include everything in an image might be too much (seriously, you are unlikely to be sexy, humorous, inspirational, arouse curiosity in an image that stands on its own and delivers your message). So the goal is not to use ALL of the tips above, but to use as many as works for each post.
Of course, we must assume that you are writing something they will feel is worth reading.
BONUS TIP – Make it yours
Sometimes images get shared without your link. Yes, I know that might seem hard to believe on such a charming planet as this, but when it happens, you don’t want to lose ownership of the image. Imagine that 100,000 see your image without knowing that they should visit your website.
Slap your URL on the pic. Or your logo. Or your name. Or your phone number. Tactfully unobtrusive, of course. Here is a good example form a three months ago:
Now you are ready to go out and create blog posts that will catch the eye, and social sharing that will pull people in to read your blog posts – and help people better enjoy your post once they start reading.
I know three people who will be thrilled that you have all this pic knowledge ready to use – the writer, the artist and the marketer.
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