Humans are visual creatures, and if you blog or market yourself online you want to be sure you’re tapping into this phenomenon to attract attention to the words you write. If “a picture’s worth a thousand words,” then you should include at least one photo in every blog post you write. Here are a few tips for finding or taking images that get the attention of your audience.
Getting the Photo
1. Be Your Own Photographer
These days quality cameras are included in almost every smart phone making it easier than ever to take and edit your own blog photos. Try out shooting your own images with your smart phone and using cool photo editing tools like Instagram and Be Funky to help take your photo from drab to dazzling. Editing Notes: Crop your images to bring focus to the subject of your photo and get rid of any distractions in the background or border, and play around with effects to get the intensity and color you are looking for.
2. Share Others’ Creativity
Are you the blogger always coming across the perfect image you didn’t have permission to share or use? Flickr Creative Commons is the site for you. It features many images you can use for free as long as you give credit and a link to the photographer who posted the photo. For more on attribution, check out the Flickr Creative Commons License Agreement that spells out the legal jargon in plain English.
3. Buy stock
There are great stock image sites where you can find quality graphics for your blog posts with ease. iStockphoto and Fotolia are two great sites that let you download images for a reasonable price and don’t require attribution.
Choosing the Right Image
1. Find Your Focus
Your photo should convey the main idea of your article and make an emotional connection with your reader. Think of it as a visual headline that gives you an extra chance to sell the reader on your piece. Where a title gives readers the 411 on what your article is about, the photo gives you an opportunity to give readers a “feel” and visual focus for your post.
2. Be Smart
Use common sense and pay attention to your gut when you’re writing. Are you speaking about a situation that’s warm and inviting, or about a topic that’s stressful and upsetting? How do you feel about the topic, and what’s your angle?
If you’re providing tips about avoiding holiday stress for example, you can give readers a taste of the tension they’re trying to avoid, or give them a peak at the positive feelings you want to help them create. The former may give you opportunities to present some humor – a harried woman carrying millions of shopping bags for example, while the latter may give you more leeway – that picture you took of a serene winter snowscape might be a great way to present the idea of peace to your readers.
When it comes down to it, always choose what resonates the best with you – an audience of like-minded readers who identify with you are much more likely to become repeat readers.
3. Be Creative and Consistent
This may sound like a paradox, but it’s an important tip to keep in mind. Images shouldn’t be boring and they absolutely should allow you to express your creativity, however just as your writing should have a consistent voice, so should your images. Aim for a consistent style so readers know they’re in the right place – for example, avoid using a professional image that’s staged and airbrushed to the max one day and a personal photo that’s not as polished the next.
It’s also a good idea to use consistent styling and borders – the image should be what’s interesting, not the decoration around it.
Bonus Tip: Types & Sizes
Using consistent file types is also recommended. JPG files are ubiquitous, but can show distortion if you need to resize in a major way. GIF files are good for simple graphics but are limited in color presentation. PNG files are fabulous quality, but can also be quite large. Find out what photo type works best with your blog platform and with the images you snap, and stick with that as often as you can.
You should also find a few standard image sizes for different layouts you want to make use of. Images need to be large enough to be seen clearly but shouldn’t dominate or overwhelm your post, especially if you embed them within your text. If you download your images, you’ll be able to choose from various sizes, and if you take your own, you can play around with your photos to discover an optimal size that may look best. Once you find sizes that work, do your best not to deviate so that you consistently present an optimized experience.
Above all, always strive to put your best photo forward when you publish a blog post. If you spend some time on your photo selection, readers are more likely to spend some time reading what you have to say.