If you’re into blogging, you most likely consider it to be a content medium, right? Well, not exactly. Blogging is, in fact, a visual medium. Aside from ensuring you have a captivating headline, the image associated with your blog is the most important element. Here are some statistics you probably aren’t aware of:
- Tweets with pictures see a 35% increase in retweets (source)
- 87% of top posts on FB include pictures (source)
- Studies show that images make info easier to remember (Pictorial Superiority Effect) (source)
15 Tips to Excel at the Visual Side of Blogging
It should be noted that you are not expected to include ALL of these elements into one blog post. That could be overdoing it. However, the following are some image tips to keep in mind when tackling blogging (as a whole).
1. Include Headline in Feature Image
The feature image is the main image associated with the blog that can be found at the top of the post. It is what gets shown on social media platforms when the post gets shared. As such, the feature image will often ‘stand alone’, separate from the content of the blog. Which is why it is a good idea to include the headline in the image so that, just by looking at the image, people will already know what the blog is about.
You can make use of Canva.com to easily design images with headlines included. Here is a guide on how to use Canva.
2. Make Use of Photos of People
Humans have an innate tendency to stare at faces. Marketers have known this for a long time, which is why faces are commonplace in advertisements. Images of faces immediately grab and hold a reader’s attention. What’s more, you can guide their attention to the exact point you wish them to focus on. Eye tracking studies have revealed that viewers will naturally look in the same direction that the person in the photo is looking. Quite crazy, hey?
3. Incorporate Memes Where Relevant
Who doesn’t love a good meme? Social media platforms are littered with them because viewers are just unable to resist their charm. imgflip.com is an easy-to-use platform where anyone can create memes. All you need to do is load your image and then insert your caption. Just try not to get distracted by the thousands of memes already loaded onto the software.
4. Always Opt For Landscape
Have you found yourself Googling the correct size for images to be shared on various social media platforms? Well, fear not. It turns out that it’s not the specific size of the image that counts, but it’s orientation. Ever heard of portrait versus landscape? That’s, basically, all it comes down to. As long as your image is landscape (meaning the width is approximately double the length), the social media platforms will automatically resize it to suit their specifications. as an extra precaution, if you are planning on including text / your logo in your image, don’t do so too close to any of the edges. Finally, rule of thumb for the size of images within a blog post is for them to make up the width of the content area, usually around 600-650 px wide.
5. Make Use of Diagrams
While most bloggers, these days, simply opt for stock photos to make up the visual element to their blogs, diagrams are few and far between. Yet, they remain a valuable way to further illustrate a point – and display extra effort, which always goes a long way! Here are some programs you can use for various different types of diagrams:
- OmniGraffle – Mac software for flowcharting
- Excel / Google Sheets – bar graphs
- imgflip.com – pie charts
6. Include an Infographic (or Two)
As with the feature image, infographics are meant to stand alone. As such, it is imperative that you include your logo and / or URL. The best kind of infographics include only a few points / summary and encourage the reader to click through to read more in the actual blog post. You could even go so far as to include the embed code below the infographic, with a link back to the post, giving reader’s the option to embed it on their site should they wish.
7. Say it in a Quote Image
Like memes, quote images have become all the rave. To participate in this, you could take your blog’s headline, or a quote from the blog, and transform it into a visual piece of content. The following are programs you can use to easily create quote images:
8. Draw / Paint Your Own Images
As with diagrams, the act of using one’s own drawings in a blog post has become a lost art. Yet, it remains an option to consider. It will certainly mark your blog a cut above the rest. And, calm down, you don’t need to be Leonardo Da Vinci to opt to draw / paint your images. Basic sketches are so on trend right now. Simply throw together a few squiggles, scan it (or take a picture with your phone), and email it to yourself. You could also use Genius Scan, which is an app that works well with any scanner.
9. Use Screenshots as Images
For educational purposes, screenshots come in really handy, if you don’t feel like putting together an entire video guide. You can use the shortcuts available on a MAC to screenshot, the ‘Snipping Tool’ on Windows, or Jing software.
10. Include Images From Your Phone
Let’s be honest, these days, anyone with a smartphone can claim to be a mediocre, if not professional, photographer. The quality of photos produced, and filtering and editing tools available, can result in some incredible pictures. So, why not include these in your blog posts? Once again, simply email them to yourself, and you’re good to go!
11. Make Use of a Number of Images
In today’s day and age, no body has time to fully read a blog post. In fact, probably only 28% of your post will be read. That’s because reader’s today are scanners. Lucky for you, there are two fundamental ways to get them to slow down. The first is through formatting. Short paragraphs, subheadings, bullet points, bolding, and links have never been more important. The second is through multiple images. As a rule of thumb, there should be images places at every scroll depth, i.e.: ensuring the viewer is always seeing an image on their screen.
12. Incorporate Animated GIFs
Millennials are all about memes and GIFs. Which is why it might be worth your time to incorporate a GIF every now and then. Not sure how to go about sourcing a GIF? Fear not. Screenflow and ezGIF are just some of the programs you can use to help you put your own GIF together. Be cautious, however, with the amount and frequency in which you include GIFs. Movement is so powerful at capturing attention that it can end up being annoying to the viewer.
13. Be Consistent With Imagery
As with anything to do with marketing, consistency is key. It is important to establish your own style and then to stick to it. Not only does this quicken the process of creating images, as your design decisions regarding layout, fonts, and colors are made in advance, but it sets a certain standard. Be sure to maintain this standard throughout your blogging and image creation.
14. Use Stock Images (Really, It’s Ok)
You may, or may not, have encountered the recent stigma associated with using stock images. Namely that they have been overused, so you shouldn’t. While this is true, to a certain degree, it is still ok to use stock images. Just try to steer clear of the really cheesy ones. And, perhaps, include your own filter or edits to make it your own.
15. Avoid Getting Sued
Everybody knows (or should, by now) that sourcing images over the internet can be a tricky business. There is the very real risk of being sued should you mistakenly (or on purpose) use an image that you are not allowed to. You want to try to avoid this. Here are some websites you can use to do just that:
- Flickr Creative Commons
- Google Images search tool ‘Usage Rights’
The original version of this article can be found here, and was written by Andy Crestodina who appeared on the Practice of the Practice podcast. You can listen to his podcast here.
Samantha Carvalho is the Chief Marketing Officer of Practice of the Practice. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband and cat. Over and above Practice of the Practice, she is passionate about women empowerment, fashion, and animals.
To outsource your marketing or design requirements, contact Sam at email@example.com.