The internet has come a long way over the years. Initially, it was all text.
Today, it serves as a visual platform. Pictures and videos dominate the time spent online.
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If we land on a blog post and encounter text with few images, we re-evaluate our decision to read the article.
When articles are shared on Facebook, they emphasize images because publishers know it will increase the likelihood of someone clicking over to the associated article.
When an image is shared with a link on Twitter, people are more likely to click.
Whether on my blog, in my videos or in any other content I create, I make sure to incorporate visuals, and try to make them as vibrant as possible.
Take home message – Images are important, and if you’re a blogger, you want to use pictures to help hook your audience and convey your message.
Conveying the right message
In considering the types of visuals that will help convey your message, ask yourself the following questions:
- What emotion are you trying to convey through your content?
- Who is your ideal target person for that piece of content?
- What kind of picture will resonate with your ideal target person?
Here are some examples of how you’d use that information:
- Conveying the emotion of fear: find a picture that encourages your audience to think, “Man, that person is definitely in fear”.
- Considering your ideal target person: If your ideal target person is a businesswoman, use a picture of a businesswoman in the context of your story.
Sizing your photos
When formatting photos in your content, be conscious of the size of the images you use in two ways:
- If the file size is too large, it will load slowly and slow down your site. This will negatively affect the user experience. We internet folk are impatient and will leave if an image takes too long to load..
- If the dimensions are off or inconsistent, it can look messy. It’s a good idea to keep your dimensions relatively consistent in a way that looks good. If your images are too wide, that can make the text look jumbled up. If they’re not wide enough, they won’t have the desired effect on the reader. This can vary from blog to blog, but is a good thing to keep in mind as you add content to your blog.
A great resource for helping with this file size is the WP Smush.it plugin, which reduces your image file sizes automatically.
Optimizing for Social Media
Social media can significantly help to bring exposure to your blog if you use it right. One thing for sure – having images optimized for social platforms enhances that exposure, especially on sites like Pinterest and Facebook.
You want to make sure that the images you use are appropriate for the different platforms.
- Here’s a guide for optimizing your Facebook Image sizes.
- Here’s a guide for optimizing your Pinterest Image Sizes.
Optimizing for social shares
When people come to your blog, you want them to engage with your content. What’s even better is if they engage AND share.
But to take full advantage of that social equity, you want to make sure that when the content is shared, it shows up on social media well.
To do that, you can use the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast. That’s what I use for displaying the right images on Social Media.
A more advanced plugin for optimizing your blog for the social networks is the Facebook Open Graph, Google+ and Twitter Card Tags plugin. Long name but packs a punch.
One common error I see bloggers making is using images they find doing Google image searches. If this is you – STOP IT NOW!
Whenever you use an image on your blog, you need to make sure that you have the legal rights to use that particular image.
This can be accomplished by using Royalty-free images from stock photography sites, public domain images, or creative commons images that are free to use with certain restrictions (explained below).
Where I get my images
I’m often asked where I get my images. Well, ask no more.
My go-to resource for royalty-free images is Dollar Photo Club. This is literally THE BEST source I’ve found.
The reason I LOVE them is because they have high-quality images that are on par with many of the well-known expensive stock photography sites. Each high-resolution image costs $1.
On other sites, you can easily pay 5 to 10 times as much.
Other Sources I Recommend
Wikimedia Commons – this is a great place to find public domain and creative commons images. With public domain images, you are free to use them as your own with no restrictions.
With Creative Commons licenses, you are free to use images in specific ways, depending on the license. Some licenses allow you to use pictures for non-commercial purposes. Others specify that you are free to use them for any purpose as long as you credit the source.
You can find out more about Creative Commons licenses here.
The reason I’ve used Wikimedia Commons extensively is not just because it’s free -which is AWESOMESAUCE- but you can actually find some amazing photos and illustrations there, especially science related images.
Many of the illustrations are in “.SVG” format, which allows you to actually go in and edit components of the illustration. That was EXTREMELY useful for my biology blog.
Taking your own pictures
If you have a decent quality camera (like a nice DSLR), don’t underestimate the power of taking your own pictures.
If you’re blogging about something like recipes, fitness, DIY or anything else along those lines, using your own pictures can really add a personal touch to your content.
Not only that, but it’s FREE (once you invest in decent equipment).
Here are some examples of blogs who do a great job with this:
- Hoosier Homemade – A site that shares lots of yummy recipes, decorating ideas and lots of cupcakes! Don’t visit this site unless you’re prepared for a mouth-watering experience…
- Thrift Diving – Serena hits up thrift stores and does some awesome projects taking things that were blah and making them rah (that should be her new tagline!).
- House Of Rose – Mandy takes photos of her house and family to use on her blog and social media. They’re so perfect they make you sick (in a good way). Wait, I don’t know if that made sense, but you get the point.
Go Forth and Beautify
Whether you’re a new blogger wanting to get started or an experienced blogger trying to take the look of your content to the next level, pictures can help you do this.
Whether you take your own pictures, use royalty-free, public domain or creative commons images, the sky is the limit. So go forth and beautify.
- WP Smush.it – WordPress plugin that automatically resizes your images that you use in your blog posts.
- Tools that help optimize images for social media sites:
- Helpful guides about image sizes and formatting:
- Free Image-editing tools
- Some royalty-free image sources:
- Some blogs using their own high quality images:
What image sources do you use? Feel free to share them in the comments below.
Some people just love being able to read along with interviews, or they might just prefer to skip the audio completely and just read through the transcript. Hey, if that’s what floats your boat, it is all good. Here’s the transcript just for you