People have figured out that images matter on the web. Nearly every blogger that gets the kind of traffic you only dream about knows how to use images in a way that helps you get past their blog index page to the content. While you’re there, you’re supporting their advertising, and exploring other posts – almost all because they have quality images to go with their quality content. In this post, I’m hoping to show you some easy ways to take your own blog images to the next level.
Finding quality content
You wouldn’t set out to write a post that was utter crap, would you? Don’t let that happen to your images, either. Work on getting quality images that will match the content well. Michael Hyatt, in his post on the Anatomy of An Effective Blog Post says that an image that is relevant to the topic at hand is essential to getting your reader from the blog excerpt to the meat-and-potatoes content. He likens their effectiveness to those of a magazine: “I want to pull my readers into the post itself,” he says. “Pictures do that.” My old boss used to say that the photos that make it to the newspaper are the ones that “propel the story”. Before publishing, stop and ask yourself if this is what’s happening with your chosen image.
I originally started this post in order to give you a curated list of great resources for getting quality blog-worthy images for free but another, more talented writer beat me to the punch. Dustin Senos’ list on Stock Photos that Don’t Suck is a great list that seems to grow every time I look at it. Several of the items on there I can personally vouch for, such as Death To The Stock Photo and Unsplash. But really, check out all of them, because you never know what gem you’re going to uncover; there may be more by the time this post has published!
Make it your own
After you’ve found a great, relevant image that speaks to your audience, there are still additional steps you can take to make it a little more unique. Pat Flynn, over at Smart Passive Income blog, tells us how adding images with text and his logo helped his Facebook referrals skyrocket. That whole article is full of good tips. Go check it out.
If you’re looking for where to go in order to take that image and customize it, I’d highly recommend you checkout I’d Pin That, which will help you add a little flair to an image that might not be as impressive as you’re hoping. Maybe it’s relevant, but does it grab you? Does it pull your eyeballs past the headline and into the story? These are the things you need to be thinking about.
To recap, let me leave with you with a few do’s and don’ts when using images in your blog posts:
- Use quality content. This applies to both relevance and size. Using an image that is 200px by 200px and stretching it to fill a 700px by 400px leaves an impression laziness or incompetence. Do the homework to get it right.
- Give credit where due. The resources I mentioned earlier are credit-free or public domain, but others (like Flickr for example) may want you to give credit for using their image. Make sure you’ve noted this so the effort you put in to posting the perfect image doesn’t get wasted when you have take it down.
- Use images that have a watermark. I had a client that was constantly finding images via Google or Pinterest that would have someone else’s logo watermark on them. Not only is it borderline unethical (especially if you try to pass these off as your own), it’s also a really lousy way to do blogging. Do you really want to be known as the one who “steals” other people’s stuff all the time?
- Use too many images. I see this happening more and more, where people think the magic of a good image compounds with the number of images they add. It’s not true, folks. That magic wears off over time. An image is supposed to propel the story or explain something better, that’s it. Don’t overdo it.
Have you figured out how to do images in your blog well? Leave a comment and let us know – or tell us a resource you’re using to get better results in your images. Now get out there and make it awesome!