8 Essential Rules For Using Images No Blogger Should Ignore
That post you spent hours crafting? That you sweated blood trying to make your empathy for your reader prevail in the face of writer’s block and feelings of unworthiness? It will never go viral. Ever. Imagine that.
You know why?
It’s simple. Your post only reached a fraction of its potential audience because you didn’t use images wisely. Images, so often merely an afterthought or worse forgotten altogether, are absolutely vital for any online writing. Images really are that important.
So how do we use images wisely? How do we use them to enhance our readers experience and to encourage sharing? Here are eight important points to follow when you’re using images. Ignore these pointers and your blog post will languish at the bottom of your website’s statistics, unread, unshared, affecting no-one. Smart image usage will, however, increase your post’s impact dramatically and drastically improve the chances of it being shared far and wide.
Rule #1. Always use an image.
Always, always – for interest, readability, sharing, extra search engine optimization benefits. There are too many good reasons not to use an image. If you are really short on time, use something generic – the Six Seconds logo, your headshot, the KY/GY/CY diagram. But the more attention you pay to your images, the more impact your post will have.
It might be in a quirky way but there needs to be some association between your written subject and your image. If you introduce metaphors or other types of imagery to explain points in your writing, images of these can be excellent. If you are writing about ‘a train wreck of a meeting’ or a ‘brittle co-worker’ you could use images that evoke these meanings – maybe an image of a child’s toy train set that has fallen off the tracks or a stick being broken in two.
The more emotion a reader feels as a result of reading your blog post, the more they will appreciate it and the more they will share it. If you are writing about conscious parenting, an image of a mother reprimanding her child might work or if it is a post about a webinar, a person with headphones sitting at a computer punching the air could be an option.
A reader will follow the line of sight indicated in a photo. If your subject is facing away from your writing, you’ve immediately lost your reader and will have to work harder to get his or her attention back to your work. If you look at the above photo of the toy train, you’ll see what I mean.
So if you have an image of a person, make sure they are looking, pointing or facing towards the words like Anabel is in this one. Facing the reader is also acceptable. Same for an animal, an arrow, a pattern. Change the position of your photo or flip it using editing software if necessary.
Rule #5. Edit your image.
Use PicMonkey to do basic edits such as crop, flip or rotate, resize, sharpen, frame, etc. You have everything you need with this free piece of software that is very easy to use.
Rule #6. Source quality, royalty-free pictures.
Dreamstime is the best for this. You can also use iStock but I find Dreamstime more user-friendly. You can inexpensively (usually $1 or even free) get images that are of the highest quality which you can then edit and use in your blog without accreditation.
Rule #7. Don’t go too large or too many.
Images will slow down the load time of your blog, so don’t make them too large. 200×200 pixels is usually plenty big enough for a supporting image. You can go larger if you have only one main image or you need to show something in more detail. This post is about images and I’m using them to make a point but generally, I would limit the number of images to no more than three.
Rule #8. Set featured image.
In order to set the right image when your blog post is shared, you must set your ‘featured image’. If you don’t do this, the social media app will pull random images from the page. That could mean your carefully written post over which you sweated for hours gets the Facebook symbol or the latest Six Seconds research image or the Nexus conference logo associated with it when it is shared by someone. It looks unprofessional and will lower the chances of your post being shared by your friends – they don’t want to look unprofessional to their friends.
You can set ‘featured image’ in one of two ways. At the bottom of the right sidebar when writing your post you will see the Featured Image box. Click on that link to select the image you wish to be shown when your post is shared on social media.
Alternatively, when you are inserting your image into the post, next to the ‘Insert into Post’ button you will see the Featured Image link.
When you hover over an image often words will appear. There are some search engine optimization benefits to these words and also it pays to simply look professional so make these words reflect your image or your post. When you insert your image, in the Title box, write a title for the photo. Hover over the images in this post to get the idea. If in doubt, write the title to your post in this box.
Can you think of posts where you haven’t followed these rules? Can you go back and amend them? What can you do differently with the images of your very next blog post that will increase the chances of its success?
Need more advice? Or perhaps some specific help with your images? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to help!