Stock photography makes your blog look uninteresting. And it fails to deliver the most important marketing results. Here’s what to do instead.
NOTE: This is Part 4 of the “mouth-watering blog posts” series. You have a great idea and the ideal headline, and ooh-oooooh is your writing ever magnificent. Let me paint you a picture of what you’re still missing.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Well, some pictures are. Stock photography is worth perhaps five or maybe even six-and-a-half words.
Amazingly, some blogs still have no pictures. Not even five- or six-and-a-half-word pics.
Why does a blog need images? Let’s answer that by looking at what images do for a blog post.
- Images turn visitors into readers by breaking up the text and making it more inviting to read.
- Images convey information to the reader, complementing the written information .
- Images convey information to the reader, re-enforcing key points.
- Images make ideas look real, more tangible than text explanations.
- Images make a post sharable to social media platforms.
- Images in social media drive traffic by enticing people to click through to your post and become readers.
- Images in social media increase reach by enticing people to re-share your posts.
- Images allow your post to show up in image searches.
Not every image in every blog post will play all these roles. Most images in this blog play most of these roles. Stock photography plays only the first role: breaking up the text. That’s like going to a concert and listening to a minute of buzzing between each piece.
Publish an original image on each blog post
You don’t have to be an artist or a photographer to create an original image. Most of mine start out as stock photography.
I try to choose photos that are interesting to start with, then look to see that there is plenty of blank space to write over.
Then I add words that re-enforce the key message or complement the text. Sometimes these words list action items. Sometimes they are a quote or a key message.
What do these types of messages have in common?
- They are all original by the time the edits are complete.
- They all include text as part of the image .
- They all explain the content, or at least a key point in the content.
- They all stand on their own, if separated from the post (such as on Facebook or Pinterest).
- They are all highly sharable to social media platforms (because they are interesting and because they stand on their own).
Yes, that’s a “du-uh” moment.
The fact is that friendly faces sell everything from beer to books. Putting a friendly face on your blog post, and on the social media posts that people share about your blog post, will increase interest and favorable impressions of your blog post, your blog and you.
In this array of pics from this blog, not all have faces. But they are all original, based on a stock image that is not among the most boring to begin with.
They all include text as part of the image.
Notice also that they all have a clear, stand-alone message. They make sense on FaceBook. They make sense on Pinterest. You don’t have to click-through to “get” them, which makes them easy for others to re-share or repost.
Yet, notice that they all arouse curiosity. If the topic is of interest, you will likely click through to read more. (Click the image to zoom in.)
Make your images load fast
Confession time. I don’t always check the size of my images, nor optimize them for speed. But I generally create reasonably sized images to start with.
You don’t need magazine-quality images for online use. They don’t have to be 3,000 pixels wide or high. Mine are usually about 650 pixels wide. That’s plenty. And even a dozen of those on a page shouldn’t slow the page loading time too much.
But, if you have a very big image, it will slow the load time. That will put off readers. That will also hurt your SEO efforts, which these days relies on fast loading.
The images are not the most important aspect of your blog post. But they can determine the success of the aspects that are.
Don’t throw up stock photos. Make sure your photos work for your success. Make them interesting. Make them carry your message. A little time spent creating an original image is worth the effort.
Want to learn more?
Read the free ebook How to create mouth-watering blog posts, based on this Infographc.