It Was Like Witnessing a Train Wreck
Last night, I was on my iPhone going through the latest tweets and finding articles to read. A popular blogger shared something he found interesting. I followed the link and then… the scrape of the needle echoed through my head.
The blog post images were so unappealing, all I could do was stare, simply stunned. I’m sure they were intended to convey a message but they did not instill confidence; instead I became concerned about the quality of the information.
Well enough ogling! On to the next tweet. Ciao, baby!
Why You Should Choose Quality Images
A well-written article is a must for your newsletter, blog, and other mediums. Informative pieces that help the reader are the way to go. But they aren’t going to read what you’re sharing if the image isn’t pulling its weight.
Poor quality images and illustrations will cause the reader to:
- Question the professional level of the information (or worse the writer);
- Be distracted by the image rather than engage them;
- A poor performing image/illustration will not move the reader; and
- Leave the blog post before reading a single line or look any further on your website.
You’ve heard about Google showing bounce rates in website analytics, right? With great pride, I can tell you that Arts Assistance’s bounce rate is a single digit. Although I’d like to think I write well and I’m sharing valuable info, I know my images are an important factor.
Great images with your blog post will:
- Look professional and subconsciously communicate your competence as an expert;
- Engage your readers and get them to start reading;
- Set the tone of the article or pique their curiosity; and
- Better yet, (when appropriate) move them.
Yes, "move them," because fabulous photos will have an emotional impact. If your post is something serious like childhood brain cancer, clip art won’t work.
Looking for the Holy Grail
There are some wonderful articles about free photos. Cool, but be prepared to spend some serious time looking for those that will do the job. I see a lot of stunning photography, but finding something that fits is rare in the freebie zone. And what’s with all those pictures of desktops with Macs? Enough already, dudes!
Most of us are fairly busy, so spending a buck for a properly licensed photo is worth it. I frequently find what I’m looking for in much less time with the paid photo vendors.
Also don’t begrudge photographers the money! They have bills to pay, too. If you want quality images to rock your newsletters and blog posts, remember that you get what you pay for.
How I Choose Photos or Illustrations
First off – notice I have mostly been referring to photos? Why? Illustration seems to be waning in popularity. Quality photos are on the rise, emphasis on quality.
Choosing a great photo.
- Repeaters. Avoid overused stock photos (lady with arms raised in victory for example).
- Too obvious. Avoid hitting them over the head with imagery communication; be a bit more subtle if you can.
- Homemade. Words in an image takes finesse. Most tend to be way too wordy and resize poorly for mobile devices. If you need a strong marketing message with wording, hire a graphic or web designer professional. Keep in mind – Google doesn’t read text embedded in an image – save it for titles and your text.
- Subject. Consider the subject of your blog post. What do you want to communicate?
- One idea. Keep your communication simple. Don’t try to fit multiple concepts into your headline photo for your post.
- Emotion. Is it an emotion you want to share with your reader? Your image does not have to be the exact subject of your article, just nail the emotional connection.
- Communicate a concept? Is it to reinforce an idea? Did you notice I used a tugboat in my last newsletter (also blog post)? I mentioned early on in it that logos should more than "pull their weight."
- Provoke their curiosity. A photo that leaves them wanting more is perfect for your blog.
Whatever you decide, choose a quality image that pulls the reader in. After all, images are part of design, and effective design is part of your marketing.