How to Choose Images for Your Content

ChoosingContentImages

Are your images serving you and your content?

After spending the last few weeks reviewing blog posts and website pages, reading so many powerful stories (and some not so powerful, truth be told), something is obvious about the state of the “blog page.” What’s that truth? The strength of the images you use will have a direct impact on how people receive your content, and by not recognizing this fact the hard work you put in might just be diminished by the quality of your imagery. If your images are generally an afterthought when it comes to online content, that's a terrible shame. The image you choose can actually help spread your content and your brand's image and someone is more likely to check out your content if their eye is drawn toward it by a powerful image.

Take a look at the images you are using (or did use) for your blog post(s). You’ve spent at least a couple of hours crafting your message and then you…add an image. Exactly what does that image do for your post? Here are a couple of things to think about:

  1. If your image is smaller than your thumb nail in the middle of your post, it’s too small.
  2. If you haven’t taken the time to (learn how to) word-wrap your story around your chosen image appropriately, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
  3. If creating your own pictures or imagery doesn’t come easily to you, either get familiar with some of the DIY design tools that can eliminate much of the guesswork out creating a decent looking image, or get some help with these important accessories to your written word.
  4. If the image you’ve chosen doesn’t compliment or contrast your written word you may want to revisit your image choice.
  5. Can the reader comfortably connect with your imagery on their smartphone? Statistics show 80% of internet search is conducted on a mobile device (smartinsights.com). Does knowing this impact the way you might present your images?
  6. If everyone is “all-about-pictures or videos” these days, do you think an undersized, out of focus, dark image is going to attract your reader?
  7. If your images are showing off your products or services, are they actually helping sales? 

So if your images are affected by any of the above it could well become a distraction from your content, instead of an aid or a boost. Is that what you intended?

Why the emphasis?

Why am I emphasizing the importance of your imagery in this post? It’s because overlooking this particular part of your post will always take away from your expertise (you’ve spent so much time constructing and clarifying your post info so you can be seen in the right light), and then… your credibility is diminished by poor visual choices. 
There are a number of things you can do to get a better handle on this piece of the puzzle (before we get down to some guidelines).

Here are a few suggestions:

Step back for a few minutes and leaf through a few magazines. What are you looking at? What is attracting you? Do you choose to read an article based on the title, the imagery or something else? Just make a mental note. Done that? Great. Now, pick up a newspaper and do the same. Can you see how an image draws the reader in? What comes first? The image or the title (be honest).

I think we’ve come to understand that people don’t spend as much time reading as they used to, and you only have a small number of seconds to catch their attention. If you didn’t write that blog post, would you stop and read it or would you go on to something else? 

You are competing for your readers’ attention. What are you doing to help them make the decision to pause long enough to read your headline and your summary? 

For each question raised above, the idea is just to take a moment and answer – just experience your post from a reader’s point of view.

Let’s take a look at some things that can help you get more out of your imagery, starting with a few general guidelines.

Guidelines for Choosing Images

The best images are colourful. They draw the visitor's attention and offset the mild colors of your text. If the image you want to use isn't colorful enough, it's easy to enhance the colours with photo editing software. There is software for the novice user (such as Canva, PicMonkey and Adobe Spark, for example), and for the more experienced user (such as PhotoShop, Pixlr or appropriate alternatives) so you can produce images that work for you without having to go to graphic design school.

Images should be simple with a strong focal point. The focal point is the area to which your eyes are drawn. You can determine this by showing your picture to someone and asking what they see first. If it's the same as what you see, the image has a good focal point. Simplicity helps this and also makes your image more viewable on a small mobile screen.

Finally, an image must be relevant. Don't choose images that are merely colorful and eye catching. If the image isn't relevant, it will clash with the message of your content and your brand.

Finding Images

There are several ways to find images for free. One is to search for creative commons. Creative commons images are free images that anyone can use, usually with some restrictions. You might have to credit the creator of the image. You can do this by simply writing 'image by (name), licensed through creative commons.'

Another option is to use stock image sites. There are many good images offered for free through stock photo sites (There are many of these sites out there, covering all types of images and styles). If you don't mind paying a little, there are even more available.

Always follow copyright laws in effective from each site – you will find this information on the site for your review. Oh, and just because you found a “free” image on Google doesn’t mean you can use it. Play safe and confirm your choice!

Last but definitely not least, the best images to use are your own original ones. Whenever possible, take your own photos or create your own images enhanced with the any of the free (and paid) tools and apps available to you.

I hope this post brought an opportunity to look at your blog post images with a new eye, one that makes your blog post an even better experience for your readers. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! By the way. Do you know someone who would benefit from this info? Please share!