When creating blog posts, most of us tend to focus on the words and the information we are trying to share. We rarely think about the visuals that should accompany the post at the time of writing, and we only start to wonder about them when the time has come to post.
And if we are in a particular hurry, we also tend to just slap any old image on there, without too much thought or consideration.
But if we were to consider the fact that readers are only likely to read 20% of your content, we’d come to the conclusion that the visuals you choose to use warrant more than three minutes of haphazard googling.
That being said, let’s look at six ways to choose the right visuals for your blog posts.
Consider Your Audience First
Before you begin to consider what you want your visuals to look like, you should consider what your target audience might want to see.
What kind of content are they interested in: videos, images, graphs and charts? What kinds of images or videos?
You can screen some test audiences with different kinds of visuals, or you can check out what your competition is doing well. Analyze their most popular posts and see how visual they are, and draw conclusions about their type, amount, and frequency. Don’t mimic them completely, of course – only draw inspiration.
Consider Your Topic
The main goal of using right visuals for your blog will be to enhance your copy. You want them to match the tone of the post, illustrate your points, and add something to the post. You don’t place images in the post just to have them there, as a series of random ones will only confuse your readers, who will likely just scroll down your post, read your headings, and look at the visuals.
Here’s an example of matching your images to the topic: Adventure.com matches their photos to their topic to perfection. Of course, some of their photos are taken on-site and are completely original, but even if you can’t go around shooting original images, you can still source an image that adequately shows the thing you’re talking about.
But Don’t Overdo It
You can still come across blogs that take the “consider your topic” approach way too literally.
For example, they are publishing a post about “X things to know before buying your first home,” and all they do is add images of houses to their post. While this is related to the topic, the images aren’t doing anything other than taking up space.
Try to capture emotions and evoke different concepts and ideas with the images you use. Tell a story.
Instead of using six different house images, why not use an image of a frustrated couple, then one of a set of keys, maybe an interior image, an image of a smiling couple? Or if you are talking about things like “talk to a contractor,” add an image of an actual contractor.
Quality as Your Top Priority
The images you choose should be of the highest quality.
Ideally, you want to post original photos on the blog. They don’t have to be anything too extravagant. Depending on your niche, you can shoot some photos yourself, or you can hire someone to do some custom illustrations. SEMrush does this well – the images within their posts are usually graphs, charts, and screenshots, but their featured images are custom. In other words, all the images they use are original.
On the other hand, if you do end up using stock photos, try to go for something more on the unique side. Spend a bit more time scrolling through a stock photo website to find images that not everyone has likely already used. Try to find photographers or illustrators who advertise their work on smaller sites.
Tie Them Together
Whether you’re using custom images or stock photos, tying them together somehow will provide a bit more cohesion and uniformity, and even a specific flair to your blog. It will also mask the fact that you’ve sourced the images from different places.
You can add a filter or an overlay to all of your images (if you are allowed to) and tie them all together. Think of it as an Instagram feed – you want the grid to have some sort of recognizable feature.
Perhaps you’ll want to add a slight bluish tint to all of your images, sharpen your shades, or darken your blacks. Whatever you do, playing around a bit with your visuals can help you stand out, even if all you use is stock imagery.
There are Times When No Image is Needed
This bit of advice might go against everything you’ve been taught to believe about images. However, it’s true – you don’t always have to have an image in your blog post.
For example, if your post is short, you don’t need to distract from it by adding right visuals. A featured image might be enough.
If you want the post to feel more scientific and serious, refraining from adding an image can evoke just that atmosphere. After all, scientific journals don’t use colorful images, and people still read them.
Going down the no-image route will depend on the people you are trying to appeal to and the kinds of posts you write. For example, LFA Capsule Fillers doesn’t use images (other than their featured image), and this does not take anything away from the post itself.
It’s clean, easy to read, and provides plenty of information. Adding in an image of a capsule or a capsule filler machine would not actually help it become all that better.
To Sum It All up
Giving a little bit more thought to this process will help your visuals be better than they are now, illustrate your points better, and allow you to tell more meaningful stories.
Before publishing your next post, take into consideration some of the advice we’ve listed, and examine the results you achieve. Monitoring how your readers respond will be your best source of information for the route to take in the future and the kinds of visuals that will achieve the best possible effects.