Saturday, February 5, 2011
Picture the Possibilities! Using images to enhance your blog
Imagine attending a workshop or seminar of interest for work, or for recreational purposes. You have high hopes and are poised to pay strict attention to make the most of your learning experience.
Consider the impact of that presentation if it were all talk—no Power Point images, no pie charts, no displays, no visual aids, no nothing.
Chances are that after the first few minutes you'd be..well...bored. Am I right here, or is it just me?
Well a similar “boredom” occurs when your blog posts are lengthy with nothing to break up the text and provide visual variety. In some cases, this is even true with brief posts.
A picture is more than “worth a thousand words”, it helps to enhance your blog's image and adds to the visual appeal. Surprisingly some folks even neglect to display a headshot that reveals who they are on their site. And that's a real shame, considering that the owners many times have great content and a distinct voice. Though it's not a universal rule, people typically like to know who they're spending time with.
In my mind, this is an oversight, and an all too common mistake that can be easily rectified.
If you're still not convinced, think of it this way... Imagine greeting cards with text but no images. Or magazines with articles but no models or ads. Or heaven forbid, FaceBook without faces. Or peanut butter without jelly.
Well, you get my point.
Every little technique or tactic used strategically can have successful results in attracting new readers and retaining old ones.
Now that you know the whys here are the hows:
1. Recognize that quality photos don't have to necessarily be provided by professionals. If time, money, or access is an issue, good photos can be obtained by snapping shots with a pocket camera or even a cell phone. I've known small business owners and crafters who were able to sell their products because they had an eye for detail and a good sense of style. No one was the wiser, and their “amateur” efforts paid off.
2. Surf the web for sites that provide free or low cost images for personal and commercial use. They're easy to download and have a large variety from which to choose. One such site is www.freegigitalphotos.net/.
3. Keep in mind that sometimes “less is more.” Consider what you want your blog's image, tone and personality to be. And yes, every blog should have a personality. For example, if you were selling clothes to young adults, your blog might strive to have a “hip” personality. If you were trying to attract visitors to purchase software, your spot might have a tech or nerdy type of feel. With this being the case, limit your presentation and don't overdo it.
4. Be sure that your photo usage does not violate any copyright laws and that you request permission if applicable.
5. Complete your new look by making sure that your photos are complemented by the right associated colors too, be it background colors, text colors, or the colors of ads appearing in the borders.
6. Experiment with different looks and styles to get the right feel before you “go public.” Also, consider having a few trusted, different sets of eyes give you feedback as well—enlist the help of your family or a business colleague.
Use these six tips to add another dimension to your blog and to give readers more visual variety at your site. Doing so will help to enhance their experience, and ultimately your online success.
Image: Photographer Dan