"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

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.

Thoughts?

Image: Photographer Dan

11 comments:

  1. You are right. A presentation without Power Point or pie charts or visual aides? It can be done in this day of digital overload if the presenter can do stand-up comedy schtick to keep the audience from passing OMG! notes to their neighbors. Guilty!
    Thanks for the website info.

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  2. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 6, 2011 at 5:07 AM

    Linda,

    That's funny! Thanks for the input.

    B/T/W I love the photos of the dogs. :-)

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  3. Most people are visual. I actually find myself skimming articles that look too visually exhausting (too much or too little in the image dept.). We want our readers to be comfortable on our page right? Great post!

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  4. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 6, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    Wendy,

    You're right on target here. Thanks for the input.

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  5. I agree. When I first started blogging, an experienced blogger friend told me that pictures would add a lot to my blog. I was skeptical at first, but came to see her point. And so I never looked back! :)

    I try and include a photo or graphic in all my posts now. I'll have to check out the site you mentioned, thanks for sharing it. I use stock exchange (http://www.sxc.hu/) for lot of my images.

    I also prefer soothing colors and a lot of white space on blogs. It seems more enjoyable to read, easier on the eyes.

    Good post!
    Happy Super Sunday,
    Karen

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  6. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 6, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    Kudos to you, Karen.
    Not just for implementing photos, but for listening and being receptive to the words of someone else more experienced.

    Thanks. :-)

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  7. Jennifer, I know images will enhance my blog. I am trying to figure out the "how". Thanks for the encouragement.

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  8. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 6, 2011 at 4:25 PM

    Barb,

    Send me your Email address. Maybe I can
    help. :-)

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  9. Adding photo illustrations is an unexpected pleasure that I didn't think alot about before I started my blog -- I always, always try to have at least two images, because they add dimension to the posts. I do alot of story-telling on my blog -- can't imagine doing it without photos.

    Think outside of the box and be willing to look at a lot of images, if you've not worked with illustrations; you never know what will jump out at you as perfect for the post. And even with free images, always credit the source!

    E.

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  10. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 8, 2011 at 5:42 AM

    Good points, Elizabeth. Thanks!

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  11. While I actually also have a special - Digital Camera Ideas - Blog with all kinds of Posts & Resources about things like Photo Contests, Different types of Photography and for example (Making Money with things like) Stock Photography, Travel Photography etc. etc.

    I haven't actually uses that much photo's on any of my blogs yet, I might put up more photo's in the future.

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