Today’s guest post is by Mridu Khullar Relph, a freelance journalist and writer who has written for The New York Times, Time, The Christian Science Monitor, Ms., and more. She’s a big believer in letting images tell your story. View her story on her website or sign up for her newsletter to get a free copy of her e-book 21 Query Letters That Sold.
How to pick the right images for your blog posts
By Mridu Khullar Relph
When I was a lowly sub at a magazine many years ago, I sometimes wrote and edited as much as half of this (small magazine’s) entire content. Yet, if you asked me where most of my time went, I’d tell you that I spent about half my day researching, writing, and putting together stories and the remaining half on presentation.
That’s right, I spent half my time, each and every day, coordinating with the designers, discussing layouts, helping identify text that needed to stand out on the page, playing about with different fonts, analyzing all the different covers the designers had come up with and vocalizing why they worked or didn’t, and mostly, sourcing the right images.
In your blog, too, images are important. It’s been shown repeatedly that bright, interesting, and relevant images tend to draw in more readers than blog posts without images or those with boring and overdone ones.
Here are six ways to ensure you’re picking the right images for your blog that help to challenge, inspire, and surprise your readers.
1. Don’t be too literal.
A couple of months ago, when our own Sandy Beckwith guest posted on my blog about nonfiction platforms, I chose this picture of a guy getting ready to jump because not only did it signify the “literal” platform, but it captured what most writers feel when we’re talking about building a platform– that they have to take a deep breath and just jump.
2. Pick people over things.
When I started working at the magazine I mentioned above, the leadership changed. The new editor was charged with taking the magazine from a technology magazine for geeks to a lifestyle magazine for people who wanted to know how to pick their next gadget. The first thing he did? He put models on the cover.
People respond to people. It’s human nature. So given the choice between a dozen envelopes ready for the mail and a baby chewing on a marketing book, you now know which image to pick.
3. Choose beauty over accuracy.
Images aren’t about fact, they’re about feeling (unless you’re publishing a newspaper). Take this post on the levels of commitment by Jeff Goins, for instance. It features a beautiful image that draws the reader in immediately and works perfectly for this post. But if you looked at the image in isolation, “commitment” isn’t the first word that would come to mind.
4. Make it personal.
There are blogs I’ve been reading for years where I can’t tell you one thing about the person writing it. Others where I feel like I know the writer personally. Guess which one I’m going to trust more? Once in a while, make it a point to post a picture of something that makes you uniquely YOU.
For instance, I write a regular “What I’m Reading” post on my blog in which I always get my dog, my cat, and now my baby, to post with one of the books I’m reading. The cuteness factor is really high and readers absolutely adore it.
5. Bigger is better.
Some bloggers like to have tiny images on the side, which is fine if that works for your content or your design. And it can be, like on this blog, more important to keep readers focused on the words.
But if your blog is more in a narrative conversational style like that of say, Michael Hyatt, make your images “pop.”
6. Match the tone of your pictures to the tone of your text.
If you blog about serious topics, say addiction or crime, you need to use serious images, no cats, dogs, or monkeys allowed. But if you’ve got a more personal style, like my own, and you talk to your readers regularly and they feel like they’re just hanging out with you, you need a different set of pictures entirely. As writers, we focus so much on voice that we forget how much images need to connect with that voice.
How much thought do you give to the images you use on your blog?
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