How to use images to add flair to blog posts
A guest post by Brooke Fawkner.
It seems there is a blog for everything nowadays — with a counter blog to disprove or argue everything else.
With so many new bloggers flooding the internet’s content gallery, many readers are becoming more selective about which blogs they read. Their decisions are largely based on aesthetics rather than content quality; “judging a book by its cover” when choosing between blogs with the same topic.
Imagery put you at a competitive advantage over other blogs. Here is a brief outline on how to use images, where, and how often within the blog post, as well as covering legal bases with stock photos and the difference between royalty-free and rights-managed imagery.
Use images with a purpose
If you blog about wine and food, finding appealing images should be relatively easy. However, blogging about stock market trade secrets means you may have to dig deeper for something more symbolic. The beauty of imagery means every topic should find a a suitable image.
Select graphics and pictures that add value to the reader experience. Putting posting in pictures for the sake of it isn’t worth much. Since “a picture is worth a thousand words,” each selected image should make a worthwhile statement.
Get more mileage by using images with strategic alt-text. Persist SEO states that “recent research shows that Google is placing a much greater emphasis on optimised images in search.” Appropriately tagged images helps a blog to communicate better with Google, potentially improving a page’s position and attracting a better audience.
Balancing imagery with content
Any blog needs to consider its first impression. The opening imagery should be as good, if not better, as the opening sentence. The main image also acts as a visual headline, as this is what readers see first when scrolling through social media.
According to American Graphics Institute, “One of the major associated trends experts are observing is that visuals provide for more interest in stories than those that use text alone.” A suitable headline image should deliver the essence of the blog’s subject.
Adding more than one image within a single blog story depends on how the images are woven within the content. If the images are relevant to the story, such as a three-week trip around Europe, then include them. But a blog focusing on one subject should use a single headline image rather than a variety of images with the same meaning.
Acquiring images and legalities
Acquiring your own pictures is the safest solution to avoiding any legal fallout. If you aren’t proficient at photography skills, or the only camera you own is on your phone, search for some resources that provide tips for taking and editing mobile photos.
Alternatively, use one of the websites that offer free photos and require no attribution. But always proceed with caution — many bloggers and major companies are frequently sued for not properly attributing the images they publish when taken from the internet.
Use of stock imagery
Stock images break down into three main types: royalty-free, rights-managed and public domain. For royalty-free images, you get nearly unlimited use. However, this doesn’t mean they’re free images, but the image has been paid for (like a license), and can be used at your disposal.
With rights-managed images, the right to use these image is typically restricted depending on duration of use, geographic region and industry. Public domain is free from known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighbouring rights. Anyone is free to copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
However, just because an image is listed in Google, this does not make this image public domain. Here’s a quick reference list:
- All Rights Reserved – the copyright holder reserves all rights provided by copyright law, such as the right to make copies, distribute work, perform work, license, or otherwise exploit work; no rights are waived under this license;
- Public Domain Work – free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighbouring rights. Anyone is free to copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. Google images is not PDW;
- Royalty Free – unlimited use of an image with a paid license;
- Attribution – must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
The blogging market is continuously evolving and becoming more competitive. As smartphones are able to produce virtual content within seconds, it takes flair and creativity to set apart one blog from another. And as bloggers want more traffic to their blog, readers also want quality posts, and both can be accomplished with well paired images.
About the author
Brooke Faulkner is your typical internet nerd. She loves all things technical and is an avid consumer of science podcasts (eh hem, radiolab anyone?). When she’s not writing, she can usually be found chasing her boys around the house with the vacuum. Follow her on Twitter.