Remember how much you would have rather read a book with lots of pictures versus one with only text when you were a kid? The same applies, even now.
A picture speaks a thousand words, and when it comes to your content, that cannot be truer if your image is relevant. Images add richness to your content, and make readers more willing to read a long article. And they have great SEO value too!
Best Images for Content
The following are the types of images you can use to add an extra bit of pizazz to any blog post, article, or other piece of online content.
Eye Catching Photography
That photo grabbed your attention, right? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been lured into reading a post simply because it had an eye-catching photo attached to it. The key is to find something that either relates to your content or proves your point. In this case, my point was to catch your eye. Some examples include:
- An article on how to calm the mind including photos of peaceful gardens or open meadows.
- An article on how to build a treehouse including photos of awesome treehouse designs.
- An article on the perfect cupcake recipe including photos of the ingredients and the finished product.
Relevant photos can help the audience really feel the point you are trying to make with your content as well as breaking up the text making the story seem like less of a daunting read.
Have you ever noticed that you tend to trust a Twitter user or Facebook friend more if they have a photo of themselves as opposed to a cartoon, logo, or other non-personal bio image?
The same goes with content. Readers love to see the face behind whatever topic is being covered in a piece of content. This includes:
- Author bio photos for blog posts and articles.
- Photos of a person who authored a book or an eBook that you are reviewing.
- Photos of people included in a list, such as the top designer bloggers on Twitter.
Including people photos will increase the reader’s engagement and trust with your content as it lets them know that there is a real person on the other side of the screen creating the content.
Screenshots, in my opinion, are essential when it comes to two particular types of content – how to articles and lists.
You can write the greatest tutorial on how to use a piece of software, but if it doesn’t include screenshots, it will make the reader still feel that the software may be to complicated for them to understand. For example, I could say that, when editing photos in Gimp, you should scale the image to the appropriate size to fit the article, such as I did with the above photo in this post to make it 570px wide. Or I could say that and then include the following:
Including the screenshot directs readers to the right menu option to correspond with my instructions, helping readers get to know the software before they get to it and give them a reference point if they get stuck.
List Post Screenshots
Have you ever seen a piece of content such as the top 25 ___ websites? Have you noticed that some lists go viral while others are just blah. The difference is generally in whether the post has included screenshots of the websites in question.
A good example of this is how Dainis listed 33 blogs to make you a social media and marketing guru with screenshots of each site.
So the next time you do a list of your favorite people on Twitter, include a screenshot of their Twitter profile. Or if you do a list of your favorite brand’s Facebook pages, include a screenshot of their fan pages. This will make readers love your list even more and share it with their audience!
How to Get Images for Your Content
So now that you have some good ideas of what kind of images to include in your content, here are some tools and resources to get those images.
Eye Catching Photography
The following are great sources for eye-catching photography.
- Creative Commons Images – My favorite resource is Flickr’s Advanced Search to find eye-catching photography. Be sure to check the box to Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content and include a photo credit with the image you use.
- Royalty-Free Stock Photos – If you can’t find what you are looking for through Creative Commons, your next best bet is sites like iStockphoto that allows you to buy a photo for use in your website content and designs.
There are tons of other resources – simply search for creative commons images or stock photography on Google to find them, but the above are a great place to start. Also, if you find a photo you want to use but it isn’t creative commons licensed, all hope is not lost. Just email the owner of the photo / photographer and let them know what you had in mind. You might get a great response!
Whenever I need to grab a photo of a person, I tend to go with their Twitter profile photo as it is one they have chosen to represent themselves online. Other places to grab a photo include:
- A person’s Gravatar (if they have commented on your blog).
- The author bio page on their blog.
- The photo on their corporate bio page.
Or, if you prefer, you can contact the person and ask them to send you a photo of their choosing for an upcoming piece of content you are working on. Generally, if you let them know you are including them on a list or a positive review, they will be happy to oblige!
If you don’t have a program like Snagit or similar to get screen captures, then you have some free options to work with.
- Screenshots on Windows Based PCs – I tend to rely on the Print Screen (Prt Scr) button on my keyboard to do a screen capture, then resize and crop it in Gimp, a free image editor.
- Screenshots on Mac OS Machines – If you’re running a Mac, you can use shortcuts such as Command-Shift-3 to take a screenshot and save it on your desktop, Command-Control-Shift-3 to take a screenshot and save it to your clipboard, or use other shortcuts listed here. Gimp also works on Mac for editing your screenshots.
- Website Previews – If you use Safari and need an image of a website, then you’ll be happy to know that Safari actually takes screenshots of websites in .png and .jpg format. In Windows 7, you can find these previews under C:\Users\YourUsername\AppData\Local\Apple Computer\Safari\Webpage Previews. You can then edit the website’s capture in Gimp to fit your post.
Windows 7 also has a Snipping Tool that allows you to grab screenshots easily, but I have found those captures are very low quality, so depending on your needs, you might want to use one of the above options instead.
Your Thoughts on Images for Content
Now it’s your turn. How do you use images in your content? Please share your strategies and resources with us in the comments!