Engaging Your Audience

Where To Find Fabulous Photos For Your Blog

There are good reasons to include some photos in your blog posts. But finding them can take almost as long as writing the post in the first place! Here I share a few sources for great images, and how a photo or illustration can really help make your blog a success.

5 Reasons To Include Images In Your Blog Posts

1. Increases social engagement: When you share your post on social media (excluding Twitter*), any images associated with your URL are pulled into the link. This is good news as social media updates with images attract more engagement than those without. However, if you don’t choose a specific image the update will pull in whatever else is available, such as your logo or an unrelated photo: much better to have included an image that’s relevant to your blog post, and invites engagement from your audience.

photos for blog, death to the stock photo

photo credit: Death to the Stock Photo

* although Twitter doesn’t automatically pull your image into your Tweet, you can (and should) add a photo to your tweet to make it more visually appealing to your followers.

2. Reader retention: Large amounts of text can be off-putting to the blog visitor. Breaking up your blog posts with images can help to make your blog post look more interesting and less text heavy. Images can be used to create nature breaks in your content, act as headers and invite visitors to read on. Carefully positioned photos will help your audience navigate through your post, drawing the eye to the next paragraph and beyond.

3. Helps readers retain information: A strong image can make your information stick. This might be an image that illustrates your point, or a graphic that validates your content. If you think about some of the memory games people use to retain information, many of these are about creating images that relate to a piece of information; you can do the same with your blog posts.

This 30 second video from Digital Splash Media explains the ‘picture superiority’ effect and how our recall of pictures is so much more developed than text.

4. SEO: Images added to a blog post have always been a favourite place to hide a keyword or two. The Alt Text field is where you put them, adding keywords that reflect the content of your blog post whether they are relevant to the image or not. However there is another SEO benefit of including images in your posts particularly when they occupy the area known as ‘the fold’. This is the area of a webpage where you need to scroll to see the rest of the content. There’s an interesting post about “below the fold” in this blog by web designer Paddy Donnelly, but for our purposes the really interesting bit is the scrolling action!

As search engines refine their algorithms to make results pages even more relevant to searches, the amount of scrolling a page gets influences it’s page rank. Long posts will help with this, ensuring readers have to scroll to read them in their entirety. But there are some additional tricks you can use to persuade readers to scroll through your post. A judiciously positioned image right on the fold, could make all the difference between whether your readers scroll down to view it and continue to read your post, and this helps to rank your page higher in SERPs.

5. Establishes your authority, credibility and brand: Good quality images naturally reflect well on your overall blog and company brand. The choice of images used can send very clear messages to blog visitors about who you are, and who your customers are. Aspirational images may work well for some businesses, while others may want to find photos that their customers will identify with; featuring people, locations and references that they understand. One of the biggest problems for UK businesses when sourcing images, particularly from stock libraries, is finding photos that reflect our lives here in Great Britain. Many images can look overtly American and therefore not a true representation of our customer’s experience: it’s worth spending some time finding the right imagery, or risk alienating your audience.

photos for blog, life of pix

 photo credit: Life of Pix

Mistakes To Avoid With Your Blog Images

The above point highlights one mistake that can have an adverse effect on how your blog post is received – images that your target audience don’t identify with, or aspire to be like. There are some other factors to consider too:

Loading time: Large images take time to load and slow sites are one of the top reasons that viewers hit the back button. Make sure your images are correctly sized for your blog, you can resize images using free online tools like picresize.com.

Poorly formatted images: Your blog will probably have a few default options for displaying your images. One of these may be as a ‘thumbnail’ and this is one option that can result in poor formatting. If your original image is a landscape or portrait photo, the thumbnail option will crop the image centrally. This may result in you losing the focus of the image, as this gets cropped out. Another thing to consider is that when your social media profile pulls in your blog image into Facebook or LinkedIn, it will display this as a landscape image. Therefore if your blog image is a portrait it will get cropped – not always in a favourable way.

Inappropriate imagery: As mentioned above your choice of imagery must be aligned with your customers. If you feature photos they can’t relate to, are offended by or do not understand, they’re not helping your blog.

Too much stock! Finding good quality images is quite a challenge, the easy option is to subscribe to a stock photo library and have access to hundreds of thousands of images. But lots of other people are doing this too, and you can’t help but stumble across the same images used on numerous other blogs.

blog images, start up stock

photo credit: Start Up Stock

Where To Find Fabulous Blog Images

Finding the perfect picture for your blog post can be a laborious process. Essentially you have four options:

Licensed stock images: These can be prohibitively expensive for the small business with only a small need for images.

Free stock images: There are a number of sites that provide free stock images where revenue is generated by clicks on adverts on the site.

Creative Commons License: Many photographers allow their images to be used under a Creative Commons License (CC) in exchange for a photo credit.

Create your own: There have been times when I’ve given up trying to find a suitable photo for a blog, grabbed the camera and shot my own. If you have a clear idea of the kinds of images you want to use on your blog you could even commission a photographer to shoot a series of images for you.

So here’s what you’ve been waiting for, my top places to find images for your blog posts…

Stock Photos

Shutterstock and iStock (both Getty Images) have various plans that allow you to download a monthly allowance of images, or just a small number of pictures in one go. These plans can make financial sense for those businesses who have a large image requirement.

Free Stock Images

Freerange Stockfreedigitalphotos.net, SplitShire and stockphotosforfree.com all have hidden treasures in their libraries, although it can take some time to dig them out. Revenue is generated via advertising on the sites, and generally there is no requirement to credit the image used on your blog.

blog images

photo credit: SplitShire

Canva, the graphic design app, has also created a photo library of both premium and free stock images. You can also use their design tools to customise images by adding text or other elements.

free stock images for blogs

 photo credit: Canva

Creative Commons

The CC Search site could be your first stop to find a Creative Commons image. This site is a portal for searching other collections such as Flickr and Google Images. Other sites such as FancyCrave feature eclectic collections of photos for use with a photo credit under the terms of the CC license.

photos for blog

photo credit: Paweł Kadysz / FancyCrave

Creating Your Own Photos

Most of us have a reasonable camera on our smartphones and so with a bit of creativity you could create your own images for your blog. Some people are already monetising their Instagram photos on sites like Dotspin.com where you can buy an Instagram image for $1.

blog images, gratisography

photo credit: Gratisography

Finally, this infographic from MDG Advertising shares some more compelling reasons to give images a prime spot in your online marketing activities.

It’s All About the Images [infographic by MDG Advertising]

Infographic by MDG Advertising

If you have discovered a great place to find images for your blog, please share it below!

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