Why your blog posts need better images than you have now – time to up your game!

Stock photography makes your blog look uninteresting. And it fails to deliver the most important marketing results. Here’s what to do instead.

NOTE: This is Part 4 of the “mouth-watering blog posts” series. You have a great idea and the ideal headline, and ooh-oooooh is your writing ever magnificent. Let me paint you a picture of what you’re still missing.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Well, some pictures are. Stock photography is worth perhaps five or maybe even six-and-a-half words.

Amazingly, some blogs still have no pictures. Not even five- or six-and-a-half-word pics.

Why does a blog need images? Let’s answer that by looking at what images do for a blog post.

  • Images turn visitors into readers by breaking up the text and making it more inviting to read.
  • Images convey information to the reader, complementing the written information .
  • Images convey information to the reader, re-enforcing key points.
  • Images make ideas look real, more tangible than text explanations.
  • Images make a post sharable to social media platforms.
  • Images in social media drive traffic by enticing people to click through to your post and become readers.
  • Images in social media increase reach by enticing people to re-share your posts.
  • Images allow your post to show up in image searches.

Not every image in every blog post will play all these roles. Most images in this blog play most of these roles. Stock photography plays only the first role: breaking up the text. That’s like going to a concert and listening to a minute of buzzing between each piece.

Publish an original image on each blog post

You don’t have to be an artist or a photographer to create an original image. Most of mine start out as stock photography.

I try to choose photos that are interesting to start with, then look to see that there is plenty of blank space to write over.

Then I add words that re-enforce the key message or complement the text. Sometimes these words list action items. Sometimes they are a quote or a key message.

What do these types of messages have in common?

  • They are all original by the time the edits are complete.
  • They all include text as part of the image .
  • They all explain the content, or at least a key point in the content.
  • They all stand on their own, if separated from the post (such as on Facebook or Pinterest).
  • They are all highly sharable to social media platforms (because they are interesting and because they stand on their own).

collage of blog imagesAnd they all include faces. Well, no, actually they don’t. Not every pic has to have a face. But we humans relate to other humans. A friendly face in an image puts a friendly face on your blog.

Yes, that’s a “du-uh” moment.

The fact is that friendly faces sell everything from beer to books. Putting a friendly face on your blog post, and on the social media posts that people share about your blog post, will increase interest and favorable impressions of your blog post, your blog and you.

In this array of pics from this blog, not all have faces. But they are all original, based on a stock image that is not among the most boring to begin with.

They all include text as part of the image.

Notice also that they all have a clear, stand-alone message. They make sense on FaceBook. They make sense on Pinterest. You don’t have to click-through to “get” them, which makes them easy for others to re-share or repost.

Yet, notice that they all arouse curiosity. If the topic is of interest, you will likely click through to read more. (Click the image to zoom in.)

Make your images load fast

Confession time. I don’t always check the size of my images, nor optimize them for speed. But I generally create reasonably sized images to start with.

You don’t need magazine-quality images for online use. They don’t have to be 3,000 pixels wide or high. Mine are usually about 650 pixels wide. That’s plenty. And even a dozen of those on a page shouldn’t slow the page loading time too much.

But, if you have a very big image, it will slow the load time. That will put off readers. That will also hurt your SEO efforts, which these days relies on fast loading.

Imagine that!

The images are not the most important aspect of your blog post. But they can determine the success of the aspects that are.

Don’t throw up stock photos. Make sure your photos work for your success. Make them interesting. Make them carry your message. A little time spent creating an original image is worth the effort.

Want to learn more?

Read the free ebook How to create mouth-watering blog posts, based on this Infographc.

Free ebook on creating mouth-watering blog posts

Need help writing your blog posts?

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.

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